31 July, 2013

For The Love....Of Gluten Free!!

I have a lot of friends that I love dearly who range from a light sensitivity to to gluten to a very SERIOUS allergy to gluten, yea even Celiac Disease.  Most of the time I feel so powerless to help them come up with great things to eat.  I've only ever dabbled in gluten free cooking and baking, but I am spending more and more time in my kitchen trying to maneuver this genre of eating in order to help them have fabulous things to enjoy whenever the urge to bake or cook hits them.  

Gluten intolerance and Celiac are a hard row to hoe.  But, it just illustrates the effect that GMO grains may be having on our culture as a whole.  The level of inflammation created in the body when these GMO grains are ingested is amazing...Google GMO grains sometime and learn how they can be a dangerous thing to flirt with in your diet.  Just as dangerous as hormone laden dairy....  There is a reason I go for non-GMO and organic with my foods, I like LIVING.

Gluten free desserts honestly aren't so hard to make, they are just fiddldy-farty to do.  Separating eggs, whipping whites...whisking this, folding in that...lots of steps, but luckily not complicated steps.  I recently found a recipe from King Arthur Flour (yeah...a flour company of all places!!) that I just HAD to try....but dairy free!  It had chocolate in it, that was my hook...chocolate is ALL it takes these days.  Anything with chocolate, I will come out of my comfort zone to try to make it.  This cake had chocolate AND pecans.  Pecans are my absolute favorite nut to eat; crushed, whole, halved...you name it; baked, candied, salted...I'm THERE!  Put the two of them together and you've really caught my attention.  Say I can make it gluten free and WELL THEN!...let's get this sucker in the oven!  So excited!!  I made two cakes.  Scroll WAAAAY down to the end of this post to see the Samoa version....trust me.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Chocolate Pecan Bundt Cake
10 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 c. dairy free Enjoy Life! chocolate chips
heaping 1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. organic cane sugar
2 c. finely ground pecans OR pecan meal
1 tsp. vanilla paste
1/4 c. organic cane sugar, for egg whites
roughly chopped pecan for garnish, optional

1 bag of Enjoy Life! chocolate chips
4 T. vegan shortening

**Pecan meal will give the cake a smoother texture BUT...the finely ground pecans will allow the cake to rise higher.  So, decide what you would like more.  Smoother texture or higher rise on the cake.**

Preheat oven to 350 F

I decided to use a bundt cake pan for this cake.  It was a risky move.  You seriously only have a couple of options for greasing when you make something gluten free.  Shortening has a lower water content than butter.  If you can find straight lard, use that.  It has even less water than shortening.  Use a pastry brush to grease your bundt pan to make sure you get in all of the nooks and crannies.  If you aren't brave enough to use a bundt, use a round 10 inch pan that is at least 3 inches high on the sides.  Trust me.  For extra insurance you can line the bottom of your round pan with a piece of parchment paper.

Separate the room-temperature eggs, putting the whites and yolks in separate large bowls.

Melt the two chocolates together, stirring till smooth, and set aside to cool slightly.

Now, beat the egg yolks till smooth and lemony-yellow then add the salt and 2/3 c. sugar, and beat again till thickened and it lightens again in color.  You can go ahead and add your melted and slightly cooled chocolate and the pecans.   

Beat the egg whites and vanilla paste until foamy.  While the beater is still going, sprinkle in the 1/4 cup sugar, beating till soft peaks form.  *I tip the bowl upside down over my head to check the whites...they shouldn't move or slide out of the bowl if they are done*

With the mixer at low speed, gradually fold the whites into the yolk mixture, mixing gently until there are no streaks showing.  Then spoon the mixture into your prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, OR until it is toothpick clean.  Depending on what kind of pan you used, this baking time can vary greatly.  

Remove it from the oven, and set it on a rack. Loosen the edges, and let it cool in the pan for 1 hour. Loosen the edges again.  SERIOUSLY...leave it alone for AT LEAST 1 hour.

Invert the cake onto the rack onto a piece of wax paper, and prepare the ganache by combining all of the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan, and heat till the chips are very soft. Stir till smooth.

Ladle the chocolate over the cake.  It's OK if the cake is still warm when you do it.  If you made a bundt cake, let the ganache set a bit before you sprinkle the chopped pecans on or the nuts will slide right down the sides of the cake instead of stay on top of it.

Allow the ganache to completely set before cutting and serving.  2 hours at least.  To speed up the process you can put the cake in the refrigerator for a half hour or so.

If you're feeling sporting...you could serve this with some non-dairy whipped topping as well, but this cake didn't need it at all!


Um...I do believe the picture speaks for itself.  Chocolate, pecans...more chocolate....more pecans...  I can't gush about this cake ENOUGH!  I'm not gluten intolerant but golly...lol...I can definitely survive the lifestyle if I know I have treats like THIS to look forward to every once in a while.  The cake was SO moist and chocolatey...the nuts didn't overpower the chocolate.  The whole dish was completely balanced with even amounts of chocolate and nut flavor.  I appreciated that about this recipe.  I didn't want to eat it and then remember it by thinking "Oh, I should make that gluten free nut cake again."  or "That gluten free chocolate cake was great."  I wanted it to be balanced enough for me to say "I gotta make that chocolate pecan cake some time soon."  It was!  I can't wait to have my gluten free family and friends try this out, I hope they love it as much as I did.

