A great big welcome to Lexie's Kitchen & Living. I hope you enjoy the recipes and ramblings. For the story behind this site read here

Follow a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free diet? Check out my recently released cookbook

 

 

 


 

 

 

Thursday
Nov082012

Maple Syrup-Sweetened Marshmallows

New Pinterest Board!

Looking for a Pinterest board dedicated solely to Gluten-Free Goodies? Look no further. Check this one out and begin following along. Just click the badge below.

A few weeks back I tempted you with some cane sugar-free, corn syrup-free, egg-free marshmallows. I promised the recipe, and it's finally ready. We've had some medical stuff to deal with and so I thank you— you've been incredibly patient.

Mad Science in the Kitchen

These past weeks in my mad marshmallow experimentation I have learned that you cannot substitute agar agar for gelatin when making these marshmallows. I have learned that the type of sweetener used can make a difference. Believe it or not, marshmallows have a preference for sucrose over glucose. And, I have learned that as temperamental as they can be, marshmallows are pretty easy to make! I feel I have a lot more to learn and so I will continue my education in the field of Marshmallow Science. I wonder if Alton Brown would want to come over and play? Alton? 


The Sweeteners

I tested a slew of sweeteners ... and here's how they fared.

HONEY
First up were honey-sweetened marshmallows using this recipe from Z's Cup of Tea. Its a goody! An intense "honey" experience, fur shure. Oh and if honey is your thing, Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut has a great recipe for Honey Marshmallow Fluff in her Dairy-Free Ice Cream cookbook.

COCONUT NECTAR
Next up, coconut nectar—that insanely expensive, lower-glycemic, caramel undertoned sweetener that I love atop my almond milk frappucino. Well, the jury is still out on this one. This batch bound up on me to the point I couldn't even scoop it out of the bowl! I plan to try coconut nectar again to ensure it wasn't an error on my part, but after my initial "fail" I moved on to ...

GLUTEN-FREE BROWN RICE SYRUP
These marshmallows (pictured in the tutorial below) turned out nicely—not as fluffy as the maple syrup version (I used a smaller measure of water), but more on the soft and tender side. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the brown rice syrup aftertaste. That said, I might make these again, but I'd likely flavor them with a fairly strong extract (peppermint was great) to mask the brown rice syrup aftertaste. But really, I thought they were the bomb until I tried ...

MAPLE SYRUP
YES! These were the ticket! Tonight, as we finished off a batch of Maple Marshmallows, my son said "Mom, these are the best ones so far," and I had to agree. These marshmallows were fluffy and on the stiffer side. 

Three Tips

Before we dive into the recipe, I am going to to give you three pointers.

FIRST: 235-245˚F is what we call the soft-ball candy stage. I found that it's best to remove the boiling sweetener from heat the instant it hits the 235˚F mark and certainly before the 245˚F mark. A syrup hotter than 245˚F may cause the marshmallows to flop.

SECOND: Do not over beat. Beating and beating and beating in hopes of creating a mile high pile of fluff seems to cause the mixture to cool to the point that it begins to set. This may not be the case for all marshmallow recipes ... but seems to be for this one.

Beat just to the point when the mixture turns white, thickens up, and gently falls in ribbons (versus thin stream) from the beaters. Beat much longer—to soft peaks or when you feel the mixture pull at or climb up the beaters—and the mixture will begin to set and will be nearly impossible to spread (but not to worry, they'll still be good to eat!).

THIRD: No two batches of marshmallows have turned out exactly the same for me. So just roll with it and enjoy the fruits (however they turn out) of your labor!

Maple Syrup Sweetened Marshmallows

Ingredients:

1/3 cup, plus more as needed, ARROWROOT STARCH, potato or corn starch
1/2 cup cold WATER
2 teaspoons pure gluten-free VANILLA EXTRACT
1/4 teaspoon fine SALT
2-1/2 tablespoon unflavored powdered GELATIN
1 cup pure MAPLE SYRUP
1/8 teaspoon CREAM OF TARTAR (recommended but not necessary)

Directions:

  1. Lightly coat an 8x8" square pan with oil. Generously dust sides and bottom with starch. Set aside.
  2. Add water, vanilla, and salt to a deep, wide mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly sprinkle gelatin over surface of liquids to bloom. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan slowly bring maple syrup and cream of tartar (if using) to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, slowly increasing temperature to medium-high until a digital or candy thermometer registers the syrup at the low end of the soft ball candy stage—235˚F. Immediately remove from heat!
  4. Working quickly and carefully, slowly beat hot syrup into bloomed gelatin using a handheld or stand mixer. I have a handheld and do this in the sink in case of splatters.
  5. Beat until the mixture thickens, turns white, and gently falls in ribbons when the beaters are lifted from the bowl—about 5-6 minutes. 
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared 8x8-inch pan. Quickly smooth top with oiled rubber spatula or fingers.
  7. Dust surface with additional starch and let set 2-3 hours at room temperature or until firm to touch.
  8. Unmold from pan onto a starch-dusted surface and slice into desired sized cubes (large or mini) with a sharp starch-dusted knife.
  9. Dust marshmallows in starch as needed to prevent sticking.
  10. Store in air-tight container at room temp for up to one week or freeze.

