Sunday, December 25, 2011

Donut Debacle


********What is your favorite type of donut? Tell me and enter for a free giveaway!

See below for details.**********

It's that time of year again, Chanukah, Latkes and Donuts abound. I get a kick out of the December food and women's magazines, wherein there are about 60 pages of x-mas themed recipes and a token page with the same old latke recipe. In recent years I've noticed recipes for sufganiyot, or jelly donuts sneaking in to those pages. While in the United States latkes are the fried food of choice for the holiday, the Israeli favorite sufganiyot have made inroads across the Atlantic.

Last year I had great success with my Gluten-Free Bisquick Donuts for Lillie. However, they contained eggs so they were a no-no for Rosie. So I had two separate pots of oil, two different doughs, and separate jelly-squirters to accommodate Lillie's egg containing gluten-free donuts and Rosie's glutteny vegan donuts. Since I'm not a big fan of deep frying to begin with, and even take the precaution of wearing safety goggles and shooing small children out of the kitchen, having two pots of boiling oil going on the stove at once nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. So this year I wanted a gluten-free and vegan donut all in one. Good luck to me! I bought a great little book entitled, Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home by Lara Ferroni --it's worth buying just for the luscious pictures. But in addition to the traditional donut recipes, it contains two types of gluten-free and vegan recipes, but not gluten-free and vegan in the same recipe. I considered fooling around with them to make an amalgam. But after a disastrous first attempt at making GF and Vegan yeast donuts (although the kids still ate it...roll anything in confectioners' sugar and they'll eat it), I wanted a sure thing.

Since my favorite all time donut is a chocolate cake donut, I decided to aim for that. Much to my surprise I found that cake donuts are actually fried. Different than yeast raised donuts, they are denser and, as the name suggests, cake like. Through my experiments I found the baking powder batter was preferable than a yeast raised one for gluten-free donuts. I decided to make my life slightly less complicated and just use cake batter in donut shaped baking pans (you can get these at most craft or housewares stores). I used my favorite gluten-free and vegan cake recipe from The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal. I poured the batter into a big ziploc, snipped about a one inch hole from one corner and easily piped the batter into the non-stick pans. The next day I let the girls frost and decorate them with a variety of sprinkles. They had a ball and my floor looked like the French Quarter after Mardi Gras, but it was a fun day-off-from school activity for them. I used a very simple ganache for the glaze and they looked like donut store donuts! Yes, I had liftoff.

But the gluten-free and vegan fried donut still alluded me. A great cookbook I came across called, My Kid's Allergic to Everything Dessert Cookbook by Mary Harris and Wilma Selzer Nachsin, had an oat flour based doughnut hole recipe. Hmmm. The book contains recipes free from (or has subs. for) wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, corn and nuts. It gives substitutes for some other common allergens, like chocolate. Although it does have some glutenny flours as options, there is a handy-dandy chart at the beginning of the book, which breaks down flours from very sticky to non-sticky, as well as a chart showing which flours work best together for different varieties of baked goods. What I like best about this book is that the recipes were developed by mom's of food allergic children, and they are very easy, doable, and appealing to children. I mean what kid wouldn't want to eat a Booger Cupcake?!

I paired the oat based doughnut hole with a maple glaze from Lara Ferroni's book, and voila I had achieved a great gluten-free and vegan (if agave instead of honey is used) donut that was quick and easy to make to boot! I took the liberty of subbing an all-purpose gluten free flour blend (I used Jule's brand) for half the flour in the recipe and used oat flour for the rest. The combination of the oat flour and maple glaze gave it such a homey, warm flavor---perfect for a cold winter's day.

The publishers, Chicago Review Press, have very generously sent me a copy of this great book to give away to one lucky reader. In the comments section below, tell me your favorite type of donut. Be sure to enter with a google ID, or leave your e-mail or web address so I can be in touch with you if you win. Or, you can tweet me at @glutenfreemaven with your favorite choice. You have until January 15th 2012 to enter. The winner will be chosen at random.

I found that I needed to add a bit more liquid than the recipe called for. This could be due to variations in the type of flour I chose. I added more club soda (ok really I used plain seltzer) slowly until the dough stuck together. You want more of a bread flour consistency than a cake batter. Try dipping in one of the two glazes below. They are really amazing when served warm. Make a lot...they go quickly!

Doughnut Holes
from My Kid's Allergic to Everything Desert Cookbook, 2nd ed., by Mary Harris and Wilma Selzer Nachsin, p. 120

3 cups oil (for frying)
4 cups gluten-free flour (any mostly sticky combinations, such as 3 cups oat and 1 cup millet, or half oat and half all-purpose gluten-free blend)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. any one or combination of dried ground nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. club soda
1 Tbsp. honey (or 2/3 Tablespoon agave nectar)
1/3 cup melted allowable shortening or melted margarine or mild tasting oil (I used canola oil)
1 cup soy, rice, or almond milk or water

Note: I have made some changes to the text to simplify the instructions.

