Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chocolate-Coconut Gluten Free Cupcakes (kosher for Passover)

Gluten & Dairy Free Cupcakes

Passover continues, we're all surviving, although we're also eating more than our share of sweets. This cupcake, with any luck, will make an appearance on M&L's Cupcakes & Curry Menu.

E, you may complain about Passover dietary restrictions, but you look like you are OK with the cupcakes (and the brownies, and the macaroons, and the chocolate chip cookies....) . 

The batter for this dessert is a bit thicker than the gluten free brownie I have posted. The batter, which is made with six beaten egg whites, rises in the cupcake paper and remains high in the center, unlike many Passover cakes. The dough is sprinkled with grated coconut or ground nuts before baking. 

As is the technique for many Passover cakes, the eggs need to be separated, the whites need to be beaten until stiff and finely ground nuts (almonds or walnuts) are used in place of flour. 

7 oz bittersweet chocolate (melted and cooled before using)
6 large eggs (separated)
1/4 tsp (a good pinch) kosher salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
10 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vanilla sugar
2 c finely ground nuts (walnuts or almonds)
1/2 c grated coconut
1/2 c potato starch
1/4 c ground nuts, 1/4c grated coconut for topping

1. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate. The better the chocolate, the better the final product. There is a LOT of chocolate available for Passover, much of it is not fabulous. If you can, try to buy chocolate from Switzerland, it's a better product. I've used several brands of kosher for Passover chocolate; I commonly use Alprose Swiss baking chocolate, which does not contain lecithin (an emulsifier that affects the quality of the chocolate and is often derived from soy). I weigh the chocolate in a large capacity glass measuring cup and melt it, in that cup, in the microwave, a minute at a time. Between the minute or 90 seconds of heating, mix with a silicone spatula.  Melt the chocolate 3/4 of the way through, the heat of the melting chocolate will continue to heat and melt the remaining chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool before mixing into the batter. 

1a. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. 

2. Beat the egg whites after the chocolate is melted and is left cooling. I beat the egg whites before working with the yolks. The whites are cold, the beaters are clean and I don't need to worry about washing beaters and cross contamination that will affect how stiff the egg whites will whip.  A bit of kosher salt is used at the end of the process to help the beaten whites hold their shape. 
3. The yolks are beaten, in a separate bowl. Take your time during this process. First beat the yolks, add the sugar and beat until the mixture is a gorgeous mellow yellow. Add the oil and continue to beat for several minutes.  The olive oil will turn the mixture a beautiful yellow with a green tinge. I don't worry about adding the oil in a steady stream, I'm not making mayonnaise and for Passover I'm working with a hand-mixer, making the process is a bit clumsy for me.

4. The remaining ingredients (sugar, vanilla sugar, ground nuts, potato starch and coconut) are added one at a time to the yolk mixture. Beat the final mixture for 1-2 minutes.  I find it easier to mix the potato starch with the ground nuts prior to adding to the bowl in order to minimize a cloud of potato starch flying out of the bowl.

5. The (cooled) chocolate is added after the previous ingredients are well blended. 

6. Adding the egg whites is not quite as complicated as it would be for an angel-food cake. I do not mix in a bit of the "heavier" mixture into the beaten whites. I mix about 1/3 of the whites into the dough mixture and mix with the electric mixer at a slow speed. I then add the remaining 2/3 of the beaten whites by hand, turning the mixture with a silicone spatula.  I try to work the dough as little as possible, but the ground nuts and potato starch make this a thick gooey mass and inevitably the mixture will not be as light and airy as a sponge cake. 
7. Spray paper cupcake cups with spray oil and place in the wells of a cupcake/muffin pan. Fill the cups about 1/2 full. Sprinkle with ground coconut and/or ground nuts. 

8. Place the pan in the oven (shelf should be in the center of the oven), lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Check with a tester to make sure the cake is cooked through. 
9. The baked cupcakes will be firm and will not fall. Cool and cover. They store well at room temperature  for a day or two.  Double wrap if you plan to freeze. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gluten Free Brownies (kosher for Passover)


(Made with tree nuts, gluten free, kosher for Passover) 
I've noticed that the Haroset Cookie Bars posting has had a number of "hits" this week, perhaps because Passover is coming.  While the Haroset (which is fabulous) IS KOSHER for Passover, the cookie bar itself IS NOT.

These are the brownies we make for Passover. Adam and I worked on the recipe several years ago, modifying serveral other recipes we read and using olive oil instead of the horrible kosher for Passover margarine. For those unfamiliar with Passover baking, yeast is forbidden, leavening agents are either beaten egg whites or baking powder that is marked "kosher for Passover."  There is no matzah meal in this recipe; therefore, Mikah will tell you they do not have the "Passover taste," (a negative taste in her book).  To those who are concerned, this recipe is "non-gebrochts."

Because I actually baked this batch before Passover, I used Dominoes sugar and stevia blend instead of plain sugar. I'm not sure that the sugar and stevia blend makes this a friendly recipe for a person with diabetes, it is a bit lower in calories.  The sugar substitute worked well although not quite as delicious as sugar.  This mixture is not marked for Passover.

Passover cake recipes are a bit tricky, egg whites are almost always beaten separately.  Beat them until very stiff, and then add a bit of salt to help the eggs remain stiff.

You also must make sure that when you beat the egg yolks, either with sugar, oil (or both) you mix well - medium to high speed. The yolks will turn a beautiful deep yellow color:

It's best to have all of the ingredients measured and prepared to work quickly. I beat the egg whites first and therefore start them in the clean mixing bowl. I lined the brownie (square) baking pan with parchment paper.

7 oz bittersweet chocolate
10 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 c + 2 Tbsp granular sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla sugar
6 large eggs (separated)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 c ground nuts (walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts)

  • Preheat oven to 360 degrees .
  • Measure the ingredients.
  • Line the pan with parchment paper.
  • Weigh and melt the chocolate (melt in the microwave). Use a heat-proof glass measuring cup. 
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff and shiny, add the salt, mix again and pour the stiff egg whites into a large bowl.
  • Beat together the oil and sugar, add the egg yolks .

  • Add the ground nuts. 

  • Add the cooled chocolate. 
  • Add the beaten egg whites. Once you add the egg whites mix until just blended. 

  • Pour into the prepared pan.

  • Place on top rack of the oven, lower heat to 350 degrees for 15 minutes. 
  • Lower the heat to 325 degrees and continue to bake for 25 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a tester in the center. You do not want to over bake. 
  • Remove from oven and cool before slicing. The cake will have risen and then start to deflate.
  • These brownies keep well for several days when covered well and stored in the fridge. They freeze well.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Honey Cracked Wheat Terrine Bread (vegetarian)

Honey Cracked Wheat Terrine Bread (vegetarian version) 

Eli, this bread is for you: it's a partial whole wheat bread that can be stuffed with practically anything. You can let your imagination go wild. This version is vegetarian, but I'll have a meat-fruit version uploaded in a separate posting. 

A terrine is usually a stacked vegetable, pate or chopped meat combination that is pressed into a loaf shape and served by the slice.  A number of years ago Fred and I visited the Chicago Botanical Garden and sat through a fabulous cooking demonstration in the vegetable garden. The local celebrity chef demonstrated the ease in which we could whip up beautiful vegetable terrines. The process of making the terrine is interesting, but I'm more interested in working with yeast - and so this bread is a merging of the two techniques- a modified vegetable or meat/fruit or cheese/vegetable stack. 

When I lived in Manila the "ladies" would often have social lunches in their homes; a typical dish served at the time was a sandwich terrine that involved slicing a loaf of bread vertically to make four or five layers and then to spread sandwich spreads to create a layered appearance. At the time pimento cheese spread was popular, as were cold cuts and roasted vegetables. The layers were reassembled and the entire bread was "iced" like a cake with whipped cream cheese. The slices looked beautiful, the more colorful the spreads the more attractive the slices. 

This bread recipe, which is made with bread flour, whole wheat (I now use white whole wheat, available in supermarkets) and cracked wheat makes a lovely loaf of bread without any filling; however, it's substantial enough to support the layers of filling. 

I tried two different filling combinations this week: 
  •  breaded (cooked) eggplant slices and roasted sweet peppers

  • pate and granny smith apples (uploaded in a separate posting) 

We talked about it in the office (I brought in the eggplant and pepper loaf) and decided that I should try mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. 

