white and dark clusters

Amys Gluten Free Pantry

I think the only reason my children make candy with me is the reward of licking the chocolate drenched spatulas. It’s a good deal for everyone, actually. While making my traditional bark that my husband hands out at work each year, I came up with this little treat. It’s lovely to look at, but the taste is one of those really perfect balances of savory and sweet with the surprise of cinnamon. I’m always encouraging people to mess around with recipes, but really, try this one just the way it is – divine.

The key is using roasted, salted almonds. Odd as it may seem, salt is the perfect counter measure to chocolate. It makes it taste full and balanced. It provides that quality that makes you want another piece. My only advice – make extra!

Prep time: 10 minutes:
Total time: 2 hours
Yield: as much as you want
Special equipment: sheet pan and parchment paper

I’m giving general measurements here, because you can produce as much as you want, with just a few guidelines:

about 8 ounces dark chocolate (I use the 72% dark chocolate block from Trader Joe’s), chopped
about 12 ounces white chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s white chocolate chips)
about 1 c. roasted, salted almonds

  1. Arrange parchment upon sheet pan.
  2. Place almonds atop pan in groups of four.
  3. Melt white chocolate over double boiler, tempering it.
  4. Using a table spoon measurement, (or a soup spoon), drop white chocolate onto almond cluster and wait until it sets about 45 minutes.
  5. Melt dark chocolate over double boiler, tempering it.
  6. Using a table spoon measurement, (or a soup spoon), drop slightly less amount of dark chocolate onto almond cluster, so that the chocolate drapes over the white chocolate but doesn’t obscure it.
  7. After 10 minutes, dust the clusters with cinnamon. Allow clusters to set further another 45 minutes.

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goat cheese christmas log

Amys Gluten Free Pantry

I was trying to come up with something festive for a client’s holiday party when I spied scallions and fresh cranberries in the fridge. Here’s the result – a luscious goat cheese log with scallions and orange spiced dried cranberries. Delicious and so pretty for Christmas. The creaminess of the cheese pairs perfectly with the crunch of an almond or rice cracker. Wash it down with a Champagne Cosmopolitan Cocktail and you’ve got a party!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 1 log that serves 8 as an appetizer

1 10.5 oz. log of room temperature goat cheese
1/2 c. dried cranberries (Trader Joe’s sells amazing orange flavored ones*)
1/4 c. finely chopped scallions

  1. Soak the cranberries in boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Drain and finely chop.
  2. Upon a long piece of plastic wrap, spread the cranberries and scallions into a rectangular shape no longer that the log.
  3. Roll log in mixture, pressing so the ingredients adhere.
  4. Roll log tightly in plastic wrap, twisting the ends firmly so that it looks like a fat, little sausage.
  5. Refrigerate until needed. Remove 20 minutes before serving. Goat cheese thats too cold will crumble and you want this creamy.

*If you can’t find orange-infused cranberries, use regular cranberries and 1/2 tsp. orange zest.

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thanksgiving countdown – cranberry relish

Amys Gluten Free Pantry

Whether you’re preparing for an intimate meal or are expecting a house full, if you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, there are plenty of things you can do ahead of time. In fact, there are a few items that taste better done in advance. My cranberry relish is one of them. I make my relish at least a week in advance so that all the flavors can develop. It’s just like making refrigerator jam. Super easy, super quick and do-ahead.

You can add anything you like to this relish – raisins, nuts, chopped apples. My family likes it the way my grandmother and mom made it. Set it into an sealed glass container and you’ve taken one thing off your list.

This year I used organic cranberries which tend to come in 8 ounce packages instead of the standard 12 ounce. Here’s a recipe using 8 ounces of cranberries.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 8 oz package fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
2/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. orange juice
tiny pinch of salt
1 cinnamon stick

  1. Place all ingredients into saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until most of the cranberries have popped. Cool and refrigerate. Remove cinnamon stick prior to serving.

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chocolate dipped macaroons

Amys Gluten Free Pantry

I really think macaroons are the poster child for gluten-free treats. Plus, you’ve got to love a “cookie” that dates back to 16th century Italy. Over the years, Italian Jews adopted the recipe due to a lack of leavening (no flour). Over the next centuries, the recipe underwent a few cultural iterations.

Here in the states, we associate macaroons with shredded coconut, but really they first originated with an almond base. In fact, the multicolored French variety, macaron, is still made with almonds. Gradually, Americans replaced the almond base entirely for shredded coconut and in many cases, added a dip in chocolate.

Even though the modern recipe is very much the same, I find each family has their own secrets. My grandmother heightened her egg whites with a dash of cream of tartar and I’m fairly certain she slightly toasted the coconut before folding it into the stiff egg whites. Go dig for your family recipe and if you come up short, try these.

I made bite sized macaroons with the assistance of my mini ice cream scooper, but they can be made into a loftier specimen by simply dropping them with a soup spoon. I tried agave with this recipe and didn’t like the spongy texture. I try not to eat a ton of sugar, but every once in a while when we do, I don’t mess with tradition.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30-35 minutes
Yield: 34 small cookies
Special equipment: parchment paper,  mini ice cream scooper (optional) 3 cookie sheets, stand mixer or hand mixer, double-boiler (optional)

4 large egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut, plus 3 T set aside
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Trader Joe’s) optional

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Combine egg whites, sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until glossy and stiff peaks form.
  4. Gently fold coconut into egg white mixture until evenly combined.
  5. Drop scoops of mixture atop parchment paper lined baking sheets with mini ice cream scooper or spoon.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until just golden.
  7. Remove to cooling rack for 30 minutes until completely cool.
  8. Melt chocolate over double boiler, (or very carefully over lowest heat) stirring constantly until smooth.
  9. Remove from heat and dip macaroons. Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle with reserved shredded coconut. Cool and eat.



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banana berry scones

Amys Gluten Free Pantry

Okay, admittedly I’m on a bit of a scone kick. I can’t help myself with my recent discovery of Lucy’s amazing almond flour and all the fresh, organic berries Southern California has to offer.

A note about Lucy’s and other small businesses. No, it won’t arrive two days later by drone, but you can be happy you are patronizing a small business. The flour is extremely well processed and is lighter and rises better than anything else I’ve found out there. Thanks to my friend Erika for introducing me to it. Incidentally, after a phone call to place my order, I got my delivery three days later.

These freeze beautifully, but like most baked goods, are best five minutes out of the oven. Slather with butter or jam, or just eat on their own for a quick and easy breakfast or a nutritious afternoon snack.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 15 muffins
Special equipment: ice cream scooper and parchment paper (if desired)

4 c. almond flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs (I use 3 extra large or 4 large)
1/3 c. agave, honey or maple syrup
1 large, very ripe banana, mashed
1/3 c. fresh blueberries
1/3 c. fresh raspberries
1/3 c. fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced into pieces the size of blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix almond flour, baking soda and salt together.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and agave until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix.
  5. Add mashed banana and mix.
  6. Fold fresh berries into batter by hand until combined.
  7. With ice cream scooper, place scoop onto parchment paper lined (or oiled) baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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