Orchids and meringues
John and I had a dinner party last night to celebrate our (gasp!) 49th wedding anniversary. Oh, do those years slip away.
One of the friends we had over is on a low-fibre diet which meant foods like legumes were forbidden and everything had to be cooked very well. Here was our menu:
- Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese served with my husband’s fabulous, homemade Challah Bread (regrettably not gluten-free, but it’s his specialty)
- Lamb Shanks, Braised in Red Wine and Chicken Stock with Carrots and Celery and served over White Rice
- Puréed Cauliflower, Zucchini, and Leeks
- Roasted Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar
- Mocha Tapioca Pudding
- Cocoa Meringue Cookies
The only dish I had made previously was the soup (the link). Everything else was an experiment. One of the things I enjoy about having a dinner party is that I give myself permission to try out new things. Like making meringue cookies.
Cookies are rarely on my radar because they bring out my Cookie Monster and invite serious, over-the-top gluttony. You know, eat one, eat another one, and…keep right on going. Even in my cookie-baking days with small children, I never made meringue cookies. Up until now, I had been discouraged by the amount of sugar they require and the high-calorie cost of chocolate, if I decide to use it.
But I had an unopened carton of egg whites in my fridge, and research revealed that I could use cocoa powder—the dieter’s alternative to chocolate. In Weight Watcher terms, cocoa powder is 1 point per 3 tablespoons as compared to semisweet chocolate which is 6 points per 3 tablespoons. (For more info, check out “>All About Cocoa Powder.)
The result was everything meringue cookies should be—light, crunchy in the centre, and deliciously chocolate.
I have never really underst00d what cocoa powder is and the difference among its varieties. This article, which I adapted from the Weight Watchers newsletter and which was entitled The Skinny on Cocoa Powder, is very helpful.
These squares came about because I found myself with 2/3 cup of soured milk that I had forgotten to put in a different bread I was baking. How did I do that? Well, I had to give the milk time to sour so I put it to one side as I got the rest of the ingredients put together and then completely forgot about it. When I mixed the batter, I found the dough—not surprisingly, in retrospect—terribly dry. Needless to say, this hodge-podge didn’t turn out too well.
Then, of course, I discovered the soured milk. I couldn’t throw it out, could I? Nor could I ignore a certain chocolate craving that had arisen because I’d bought some carob chips earlier in the day. It’s interesting how a craving (which knows it can be fulfilled) just keeps nudging at you, isn’t it? At any rate, the result is a delight. Squares that are mildly sweet and light in texture, taste, and calories.
Cooking note: The original recipe called for ½ tsp. of unflavoured gelatin. As this wasn’t a “jell0” style cake, I didn’t know what function the gelatin served. Some research later: In order to avoid having a cake cracking along the top as it cools, you should “Add gelatin to the cake batter as you mix it. The gelatin works to keep the cooling cake intact and it can also add fullness to the baked cake.” (eHow Food)
Update: I recently bought my quinoa flour at a different store than usual and discovered, when making these squares, that I had to add more liquid. In fact, I’ve altered the recipe for 1 cup of soured milk. Feel free to add ¼ or so of water or alternative milk if you still find your batter too dry.
Makes 16 squares
- ½ cup white rice flour
- ½ cup quinoa flour
- ½ cup artificial sugar
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
- 1/3 cup potato starch
- 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. unflavoured gelatin
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup buttermilk or 1 soy or lactose-free milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
- 4½ tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
- 1½ tbsp. oil
- ¼ cup unsweetened carob chips
- Cooking spray
- If not using buttermilk, mix alternative milk with lemon juice, let sit for about 5 minutes, and then stir.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, artificial sugar, tapioca flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, gelatin, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a medium bowl mix together all liquid ingredients, buttermilk or soured milk, liquid egg substitute, applesauce, oil, and carob chips.
- Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix until it forms a thick batter.
- Spray a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.
- Pour batter into the pan and bake in a 350° F oven for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool and cut into 16 squares.
For Weight Watchers: Each square is worth 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.
(Altered from “Irish Soda Bread” by Jefferson Adams at www.celiac.com)
Were made with chocolate chips, and were delicious!
My first gluten-free, sugar-free brownie success (and dear Deity of Cooking, may there be more)! Without chocolate chips, these brownies are cake-like and have a light, satisfying chocolate flavour. With chocolate chips, these brownies are richer, moister, chewier, and just downright fabulous!
Makes 12 servings
- 2/3 cup rice flour
- ½ tsp. xanthan gum
- ½ cup sweetener (Note: Weight Watcher points for this recipe are based on the use of artificial sugar.)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. or less salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. coffee
- ¼ cup soft margarine
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
- Cooking spray
- In bowl, mix flour, xanthum gum, sweetener, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
- In larger bowl, beat butter, eggs, vanilla, and coffee mixture for about 1 minute. (Butter will be broken into small bits.)
- Add applesauce to liquid ingredients and beat until blended.
- Gently beat in flour mixture. Batter will be thick and springy.
- Add in chocolate chips, if using.
- Spray 8 x 8″ pan with cooking spray.
- Spread mixture evenly in the pan. The top will be uneven.
- Without chocolate chips, bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until outside edges are firm.
- With chocolate chips, bake 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until outside edges are firm.
- Cool and cut into 12 servings.
For Weight Watchers:
- Without chocolate chips, 2 points per serving on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointPlus plan.
- With chocolate chips, 3 points per serving on the Points plan and 3.5 points on the PointPlus plan.
(Adapted from “Double Chocolate Brownies” in Lighthearted at Home by Anne Lindsay.)