Make the dough, let it rise. I use the stand mixer, but you can make this by hand mixing/kneading. 
Prep the fillings (the roasted vegetables can actually be made the day before or while the dough is rising the first time) 
Divide the dough, roll out portions and assemble the bread 
Allow to rise, apply an egg wash and bake

Roasting/baking the vegetables:
On a hot grill place 4 whole sweet peppers (color makes this bread more interesting, I used red and yellow peppers).  Grill the peppers, until soft and  blackened. After cooking, place the peppers in a small paper bag, and cool. This step will make the peppers easier to peel.  Peel the peppers when cool , pull off the stem, de-seed (you can wash off seeds under cold running water), slice in half length-wise.
Peel and slice (about 1/2- 3/4 inch) 1 medium to large eggplant. Dip into a beaten egg, dip into bread crumbs (flavored or plain) and place on a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with spray oil.  After you line up the breaded slices, spray the top of the the slices with spray oil.  Bake at 350 until soft (about 20-30 minutes).  Cool on the cookie sheet.

I didn't use onions, but plan to next time. Thick onion slices (2-3 onions), sauteed or grilled seem to me to be a good idea. 

Ingredients for the dough:
2 Tbsp active dry yeast mixed with 1 tsp sugar 
1 2/3 c warm water
15 oz bread flour 
1/2 c boiling water 
1/2 c cracked wheat 
1/3 c honey
2 tsp kosher salt 
3 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil 
13.5 oz white whole wheat (set aside 2 oz for dusting work surface during the final knead)
1 egg white

I make the bread in the kitchen-aide, but it can be mixed and made by hand.

Procedure for making the dough:
1. In a large bowl (or in the mixing bowl of the stand mixer) - dissolve the yeast, 1 tsp of sugar and water. Let stand and start to bubble (4-5 minutes). It will look like a bubbling mass, grayish in color.
2. Add the bread flour to the yeast, on slow speed mix so that the flour is hydrated. Let rest and proceed to preparing the cracked wheat.
3. In either a smaller bowl or a large glass measuring cup - mix the boiling water and cracked wheat. Let stand for about five minutes, it will start to cool.
4. To the cooking cracked wheat add: honey, salt and vegetable oil. Mix.
5. Add the cracked wheat mixture to the yeast/flour mixture and start to mix on low speed or mix well with a wooden spoon.
6. Add 10 oz of the white whole wheat flour to the bowl (you are adding almost all of the flour into the bowl. The dough will be sticky). Mix on medium speed for several minutes, you want everything to be hydrated, the dough will pull away from the side of the bowl, but will remain sticky and slightly lumpy (from the cracked wheat).  Cover and place in a warm place for an hour, it will double in bulk and look very puffy when the hour is up.
7. Stir down the dough (by hand) and turn out on a lightly floured board. Knead in enough of the remaining white whole wheat flour so that it is no longer sticky, but is still on the soft side and easy to work with. The baked bread is not expected to be crusty, so it's fine to use a glass loaf pan.
8. Divide the dough in half. Place one half in the bowl and re-cover.  Then take the half you are working with and divide into four equal pieces.

9. Shape one of the four pieces into an elongated oval, roll out in the shape of a rectangle that is slightly longer and wider than a large size loaf pan. Lay the rolled out dough in a greased (and dusted with cornmeal) loaf pan.

10. Roll out the next ball of dough to form the next layer.
11. Using one color pepper, layer onto the dough (using 1 pepper).  You may need to cut the pepper into strips in order for it to fit. Leave about 1/2 inch along all four sides of the layer clear of filling - you want the next layer of raw dough to re-bond onto the lower layer, "locking" the filling into the layer.
12. Lay the next layer of dough over the first layer of filling.
Tuck in the edges of the second layer so that it locks in the filling below. 
You might find using a soft dough scraper will help press one layer of dough to the other. 

13. Repeat with filling, 3rd layer of dough, filling and top with the 4th piece of dough. Make sure the edges are sealed, the bread will look "domed" because of the fillings that will thicken at the center of the assembled uncooked bread. 

14. Repeat the entire process with the other half of the dough resting in the bowl. 
15. Place in a warm, draft free place and allow to rise for about 45 minutes. The dough should rise above the edge of the pan.  
16. About 15 minutes before the rising period is completed, preheat the oven to 365 degrees. 
17. Gently wash the top of the breads with egg white. The baked bread will have a very shiny glaze. 
18. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30- 35 minutes. Finished bread will look golden and shiny. You can check the internal temperature - the thermometer will read between 185 and 190 degrees. 
19. Cool before slicing. Serve alone , with a salad, sliced cheese or warm tomato sauce for dipping. 

