Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Short and Sweet


This post is short and sweet,
but it will provide your guests with
a bite to eat.

Whether it's Chanukah, X-mas, Kwanza or Naw-Ruz
Your precious time... you won't lose.

3 ingredients no more,
OK, if you wish maybe four.

No fuss, no wait,
soon you'll dig into the chocolate.

So I needed a quick dessert, and the crunchy, salty and sweet combination of pretzels and chocolate seemed an appealing twist on my family's favorite Chunk-a-Chews.  You can substitute up to a cup of other mix-ins, like nuts, peppermint candy or mini-marshmallows as you see fit.  A sprinkle of coarse sea salt on top is an option for those true lovers of the salty-sweet dessert (non-dairy dessert). 

I recently came across two varieties of chocolate by the company California Gourmet that makes both a non-dairy, vegan as well as a soy chocolate chip. They taste great and seem very high quality in terms of the chocolate. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Pretzel Bites

1 bag  (10-12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon softened coconut oil or pure vegetable shortening (e.g. Earth Balance) or vegetable  or olive oil (non-virgin)
2 cups gluten free pretzels* (coarsely crushed)
Coarse sea salt or colored sprinkles, to garnish, if desired

Place the chocolate chips and vegetable shortening in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Cooking time varies based on wattage of your microwave. Microwave on high heat 1-1 1/2 minutes. Remove bowl and stir until smooth. If chips aren't melted, return to microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring in between.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Place two dozen paper mini-muffin cup liners on a large cookie sheet. If you don't have these, you can line the cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper, and drop the chocolate right onto the paper.

Stir the pretzels (or other mix-ins) into the chocolate. Drop by tablespoonfuls into liners. Sprinkle with sea salt or colored sprinkles (if desired).  Place into refrigerator until firm. Store in covered container.

Yield:  24 candies

*You may substitute up to 1 cup of crushed or chopped nuts, peppermint candy, mini-marshmallows, cut up caramels, dried fruit, etc.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Donut Delights



So in general I'm not a "fly by the seat of your pants" type of person, but when it comes to my yearly Chanukah donut making forays I tend towards experimentation. Each year I try to come up with the best gluten free donut recipes--generally using something not originally intended for donut batter. So far I've used pizza dough, Bisquick and now pancake mix.

My outlook is to sort of go into the recipe experimentation process like one who jumps backward off a high-dive...not really seeing where you're going, but trusting it will all turn out ok in the end.  I approached the process intuitively, setting out to turn my box of Trader Joe's Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix into something more.  I added ingredients one would usually add to donut batter: milk, eggs, and cinnamon. The mix already had xanthan gum, baking powder and soda, salt and buttermilk (so I didn't fret about not adding actual buttermilk into the mix). The end result was a crispy outside and a lovely "cake like donut" texture inside---similar to an Entenmann's style donut.  In addition, the dough can be tweaked and used for other donut variations like churros or olibollen. Happy Chanukah and Happy Frying!


Substitutions for egg-free and dairy-free (hence"mostly" vegan depending on how you feel about granulated sugar) versions are included below.  Toppings are only limited by your imagination, you can use powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, chocolate ganache, maple glaze, etc.  If you make a ball shape with the dough it can be filled with jelly or custard.  I indicate additional sugar (than what is in the store bought mix) is optional, as some people prefer a less sweet donut with the sugar serving as your "sweet source" on the outside.  See my frying tips video at the end of the recipe.

 Gluten Free Buttermilk Donut Recipe

3 cups Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancake Mix (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon cider or white vinegar (stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 cups vegetable or canola or peanut oil for frying
Confectioner's sugar or cinnamon sugar

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/4 cup granulated sugar tossed with 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Create a well in the center with a wooden spoon, and add eggs, milk mixture and vanilla extract. Stir until liquid is totally incorporated. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch Oven to medium-high heat (about 375).  Add a piece of carrot or baby carrot, if desired, to the oil--this helps prevent over browning.  Add a teaspoonful of batter to oil to test if it is hot enough. If the oil is ready small bubbles will appear around the batter.

To shape the donuts you can either scoop the batter into the oil in batches (about 3-4 at a time) using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, or fill a pastry bag or gallon sized Ziploc with a 1-inch opening snipped off of one corner.  Pipe donuts into circles on individual pieces of parchment and drop into oil for most perfect circles. Once donut cooks, remove parchment from oil. Or, just pipe circles, squiggles, or lines right into the oil.  For donut holes, use a tablespoon measure to scoop batter, or a cookie scoop. 

Fry donuts for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack set over a brown paper shopping bag or paper towels set in a rimmed baking pan to catch the drips. 

Cool for 10 minutes, then finish as desired. Add powdered or cinnamon sugar to a brown paper bag or bowl and toss donuts in sugar to coat.  Or, finish with a chocolate, maple or caramel glaze.



Dairy and Egg free version:
Substitute your favorite egg substitute for 2 eggs (Ener-G egg replacer, flax eggs, etc.) or 1-6 ounce container vanilla or plain non-dairy yogurt (such as soy or coconut milk).

Substitute the buttermilk pancake mix with a non-dairy mix or Gluten Free Bisquick.

Substitute the dairy milk with equal amount soy, rice or hemp milk with vinegar added, as above.

For Churros: A favorite Mexican street food, which has become a favorite in American stadiums and fast food restaurants. Omit nutmeg and use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Use a large star piping tip (if you have) or just snip the end of a gallon sized ziploc or piping bag one inch. Pipe 4-inch lengths of batter into oil. Careful not to crowd pan. When cooled about 10 minutes, toss in a bag with cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve with chocolate and /or caramel sauces for dipping.

Oliebollen: A Dutch version of donuts generally made at New Year's. The literal translation, as you may have guessed is "oily balls".  Add 1 cup raisins or currants and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom to the batter.  Drop by small ice cream scoop or 1/8-cup measure into the oil. Drain as above. Check to make sure the center is cooked through as they are thick.

Check out my YOUTUBE Video with frying tips: