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Archive for the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

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This gluten-free amaretti recipe (from taste.com.au) looked almost too easy to be true – egg whites, almond meal, caster sugar and vanilla – simply stirred together, shaped and baked.  These aren’t the light, crisp amaretti that we used in Dorie’s Fifteen Minute Torte, but rather the chewy, marzipanny ones that you buy at Italian cafés. No mixer required, although you do need a strong wooden spoon – I managed to snap mine while stirring the mix together.

1. Preheat oven to 160C/320F (with fan).

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir the almond meal, sugar, egg whites and vanilla together – mix with a wooden spoon or a clean hand until the ingredients are well combined.  At first, the mixture will appear too dry, but keep mixing and you’ll end up with a moist dough.

3. Roll into 2.5cm/1″ balls (about 2 teaspoonfuls of mix), place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and flatten each ball slightly.  You should end up with about 70 cookies. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until lightly browned (don’t overcook).  Cool briefly on trays and then transfer to a wire rack to allow to cool completely.

There’s something about marzipan that just so Christmassy – pack them in little cellophane bags or origami boxes for gifts, or simply keep a supply on hand for when friends drop around for coffee!

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Pete chastised me for feeding some of this cake to Ellen tonight.  As we’re making these for Christmas, he told me I was “telegraphing my punches”.  I suspect he’s forgotten that I was planning to post the recipe here.  Do me a favour – if you get one of these from us this Christmas, act surprised – it will keep my husband happy.

These gorgeous, delicious mini fruit and nut cakes are based on an old Women’s Weekly recipe.  They’re gluten and lactose free, low in added sugar and keep well for up to three months in the fridge.  The original recipe was sized to make two  bar cakes, but the same amount will also make four or five mini loaf tin sized cakes.  We did both, so the photos you’re seeing are of a double batch.

This cake was a regular part of our Christmas baking for years, until the cost of the ingredients became  prohibitive.  Now, with access to very reasonably priced supplies at Harkola, it’s back on the list for Christmas 2009.  If you’re planning to make these en masse as we do, try to source bulk suppliers of fruits and nuts.  The brazil nuts and  glacé fruits can get quite expensive, so it’s definitely worth a trip to your local food wholesaler to stock up on supplies.  And who knows what else you might find there?

Assembling the ingredients and lining the cake tins are the hardest parts of this recipe – the actual cooking process is very simple.  Although finding a spot in the fridge to store 30 odd cakes can be a bit challenging…

Ground Almond Fruit Cake
(recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration Cookbook)

  • 250g seedless dates
  • 100g mixed peel*
  • 50g glacé apricots, cut into pieces*
  • 90g red glacé cherries*
  • 90g green glacé cherries*
  • 80g raisins
  • 250g brazil nuts
  • 185g walnuts
  • 100g ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large (59g) eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (40ml) honey
  • 1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons rum

*Note: you could really use any mix of glacé fruits you choose.  If you decide not to use the apricots, increase the mixed peel to 150g (which is how the recipe was originally written).

1. Put the dates in a large mixing bowl, checking carefully for pips as you go (as dates are mechanically harvested and processed, some seeds are occasionally missed).  Give the dates a quick rinse (they can sometimes be a bit dusty).

2. Add all the remaining fruits, brazil nuts and walnuts and stir well.  Add the ground almonds and baking powder and stir to combine.

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3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until thick and creamy, then beat in the honey and vanilla extract.  Pour the eggs into the fruit mix and stir well to combine (remember these photos are of a double batch).  Make sure that every piece of fruit and nut is well coated with the batter.

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4. Preheat the oven to 150C with fan.  Line two bar pans (8cm x 26cm) or five small loaf pans (8cm x 15cm) with parchment paper. Divide the mixture evenly between the pans, making sure to work it well into the corners.

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5.  Bake for about an hour (start checking after 50 minutes), or until the cakes are firm and dark brown.  The original recipe specified 1½ to 2 hours, but we’ve never needed that long in our fan forced oven (although it does run hot).  Brush the rum over the hot cakes, then wrap  tightly in foil and allow them to cool in their pans overnight.

When completely cool, wrap the cakes tightly in foil and store in the fridge until required.   The cakes cut well when cold; allow slices to return to room temperature before serving.

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PS. Please have a look at our new Christmas page for more gift ideas!

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Still experimenting, I made a crustless ricotta cake for Pete A, who can always use another gluten free dessert.

