Baking For Others

Chocolate-Dipped Candy Cane Meringues

Posted by on Monday Dec 22nd, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just egg whites, peppermint extract, and chocolate.  Want even more peppermint? Don’t miss Natalie’s recent recipe for Peppermint Snowballs

These cookies use four ingredients and, with just those four, magically transform into Christmas–cookie-ified. Aside from being a festive addition to any holiday cookie exchange or dessert table, these are light as air and a welcome breathe of fresh air this time of year. Package them up in clear cellophane and they are a delightful gift. Since they’re light as air, though, the cookies are fragile and the tips are prone to breaking off or being crushed. Keep them well-protected in a single layer in an air-tight container for storage, so moisture doesn’t make them sticky.

Fair warning that this mixture is very sticky, so get everything prepared ahead of time. The circles on parchment paper are optional, but will help the cookies turn out a uniform size–and get you your full 30-cookie yield. A spice jar lid or even a roll of washi tape will make the right size circle stencil. A piping bag and tip are optional; a corner cut off a Ziploc bag will work well, too, and you can either swirl the mixture to create the shape or press down for one big “kiss.” The gel food coloring is also optional, so feel free to make the kisses snowy white or green-striped if you prefer.

Peppermint Snowballs

Posted by on Monday Dec 15th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just ice cream, peppermint, and coconut. Today’s wintry dessert is dressy and fun: snowballs! Don’t miss Natalie’s recent recipe for cashew-cranberry turtles, which make a sweet Christmas gift.

I love Christmas traditions, both old and new. These peppermint ice cream snowballs are a tradition for my boyfriend’s family on Christmas Eve, and one I am more than happy to adopt! I’m a huge fan of peppermint ice cream with hot fudge; it just tastes like Christmas. Add in some coconut “snow” to make things even more festive and who could resist? Combined with the fact that these are probably the easiest dessert you’ll make all holiday season, there’s really no reason not to get the ice cream scoop out right now.

You’re going to want to get a little bit hands-on to make these. I’d recommend lining the counter with some waxed paper to help you work. Use a scoop to gather the ice cream, then use your hands to shape, working quickly to minimize melting. Covering the ice cream in coconut helps the scoops become more stable. Serve in a pool of hot fudge and/or pour it over the top. Old-fashioned ribbon candies make a beautiful accompaniment (available at most grocery stores), but crushed candy canes will look lovely, too.

Baked Apples

Posted by on Monday Nov 17th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just fruit, spices, and brown sugar. This Thanksgiving, be sure that gluten-free eaters have a delicious, not-too-decadent choice on the dessert table with today’s baked apples. Another option? Maple Crème Brûlée.

Oh, the goodness of apple season. All of the spices that smell like home melt into butter and brown sugar inside sweet yet tart apples. There couldn’t be a more comforting scent or taste, I don’t think. These baked apples are a healthier alternative to apple pie (no crust!) and are so much easier to put together. If you have a last-minute guest coming over, you most likely have all of the ingredients to make this tasty and cozy dessert. And then there’s the added bonus of a house that smells like autumn embodied.

You’ll want to look for firm apples that hold up well to baking, such as Macintosh. Soft apples that are good for eating, such as Red Delicious, won’t be firm enough to withstand baking alone. Be sure not to core the apples all the way through, as you want the bottom intact to hold onto all of the melting sugar and butter goodness. These are best served fresh from the oven with a large serving of vanilla ice cream. If you only need to serve two, this recipe can be easily halved.

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just cream and milk and sugar. Because who needs those packaged Halloween treats when you could have French custard?! Don’t miss her recent take on Marshmallow Crispy Treats.

There is little more sophisticated dessert than crème brûlée, and nothing more sure to please guests. Yet when creamy custard is topped with a caramelized sugar crust that’s infused with the intoxicating flavor of maple, when then you’re taking this already indulgent dessert to the next level. The maple melds well with the flavors of fall and these are the perfect way to end to a fancy dinner date, dinner party, or even for Thanksgiving or “Friendsgiving.” But no need to wait another month to make these desserts. Practice now (at your fancy Halloween dinner, if that even exists) to perfect the technique and the results will be just as tasty now.

