Archive for category Recipes: Desserts & Baked Goods

Holiday Pumpkin Chocolate Fudge

Growing up, there were three “traditions” I fondly remember during every holiday season.

Tradition Number One: We would light a bayberry candle and burn it all the way down in order to ensure good luck in the coming year.  Can’t say the bayberry candles really helped in the “luck” department, but they smelled quite nice.

Tradition Number Two: During a snowfall, my brother and I would place cereal bowls outside to collect the fresh snow.  My mother would top it with vanilla extract and we’d gobble up this tasty treat.  I realize now that I probably liked this tradition immensely as I was six years old and hammered from the vanilla extract.  I’ve consequently altered said tradition with my own Thing 1 and Thing 2.  They eat their bowls of snow topped with sprinkles. Well, unless they are being really difficult.  Then it’s snow topped with Benadryl.  Ahem,  kidding…really!

Tradition Number Three: Shamelessly gorging on grandmother’s homemade fudge.  My grandmother was an old school kind of lady.  She canned vegetables.  She made gooseberry pies from scratch.  She ironed (what’s that?!).  Every holiday there was a tray full of her glorious chocolate fudge set out for all to enjoy.

With grandmother’s fudge in mind and my obsession with anything pumpkin not waning, I started thinking about whipping up a batch of my own fudge.  Then I started researching fudge (yes, I need to get out more).  Apparently fudge can be very tricky.  Making fudge began to scare me a bit.  I still haven’t recovered from my horrific Chebe Calzone Incident of August 2008.  After some procrastination, my craving for fudge overcame my fear.  I’d like to happily report that the fudge recipe I concocted was easy!  Trust me, if I can successfully make fudge while using a meat thermometer, you can totally knock this outta the park!

Pumpkin Chocolate Fudge

3 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2% evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces white chocolate chips
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 squares Baker’s Chocolate (I used bittersweet)
candy thermometer (a meat thermometer worked as well!)

In a large saucepan (at least 3 quart), mix together sugars, salt, evaporated milk, and pumpkin on high heat. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to boil until mixture reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not stir during this time.

When the mixture registers 245 degrees, turn off heat. Add marshmallow creme, butter (melted), vanilla extract, white chocolate chips, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to mix well.

Leave fudge mixture in sauce pan and allow to cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This will take some time, so be patient! Once the mixture has cooled to 110 degrees, beat until fudge is thick and has lost it’s “gloss”.  You will have arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger after beating this fudge!  Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Microwave Baker’s Chocolate squares and spread over top of pumpkin fudge. Cool to room temperature and/or refrigerate before slicing.

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I’m thankful for Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Thankful for cheesecake?! Ok, I know that sounds ridiculously trite. Sure, I’m thankful for a copious amount of people/places/things more significant than cheesecake.  However, I do get a little “lunatic” when it comes to cheesecake.  So I truly am thankful to discover that I can bake my own never-ending supply of cheesecakey goodness!

Lunacy Exhibit A: I never, ever slice cheesecake!  Cheesecake is eaten directly from the plate it was plopped on with just a fork and a smile.

Lunacy Exhibit B: I eat in this barbaric fashion whilst hidden in my pantry to avoid sharing my delicious cheesecake.

Lunacy Exhibit C: I wholeheartedly consider cheesecake an acceptable breakfast meal.

Lunacy Exhibit D: I have threatened to inflict bodily harm or the dreaded stink eye on anyone who even contemplates eating my cheesecake.

Let’s keep this Gluten Free Thanksgiving menu going with yet another pumpkin-themed dessert!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Be sure to have cream cheese & eggs at room temperature.

Gluten Free Crust:

1/2 cup pecans
18 Health Valley Rice Bran crackers
8 Mi-Del GF Ginger Snap cookies
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter (melted)

In a food processor grind pecans, cookies, & rice crackers until crushed & crumbly in texture (resembling ground almond meal). Add brown & white sugar and butter. Mix thoroughly. Press crumbs against the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.

Cheesecake Filling:

3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/8 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 whole egg
4 egg yolks
3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine pumpkin, 3/4 cup of white sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, mace, and 3 egg yolks. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set pumpkin mixture aside.

Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly incorporate 3/8 cup (=1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) of white sugar, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, whipping cream, cornstarch, orange and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add pumpkin mixture and combine thoroughly. Add batter to springform pan. Bake in center of oven for 50 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees. I placed a pan filled with water on the rack beneath the cheesecake to eliminate cracking and maintain moistness. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool for at least 1/2 hour.

