Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dark Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes

I think these cupcakes are suppose to be considered Devil's Food, but you know what?

THEY'RE A TASTE OF HEAVEN, so I refuse to call it by that. How about a slice of what life's suppose to taste like? That sounds like a way more appropriate name.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, loves these cupcakes. I made them for my in-laws on their last visit in town and they took a dozen back to Michigan to share with everyone. I got multiple calls and emails asking if I actually made them and if so, I should open a bakery.

For the cake:
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Lake Champlain brand)
1 1/4 cups hot water (the hotter, the better)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon, but that dirties more dishes)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon (or 3 teaspoons, again with the dishes thing) xantham gum
3 cups gluten-free flour

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper lining cups in two muffin pans or butter and line two 8- or 9-inch pans.

In a medium to large bowl, whisk cocoa powder and hot water together until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, melt butter and sugar over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until butter is completely melted. Remove bowl and begin beating butter-sugar mixture for 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, incorporating after each addition, vanilla, sour cream and cocoa-water mixture. Scrape down sides of bowls and beaters, mix again.

Slowly add kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda and xantham gum. Slowly add flour, incorporating after small amounts, scrape down sides and beat a minute or two.

Divide batter into cupcake or cake pans. Bake in 350 on middle rack until set and cake tester comes out clean. For two eight inch pan rounds, 25 to 30 minutes; for cupcakes, 22 to 25 minutes; mini-cupcakes, 12 to 15 minutes.

Let cool.

For frosting:

1 pound semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled (I use Ghiradelli brand)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup hot water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and one cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, salt and cocoa-water mixture. Slowly add melted chocolate chips.

Slowly add more powdered sugar until it's at a consistency and sweetness you like. You can also put the mixture in the fridge and beat occasionally.

If you beat the mixture a little, you will have a dark, dense, rich chocolate frosting (like in photos). If you over beat you will have a light, fluffy, whipped chocolate mixture. Make it how you like it.

Frost the cupcakes (or cakes) and enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Before I was diagnosed with my wheat allergy, I was addicted to a local restaurant's creamy chicken and wild rice soup. Anytime I felt the least bit sick or sad or premenstrual or the sun was shining I figured I "deserved" a bowl (or four) of that delicious soup.

It's been years since I've had it. I've been working on recreating that soup and crying every time I failed.

Guess what! I finally didn't fail.

Gluten-Free Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
one medium onion, diced
four carrots, diced
four stalks of celery, diced
sea salt and black pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
one pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (whole)
2 cups wild rice*
32 ounces chicken broth
2 to 4 cups of water
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup milk (or half-and-half, whatever you have on hand)

In a large stockpot, heat up oil. Add onion, carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook on medium to medium-high heat until softened and onions are close to translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add thyme, bay leaves, chicken, wild rice, chicken broth and two cups of water. Bring to a boil.

Cover pot and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove chicken from the pot and shred or dice meat. Return meat to the pot and add more water if it's really thick. Continue simmering (with the lid on) until rice is tender, about 30 more minutes.

Remove lid and add cream cheese and milk**. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until cream cheese is melted. Taste soup for seasonings and serve!

*I use Lundberg Jubilee (pink label) wild rice mix -- guaranteed to not contain cross-contamination glutens.

**Make it dairy-free! Do not add cream cheese and milk. Or, do what I did and place about half of the soup at this step in a separate pot and add half the amount of cream cheese and milk. This way my husband and I enjoyed the creamy version while our kids, who are allergic to dairy, had the same soup without the allergens.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gluten-Free Orange Cranberry Bread

I have this "issue."

I have to eat within 30 minutes of waking up or my blood sugar goes all wonky and it shows in my complete lack of patience with the world.

Enter muffins, waffles, pancakes and sweet breads. Where would I be without you?

With the addition of protein (gluten-free sausages or scrambled eggs), a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee I'm set to start the day.

Perhaps the best part of this recipe is that there's no waiting to make it. If you have the ingredients, you're ready to go. No waiting on pesky butter to come up to room temperature.

Gluten-Free Orange Cranberry Bread

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt, sour cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons xantham gum
2 cups gluten-free flour
1 cup (or more!) fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly butter a loaf pan (preferably with the leftover butter wrapper). In a large bowl, combine melted butter and sugar; one-by-one add orange juice, eggs, yogurt (or sour cream or milk, whatever you have on hand - it's called cooking, not quantum mechanics) and vanilla. Slowly add salt, baking soda, baking powder and xantham gum; mix until well combined. In smallish scoops (1/3 cup to 1/2 cups at a time) add gluten-free flour slowly and combine thoroughly. Pour cranberries in and let them mash up a bit (if you have ocd you can always chop them first but I think that requires a special kind of crazy).

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, smooth out the top and bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on size of loaf pan and whether the cranberries are fresh or frozen, until cake is done.

Let bread cool in the pan for about an hour - the domed top will likely fall but not collapse. If you like, you can whisk up a sweet orange glaze with about a cup of powdered sugar and a tablespoon or so of orange juice.

If you family is anything like mine, it may last 24 hours. It's delicious.

Make it dairy free -- replace butter with canola oil; replace yogurt with soy-yogurt, soy milk or rice milk

Make it egg-free -- replace eggs with 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce