Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lemon Pie Pop Experiment

Gluten Free Lemon Pie Pops

These Lemon Pie Pops are like a foreshadowing of the sunny weather that will soon be upon us.  Spring is less than four weeks away here in the Northeast corner of the country.   Oh I know it’s four weeks away for the whole country but where I am it will actually feel like spring.  And as far as I'm concerned, the warm sunshine can’t come soon enough.

In the meantime I thought I’d try to cheer my winter blues with these lemony pie pops. 

Actually, I should warn you in advance that this post is out of character from what you are used to reading when you visit.  It’s more of an experiment than an actual recipe.  When I made the apple turnovers I had made a double crust cream cheese pie crust.  I used half in the turnover video and the other half was used in my chocolate pecan tart.

That should have been the end of the story but when I trimmed the crust from the edges of the tart pan I was left with a small pile of scraps.  I turned those scraps into two cute lemon pie pops.

Check out the video:

If nothing else, this pie pop experiment taught me two things. 

First, the cream cheese crust is virtually indestructible.  It can be abused and still maintain a tender beautiful consistency in the final product.  I rolled it out for the pecan tart then rolled it out twice to get the shape I wanted for the pie pops.  Back when I was working with regular pie dough, that type of abuse would have resulted in a cardboard crust.  I'm not sure if it was the cream cheese in the crust recipe or the fact that when you’re working with gluten free flour it has no gluten to fight against, but this crust is outstanding.

It will be my go-to in the future.

The second thing I learned is that I need further experiments to see if I can create a more successful pie pop.  The sticks were very wiggly and unstable and in the end I yanked them out and ate these like mini pop-tarts.  I’m not sure if it was the top-heavy shape I chose or the fact that the dough itself is so flakey and tender, but my pie pops need some work.  If you have a few tips for success please let me know.  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Wait until you try this Chocolate Pecan Tart.  If you like pecan pie but think it has a tendency to be cloyingly sweet then you’ll absolutely love this tart.  It tastes like a grown up distant cousin of those chocolate turtle candies that so many of us love. 

My strategy here was twofold.  First I cut the ingredient quantities of a classic pecan pie by a quarter so that it would perfectly fill a 9 inch tart pan.  This results in slightly smaller full-sized pieces.  Sounds like an oxymoron right.  But what I created here by cutting the filling ingredients is full sized (1/8th pie slices) that have less filling without losing the crust. 

The second idea I used for reducing the saccharin sweetness that is pecan pie, was adding a hint of cocoa and a few semisweet chocolate chips to the mix.  The key is not to add so much that the chocolate drowns out the flavor of the pie.  I tried to accent the flavor not obscure it.  

I'd say I succeeded quite well.      

Chocolate Pecan Tart
Prep Time: 30 min
Bake Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8

Ingredients for the Filling:
  • 6 oz    pecan halves (keep 16 whole and chop the rest)
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4  oz. butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 2  oz. mini semisweet chocolate chips            

Crust Ingredients (for a single pie crust)
  • 1 ¼ cups gluten free flour (I used 185 grams of Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
  • 4  oz. cold diced cream cheese (1/2 block)
  • 4  oz. cold diced butter  (1 stick)

Video Tutorial: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (or 162°C) degrees.
  2. Pulse the crust ingredients together in a food processor until a crumbly dough forms then turn it out onto your work surface and bring it together into a round disc.  Wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before forming the crust.
  3. Roll the crust out between sheets of plastic wrap until it’s two inches larger than the tart pan. 
  4. Remove the top sheet of plastic and roll the dough onto a rolling pin before unrolling onto a 9 inch tart pan.
  5. Lift the edges and press the crust into the pan then trim the edges and place the crust into the freezer for at least 15 minutes while you make the filling.
  6. For the filling, set aside 16 pecan halves for garnish and chop the remaining pecans.
  7. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, cocoa, and vanilla together.
  8. Add the corn syrup and melted butter and beat until well combined.
  9. Add the chopped pecans and chocolate chips and stir to combine.
  10. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet then pour mixture into the prepared pie crust and garnish edges with the pecan halves.
  11. Bake at 325 for 1 hour rotating the pan after 30 minutes The filling should be set and the crust golden brown.
  12. Let the tart rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Notes: In the video tutorial, I made a double crust recipe then divided the dough in half. The recipe listed in the ingredient above represents half the recipe in the video which is enough for a single crust pie.  To make a double crust batch, use the ingredients listed below: 
  • 2 ½ cups gluten free flour (370 grams)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz butter

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Apple Turnovers With Gluten Free Cream Cheese Pie Crust

Apple Turnovers
With Gluten Free Cream Cheese Pie Crust

Did you ever test a recipe not really expecting it to be very good?  That’s how I felt about the cream cheese crust I used in these turnovers.  I’m usually a butter girl and that crust is delectable but knowing that this recipe doesn't call for any water had me intrigued.  I thought it may produce an even more tender flaky result since water can toughen the dough.  I also wondered if the cream cheese might ruin the flavor but there was only one way to find out.

There are a lot of recipes out there for cream cheese crust.  My version is a happy medium between a recipe I saw at William Sanoma's site which uses a less flour than I used and a version from Noreen’s Kitchen on Youtube which uses less butter.