Sour Cream Topping:

2 cups of sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons white sugar

Combine sour cream, vanilla extract, and white sugar. After cooling cheesecake (still in springform pan) for at least 1/2 hour, pour sour cream topping over cake and return to a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Cool cheesecake for at least an hour before removing from pan. Refrigerate prior to serving.

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Pumpkin Pie Without The Plump

Badonkadonk (Ba-donka-donk)  Function: noun.  Slang for a big ol’ backside.  For example, “I scarfed down an entire pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving Dinner and my badonkadonk doubled in size.”

Ok, now that I have your attention, I have wondrous news… Pumpkin Pie can be tasty and low in fat and calories!  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  Uh, never mind, that’s another holiday.

I happen to be a sucker for magazines. I subscribe to just about everything and anything. Lots of fitness, health, and re-purposing holiday cards into a stylish hat publications.  Unfortunately, many go unread for months at a time.  However, I discovered a magazine by the name of Clean Eating. It is fabulous!  Their Fall 2008 edition highlighted a lower-fat pumpkin pie recipe that got my wheels a-turnin’.  Could I possibly create a gluten free, low fat, TASTY pumpkin pie?

I re-worked Clean Eating’s recipe and (after a few attempts) created a Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie that rocks the house!  This post kicks off my quest for a satisfying gluten free holiday season.  Stay tuned for my pumpkin pie cheesecake recipe!

Unfortunately that one will triple your badonkadunk.

Low-Fat Pumpkin Pie


1/2 cup pecans
18 Health Valley Rice Bran crackers
8 Mi-Del GF Ginger Snap cookies
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

In a food processor grind pecans, cookies, & rice crackers until crushed & crumbly in texture (resembling ground almond meal). Place crumbs in a 9 inch pie pan. Drizzle canola oi onto crumbs and mix to moisten. Once evenly moistened, press crumbs against the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Refrigerate while making the filling.


2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
14 ounces pumpkin puree
12 ounces evaporated milk (I used 2% lowfat)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Whisk egg whites and whole egg. Add in brown sugar, pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, cornstarch, spices, and orange peel. Mix thoroughly. Pour over crust. Bake in center of oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour and then refridgerate. Serve with lowfat whipped cream.

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There’s A Vegetable In My Bread

I’ve mentioned before that I am a vegetarian. Swore off meat, fish, and chicken at the rebellious age of 18. Well, except for bacon. Just couldn’t give up the bacony goodness. So, in reality, I am a bacon eating (fraud) vegetarian. Being a vegetarian, one would think that I love, ahem, vegetables. Truth be told, I am not a huge fan. I do have my favorites, but I’m not screaming from the rooftops, “I can’t survive without Dinosaur Kale!”

That being noted, I wholeheartedly enjoy any vegetable that can (safely) be combined with chocolate. After a few noxious attempts (do NOT try chocolate covered asparagus!), I have found a lovely and prolific vegetable to marry with my need for sweets.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup sugar (I used demerara raw cane sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, canola oil, agave nectar, sugar, and vanilla extract. Shred zucchini and place in a clean dishtowel. Use the dishtowel to wring out excess water (this will help prevent your bread from becoming too mushy). Stir in shredded zucchini into mixing bowl. Using a sifter, sift brown rice, millet, sorghum, and potato starch flours as well as baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Add into mixing bowl. Stir until combined and then fold in mini-chocolate chips.

Divide batter into four mini-loaf pans. Bake 25 – 30 minutes (until tester inserted in the center comes out clean).

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Peanut Butter & Honey “Truffles”

Have I mentioned that I LOVE peanut butter?!  From kindergarten through the twelfth grade I ate a peanut butter sandwich every single day at school (over 2,000 PB sandwiches consumed!). Recently, I discovered an amazing site which pays homage to one of my favorite delicacies.  I truly think the Peanut Butter Boy is my long lost brother (hey, in my family, you never know what other siblings are out there!).

Ahem, moving on…

So, Peanut Butter Boy is hosting “The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #4 – No Bake”. Oh yeah! No baking AND peanut butter – I am totally feeling this challenge. I immediately thought of a recipe my mom and I used to make when I was little. It’s no-bake, kid-friendly, and is a healthy treat. The original recipe called for wheat germ, however, I’ve substituted flax seed since “wheat is dead to me”. I must also note that I used to call these concoctions Peanut Butter Balls, but I decided to rename the recipe as it just didn’t sound very, uh, nice.

