Friday, August 28, 2015

Why Xanthan Gum?

Brian’s Baking Tips!
      One of the main things I hear when people try my gluten-free desserts for the first time is, “This tastes just like the real thing!”  They're not just talking about the flavor, but also about the texture and consistency.

Why would my desserts really differ that much from other bakers, you may ask?  Well, for starters, the different alternative flours that can be used, such as rice, almond, coconut, and millet can all make a big difference, but that is for another article.

Today we’re here to discuss xanthan gum and why I use it in my baking…

       So what is xanthan gum?  It is a thickening and stabilizing agent that can be sourced from corn, soy, wheat, and even dairy. Most commonly you’ll find that the majority of companies source from either corn or soy.
     Let’s dig a little deeper to see how we get xanthan gum.  It is named for the bacteria, xanthomonas campestris.  Okay, that doesn't tell us anything, so what is xanthan gum really made of?  It is a polysaccharide, which is the scientifical way of saying 'a string of multiple sugars.'  To actually create xanthan gum, the bacteria is allowed to ferment and grow on a sugar medium.  The resulting gel is then dried and ground to create the powder substance we know as xanthan gum.

SO why do we even want to use this in our gluten-free baking?  Because xanthan gum plays the important role of imitating gluten!  As you probably know, gluten is what makes dough, well...doughy!  Gluten gives elasticity to the dough which enables cakes and other baked goods to hold onto the gas bubbles that form inside them while baking, which is what causes them to turn into the classic 1970’s superheroes, The Wonder Twins.  “Shape of a cake!”  “Form of a cookie!”  (Sorry, I couldn't help myself...that was my nerd-out moment for this article.)
     So, in a nutshell, xanthan gum replicates the missing gluten in gluten-free baking.  That is why I personally choose to use a small amount of xanthan gum in most of my baking to ensure that my cakes, cookies, brownies, and other sweet treats have as similar a texture as possible to those delicious, classic treats we have all come to know and love!

Cheat Sheet

Cookies…. 1/4 tsp per cup of Flour

Cakes……… 1/2 tsp per cup of Flour

Muffins….. 3/4 tsp per cup of Flour

Breads……. 1 tsp per cup of Flour

Monday, August 24, 2015

Vegan Gluten-Free Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake...Cakewhich!

       As the old saying goes, some things just go together like peanut butter and jelly…so wait, why haven’t we ever seen a PB&J cake before???  Well, I decided I had to do something to remedy that!  So to the kitchen I went to take the most classic combo and bake it into dessert form!  I am happy to introduce to you my Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake, which also happens to be vegan and gluten-free...

You'll need:

1/2 peanut butter

2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3 tsp raspberry extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp vinegar

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

       Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare two round 9” pans by coating lightly with cooking spray or oil, then flouring with gluten-free flour.
       In a medium bowl, cream the peanut butter, coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy.  Then add in the extracts and continue whipping until fully creamed.

       Gradually, add in the Pumpkin.  mix well to combine all ingredients.

Combine Vinegar and coconut Milk in a small cup then set aside until needed.
     In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Then stir into the creamed mixture a little at a time, alternating with the milk.  Lastly, fold in the raspberries and peanuts

       Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center and the tops are a light golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup palm shortening

2 cups powdered sugar

coconut milk, as needed

       In a large bowl equipped with an electric mixer, whip the shortening and peanut butter together until fluffy.  Whip in one cup of powdered sugar, then add in a splash of coconut milk and mix.  Add the second cup of powdered sugar. followed by enough coconut milk to thin the mixture to a butter cream consistency.  Continue whipping until smooth.

   Spread the frosting over the bottom layer of cake for the filling, then place the second cake on top.  Finish frosting the top and sides of the cake with the REMAINING frosting.
       Enjoy...and hey, why not grab a glass of milk... coconut milk that is while you're at it?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vegan Gluten-Free Vanilla Pear Pecan Cake

       This week, I had some pears that were quickly becoming too ripe and were just begging to be used in a recipe.  So I made it my mission to use the pears as the primary ingredient in an entirely new, delicious creation...and I think I can say, mission accomplished!  I had so many happy customers who loved this and I believe I already have a request for another cake.

You'll need: 

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ¼ cups coconut oil, melted 

2 cups sugar 

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tsp coconut extract

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp vanilla protein, optional

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 2/3 cups Pears, chopped (approx. two medium pears)

1 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

       Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9” round pans by greasing and flouring.
       In a medium bowl, combine together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and vanilla.