Notes & More Helpful Hints:

Like 'em Super Firm:  If you like firm and structured marshmallows (like Kraft Jet-Puffed), add an extra 1/2 tablespoon gelatin, bringing the measure up to 3 tablespoons.

And I Bet You're Wondering... : Yeah, no, these beauties do not perform fireside or atop a sweet potato casserole. They don't "toast," they melt. But that's okay by me, I am just glad to know that I can make these fluffy treats for my kids to enjoy as is or floating in a mug of hot cocoa.

The Mixer: Gasp! I don't have a stand mixer, and sure wouldn't refuse one (hint, hint KitchenAid, this one would be sweet!). For those of you who do, I'd love your report. Did your marshmallows turn out insanely fluffy?

For Mini Marshmallows: Spread the whipped mixture in a slightly larger pan to achieve a height of about 1/2 inch.

Flavors: For chocolate marshmallows, add 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder in the last minute of beating. For peppermint marshmallows, add 1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) of peppermint extract. For an extra vanilla kick, add a couple teaspoons of this powder (does contain a small amout of cane sugar) to the your final dusting starch. Mmmmmm. Still dreaming up more!

Wednesday
Nov072012

Cara's Cravings Clean Eating Cocktail Party

Grab a napkin and sample some bites at Cara's Cravings Clean Eating Cocktail Party 2012! Today over at Cara's Cravings I am sharing a quick and easy recipe for Mac Ricotta. Paired with your favorite gluten-free cracker, this macadamia nut "cheese" spread makes the perfect base for all kinds of toppings—sweet, savory or both.

Like you and I, Ms. Cara is a lover of clean food. Her blog event runs through the month of November and will showcase a host of like-minded and "like-eating" food bloggers.

Stop by Cara's Cravings each day this month for healthy hors d'oeuvre recipes that will be the hit of your holiday party.

 

Thursday
Oct252012

Google Hangout with Mother Nature Network

Last night I hungout with some very cool ladies in a Mother Nature Network Google Hangout on Air. We exchanged ideas for going "greener" this Halloween. I did mention the touches I added to our entry (above)—a branch the kids and I pulled out of the wooded area behind our house, construction paper crow cut-outs, cobwebs, spiders, and pumpkins. Quick, easy and fairly "green."

We didn't cover all the topics we had planned to but did talk a bunch about treats and ideas for making Halloween allergy-friendly.

Here are some treat options that might not break the bank:

For more inspiration, head on over to Mother Nature Network.

Wednesday
Oct172012

Peanut-Free "Peanut" Buttercream Frosting

Party Time!

It's party time at your local school. For many of us that means baking and sending ghoulish "safe" treats to class with our little ones.

If you're up for taking the quick and easy route, give these cupcakes a try.

Start with a Cake Mix

First, grab a gluten-free cake mix. Included in my recent TasterieBox was a package of one of my favorite deliciously dark chocolate cake mixes—so that's what I used. It is easily prepared using your favorite milk and egg substitutes. I used chia eggs. Another stellar mix to prepare with flax or chia eggs is this one.

Next Comes the Icing

Last week I posted a Sunflower Coconut Butter recipe that "kinda sorta" resembles peanut butter. I had some leftover so whipped up a "Peanut" Buttercream frosting. Yum! Recipe follows.

Top it Off with Creepiness

Get creative with toppings for this cupcake. These flies were a Michaels clearance item last year. Definitely grody (I'd rather not know what these bug-gers were sitting on before landing on my cupcakes. Ha! Realistic, no?.

Plastic spiders—another good and grody idea.

Looking for edible? These candies would be fun. Or how about cute little Jack-o'-lanterns (recipe follows). I picked up the candy molds at a thrift shop but am sure you could find something similar at your local craft store.

Have a great week everyone!

