Badass Hasselback Apples

So at this point we've all heard of hasslelback potatoes right? Like it's not a new thing to cut lots of slivers into a potato then bake it with cheese melted in and all sorts of wonderful shit. But what about hassleback apples? The worlds most amazing dessert comprising of an apple with little slivers full of cinnamon and spices and topped with ice cream? Well, let's right that injustice shall we?  Although lots of these recipes are gluten free already, the hassleback apples I most admired - and for the record, I don't even like apples in real life (not doused as a dessert in cinnamon and butter) - had a glutenous crispy pie-like topping to finish them off which didn't think too much about it until I was about ten minutes from eating time when I just needed to figure my life out. 

Thank god I'm a genius and remembered the gluten free bisquick mix we have for pancakes, which I used as a flour substitute and worked PERFECTLY. Now you too can experience the decadence of a semi-healthy (depending on your ice cream serving on top)dessert with minimal work and lots of flavor. On to it!

Serves: 6

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 apples - pick firm apples that can withstand your cutting and baking; I went with honeycrisp
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted on low in microwave
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour, or gluten free Bisquick pancake mix 
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter, diced into tiny pieces
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wash, peel, cut apples in half and core. For non-apple-corer-owners (me), a small spoon should do the trick, then use a knife to carefully remove anything else in there without going in too deep.
  2. Here's the hardest part: with apples cut-side down, slice into the apple as close as you can to the center without actually reaching it, so your apple will end up with lots of deep slices that can be filled with your buttery-sugary mixture. The trick here is really to go slowly with a good knife, but I think even the best of us will make a few mistakes. Your cuts should also not all go straight down - on the sides of the Apple, try to cut with your knife at the angle of the table, until you reach the middle and your knife is directly over (if I'm confusing you, I've found this excellent video on Tasty that should be more helpful).
  3. Melt butter on low heat for 40 seconds or so in the microwave, then stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, salt nutmeg and vanilla extract. While you have your butter out, you may want to cut the butter for that topping now then put it in the freezer to chill for optimal effect.
  4. Place apples on parchment paper or aluminum foil on top of a cookie sheet, sliced side up. Use a pastry brush or spoon to coat your apples, although I strongly believe you should really go all in and open the apples with your hands like fans to get some of the mix inside the apple slices. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. While apples are baking, mix together gluten free flour, white sugar, then add in the cold chopped butter. When 20 minutes is up, turn oven up to 425°, add topping to each apple, and return to oven for 15 more minutes. Top with ice cream, and save leftovers (if you know what leftovers are) for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge.

Chocolately Peanut Buttery Heaven! (Cookies)

Mondays are just the worst. I've yet to meet someone in person who actually enjoys them, just seen a few errant posts on social media in the past alerting me to the fact that they exist. At this point I am going to engage in a bit of self-congratulations that I've avoided becoming friends with any of them in real life thus far. Keep up the good work, me. Hope you can say the same! 

So while those weirdos already have something to celebrate in that it's already Monday again, here's a little something for the rest of us: sugary, salty, dense-yet-not-heavy peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. We'd been in the mood for some kind of peanut butter cookie in the last few weeks, and in the past they're the kind of treat that we've enjoyed either in othe humongous cookie form from a bakery or in those little buttery peanut butter cookies that come with a Hershey's kiss on top that family makes for parties. What do you call those? Something about kisses, right? Well, this cookie gives those bad boys a real one up, since it provides many of the same ingredients but in a more accessible format. The kisses version forces you to either go all in on one bite - where's the rest of the cookie after that? - or nibble on the chocolate as you eat the cookie around it. No more! Now every bite is full of these wunderkinds.

This recipe is my own version of a ton of other recipes I found - a gluten free peanut butter cookie google search came up with fairly similar recipe recommendations from Real Simple, the Food Network, Whole Foods, and a billion other sources. I read all of them then felt I was newly knowledgeable enough to risk messing everything up by doing things like changing the ratios of white-to-brown sugar, using mini chocolate chips, and adding cinnamon (I think cinnamon is a must for cookies, even if you don't notice it). With a nice cup of English Breakfast tea, two of these would be a great snack or filling dessert before bed.

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 8 (2 cookies each)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (creamy is another gross word but it had to be said! No chunky pb)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (check that it's gluten free!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon - adjust to your taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or small pinch) sea salt
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips - use your best judgement here. I eyeballed the Nestle mini semi-sweet chips (with a mandatory toll of one handful straight to my mouth of course)

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet (probably going to need 2 sheets) with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixing bowl if you have a stand mixer), add both sugars and peanut butter. Beat on high with a hand or stand mixer for 2-3  minutes, until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in egg, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon and salts and blend together on low. Once all are sufficiently combined add chocolate chips until they look as chocolately and delicious as you'd pictured when you first read this recipe (you're imagining it now aren't you? Good) and mix just a little bit more on low to evenly distribute. Mini chips are key here, so you may want to think about roughly chopping any bigger chocolate you have on hand.
  4. Roll into cookies around one inch. Isn't it annoying when people say one or two inch cookies? Like, just tell me to palm it and see how it looks. You'll probably notice that this dough isn't as, well, doughy as other cookies you've work with. It's not dry, but it seems to be happiest in it's own little pieces, so use both hands to help it stick together as happy little balls. Add to the parchment paper using your discretion in terms of how far apart they should be (trust: major key to success).
  5. The recipes I'd read recommended trying the classic little cross-hatch pattern with a fork on the top. I tried it, but found to do it best I needed to sort of cup the cookies with one hand while lightly pressing in the fork with the other. Even then they liked to crumble off on their own, so you might want to skip this step.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even baking. When edges are starting to firm up pull 'em out and transfer the cookies on the parchment to a wire rack or cutting board.