THEN!!...I got a deliciously devious idea into my head...what if I made this into a Samoa cake?!  What if....???  Hmm....  So I DID!  It was one of my little sister's birthdays coming up AND there was a family reunion I was planning on bringing something to.  That is how this cake was born....

The ONLY difference in the actual cake part is that I *switched out the pecans for macadamia nuts* and that's IT.  I just crushed the macadamias like I crushed the pecans and tossed them in.  The cake turned out identical in texture and crumb but the macadamia nuts matched the Samoa toppings much better.  So here it goes...

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Samoa Bundt Cake
1 recipe of gluten chocolate bundt cake, baked & cooled
1 recipe of vegan caramel sauce, cooled
1 recipe of chocolate ganache
2 c. of unsweetened coconut flakes, oven toasted & cooled

Make the cake as indicated above switching the finely ground pecans for finely ground macadamia nuts.  Also, when the cake is about 20 minutes cooled in the pan, turn it out to cool the rest of the way on a sheet of wax paper.  This is VERY IMPORTANT because you need the top of the bundt to be a flat bottom, not a rounded bottom when it cools completely. 

While the cake is baking and cooling make the caramel sauce that you will drizzle over the top so it also has plenty of time to cool before putting it on the cake.

Vegan Caramel Sauce
1 c. vegan buttery spread
2 c. sugar
2 c. unsweetened soy milk (I use Silk)
1 c. brown rice syrup
1 tsp. vanilla (use a high quality brand, Neilson Massey)

Place the vegan buttery spread, sugar, soy milk and brown rice syrup in a large saucepan (4 qt. capacity minimum). Bring ingredients to a boil stirring continually. Cook over medium-high heat while continuing to stir until candy reaches 230 degrees F.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Store whatever you don't use on the cake in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Toast your coconut flakes in the oven under a low broiler.  Watch it as it toasts so you don't burn it.  After it is toasted set it aside to cool.  You don't want to put hot coconut on the cooled caramel sauce!

The last thing you should make is your chocolate ganache and this should only be made once everything else is completely cooled.  It will take about 4 hours for the cake and the caramel sauce to be completely cooled for assembly.

Ready to assemble??  Good...prepare to fall in love with this cake!

First thing I want you to do is flip your cake so what WILL be the top is on the bottom and the flat BOTTOM is facing you.  Ladle half of your ganache onto the cake and use a knife to spread it to the edges, let it go over the edges if it decides it is going to.  A Samoa cookie has chocolate that comes up side of the cookie just a little bit, so if it does that...all the better.  As soon as you have it spread well, toss it in the fridge for 5 minutes to make the chocolate solid again.  DO NOT worry if the chocolate blocks the bundt hole...all that means is when you cut it caramel sauce that was stuck in there will ooze out.  There is NO such thing as too much caramel sauce!!  This is how the cake looks after the chocolate ganache is cooled....

Now, flip the chocolate covered side DOWN onto the wax paper and take your COOLED vegan caramel sauce and ladle it over the top.  It WILL pool onto the wax paper a bit.  Just keep spooning it up and back onto the cake until you have it at the desired level of ooey gooiness.

 At this point it is time to add the toasted coconut flakes.  I used Bob's Red Mill unsweetened flakes...so they were HUGE.  I crushed some in my hand and left some whole so it looked as gourmet as I could make it look.

As you can see...no matter WHAT shape bundt you use for this cake, it sort of loses it's original shape and takes on the shape of a generic bundt.  Which is fine...that is what was supposed to happen.  (The bundt I used was a rose shape for this one.  I wanted to have the tiers of the flower catch and HOLD tons of the caramel sauce.  Use that nugget of information when choosing what shape you do for your cake.)

The very last step to completing the look and flavor profile of this cake is to drizzle the top with MORE chocolate ganache.  I put my chocolate in a Wilton bottle with a small tipped top.  To achieve the look of an authentic Samoa cookie you only drizzle the chocolate in one pattern without doubling back.  It should look like this when you are done...

Yeah, this looks like a hot MESS right now but that is what a CAKE LIFTER is for!  Yay for cake lifters!  So, take this whole thing and use a nice, sturdy cake lifter (mine is made by Nordic Ware...so fabulous!) and put it on a NEW round sheet of wax paper and deposit it in your fridge to cool for 10 or 15 minutes.  Then you're READY to serve...  If you have any room.  I "taste tested" all of my components multiple times throughout the making of this cake.  I probably gained 5 pounds.  After it was cooled I perched it on a loverly cake serving pedestal where something this awesome belongs.

That cake was the birthday girl's cake.  She loved it, and that was all I cared about.  Lucky for the rest of the people at the party, they loved it as well.  It was AMAZING to find out how many people were allergic to dairy at the party...  It made me feel even BETTER that I decided to go dairy free with this gluten free recipe.  (Most people who have one allergy have MORE and don't even know it.  Yeah...Google that too!)

This was a slice from the cake produced for the family reunion, so please excuse the paper plate and plastic fork.  This cake turns out the same EVERY time.  It never fails to rise and never disappoints on flavor.  The wonderful part is that even though the cake itself is chocolate flavored it is NOT very sweet.  There is only 2/3 of sugar in the whole cake.  It was a 10 c. bundt cake pan when it was filled to the brim.  Not bad on sugar content.  So, with the caramel sauce being the sweetest thing on the plate, the Samoa version just knocks it out of the park with flavor.  I'm obsessed with this cake right now....  I can't wait for you, your family and your friends to try it!!  Make it, share it...everyone will love you!! 

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