Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gluten Free Cranachan

What a beautiful day! I just finished walking around Swarthmore College with my friend Erika, the sun is out, it's about 62 degrees, and I'm sitting at my front-yard patio table.  I only wish I didn't have to go to work and to night class.  When I woke up the first thing on my mind was to go skateboarding at Havertown Skatepark, but although it was warm out, everything was still wet.  Now everything is drying up and I have to go to work. Booo!  However, tomorrow looks promising, so I plan on getting up and heading to the park first thing in the morning.

Weather in Philadelphia is so weird. Just a few days ago it was nasty and freezing, and now it feels like late Spring.  Not that I'm complaining though, since all the people I grew up with in Upstate New York will likely have to wait months before decent weather rolls in.

Last Friday our friends Joy and Jason came over for a dinner party.  They brought the booze and I provided the food.  I ended up making a  three course meal.  This is the desert I made. It was awesome!! The appetizer salad I made was kickin too, so I'll be sure to post what I made for my next entry, but I just had to share this recipe first.  It calls for the use of whisky or bourbon.  I'm sure you could just use apple cider/juice and honey instead of liquor, but what fun would that be?  Although it looks complicated, this desert is really easy to make, and is completely delicious! 

This is what I found out through a little bit of research: Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert. It's usually made from a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey and fresh raspberries mixed with toasted oatmeal.  Cranachan was originally a summer dish consumed around harvest-time. However, it's now likely to be served year round during special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and especially weddings.

Cranachan Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. whisky or bourbon 
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal (make sure it's certified gluten free!)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • splash of water

Cooking Directions
  1. Add the honey and whisky together in a small pan. Heat the mixture on low, stirring frequently, until warmed through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the broiler. Spread the oatmeal in a shallow layer in a grill pan and toast. Stir occasionally, making sure not to burn the oatmeal (which is very easy to do!). Remove from broiler once browned. Set aside to cool.
  3. Using a hand-held electric mixer, whip the heavy cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form, then gently fold in the oatmeal and the honey/whisky mixture. Mix until well combined. 
  4. Put a small handful of raspberries aside and begin layering your glasses or small bowls with alternating layers of raspberries and the cream mixture. Top with raspberries for decoration.
  5. Smash up the remaining raspberries in a small cup with a splash of water and the sugar until saucy. Dribble this raspberry sauce over the prepared Cranachan and then place in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  6. Serve it up and enjoy every bite. You'll love it!

Serves 4

Gluten Free Chocolate Kiss Cookies

I hit the ground running this semester, and things don't seem to be slowing down. It's all good though, since everything I'm doing is exactly what I want to be doing.  I'm finishing up a research project on men and domestic violence work; preparing to spend the month of May in China teaching social work and conducting research; interning as a clinical sexuality counselor; teaching an after-school sexuality education class; getting ready to graduate with two Masters degrees; and getting married in July.  This is turning out to be the busiest year EVER!!!  Although I'm feeling pretty content with the way my life is turning out, I do hope things slow down after the wedding.  I'll be needing some serious R&R come the end of Summer, and I don't think a couple week honeymoon will cut it (although it'll be a great start)!

During times like these, I find it a matter of self care to give in to my chocolate addiction.  The following cookie recipe uses Hershey's Kisses. It comes from one of my favorite cookie books: HERSHEY'S Classic Recipes. According to this link: "GF Candy Database" and other sources, Hershey's Kisses are gluten free.  However, as with most products coming from huge factories, there is a slight chance of cross-contamination.  Now I've never had a negative reaction to Hershey's products, if you are worried about it, or have an extremely sensitive system, simply replace the kisses with chunks of your favorite GF chocolate. Be prepared, because this one is messy!

Chocolate Kiss Cookie Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. all natural vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose gluten-free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 bag (9 ounces) Hershey Kisses (or chocolate chunks)
  • Powdered sugar

Baking Directions
  1. Beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy. 
  2. Mix the flour and cocoa, then gradually add the creamy butter mixture. Beat until blended.
  3. Add the pecans and incorporate.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour, or until it's firm enough to handle.
  5. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  6. Remove the wrappers from the Hershey's Kisses (or cut chocolate into 1/2 inch chunks). Mold about a tablespoon of cookie dough around each piece of chocolate, making sure to cover completely in order to shape it into a ball.
  7. Place each cookie dough ball onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 3 inches apart.
  8. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until dough appears set.  Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks.
  9. Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar (optional).