The vegetables make the inside of the bread moist - store the bread in the fridge to avoid spoilage. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Viennese Style Fruit Tart (Pareve)

This fruit tart is as easy to make as pizza. Since I made it in mid winter the fruit I used (and in the photo) is canned. Although delicious, it will be even better with fresh summer fruit.  Most of the Viennese recipes I read use fresh prune-plums, however for the tart pictured here I used canned plums and peach slices. Like most of my baking, I have made this version pareve (non-dairy).  I keep thinking that there might be a way to modify this to create a Passover version.

The tart is four layers of ingredients: the dough base, warmed jam, a layer of fruit and a layer of crumble topping. The fruit and crumble should be prepared while the dough is rising.  The assembled cake is baked on a baking or cookie sheet.  This cake can be made start to finish in under 3 hours (which, to me, means one evening).


  • 11 oz all purpose flour
  • .5 oz instant yeast (I used SAF gold, meant for "sweet dough") - approximately 1 scant Tbsp yeast
  • pinch kosher salt 
  • 3 egg yolks 
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1.5 oz sugar
  • 4 oz soy or rice milk (if you are ok with making the cake dairy, use milk) . Warm slightly in the microwave. 
  • grated lemon rind from one full lemon, or one heaping tsp lemon oil 
  • 2 oz margarine (or butter if you are going for the original dairy version) 
  • 2-3 Tbsp brandy or rum (optional) 
Fruit layer: 
  • 1c prune plums, sliced in half and pitted 
  • 1c peeled, pitted, sliced peaches 
Jam layer:
  • 1/2- 3/4 c warmed plum or apricot preserves
Crumble layer:
  • 4 oz all purpose flour
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 4 oz margarine (use butter if you are making the cake dairy)
  • 2 oz marzipan  (I use Love n Bake Marzipan, it comes in an 11 oz can, I divide the contents into 2 oz portions and freeze the remainder in small snack bags) .  Warm slightly in microwave. 
  • 2 oz chopped nuts (the Viennese recipes use hazelnuts, I use other tree nuts depending on what I have on hand) 
  • pinch kosher salt 
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 

Make the dough: 
1. In a large bowl or in the bowl of the kitchen aide add the flour, yeast, sugar (s) and salt. Mix. 

2. Add the warmed soy milk, egg yolks, margarine and lemon.  Mix on low speed, until the dry ingredients are hydrated.  The mixture will be feel greasy, but not too well hydrated, it should hold together when you mix. If necessary, add 2-3 additional Tbsp soy milk.  

3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, the wrap should lay loosely directly on the dough.  Place in a draft free area and allow to rise for 30 minutes.  When you check, the dough will not rise much, but will feel softer.  De-gas, re-cover and allow to rise for 30 more minutes (2 rises). 

4. Prepare the crumble by melting the margarine and mixing in the sugars, salt, cinnamon and flour. Cover with plastic wrap and chill while the dough is rising and you prepare the cake. 

5. Prepare the fruit (if you are using canned fruit, make sure the fruit is well-drained). 

6. Just before the completion of the second rise, warm the preserves. 
5. Preheat the over to 360 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. 

6.  Gently remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured board, pat into a rectangle shape (you'll be rolling the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick- initially shaping the dough into a rectangle will help the dough follow the direction of the rolling pin).  
7. Flip the dough, so that the top of the dough now has some of the 
residual flour from the rolling surface.  Heat the jam for under a minute (be careful, hot sugar burns) and spread across the dough, which should measure about 12 x 15 inches. 

You can tuck in the edges, in case it looks too rag-gy, the rectangle does not have to be perfectly square. 

8. Line up the fruit pieces on top of the preserve covered dough. Press slightly into the surface. The fruit can be lined up just to the edge of the dough. 

9. Remove the crumble from the fridge- sprinkle small pieces all over the top of the assembled dough. Sprinkle the brandy over the top of the cake. 

10. Bake 30-40 minutes.  The crumble and dough along the sides of the cake will be golden. Allow to cool before moving the dough.
NOTE: I served the cake at a staff meeting and got feedback that it was very good, but warming a bit would be even better. Come to think of it, maybe a bit of vanilla ice cream along with it.