Peanut Butter & Honey Truffles

1 cup DRY milk (I used non-fat)
1/2 cup peanut butter (Crazy Richards Chunky)
1/3 cup honey (local)
1/4 cup ground flax seed (Bob’s Red Mill)

Mix all ingredients together. Form into small balls. Roll balls in coconut, cinnamon & sugar, or cocoa mix.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes and enjoy!

I humbly submit this recipe to my long lost brother’s Peanut Butter Exhibition #4 🙂

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Watch It Wiggle

Get your minds out of the gutters people! I’m not talking about anyone’s posterior region… I’m referring to that “superfood” of childhood — JELL-O!! And I am singing the praises of a Jell-o product I happened to find during a trip to my local grocery store. My intentions were to mosey down the chip and Diet Coke aisle, but somehow I (gasp!) ended up in the BAKING aisle! Alert security, a celiac has entered Aisle 7.

Wow, did you ever realize just how much flour there actually is in the Baking Aisle? Good grief.

As you know, even the smallest thing could distract me at any given moment, so I need s-i-m-p-l-e recipes in the kitchen (and a fire extinguisher on deck just in case). While going rogue in Aisle 7, I happened upon several boxes of Jell-o No Bake Desserts. The box was practically smacking me on the forehead with their “Goof Proof 15 Minute Prep” label. Jackpot baby! Mind you, the picture on all three varieties shows a cookie crust, but something urged me to read the ingredients anyway (my hubby was watching the kids while I food shopped, so this was “me-time”). Ok, I admit food shopping is pretty lame for “me time”, but I’ll take what I can get 🙂

Back to the Jell-o No Bake Desserts. Jello is made by Kraft Foods. Kraft Foods is one of the first companies I sought out when I became gluten free because they clearly identify any of their products that contain a source of gluten. The Jell-o No Bake Dessert ingredients are separated into individually sealed packets based on the Crust, Filling Mix, and Topping. The product ingredients listed on the box are detailed according to Crust, Filling Mix, etc. as well. Since the cookie crust portion of the dessert was clearly not gluten free, I just threw out the packet (or you could save it for a gluten eating friend to use) and altered the recipe a bit.

Here’s my feedback:

Jell-o No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Dessert.  Oooh, these were yummy! It was like eating a giant, fluffy peanut butter cup. After discarding the Oreo Cookie Crust Mix (sigh), I put approximately half a box of Health Valley Rice Bran crackers into a ziploc bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. This would serve as my gluten free crust. The Peanut Butter Cup Filling Mix and Chocolate Topping are gluten free, so I was able to prepare them as directed. I opted for the Frozen Peanut Butter Cups recipe (using standard cupcake wrappers). Another option is to make this in an 8×8 pan. FYI, on the box there are other “Quick & Easy Variations” to the recipe such as PB&J squares and PB & Banana squares. I would totally make these again! One small but crucial word of advice, DO NOT eat more than two of these peanut butter cups in a row or you will feel uber-sick. Trust me, I am speaking from experience (ok, I ate four, but who’s counting?!)…

Jell-o No Bake Real Cheesecake Dessert. While making the first Jell-o recipe, I had used all of my Health Valley Rice Bran crackers. So, what to do for a crust bottom? I had a moment of spontaneity and (holy crap!) improvised. After melting five squares of Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, I drizzled enough chocolate to cover the bottom of all 24 mini-cupcake wrappers. Again, the Filling Mix was gluten free, so I prepared that per the directions. During this time, I popped the chocolate-bottomed cupcake wrappers into the fridge to harden. After adding the cheesecake filling, I topped these with fresh blueberries. The result — these were tasty but really messy! The cheesecake filling was light and airy, not dense like your “typical” NY style cheesecake.  I think a cookie crust would work much better. Unfortunately, the chocolate base melted as soon as you took the cheesecake out of the wrapper. Despite refrigerating the cheesecakes per the instructions (and even putting them in the freezer as well!), they were very gooey. On a positive note, the mini-cupcake wrappers worked perfectly for this recipe as you were able to delicately shove the entire thing in your mouth in one fell swoop (classy, huh?). I would like to try making this again (they were a huge hit with my family!), possibly using a pie plate instead of the mini cups.

At a price of $2.99 to $3.99 per box, the Jell-o No Bake Desserts are an easy, reasonably priced dessert. With just a little tweaking you can make it gluten free and proudly declare some Jell-o love (thanks Mr. Cosby!).

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