In a deep fryer or large pot, heat 3 cups oil to 375F degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and spices. Mix the baking powder with the club soda. Stir into dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix until the dough is well blended and smooth. Add additional liquid a tablespoon at a time if needed, until batter comes together.

Form the dough into walnut sized balls. Drop balls into hot oil and fry until the doughnut holes are golden brown. Do not crowd them; fry only a few at one time.

Remove the doughnut holes with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. May be served warm or cooled.

Yield: Approximately 2 dozen

When doughnuts are cool to the touch, you may wish to dip in either of the two glazes below, or sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or cinnamon-sugar.

Chocolate Glaze
1-10 ounce bag dairy free chocolate chips
1 cup liquid non-dairy whipped topping (i.e. Rich's Whip) or canned coconut milk

Combine both ingredients in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth and glossy. Return to microwave for 15 second increments, stirring in between, if chocolate is not melted.

Maple Glaze
from Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home by Lara Ferroni, p. 48

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. milk (any) or water

Place the sugar in a medium bowl and slowly stir in the maple syrup and milk, a little at a time, to make a smooth, pourable glaze.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Sweet Cookie to Swap


It's that time of year, cookies for cookie swaps, cookies for school parties, cookies for neighborhood and family get togethers. But cookies, cookies everywhere yet for the food sensitive--none to eat! Not so fast. Although I am often disheartened when reading through gluten free cookbooks at seemingly great cookie recipes when I scroll down the list of ingredients and hit "eggs" on the ingredient list. Then flip the page, and another, and more of the same. Even though the recipe fits Lillie's diet, Rosie can't have as much as a crumb. But, I do have a number of recipes in my cookie arsenal that accommodate both girls, and have found shortbread style cookies to be an extremely good choice. Shortbread traditionally is not made with eggs, and many Scottish shortbread recipes even call for rice flour! I use a shortbread recipe for my basic cutout cookies, but it is adaptable for so much more. You can use it as a crust for single-crust pies, and is especially good for a chocolate or custard style pie. It can be used as a crust in a gem style cookie (made in mini-muffin tins), or you can add any flavor extract and roll the dough in coconut, crushed nuts, candy, etc., for almost any flavor profile you desire.

This year I decided to combine a chocolate shortbread crust with my very favorite ganache filling. Using either crushed candy canes or almonds, you have a delightful and eye-catching dessert. People who've tried it without being told it's gluten free even thought it was very good.

So as you flip through endless "holiday" themed magazines this month with great ideas for everyone but you, don't despair, bring this recipe to your next party and enjoy the "oohs" and "aahs" you receive. For another great holiday sweet idea check out my recipe on the Attune Foods (makers of Erewhon cereals) website.

This recipe is vegan provided you use margarine and coconut milk. The coconut milk here is the thick kind that comes in the can, NOT cream of coconut or the kind sold in the dairy case or aseptic boxes. The latter are mixed with water and sweetener and are similar to soy milk.

Crispy Choco-Mint Gems

non-stick cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum*
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance), or unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
2 Tablespoons water

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Trader Joe's brand)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/4 cup finely crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

Garnish (optional):
3 Tablespoons coarsely crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly spray a 24 cup mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together margarine and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes with mixer on medium speed. Add extracts and beat until combined. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until mixture forms a dough. Add water and beat until smooth.

Form dough into 24 walnut sized balls. Place one dough ball in each muffin cup. Press down on dough with your thumb to form a well; press dough into sides of muffin cup with fingers. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove muffin pan from freezer and bake in pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until cookies feel firm when pressed with a finger, and no longer appear to have moist spots. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. If dough has risen during baking, use the bottom of a wooden spoon to press down center of cookies to form a well.

In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, coconut milk and mint extract. Microwave on high 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and silky looking. If chocolate is not fully melted, return to microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring in between. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in finely crushed candy canes.

Spoon a scant tablespoon of filling into center of each cookie. Sprinkle coarsely crushed candy canes over filling, if desired. Chill until center is firm, about 1 hour. Remove cookies from muffin tin and arrange on a serving platter, or store in an airtight container.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

* If the flour blend you are using doesn't contain xanthan gum, add ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum

For Almond Cups:

Substitute almond extract for the mint extract called for in both the cookie crust and the filling.

Substitute 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds for the crushed peppermint candy called for in the filling and garnish. To toast almonds: Spread almonds out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350F degree oven for 8-10 minutes, turning several times, until lightly brown. Remove from sheet immediately, as the tend to continue browning if left on hot cookie sheet.