When all was said and done I was extremely happy with the results.  The dough is easy to work with and even easier if you watch my video tutorial.  The end result here is the most tender, flaky buttery pastry you can imagine.

Folks, I've found myself a new pie crust recipe.

Apple Turnovers with Gluten Free Cream Cheese Pie Crust
Prep time: 45 min
Bake Time: 25-30 min
Servings: 4

Crust Ingredients (for 4 turnovers or a single pie crust)
  • 1 ¼ cups gluten free flour (I used 185 grams of Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
  • 4 oz cold diced cream cheese (1/2 block)
  • 4 oz cold diced butter  (1 stick)

Filling Ingredients
  • 2 large pink lady apples (peeled and diced)
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • large sprinkle of cinnamon
  • light sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp butter diced

Video Tutorial: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (or 190 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Load the bowl of a food processor by alternating layers of flour,  butter and cream cheese then pulse the ingredients until the large chunks break down into a bread crumb consistency then the crumbs come together to form a crumbly ball of dough.  (You don’t need to add any water whatsoever)
  3. Knead the dough enough to bring it together into a large ball then divide it into four sections.
  4. For the filling stir together the list of filling ingredients and set aside while you roll out the dough.  (see note #2)
  5. To roll out the dough sandwich each disc between two small sheets of plastic wrap and roll from the center outward and as the edges get ragged you can lift the top sheet and straighten up the edges and continue to roll until you have a 7 inch round.
  6. When they’re all done  add about ½ cup of the apple filling trying to arrange them as best as you can not to pierce the pastry.
  7. Slip your hand under the plastic to help you fold over the pastry.  There will be about a one inch gap between the top and bottom layers but the pastry sticks to itself well so place your hand under the plastic and push the bottom up to meet the top layer and if you get a few small cracks in the top layer it will be ok since we’re going to put in vent holes anyway. (see video tutorial)
  8. To transfer the turnover to the baking sheet, slide one hand under the plastic on the rounded edge, place the other hand next to the straight side gently flip it onto the palm of your hand then flip it back onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
  9. Brush them with an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you want then bake for 25-30 minutes.
  10. When they come out let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then use a spatula to transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
  11. To dress them up even more once they've cooled, drizzle with a white glaze made with ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar and a tablespoon of cream or milk.  Let the glaze dry and set for 30 minutes and serve.

1.  In the video tutorial, I made a double crust recipe then divided the dough in half. The recipe listed above represents half the recipe in the video which is enough for 4 turnovers.  To make the full double crust batch use the ingredients listed below:

-2 ½ cups gluten free flour (370 grams)
-8 oz cream cheese
-8 oz butter

2. For the filling, it is easier to work with a cooked filling since the apples have a softer almost jam-like texture so if you want to go that route sauté the filling ingredients with a few tablespoons of water until they cook down a bit but make sure to chill the filling before making the turnovers.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Rum Raisin Cheesecake French Toast

Rum Raisin Cheesecake French Toast
What are you making your love for Valentine’s Day this year?  Can I admit that lately I couldn't care less about the holiday?  With the two year anniversary of my husband’s death fast approaching, Valentine’s day is still pretty depressing for me.

But don’t let me rain on your parade.  Those of you that are in love might need a simple way to show their affections while the rest of us might be drowning our sorrows in a pint of Haagen Dazs.

Let’s call this recipe a compromise.  For the lovers out there, this recipe is a deliciously decadent breakfast in bed while for me it’s vehicle to eat ice cream masquerading as breakfast.  It’s truly a win win.     

Hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s day this year.

Three cheers for decadence.

Rum Raisin Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 7 min
Servings: 1

  • 2 slices of gluten free raisin bread (I used gluten free Canyon Bakehouse)
  • 2 oz of cream cheese (very well softened)
  • 2 tbsp confectioner's sugar, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp rum divided (1tsp &1tsp) or ¼ tsp rum extract (divided 1/8 tsp & 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsps milk
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • butter for the pan
  • 1 scoop of rum raisin ice cream

Video Tutorial: 

  1. Mix the cream cheese confectioner’s sugar and half the rum (or rum extract) and mix until smooth.
  2. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto one of the slices of bread then close the sandwich and set aside in the freezer for 2-3 minutes while you mix the egg mixture. 
  3. In a medium bowl (wide enough to dip the bread) whisk together the egg, milk, granulated sugar and cinnamon and the other half of the rum or rum extract until well combined.
  4. Dip the stuffed French toast into the egg mixture then turn it over and dip the other side before lowering into a cast iron or nonstick skillet, over a medium low heat, coated with a tablespoon of butter.
  5. Cook it for 3 minutes on the first side then flip it and cooking for 2-3 minutes on the second side. 
  6. To serve sprinkle with powdered sugar or maple syrup and add a scoop of rum raisin ice cream if you want to make it more decadent. 

  1. I used Haagen Dazs Rum Raisin in the final plating.  You can find a list of Haagen Dazs gluten free flavors at the Gluten Away Blog HERE.   
  2. I made one serving but the egg mixture is enough to dip two stuffed French toasts so if you double the recipe, there’s no need to double the egg mixture.
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