Peanut-Free "Peanut" Buttercream Frosting
Inspired by the buttercream frostings found in Paleo Indulgences by Tammy Credicott

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Spectrum Organic Palm SHORTENING
1/4 cup Sunflower Coconut Butter or Sunbutter®
2 tablespoons COCONUT OIL
1/4 cup MAPLE SYRUP
1 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT
1/8 scant teaspoon SALT

Directions:

  1. Ensure shortening and coconut oil are room temperature. Not melted, not super hard.
  2. Using an electric mixer whip all ingredients until smooth and light.
  3. Spread or pipe onto cake/cupcakes. For a more structured frosting, refrigerate 5-10 minutes.

Notes:

  1. For these cupcakes I piped the frosting on using an un-tipped icing bag. For this effect you will want to pipe on the frosting immediately after whipping it up. For a structured frosting, refrigerate 5-10 minutes until it just begins to firm up. It will firm up quick so keep an eye on it.
  2. This frosting melts at higher temperatures. I refrigerate the cupcakes after decorating and pull them out 5-10 minutes before serving.
  3. A tablespoon or two of arrowroot starch may be added to enhance the texture.

Peanut-Free "Peanut" Butter Cup Candies

Ingredients:

Sunflower Coconut Butter (or other nut/seed butter that solidifies when refrigerated)
Chocolate chips (like these)

Directions:

  1. Gently heat a small amount of nut butter and fill candy molds 3/4 full.
  2. Transfer to freezer and freeze until set.
  3. Gently heat chocolate chips and top off candy molds.
  4. Freeze until set.
  5. Serve frozen.
Tuesday
Oct162012

Almost Like Peanut Butter but Peanut-Free!

This post is linked to: Allergy-Free Wednesday Week 39

A good peanut-free peanut butter substitute is hard to find. This sunflower coconut butter is the closest I've made in taste and texture to honest-to-goodness peanut butter.

Nut-Free Peanut Butter-Like Spread

We've gone without peanut butter for a while now ... and we really miss the stuff. To satisfy our cravings we've been eating jar after jar of Sunbutter®— also known as sunflower butter, the most common (if not only) nut-free (but not coconut-free) substitute for peanut butter's creamy goodness. 

My kids love sunflower butter. I like it enough to eat it, but just find the roasted sunflower taste a wee bit overpowering.

So I thought about taming it.

But how?

Coconut!

To my surprise, this combination of toasted sunflower seeds and coconut is the closest substitute I've found, in taste and texture, to that of creamy peanut butter.

For the creamiest spread, you will need a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec, OmniBlend, or Vitamix. I ran a batch in my food processor and got a butter (after 15 minutes), but it was far from smooth. In a high-powered blender, friction and the resulting heat causes the mixture to liquefy. Once poured into jars and allowed to cool at room temperature, it should firm up to a creamy spreadable butter.

Peanut-Free "Almost Like Peanut Butter"
Sunflower Coconut Nut Butter Spread

Ingredients:

1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR or granulated sugar
4 cups finely shredded COCONUT, unsweetened
1 cup raw SUNFLOWER SEEDS
1-1/2 tablespoons COCONUT OIL
1/4 heaping teaspoon SALT

Directions:

  1. Add coconut sugar to container of high-powered blender. Blend 10-15 seconds or until powdery. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet toast sunflower seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the majority of seeds are golden in color. Transfer to blender container.
  3. Add to skillet coconut. ***Coconut toasts quickly*** Over medium heat warm coconut flakes until heated through and some of the shreds are golden in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Blend sunflower seeds on low until a fine powder forms.
  5. Add coconut oil and blend again, increasing to medium speed and pausing to scrape sides as needed.
  6. Blitz on high for 10 seconds and stop.
  7. Add 1 cup coconut. Blend at medium speed for 20-30 seconds then increase to high for 10, pausing to scrape sides as needed. At this point butter should be forming and liquefying.
  8. Repeat step seven, 1 cup of coconut at at time.
  9. Once all coconut has been incorporated and mixture is runny, add sugar and salt and blend on high to achieve desired smoothness, about 60-90 seconds.
  10. Mixture will be HOT and runny. Pour into jar(s), cover and cool at room temperature until firmed up. This can take 8-24 hours depend on temperature of your kitchen.
  11. Store at room temperature for up to a week or in fridge up to a month.

Notes:

  1. As the blender pulverizes and liquefies the mixture, you may notice what appears to be smoke wafting out of the blender container. No worries, this is an oil mist. No harm is being done to your blender. That said, if your blender starts to smell like hot rubber, let it rest and crank the speed down a knotch.
  2. ***If you are dealing with a severe (anaphylactic) peanut allergy, ensure your source of sunflower seeds can guarantee no cross contamination with peanuts or other foods you are allergic to***