Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gluten-Free Caramel Chocolate Cookie Bars

It used to be, during Passover, you had some matzo and some macaroons and you were grateful for it.  Now, Passover recipes are all kinds of fancy. I was kind of skeptical of these cookie bars when I found them looking for desserts to make for our Seder, but they really did taste just like a chocolate chunk cookie bar. And since we have run out of them, I decided to make some more, but my way.

And yes, these have no gluten because you can't have any grains during Passover, so they are the perfect treat for your Gluten-Free Friends (your GFFs ;) and coworkers (or for you, they are great for you too). AND they don't take all those different flours to make gluten free foods seem gluteny. Just five easy ingredients.

What you'll need:

2 cups of almond meal. (You can either buy it ground or grind your own. If you are making these for someone GF, please, make sure the bag assures there is no gluten.)
1 cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup of GF caramel chocolate candies (I used Milk Duds- you can also use any gluten free candy you think would go well or chocolate chunks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You'll also need:

Optional: Chocolate chunks (it needs more chocolate! about 1/2 cup) and salt (to balance all the sweet, about 1/4 teaspoon)

Mixing bowl and spoon (or electric mixer)
8x8 baking pan
Parchment paper (if you don't use this, you may have to chip your bars out of your pan)

This really couldn't be much easier.

Preheat your oven to 375 F - Prepare your baking pan with parchment paper. Wrestle with it for a while, if you are anything like me.

Measure your 2 cups of almond meal and 1 cup of packed brown sugar in your bowl and then mix them to combine.

Add two eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla to your almond mixture, and stir until you get a thick sticky batter.

Stir in your candy pieces (Apparently I forgot to take a picture of this *sigh*).

Now, wrestle with that parchmented pan again, to get that REALLY thick batter to fill the pan evenly. Seriously, this might take a bunch of your patience, so if you are having a bad day, try to get someone else to do this part for you, unless yelling obscenities at raw cookies is one of your favorite ways to relieve stress (It isn't really all that hard, it just takes a little time, and patience... and cursing - I KID).

Once they are level, I like to cut down my parchment paper so my stove doesn't light it on fire.

Bake these for about 25 minutes. The original recipe warns like a billion times, DON'T UNDER COOK THEM. I am not entirely sure what happens if you undercook them, but they seemed pretty adamant about it, so I think I didn't undercook them... because nothing dire happened to them after baking them only 25 minutes. You want them to look more cookie-ish and less raw-ish when you take them out, and 25 minutes does that in my oven.

Now, let them cool, then, pull up on your parchment, which should pop these right out of the pan, and cut them into portions. They are very rich, so smaller might be better, but these are your cookie bars so you cut them however you want.

Now pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy the heck out of your easy gluten-free treat!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

There are, indeed, several Creme Egg Cupcake recipes on The Tubes, but all of them seem to be beating people over the head with chocolate.  My secret is I only really like the inside of Cadbury Creme Eggs. I know, I am one of those crazy chocolate un-enthusiasts. I don't hate chocolate, but I like it balanced with a whole lot of not chocolate.

My Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes have a yellow cake base peppered with creme eggs and mini chips and a delicious dark chocolate frosting on top. Just the right amount of chocolate for everyone (unless you're allergic to chocolate... or hate it, in which case there is just way too much. =P )

What you'll need for 24 cupcakes:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Peach Whip Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups

Peach Whip is a favorite dessert in our household because it is almost literally the easiest recipe in the world. I suppose if we are trying to quantify, "ice" would be the easiest recipe ever... or maybe "pop tarts." I don't know, is simply heating something a recipe?

Anyway, Peach Whip is really easy and it tastes really good... and usually, I would just make some and then eat it out of a whipped topping container with a spoon, but I figured I would class it up a little and so I present to you:

Still super easy, and fast, but now in a crunchy, sugary self-contained bite.

What you'll need for 48 cookie cups (with a little left over Peach Whip, possibly):

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dinner at the Improv- California Roast Beef

I like to improvise sometimes, which means I just throw things into the pan and wing it. Every once in a while, it is horrible, more often though, it turns out pretty darned well. I wanted to share these improvisations to inspire other cooks who feel comfortable cooking by taste.

I think that recipes for cold sandwiches are kind of silly, but alas, I have a whole bunch of sandwiches to share. Thankfully we have "Dinner at the Improv" which makes sandwich sharing so much easier. Instead of a step by step process with pictures to insult your intelligence, I'll give you my sandwich concoctions with general measurements and trust you to make it to your liking.

For episode three of Dinner at the Improv, we're having- California Roast Beef Sandwiches and Wraps. 

If you'll remember, I don't eat bread because of a yeast intolerance, but I can eat wraps until the cows come home, so most of my sandwiches will be prepared both ways.

Now, this specific sandwich comes from my childhood when I grew up in California and there was a food court restaurant called A.T.C.'s , which stood for avocado, tomato, and cucumber, and it had quintessential California ingredients in all kinds of sandwiches. One of our favorites to get was this: rare roast beef, cream cheese, avocado and the piece de resistance, alfalfa sprouts. Really, the sprouts are what make this sandwich special. They have an earthy crunch that is as perfect as potato chips on sandwiches.

To make a California Roast Beef Sandwich (or Wrap) you'll need:
Chewy roll or bread - like sour dough or challah (or a wrap/tortilla)
Cream cheese (about an ounce per sandwich, softened)
Rare roast beef, thinly sliced (about 1/4 lb per sandwich)
Ripe avocado, thinly sliced, (2-3 slices per sandwich)
Alfalfa sprouts (a large pinch, mine ends up being about 1/4 cup, but I realllllly like sprouts)

I start with toasting the bread and softening the wrap, which I do by microwaving refrigerated tortillas, covered with damp paper towels, for about 25 seconds.

Then, I soften my cream cheese in the microwave, about 30 seconds (I made 5 sandwiches so used 5 oz from the 8 oz bar). Once it is soft, the cream cheese goes on the bottom of the roll/wrap. Then on top of that goes the roast beef, then the sprouts, then the avocado. You can change the order if you like, I just find that this order gets the best taste combination per bite.

Then, close your sandwich, or roll up your wrap, flipping up the bottom, then bringing in the sides, to make it look like the wrap in the picture...

And then you are ready to eat. It is that simple, because sandwiches are pretty stinkin' easy... but they certainly don't have to be boring.