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While I personally do not know anyone who has a problem with gluten in their diets, I wanted to experiment with a couple of gluten free recipes in case I am called to bake for someone who cannot tolerate this particular protein. It has previously never occurred to me that some people cannot enjoy regular grains like wheat, rye or barley and it was not until medical school that I learnt about celiac disease and how difficult it is for such patients to go about their daily grocery shopping and cooking.  We now have a reasonable wide range of gluten-free products in supermarkets and specialty stores but most of these unfortunately do not come cheap.

Coconut flour is one which can be safely consumed by anyone on a gluten-free diet without having to break the bank. Easily available in your local store [I found mine at Shoprite Tamarin under Lemcke Brand from South Africa], coconut flour, while being healthier that your refined wheat flour derivatives, will not give the same ‘lift’ during baking such that your cakes and muffins will lack the expected light and fluffy texture. If it is your first time, you will be surprised [like me!] to discover that this recipe, from King Arthur Flour, calls for less flour [as little as ¼ cup for a dozen muffins] and typically twice the number of eggs. This is because coconut flour readily absorbs moisture from the batter, so I think it does help to have a few fresh berries in there.

COCONUT FLOUR BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease six wells of a standard muffin pan.

  • Line the pan with greased muffin papers. Sift coconut flour and baking powder.

  • Mix it until well blended. Stir together the eggs, butter, honey, salt, and extracts.

  • Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are no visible lumps.

  • Gently fold the fresh blueberries into the batter till they are evenly incorporated.

  • Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup to about half full.

  • Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

  • Cool for about 5 minutes in pan, then transfer to a rack to cool. Makes 6 muffins.

Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins

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The classic financier, made with finely ground almonds, is something I bake every time I have extra egg whites left over from homemade custards or ice cream. Very basic in its ingredient list and baking method, the only lengthy step you will encounter is to brown a few knobs of unsalted butter to create the aromatic beurre noisette, which highlights the nutty flavor of this delicate loaf-shaped friandise.  For a twist, I switched the almond meal in Weekend Bakery‘s recipe to a good measure of ground pistachios with a light sprinkling of chopped nuts on top and they were as good as the traditional almond financiers. I am further encouraged to try them with other nuts like pecans or cashew nuts just to see which one I like best.

PISTACHIO FINANCIERS

Ingredients:

30 g pastry flour

50 g pistachios

25 g almond flour

150 g icing sugar

Pinch of kitchen salt

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

3 egg whites, room temperature

100g unsalted browned butter

20g pistachios, chopped

Method:

  • Shell the pistachios and grind them to a fine powder along with one teaspoon pastry flour.

  • In a bowl, combine sugar, salt, pastry flour, almond flour, pistachios and almond extract.

  • Add egg whites and stir with a whisk until you have a smooth mixture, 1 minute is enough.

  • Add browned butter in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Transfer it to a piping bag.

  • Put it in the fridge for one hour. Preheat your oven to 200 °C / 390 °F conventional setting.

  • Now fill the prepared financier molds and sprinkle the tops with roasted chopped pistachios.

  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave in pan for 5 minutes before turning out.

  • Cool completely on a wire rack. Financiers are best eaten while fresh. Makes 12 financiers.

Pistachio Financiers

Make this fabulous crêpe cake for a show stopping dessert by stacking layers of homemade crêpes, fluffy whipped mascarpone and a good dose of Bonne Maman apricot preserves [or your favorite jam] and topping the lot with roughly chopped pistachios. The recipe from Honest Cooking makes about 15 thin crêpes so you will end up with a fairly tall tower so I recommend freezing the cake after every 3-4 layers to make assembly easy, or rather, less messy. If you do not want the hassle of making a crêpe cake, you can always serve the crêpes rolled up with the mascarpone and apricot filling or with a assortment of gourmet jams on the side for your guests to have their pick.

MASCARPONE APRICOT CREPES

Ingredients:

For the Crêpe Batter

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup full cream milk

3/4 cup cold water

3 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Mascarpone Filling

2 cups mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

13oz Jar of apricot preserves

1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

Method:

  • For the crêpes, combine all ingredients in a blender. Process until combined. Do not over mix.
  • Rest the crêpe batter for at least 1 hour at room temperature or for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

  • For the filling, whisk chilled cream over high speed for about 1 1/2 minutes until soft peaks form.
  • Add mascarpone, sugar and salt to bowl. Whip for about 1-2 minutes over medium-high speed.

  • Fold the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture. Cover and refrigerate until it is ready to use.
  • For apricot topping, add 1/2 cup preserves to a small sauce pan with salt and 1 teaspoon of water.

  • Bring to a simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add additional water, as needed, if it becomes too thick.
  • Lightly grease a 10-inch nonstick crêpe pan with butter and pour 1/4 cup crêpe batter into the pan.

  • Rotate pan in a circular motion to coat the bottom evenly. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on one side.
  • The top should be dry and bottom side is lightly brown. Flip it and cook for about 30-60 seconds.

  • Repeat with remaining batter. To serve, spread about 1 tablespoon of apricot preserves on crêpe.
  • Top with about 3 tablespoons of the mascarpone filling. Spread evenly, do not blend the layers.

  • Continue to stack crêpes with alternating layers of apricot and mascarpone, ending with crepê.
  • Drizzle with apricot topping and scatter chopped pistachios on top of cake. Serve immediately.

Mascarpone and Apricot Crêpes

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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