Testing, Testing: Gluten Free Goodies

IMG_1327(KERI) The new year brings with it a plethora of reset buttons. We swear we’re going to do more of this and less of that. January issues of all magazines feature a new diet, a new fitness fad, a new way of eating that promises things will be different if we justif we just.

I don’t buy in. I am, however, interested in clean, healthy food, and discovering new grains and produce all year round. Lately, I’ve been intrigued with the gluten-free movement. And when my gluten-free-friend and colleague Donna said to me (staring me down with my arms full of gluten-filled baked goodies for my office buddies), ‘Hey, your blog is great and all, but when the hell are you going to do something sweet for us gluten-frees??’ Other Friend and Colleague Raychel warned: ‘Keri, gluten-free equals GROSS!’ I could not resist the challenge. I was determined to not deliver gross.

So we set out. Marina with her camera, I with my gonna-deliver-gluten-free-deliciousness determination. I needed a January issue of Bon Appetit.

There, in the 2014 edition, we found pages devoted to gluten-free goodness. In particular, Chocolate Brownie Cookies. Look at them glisten! We had to give it a whirl.

IMG_1333The key is egg whites. Gluten-frees (or GFs) know this secret. It makes the cookies soft and chewy. They are so easy, very few ingredients. And they are gorgeous. Shiny and crackled. Oh, and they taste fantastic.

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Donna raved. We declared success. Next time, I’ll toss in walnuts for added dimension.  One note: When you add the egg and egg whites, stir fast. The whites will firm up quickly. But do make them. And feel good that you’ve gone gluten-free. If even just for a few minutes.

So that was the winner. For every winner, there has to be a loser. GF Raspberry Ginger Muffins weren’t terrible. They just weren’t fabulous.

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But hold that thought. We have an idea to bring amazing to these GF lovelies who deserve to be dolled-up and made fabulous.

First, gluten-free flour. Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour gets high marks from all credible sources. It didn’t produce a weird flavor or an off texture. Good. I’ll use it again, for sure. This recipe contains fresh ginger, but the flavor didn’t come through in the end result. The raspberries were good: baking turns them into a jam-like burst. Overall, this muffin was just blah, a two-syllable ‘nice.’ Beautiful, though.

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We’re going to try it again and this time, change the driver flavors to fresh blueberries and vanilla. We’ll scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean and add vanilla extract. I have high hopes. And Donna approves. We’ll try it and report back.

This concludes our gluten-free test. It’s only a test. We can resume our normal gluten-filled eating now.

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Cookies – from Bon Appetit
3 cups powdered sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons cacao nibs

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in egg whites and egg; fold in chocolate and cacao nibs. Spoon batter by the tablespoonful onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart.
Bake, rotating sheets once, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and set just around the edges, 14–16 minutes.
Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool on pan (they’ll firm up).

Gluten-Free Raspberry Ginger Muffins – from Bon Appetit
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups plus 1 Tbsp. gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
1½ cups fresh raspberries

Line 12-cake cupcake pan with paper liners. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Whisk baking powder, salt, and 1½ cups flour in a medium bowl. Whisk egg, brown sugar, butter, milk, and ginger in a large bowl; mix in dry ingredients. Toss raspberries with remaining 1 Tbsp. flour in a small bowl; gently fold into batter. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in pan before serving.

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