    In a separate bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, Protein, and salt. Then slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.
Next, fold in the pears and pecans, followed by the shredded coconut and raisins.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for about 25–30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

       Once the cakes have finished baking, allow them to cool before assembling the layers.

Vanilla Crème Frosting
1 ½ cups coconut palm shortening

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract
coconut milk, as needed

       In a bowl using an electric mixer, cream the Shortening until smooth.  Add in one cup of powdered sugar and cream together until the butter is thick and crumbly.  Add in a splash of coconut milk and the vanilla extract, then whip until smooth.  Add in another cup of  powdered sugar followed by another splash of coconut milk, if needed.  Repeat this step, using the last of the sugar and continue to mix until creamy.
              Assemble the two-layer cake by placing a generous amount of frosting on the bottom layer, followed by placing the second cake on top of it.  Then use the rest of the frosting to cover the whole cake.  Yes, it’s that easy!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Brian's Classic Baklava

       Now, this isn’t my one of my usual healthy, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free creations...this recipe is full-on naughty!  But so delicious, it's definitely worth the splurge.  As far as I know, I don’t have a drop of Greek blood in me, but after trying my baklava, some of my friends and customers have insisted I must have some Greek roots in my ancestry!  I hope you enjoy this classic and delicious dessert!

You'll need:

1 16oz package of phyllo dough

1 cup Kerrygold butter, melted

cinnamon, as needed

        Preheat the oven to 350°F.  grease a 13x9 pan then set aside until needed.

        In a saucepan, melt the butter with a handful of pistachios.  Bring the butter to a boil, then turn down and let simmer while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.

        Unroll phyllo dough and carefully peel off two sheets.  Place on the bottom of the prepared pan, then use a pastry brush to generously spread melted butter across the dough.  

       Hint: place a damp paper towel over the roll of phyllo to keep it from drying out as you are working with it.

       Next, sprinkle a generous amount of pistachios over the dough followed by a sprinkle cinnamon. Then add two more sheets of phyllo dough.  Repeat this layering process four times or until you’ve used up the whole roll of dough. this should make it be about eight sheets deep from top to bottom.

       Next, use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into squares or the classic diamond shape.  Be sure to cut through all the layers to the bottom of the pan.  Place into the oven and bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown.
 Baklava Sauce

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

       In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil.  Allow the sugar to fully dissolve before adding in the honey and vanilla.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 25 minutes.

       Once the baklava has finished baking, immediately pour the sauce evenly over the top.  Place in the fridge to cool completely before serving.  For an added touch, you can sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top for garnish…


Friday, August 14, 2015

Super Easy! Dark Chocolate Grain-Free Brownies

       So these brownies were originally going to be called 'Paleo Brownies' since most the people I know who follow the ‘Caveman Diet’ allow black beans in moderation.  But recently there was a discussion in the Delectably Different Kitchen on whether or not they could be considered truly paleo.  
       I consulted with my resident Paleo-ite (I'm pretty sure that’s what they’re called *smile), and after a great debate, I received a re-education on exactly what paleo is.  I decided to call these brownies grain-free instead!  No matter what they're called, they are still a delicious, moist, and healthy treat!  I hope you enjoy my newest creation...

Here’s what you'll need:
1 15oz can of black beans, drained

1/4 cup egg whites (equivalent to about 2 eggs)

1 egg

1/2 dark chocolate powder
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Coconut Sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt
2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tsp coconut extract

1/4 Cup Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour

Additional coconut shreds and sugar for garnish  

       Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare an  8x8 glass pan by lightly coating with cooking spray or oil.
     You will need a large blender to mix this recipe.  I used a Ninja this time but I've used a Vitamix before and both worked great!

       Combine all the ingredients in the order listed.  I wasn't kidding when I said they were super easy!  Mix on high until all the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

       Pour into the prepared pan, then sprinkle a bit of shredded coconut and coconut sugar across the top.  bake for 30 - 35 minutes.
       After they have finished baking, place them in the fridge and allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting. Then serve and enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Gluten-Free Chocolate Turtle Cake!

       So I took a poll around work this week, and I found out that one of the most popular picks for a cheesecake is the classic caramel turtle cheesecake.  So I decided to take that flavor combo and adapt it to create what could be a new classic!  Gluten-Free Chocolate Turtle Cake… using the flavors of chocolate, pecan, and caramel!!!  Enjoy.