As I’m unable to ever change just a single parameter (very unscientific of me, I know), I also tried making this with normal (wet) ricotta, which had been drained in a sieve.  It worked very well, so if you can’t find dry ricotta, you could probably substitute standard ricotta in its place – just make sure you drain it for at least an hour until it’s really dry.  If you’re buying wet ricotta, make sure you buy more than you need, and measure the ricotta for the recipe after it has drained.  Of course, you could also use dry ricotta for this recipe, as per our original recipe.

To make the crustless ricotta cake, I lined my 8″/20cm springform tin with a large sheet of foil, to prevent leaks.  I then lined the inside of that with parchment paper.

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1. Make the mixture according to the instructions here, making only the filling part of the recipe.  The quantities I used were :

  • 500g (drained weight) fresh ricotta , drained in a sieve for at least an hour
  • 250g thick sour cream
  • 30g gluten-free cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 150g gluten-free icing sugar mixture (not pure icing sugar)

Make sure you choose gluten free cornflour, as some brands are made from wheat.  Also, check the packaging of the icing sugar mixture carefully.  The one I buy has “gluten-free” on the front of the bag.  The gf varieties include maize or tapioca flour as an anti-caking agent, whereas the cheaper brands often use wheat starch.

2. Preheat the oven to 150C (with fan).

3. Carefully pour the prepared filling mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the mixture is set.  Allow the cake to cool in the oven with the door ajar (for at least an hour, two is better), then put the whole tin in the fridge to cool until cold.  Carefully unwrap the foil and remove the springform tin.

4. Let the cake rest overnight in the fridge, then dust liberally with icing sugar before serving.

This was so easy to make without the pastry and, while it’s less pretty than the crusted version (Pete’s comment was that it looked like a wheel of cheese, which is what it is, I guess), it’s could probably be dressed up with a fancy topping of lemon curd or strawberries and cream.

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I made these almond rochers with the leftover tempered chocolate from the truffles.  They’re a little too easy, both to make AND eat!

  • 150g almond slivers
  • 1 Tbsp Kirsch
  • 1/3 cup pure icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 175C.  In a small bowl, combine the almonds, Kirsch and sifted icing sugar.

2. Line a small baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper, and pour the nuts onto the tray.  Bake the nuts for 10 minutes, or until golden, stirring often (watch them carefully, as they burn easily).

3. Tip the nuts into a small bowl of tempered chocolate, and stir well.  Using two teaspoons, scoop out small blobs onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to set.  Try not to eat them all at once!

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We had two functions last weekend, so I made a big batch of chocolate truffles.  These are wickedly good, and easy to make once you’ve nailed the art of tempering chocolate.  They only have two ingredients in them – cream and chocolate – so use the very best you can of both.

This recipe uses lots of chocolate, but there was enough leftover tempered chocolate for a batch of almond rochers as well (recipe to follow).  I made 64 truffles in total – 12 for each function, and 40 for me. (Ok, that’s an exaggeration, I had to share with the boys.)

Step 1 : Truffle Centres

  • 19 oz (540g) Callebaut 811 (54%) dark chocolate callets
  • 1½ cups fresh cream (heavy whipping cream – min. fat 35%)

The night before you need to make truffles, make the ganache for the centres by heating the cream in a small saucepan until boiling.  Put the chocolate into a large mixing bowl, and gently pour over the hot cream.  Using a whisk, stir very slowly until the chocolate is completely melted and the mix is smooth.   Try not to beat any air bubbles into the chocolate. Press a piece of clingfilm over the top of the ganache to stop it forming a skin, and allow to rest on the kitchen bench overnight.

The following day, or when the ganache has set quite firm, scoop small balls of ganache onto a tray lined with parchment paper and allow the centres to firm up in the fridge.   I used to use two teaspoons to do this, but have recently bought a nifty baby icecream scoop, which does a brilliant job of making round centres.  Store these in the fridge, covered, until you need them.

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Step 2 : Dipping the Truffles

When you’re ready to finish the truffles, take the centres out of the fridge and allow them to rest on the bench while you temper the chocolate.  If you dip really cold centres, the finished truffles will crack.

Temper a large bowl of chocolate as per the instructions here. I used about 500g of chocolate for this batch.  Place the bowl of tempered chocolate over a heat mat covered with a folded tea towel.

One by one, using a small chocolate dipper or mangled fork (see photo above), dip the truffles into the chocolate, then allow them to drain briefly, before turning them onto a sheet of parchment paper.  I usually set the truffles briefly in the fridge, then store them in an airtight container on the bench (as Pete objects to fridge cold truffles!).

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