 

Extra note: There's a little salt in these already, but I also made a few with a sprinkle of sea salt on top. If you're a salt-on-cookies kinda gal/lady/person it's definitely worth adding to at least some of your batch! Just make sure to label them for your friends that are on the sweeter end of the spectrum.

Bag these right up for later in the week or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days!

 

Life Made Simple's Insane Flourless Brownies

Holy freaking moly. I've had the biggest fudge-y craving lately.  Like, seriously, I have been craving anything with that thick, chocolately fudge flavor and consistency. Whether that means fudge, brownies or hot fudge that I could heat in a jar and eat with a spoon. The problem with this craving was that I didn't want to try out a new gluten-free mix it or deal with the eventual xantham-gum reminder of mixes I've tried before, but I wasn't sure how to make something fudge-y without gluten. Thank god for this recipe I found then. After searching for hot fudge recipes, I remembered a great flourless chocolate cookie recipe I found in the New York Times Cooking app. Sadly I was missing powdered sugar and it's WAY too cold to go the store after Coming home from work, so I had to give that recipe a rain check. It got me thinking though - if there are gooey flourless cookie recipes, wouldn't there be some flourless brownie recipes too?

Natalie at Life Made Simple's flourless brownie recipe was one of the first ones up in my search, and I could tell from a quick skim through the post that it was a winner. There were only normal brownie ingredients (no avocados or black beans), and everything I needed was already at home! All I'd need was a little elbow grease (more on that in a few).

Honestly though, what most shocked me was how incredibly good these brownies are. They are  everything you're looking for in a brownie – gooey and chocolatey like the ones you take out a few minutes early - but these were perfectly cooked! I totally ignored Natalie's claim in her post that these tasted like the (expensive) Ghiradelli brownie mixes you can buy at Costco until I tried them - and they're actually better than those! I insisted that everyone in the family try some or take one to work the next day. I am still sort of shocked/disappointed that I didn't tell everyone they sucked so I could eat them all myself.

 My only, seriously only, problem with this recipe is super small and totally my own fault. I've mentioned before that I am a complete weakling. In this case I decided It would be more fun to be lazy than weak, with the thought that I'd have one less bowl to clean and I'd be a little bit stronger if I just whisked everything like the recipe called for instead of using my stand mixer for a few minutes. There was a bit more whisking involved than I expected - or more than my tiny wannabe muscles can manage. Next time I'll check my pride and use the KitchenAid. Cleaning an extra bowl isn't a bad deal for these suckers, and if you're like Popeye (with brownies instead of spinach) I think you'll be fine. 

With Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips, a few pieces of Godiva dark chocolate I didn't eat yet (how I'll never know), and salted butter instead of unsalted (plus the few additional ingredients you can select your own brand for), I went straight in on this recipe. The idea of sifting also seemed a little over the top for me, so I poured the cocoa powder and cornstarch in a small cup and stirred together with a fork. Normally our oven cooks a little too fast, but these were ready in 24 minutes, right within the 22-30 minute cooking time.  I worried that the little flecks you can see in the picture above meant I hadn't whisked - though I was getting a leeetle bit sweaty in a freezing cold house - enough. There were no problems  though - no grainy bits at all, just perfect chocolatey happiness.

 

 

 

Fantastic recipe! I never imagined a google search would provide such lucrative results! Here's the link to the recipe again if you missed the embedding above and don't want to scroll (I don't blame you!): http://lifemadesimplebakes.com/2014/07/rich-fudgy-flourless-brownies/ .Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that it'll be a weekly staple now? 

The Case of The Homemade Rustic Bread

God damn. From the picture you'd think my first g-free bread attempt went swimmingly, right? Like that is some good-looking bread. Smelled great too. Then you pick it up and try to cut it. A normal knife could only scrape the surface of that bad boy, and when I tried to use an electric knife I ended up with a thumb gash that a week later my mom decided I should've had stitched up.

So.

This recipe is more of an adventure for our readers than it is a ringing endorsement.

My poor dad has been a real trouper about his non-wheat bread, but it's been clear that there's a difference between his bread with wheat and his current version. I attempted to mitigate this transition by creating America's Test Kitchen's gluten free rustic bread, using their flour blend - all found in their "How Can It Be Gluten-Free Cookbook Vol. 2" (spoiler alert: I can tell you how for this recipe). I should mention that although this bread was nearly impossible to cut - watching what looked like sawdust from the crust being cut as I finally succeeded with the knife was a real turn-off - it doesn't taste that bad. In fact, my dad said it was the closest he'd tasted to real bread so far. All you'd do is wrap a piece in a damp paper towel and microwave for ten seconds, slather with butter, and enjoy a pretty decent snack.*

Long story short - ATK's cookbook is great if only for their ideas, and I'm hoping by creating more recipes that I'll end up loving their book, but I would not recommend making the rustic bread.

Everything looks and smells beautiful, but for the price of the ingredients and time involved it'd be easier to buy this at a local G-Free store and save your finger from being sliced.

 

 

*EIGHT. HOURS. LATER.