Friday, May 29, 2009

Simple Simon's Apple Pieman

apple pieman with vanilla ice cream

This is the easiest fruit crumble to make. I like to use old apples that have seen better days, but any fruit will do. Just remember to cut them into even sized pieces. Berries would be great too. And all the better with ice cream on top! No one will guess that this a gluten free goodie. Bon Appetit.

cast of characters

Gluten free apple tarts in a bowl. Simple pieman pie.

  • 6 large apples (or other fruit)
  • 1-2 tbspn white sugar
  • 1-2 tbspn brown sugar
  • lots of cinnamon
  • nutmeg

Peel apples. (see the peeler for simple pieman use). Chop into even chunks, about 1/2 inch. Drop in a bowl, and add the sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir and let rest.

A word about the peeler. It is genius. No more extra finger peels in the food! Safety first, and because I am a supreme klutz, this is the best peeler ever. It will do an apple in a few seconds because you can whiz around and get almost the whole peel in swoop. It's the little things, people, the little things, that count.

make the fruit chunks even

add the dry stuff

really cool peeler

Meanwhile mix up the topping.

  • 1.5 cups of gluten free flour
  • pinch of xanthan gum
  • lots of cinnamon
  • some nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 8 plus 2 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

Using a food processer, dump the flour, xanthan, sugar and seasoning into the work bowl. Place the chuncks of butter around and into the flour carefully (don't get your fingers near the blade). Give it a couple of whirls until it looks like pebbles or large sand.

Alternatively, you can also do this by hand with a fork or a pastry blender. Dry ingredients first, then the butter. Don't overwork it. Just get it to the pebble looking stage.

pop all the topping stuff into the processor

add the cut up butter on top

whiz until it looks like cornmeal

Place the apple (or other fruit) chunks into oven safe bowls. Tap the bowls to settle the apples. Next, spoon the topping evenly on all the bowls and again, tap lightly to distribute. You want some of the topping to sink into the apple spaces. Make sure the top is covered pretty much - a few chunks sticking out are ok.

apples into the bowls first

topping is topped with butter & cinnamon

Add more cinnamon and nutmeg (optional at this point). Take a couple more tablespoons of very cold unsalted butter and chop into small pieces and place in the bowls.

Place the bowls on a large cookie sheet for easier handling. Bake at 375 for about 40-50 minutes. You want the top to look set and a bit brown and the apples to be thoroughly cooked. You can stick a knife into the apple mix to see if they are soft enough.

piping hot from the oven

If the top is cooking too quickly and the apples are not quite done, turn the oven to 350 and keep checking.

This makes as many servings as you wish. You can use big bowls, or smaller bowls, or add more apples.

Optional but there goes the simple pieman: nuts, raisins, other fruit.

Serve alone or with a big scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ultra Thin Chocolate Chunks - The Oxymoron Edition

As you've probably guessed, we have an awful lot of chocolate around here. We are always collecting it, like wine, and trying to find ways to eat it that require some sort of magical arrangement that results in gluten free treats.

More than intrigued with the numbers of ways to incorporate chocolate chunks in cookies, we came across a recipe that belongs to Alice Medrich, of the late Cocolat, and of immense chocolate fame.

We were once lucky enough to take a chocolate class with Alice and our life has never been the same. But then again, since having to maintain a gluten free diet, making great treats has never been the same. The science of one does not always translate easily to the other. It is a trial and error deal.

But I am happy to say that this recipe from the Scharffenberger Chocolate Book, The Essence of Chocolate and contributed by Alice Medrich worked out pretty well in the conversion to gluten free.

It is one of the fastest and easiest chocolate chunk cookies to make. I love ultra thin crispy cookies and this one does not disappoint.

chocolate chunks extraordinaire

the chocolate is still warm

Ultra Skinny Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Gluten Free


  • 1 1/4 plus 1 heaping tablespoon gluten free flour
  • pinch of xanthan gum
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (but not hot)
  • very scant 1/2 cup toasted gluten free oats (Bob's Red Mill)
  • heaping 1/2 cup white sugar
  • tightly packed 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cream (half/half or milk will do)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch of vanilla
  • 1 bag of Scharffenberger semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or about 7 ounces of chocolate chunked with a knife


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Make sure to position racks in upper and lower third of oven. Line three baking sheets with foil. If the oats are not toasty, place them in a baking pan and toast for about 10 minutes. Cool. (I make extra for next time).