You'll need:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup dark cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 ½  tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup Kerrygold Butter, Melted

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp caramel extract

1 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup of hot water

       Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare two 9” round Pans by lightly coating with cooking spray or oil.
       In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

       In a separate bowl, whip together the Butter, eggs, buttermilk, and Extracts.

       Then slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until both mixtures are fully combined.  Next, fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.

        Add hot water to the batter and mix well, until the batter is thin.  Then pour evenly into the prepared pans and bake for about 25–30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

       Once the cakes have finished baking allow them to completely cool before frosting!
Caramel Butter Cream

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3 tsp caramel extract

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

       In a large bowl, whip the butter and palm shortening with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Next, whip in one cup of powdered sugar, then add in the extracts.  To finish, whip in the remaining two cups of powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  Finally, whip in the chopped pecans.
       Spread the frosting over the bottom layer of cake for the filling, then place the second cake on top.  Finish frosting the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
       You can dress up this cake with a garnish of pecans and a drizzle of caramel and enjoy!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dark and Spicy Gluten-Free Brownie Bites

       Okay, so maybe it's just me, but sometimes I want more than just a plain old chocolate brownie.  I'm sayin' sometimes I want a little surprise hidden away inside and that's what this brownie recipe has in store for you!
       What starts out as a delectably rich, dark, sweet chocolate brownie ends with just the right hint of savory burn from the cinnamon and cayenne, which provides the perfect balance of sweet decadence with the added surprise of heat! Enjoy this new classic from Delectably Different Kitchen…
Here’s what you'll need:

2 2/3 cups sugar

4 eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill almond flour

1 cup dark cocoa

1 tsp salt
½ tbsp cayenne

4 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup mini chocolate chips  

       Preheat oven to 350°F.  You’ll need two silicon mold brownie bites.
       In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Then add in eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, seasonings, and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture into the creamed ingredients, mixing well until fully combined.
Fold in mini chocolate chips.
       Scoop into brownie molds and place onto cookie sheets then bake for 25-30 minutes.  Allow the brownies to cool completely before popping out them out of the molds.  Then serve just as they are and enjoy!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake with a Salted Maple Almond Glaze

              My lovely aunt just posted a comment on Facebook this week saying that she’s ready for summer to be over and autumn to begin.  I have to say, with the weather we've been having here in Florida, I second that feeling.  
       While I may not be able to do anything about the 100 degree temperatures or the seemingly endless rain, I can however create an autumn-inspired cheesecake that can allow us to pretend that fall is finally here…

You’ll need...


     You can either crush the cookies by hand in a small bowl, pulse a few times in a food processor, or put them in a nut grinder, which is the method I used.  I broke the cookies in half then ground them on the 'fine' setting of my nut grinder.  Whichever method you choose, you will need to use all of the cookies from the package.
       After you’ve crushed the cookies you should be able to just press them down into a greased 10” round spring form pan.

4  8oz packages of Dairy-Free Cream Cheese, at room temperature  

1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 Cup + 2 TBSP Tapioca Starch
1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp clove

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

       Preheat oven to 325°F.
        Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the dairy-free cream cheese together, one container at a time until smooth, soft, and creamy.

       Beat in sugar, Spices, and vanilla extract, mixing well until all ingredients are completely combined.
        Next, add the pumpkin puree into the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula then whip the ingredients again to make sure everything is blended and there are no more chunks of cream cheese or pumpkin.
       Pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan and place the pan on a round cookie sheet (just in case you have any spillage!).  Put it into the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Once the cheesecake has finished baking, allow it to rest in the oven for another hour before opening the oven door. 

       After that, take it out of the oven and place it on a hot pad, then put it in the fridge so it can finish cooling.

Time for the glaze…
Salted Maple Almond Glaze

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

       In a small bowl, whip together one cup of powdered sugar and all of the maple syrup.  Mix until all of the powdered sugar is combined and there’s no clumps left.  Add in the extract, remaining powdered Sugar, and salt then whip until smooth.  Cover and place into the fridge until needed.
       Once your cheesecake has fully chilled (you may possibly need to leave it in the fridge overnight), pour the glaze evenly across the top.  Use a knife to cut the cheesecake, then serve and enjoy the flavors of fall!