If you’ve never used a kitchen torch, your broiler, or a water bath before, don’t be intimidated. Follow the directions and you’ll be sure to end up with a creamy crème and a perfectly brûléed crust. The water bath is important to coddle the custard as it cooks and ensure a creamy texture. You can substitute pure maple syrup for the flavoring or extract, but the flavor will be much more subtle. If you use your broiler instead of a handheld kitchen torch (available at kitchen stores), be sure to let the crust cool thoroughly to crisp up before serving. You may serve these immediately or, if preferred, refrigerate for up to 15 minutes to cool the custard once again.

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just crispy rice cereal, marshmallows, and chocolate. Don’t miss her recent recipe for this bowl of autumnal goodness

These are almost too delicious to be called “treats,” so my boyfriend has dubbed them “luxuries.” And luxurious they are, with a homemade caramel whisked in, a top surface robed in chocolate, and a decoration of the finest of flaked sea salts. But they are also, at the core, still comfort food to be passed around at a gathering of family and friends, who will unsuspectingly find their beloved childhood treat has suddenly grown up. The flaked sea salt, usually sold under the label Maldon, provides just enough saltiness to offset the caramel tones.

Keep in mind that regular Rice Krispies in the blue box contain barley extract, which may contain gluten. Kellogg’s now makes a yellow box of Rice Krispies labeled “gluten-free” that does not contain this additive. If you can’t find those, check in the health food section for a brand like Barbara’s, but make sure it is a “crispy rice cereal” and not plain puffed rice. Working quickly is the key with the sticky marshmallow topping, and getting the mixture in the pan before it cools too quickly. Salt in the caramel and on top makes the flavor really stand out. These won’t last long!

We’re moving to a new apartment. Since we signed the lease last month, I’ve tried to minimize trips to the market and make do instead with the contents of our freezer, shelves, and pantry, a clear-out-the-clutter challenge that would not have been all that hard or even that blog-worthy, to be honest, because our freezer, shelves, and pantry are stocked. There are a dozen kinds of beans back there, still a few jars of last summer’s canned tomatoes, and a lot of some little ring-shaped noodles that I once took home from a shoot.

Still, I had visions of us subsisting for at least a few weeks on progressively humbler stews of beans and tomatoes, served over a finally dwindling supply of petite pasta.

What I didn’t account for was the continuing abundance. In the weeks that followed the signing, a recipe development project magicked a box of brie onto my doorstep, I tested eggplant and chicken parm recipes, and upstate New York’s bumper crops kept ripening, so the CSA shares kept overflowing, and we had more corn, tomatoes, and peppers on the counter than ever before.

But at least I could finish my cornmeal. Both kinds.

Baked Peaches with Cheesecake Filling

Posted by on Monday Sep 15th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today with a stunning fruit-based dessert that’s literally fruit based: Brilliantly, a mouthful of cheesecake uses a halved peach as its foundation. Wow. Natalie joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just good old-fashioned butter, eggs, fruit, and cream cheese. Not ready to say goodbye to summer? Try her Chocolate-Covered Banana Pudding Pops.

It’s late summer. We shiver through early morning, determined we don’t need a sweater, determined that summer isn’t ending, determined that we have some say in the matter. Well, when it comes to dessert, we do have some say in the matter! This dessert is the perfect blend of the beginning of fall and the last taste of summer. The peaches go well with a strong cup of coffee, and can be served with ice cream or caramel sauce to make them more decadent.

This recipe is another easy-but-impressive dish that your friends won’t know took you 20 minutes. The ingredients are readily at hand, and if you can find local organic peaches, all the better. Just cut and pit the peaches, whip together the filling, and assemble. Tender baked peaches combine with a creamy, spicy cinnamon-sugar mix that might make you think fall isn’t so bad after all. And that maybe a sweater isn’t the worst idea.