Mix the gluten free flour, xantan gum, salt and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt butter in microwave just until melted. In a large bowl mix together oats and melted butter. Stir in sugars, corn syrup, cream, vanilla and mix well.

melted butter, oats

Stir in the flour just until fully incorporated. Make sure the mixture is at room temperature or cooler and then add the chocolate chunks, mixing just until incorporated.

one bowl, one spoon, easy to mix

Scoop (about 1/4 cup each) about 15 cookies and place them, 5 to a cookie sheet. Four in the ends and one in the center, leaving plenty of room for them to spread (and they will!).

five dough scoops to a sheet

Using a piece of saran wrap over the dough, flatten the cookies to about 3 inches. You can use one piece of saran wrap to do all of them.

flattened with saran wrap

Place two sheets in the oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes total. About halfway rotate the sheets. They should look brown and not shiny. Don't overbake them! Slide the foil carefully onto cooling racks without touching the cookies. Let them cool completely.

foil on the cooling rack

Makes 15 absolutely perfect gluten free cookies. They will last covered in a tin or a cake plate with a cover for about 3 days, but they won't last that long.



Monday, May 4, 2009

The Long and Rocky Road, Gluten Free

Gluten Free Rocky Road Bars

Once in a while a bag of marshmallows finds its way into the house. Sometimes I make marshmallows from scratch for the heck of it. Then the inevitable happens. Rocky Road. I am a Rocky Road addict. I confess. RR ice cream. RR candy bars, RR anything. But since going gluten free, RR cookie bars have been a challenge. Graham cracker used to be the roadbed for the delightful array of nuts, marshmallows and chocolate. But graham is decidedly not gluten free. And all substitutes that pretend to be graham crackers are about as edible as wallboard.

But today, I present to you a simple and delicious Rocky Road bar, one that uses a made-up cookie crust for the roadbed. It is easy to do and much better than the same old boring graham cracker crust.

Though it is gluten free, no one will care or even know because they are just that good. A goodie that is piled high with mountains of toasted, salted nuts, dark chocolate, and marshmallows is a perfect treat and a brilliantly good day. Original recipe from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies. Adapted in L&P's gluten free test kitchen. New crust and a few tweaks. .

still warm, have a few

Rocky Road Bars, Gluten Free
cast of characters


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of gluten free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 mixed brown and white sugar any way you like
  • 1 cup bittersweet dark chocolate chips
  • 2 cups mini (or homemade marshmallows snipped to 1/2 inch )
  • 1 overflowing cup of your favorite nuts, roasted and salted


Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil (the idea is to lift the foil out when they are done and place it on a board to cut into pieces - also, easy clean up that way!)

Melt butter in the microwave or stove top. Stir the sugar, salt and vanilla into the melted butter. Add the xanthan gum and flour and mix so no lumps remain, but just until incorporated.

melted butter, sugar, vanilla, flour mixture

Before baking, chop the nuts coarsely. I like almonds, but any other nut will do. Just don't chop them too much.

whole roasted, salted almonds

coarse chop those almonds

flatten the dough into the pan, add the nuts, press down

Drop the mess into the prepared foil lined pan. Using a fork or your fingers (or monkey finger if you wish) press the stuff down until it is pretty solid. Remember to get the edges too so they don't crumble after baking. Press the chopped nuts into the base and bake.

Place in the 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until lightly brown and just about baked. It will still be slightly soft in the center.

still warm from the oven

Once the base is out of the oven, while still warm, place half the chocolate chips and spread them around. Do the same with half the marshmallows. Finish up with the chocolate and then the marshmallows. The idea is to layer it so that once things melt they melt together in layers. Vary it any way you like.

adding the goodies, first round

adding the goodies, 2nd round

ready to bake again

Place back in the oven and bake for about another 12 minutes or until the marshmallows are just turning color and the chocolate is melted.

Let it set until cool, which will be hard to do. Keep a handful of marshmallows and chocolate out to eat while you wait.

toasted marshmallows anyone?

Once cool, lift out and carefully remove the foil. Use a serrated knife and cut into 16 pieces. Enjoy!