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Left-Over Pumpkin Puree

4 Dec

So what do I do with the rest of the pumpkin puree that I made for the pumpkin pie? I was thinking about making a pumpkin ice cream, but them my husband thought about making a persimmon ice cream with the coconut milk so I let him have fun with that (he used the fuyu ones, but I think it might have been better with ripe hachiya, so will have to explore more on that later). So I made some pumpkin spice bars! I found a recipe from Lynn’s Recipe Adventures called Gluten-Free Chocolate Pumpkin Bars, where I substituted the egg with EnerG Egg Replacer and left out the chocolate chips completely. My husband needed the chocolate chips for my birthday cake frosting. (I’ll see if he can share the recipe he used for my birthday cake, it was so good!)

The pumpkin bars came out so moist and delicious. I would definitely try adding the chocolate chips next time. I will look into non-dairy cream cheese frosting to put on top of this pumpkin bar and I think I’ll be in heaven.

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Thou shalt not compare

29 Nov

This past weekend was Mantou’s Mom’s birthday (I won’t reveal which one). Another birthday, another allergen-free cake. I picked the recipe and made it (though MM made the frosting). I quite liked it. It was a bit different from the cake at Mantou’s 1st birthday, but not too different. In general, the wheat-free cakes seem to be dense and spongy. I assume it’s the rice flour that contributes the most to these properties.

My folks called to wish MM happy birthday, and inevitably we talked about the cake. After mentioning the sponginess, my mother asked if it was spongy like angel food cake. It’s at that point that I realized the problem with making allergen-free foods. We always compare them to their allergen-filled counterparts. Every time we make a wheat-free, egg-free, milk-free, nut-free cake, we compare it to our memories of the “normal” cakes we’ve had all our lives. I realized that this is unfair to our new creations. It’s like constantly comparing the baby in the family to the eldest instead of just celebrating the baby’s unique qualities and faults. So I’m determined to stop comparing and start assessing based on our allergen-free foods own merits. Perhaps a new vocabulary is in order. Instead of “wheat-free bread”, maybe we should just call it “pano”. “Wheat-free cake” could be “kuko”. Then when we serve it people won’t jump to make that comparison.

Instant Mix, Instant Success

17 Oct

My family celebrated a couple of birthday’s this weekend. We were invited to Mantou’s cousin’s 2nd birthday. It was our first birthday event with many toddlers. Mantou seemed to enjoy himself and play with all the toys that the birthday boy shared. There was a bbq lunch so we ate some lettuce wrapped burgers and a few hot links. We stayed long enough to sing to the birthday boy but didn’t stick around for the Toy Story themed cake, though it did look amazing. At this point in time, Mantou really doesn’t know the concept of birthdays or birthday cakes so he didn’t know the difference.

We left the birthday party early so that Mantou could take his nap. We wanted him refreshed so that he could celebrate Papa’s birthday dinner. During his nap, I went shopping to find a instant cake mix that was gluten-free. I would substitute the butter, milk, or eggs that the mix called for. I had no luck finding a gluten-free mix at Safeway so I had to go to another store. I could have sworn Safeway sold gluten-free mixes but I just did not see any. So I went to Lucky’s and found Ms. Better Crocker’s chocolate cake gluten-free mix. It wasn’t on sale like the other Better Crocker mixes on the shelf so I had to shell out $4.99 a box. I was going to make my own frosting but after reading all the frosting ingredients found one from Pillsbury that did not have wheat or dairy.

I made two boxes worth but thinking about it, should have just stuck with one box. We didn’t need 24+ cupcakes, we were only 11 people! I substituted Earth Balance spread for the butter and applesauce for the eggs. Since I had to substitute for 6 eggs, that called for a lot of applesauce which increased the volume of the batter. Next time I’m going to use EngerG Replacer. I put the cupcakes in the oven and put the timer on for the appropriate time written on the box. Because I was making two batches in the oven, the cupcakes did not bake completely so I added another 7 minutes.

I let the cupcakes cool completely and then “tested” one out. The cupcakes were heavy, the inside of the cupcake was a bit “mushy”, but in general it tasted pretty good. I covered the cupcakes with chocolate frosting, added a little raspberry on top, and sprinkled some colorful sugar confetti on top of them. It looked pretty darn yummy. I would definitely make cake from Betty Crocker again. It was a hit with everyone. Mantou even enjoyed it!

Nice Try Brownie Mix

26 Sep

I was so looking forward to making gluten-free brownies after finding a pre-mix from Trader Joe’s. I figured I could just substitute the eggs by using the Ener-G egg replacer and follow the rest of the ingredients as the package mentioned. Ugh, this was one of the worst experiences I have ever had with a gluten-free pre-made mix. The ingredient list calls for a lot of oil. The package does mention that a “healthier version” would be to replace all the oil with applesauce – which when I think back, should have- but was mentioned as an after thought. When I first mixed it up I should have known that something was not right. The dough was very not cake-like and consistency was very solid. After baking for the recommended time I peaked in and the mix was bubbling but not in a good way. I added 10 minutes to the cooking time because I figured it was not ready. I was trying to find a short-cut and this was not it. Back to the drawing board on brownie mixes. Either that, use apple sauce instead of all that oil or find a home-made brownie recipe.

Woman on the Moon

12 Sep

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! There are a few stories about this day but I know the one about the woman flying to the moon. Based on Chinese folklore tonight represents the moon at its brightest because of the love between a husband and wife. The wife flew to the moon after consuming a magical elixer and was not able to return to Earth.  When the sun and moon align, the night sky is brightly illuminated because of their love. That’s the story, more or less. Tonight, Chinese families will be celebrating mid-autumn with pastries called moon cakes.

When I was growing up I only liked one kind of moon cake, the lotus paste with double egg yolk. I didn’t understand how my dad liked the nutty ones or the date ones. When I went to China as a language teacher, I received moon cakes as gifts too. I was given fruity and chewy ones. I had never had anything like those before while in the states.

This year I was thinking about making moon cakes but after reading recipes about how to make them, I decided it was one task too big. I didn’t have the moon cake presses and the appropriate ingredients. I will have to try to make them another year.

My family decided to celebrate the harvest moon one day earlier at my parents’ house. I was a little sad that I couldn’t eat the moon cakes but my mom wanted me to eat, so she cut off the pastry shell and eggs so that I could have a little bit of the lotus seed paste. I also shared some of the lotus paste with Mantou and he enjoyed it as well. No allergic reaction, so it was a good night.

Tonight, make sure you look up at the moon and give your loved ones a big hug and kiss.