Monday, February 13, 2012

Ceci's Valentine's Treats

Ceci enjoying her hard work when all the dipping was done
Last year I went on a Mom's Night out to a chocolate shop here on Long Island called The Chocolate Duck and had a great time making tons of chocolate goodies with some fun ladies.  This year I didn't go but was missing the treats, and last year it was tough anyway because the had us make a lot of things with nuts which I gave away to friends, family, and teachers.  One of the favorite items we made was an accident that my friend Sheri and I made as a last ditch effort to use up more of the melted chocolate, we dipped the potato chips from the snack table into the chocolate.  Everyone I gave them to RAVED about them afterward.  Tim would have eaten the whole batch of them if I hadn't hollered at him not to.

So this year I decided to make chocolate dipped treats at home, but with Ceci helping I needed to keep them nut free.  I bought Hershey's Chocolate Chips and melted them in the double boiler, and we dipped all sorts of yummy things pretzles, chips, ghram crackers, anything really.  We even made nut free clusters using dried edamame beans and craisins, chex and crasins, and for Tim I made cheerio clusters (in a separate bowl).  Ceci had a great time and was really good about being careful of the warm pan and even learned a new word, Generous.  She had trouble understanding that we should put more than a dot of chocolate on each item, so I explained that each item needs more chocolate so it tastes better and our friends and family like them more.  She was so adorable after that, each time she dipped she would show me the item and say "Mommy, this is generous!"  Yes my love,  You are generous!

It made for a super fun afternoon and an easy way to make treats for lots of people.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gluten Free Beginet with Amaretto Honey
I was just marking the calendar for February and noticed that Mardi Gras is coming up.  I had made these Beignets last year, but it was several days after Mardi Gras and I never got around to posting about them sadly.  I thought I would get them up in time for this year's celebration.  They came out beautifully, and our friends who helped us eat them thought they were fantastic, and they can eat gluten.  I take that as high praise when someone who can eat gluten thinks gluten free foods taste great, or even better than the glutinous version.  It was also fun to make them for Ceci since one of her favorite movies is Disney's Princess and the Frog, featuring Tiana a struggling waitress in New Orleans who is famous for her beignet recipe.  

I have never been to New Orleans myself so I can't speak to the authenticity of the taste of these beignets, but if these don't taste authentic, I think that's okay because they taste DELICIOUS!!!  

I borrowed this recipe from where the recipe called for a gluten free cake mix, I didn't have a cake mix in the house and was too lazy to go buy one so I subbed in Gluten Free Bisquick.  I was more than happy with the results, I like that the beignets were not over poweringly sweet, I believe the cake mix would have made it too sweet.  Everyone else eating them that night agreed that they liked this version too.  

A few Christmases ago I bought my husband a Cool Daddy Fryer for home so we could over indulge ourselves even more, and we used it to fry the beignets perfectly.  

I put out lots of different options as toppings, but the amaretto honey was the hit of the party.  Friends gave me flavored sugars for a past birthday and I had those out, vanilla sugar, cinnamon sugar with cardamom, and powdered sugar.  In my opinion any form of sugar is delicious, but the honey did bring them to a whole different level of yummy-ness!

Gluten Free Beignets

2       Cups Gluten-free Bisquick
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1/8    tsp salt
2       Tbs granulated sugar
1/3    Cup lukewarm water
1       lightly beaten egg
1/6    Cup milk

Extra tapioca starch for rolling out dough
Canola or Vegetable Oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, honey, or cinnamon sugar

Combine gluten-free Bisquick, yeast, salt and sugar in a stand mixer, blend on slow just to mix the dry ingredients.  Add water, egg and light cream and mix until thoroughly combined. The batter should be thick and shaggy. If it's too thin add more Bisquick, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Scrape batter onto a large rolling mat or work surface. Use your hands to knead dough to form a ball.  Place the ball in an oiled bowl with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate overnight.  When you are ready to fry your beignets, take the dough from the refrigerator and place on rolling mat or work surface that's liberally dusted with tapioca starch. Punch the dough down and work in enough tapioca starch to prevent the dough from sticking to the board. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and use a sharp knife, dipped in flour, to cut 2-inch squares or diamonds.  Use a floured spatula to place the cut pieces on a floured baking sheet. Let rise for 30 minutes.  Pour 2 inches of oil in a heavy saucepan or follow manufacturer's instructions for a home frying unit. Heat to 375 degrees F. Use a spatula to transfer the beignets to the frying pan. Deep fry beignets in small batches. Turn when golden and fry just until second side is light, golden brown.  Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer beignets to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Liberally dust with confectioners sugar, cinnamon sugar, or drizzle with honey. Serve hot.