My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pumpkin Pie Bars (Gluten Free)

Pumpkin Pie Bars are great anytime of year....not just for Thanksgiving! This recipe is something I came up with many years ago to take to a potluck when I had limited ingredients in my cupboard and a sick kid at home so the option of running to the store was not there. I love this recipe because it is very flexible with substitutions and always turns out great. One thing I learned from my mom is that sometimes you need to make do with what you have in your cupboards. We lived about 20 minutes from the closest town growing up and in the winter with bad weather it just wasn't feasible to go to the store for one ingredient. Use what you have!

In this instance, I did not have enough flour to make the pie crust so I dug through my recipes and came up with an oat bar recipe and used it for my crust with a few modifications. Another time I made these, I was short on flour and oats but I had graham cracker crumbs and nuts. Each time the recipe turned out great. Keep in mind with modifications, the flavor and texture might be slightly different but this particular recipe is VERY FORGIVING! I personally prefer using real butter but I do have some friends and family that are dairy free so I have used butter flavored Crisco (Vegetable shortening) and once I even used lard which I know is not heard of much these days. Every time it turned out just perfect! (Avoid using reduced fat margarines because they contain too much water and will leave you with a soggy crust. Make sure it contains at least 65% or more fat!)

I love this recipe because they taste even better a couple of days later after the flavors have had time to mingle but just keep them in the refrigerator. Pumpkin Pie Bars are easier for the holidays than making most other desserts because you can make them a few days ahead and take the last minute holiday stress out of baking desserts! These also freeze great so make a double batch and freeze them in individual freezer bags for lunches or desserts for a later date! I love grab and go desserts! I like to have "emergency" desserts in the freezer that my grand-daughter and I can have for last minute snacks!

I have a very old, very worn hand written recipe book for some of my favorite recipes from long ago (pre-computer days!) and I hand write little notes next to the recipe for substitutions that worked. That way years down the road, I can whip out the book and check to see what I have done in the past. I also sometimes do this with my good cookbooks so I know in the future if it the recipe was good or not. Cooking is an art and something that must be cultivated.

Most of my recipes were originally "normal" recipes and I have converted them to gluten free so if you don't have a gluten allergy then you certainly can substitute REGULAR FLOUR in place of gluten free flour. Regular flour is easier to work is not as particular as the gluten free flours so substituting it is not the problem. However, sometimes trying to substitute gluten free flour for the regular flour....does not always turn out well! There are times I will play with a recipe for days or even years to get it perfect. It is trial and error. Any recipe that I put on here are recipes I personally tried, tasted and approved!

Pumpkin Pie Bars Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free flour* (You can use regular flour if you don't have a gluten allergy). I always try to use at least 1/2 cup of gluten free flour but I have also substituted the any of the following ingredients (or a combination of the following) to get me the 1 1/2 cup total measurement: gluten free graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs, finely ground almonds (also called almond flour), finely ground oats (it should have a flour texture when you are done grinding the oats in blender).
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I have substituted regular granulated sugar and it worked fine!)
  • 3/4 cup real butter (You can substitute Crisco vegetable shortening, lard or margarine as long as it contains at least 65% fat. The reduced fat margarines contain too much water and it won't make a nice crust!)
  • 1 1/4 cup Oats (I use Trader Joes Gluten free oats most of the time but I honestly have used Quaker brand without any issues). 
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts or almonds, optional (I like the nutty flavor this adds to the crust & topping but if there are nut allergies or you don't have nuts on hand, you can leave them out. You can also add up to 1/2 cup more if you like extra nuts! If I am not adding the nuts, I add an extra 1/2 cup oats so I get the same measurement for my crust. 
  • 1 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese, optional (This makes the pumpkin filling have a silky texture but if you have a dairy allergy you can certainly leave it out and it will still be great! I have made this recipe with and without the cream cheese).
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (do not use the pumpkin pie mix). If you can't find canned pumpkin you can substitute 16 oz of peeled cooked & mashed cold sweet potato instead. Sweet potato will give you a similar flavor and texture of pumpkin. 
  • 1 tbs. pumpkin pie spice (This gives the pumpkin filling a richer flavor but if you don't have it on hand you can substitute cinnamon. You can add a little more if you like extra spice flavor).
Line a 9"x13" pan with foil with extra hanging over the edges so you can easily lift it out after it is done baking. Grease the foil with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Mix the flour (or the ingredient(s) you are substituting for the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar (save the rest for the filling) and the room temperature butter. You can cut the butter in small chunks if it is cold and work it in that way but I find it easier when the butter is slightly soft but not melted. Stir in the oats and nuts if you are adding them. It should look like a coarse crumb mixture. RESERVE 1 CUP OF CRUMB MIXTURE for the topping and press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the 9x13" greased foil lined pan. Press it tightly into the corners and bottom so it forms a crust and not loose crumbs. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven (I use the middle oven rack) for 15 minutes then remove from oven but leave your oven on. 

My chopped walnuts that I added for the crust (they are optional)

My crumb crust & topping mixture

The crust after it is baked
While the crust is baking, I mix the filling: Beat the pumpkin, cream cheese (if you are using it), remaining 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon. Pour over warm crust. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs evenly over the pumpkin filling. You will have areas of the pumpkin filling showing through which is normal. This is only a crumb topping and not a crust on top! If you are a nut lover you can add additional chopped nuts to the topping (I generally do not). Bake 25 minutes in the pre-heated 350 degree oven. Cool completely before serving.

Pumpkin filling

Pumpkin filling spread onto the warm bars before adding the topic

Pumpkin bars
Cutting into squares

Ready to eat! Where is my Star Wars Coffee mug full of coffee?

Ready to serve up on a plate to take to my friend

The pumpkin pie bars will slice and serves best when chilled in the refrigerator. They actually tastes BEST a couple days after it is baked because the flavors have had a chance to mingle. These can be made up to 5 days before a big event and I like to freeze any left overs (okay, there are rarely any left overs so I usually just make a double batch!). I like to freeze in individual serving slices in freezer bags for a quick dessert. Okay, sometimes on my days off work I will poke in the freezer and sneak a sweet treat for breakfast with my coffee! Now that we are "empty nesters" I don't have to set a good example for kids. I can eat sweets for breakfast on occasion! 

This is the perfect dessert for any holiday or potluck because you can make it when you have time and put it in the refrigerator for a few days so you don't have the last minute hassle and mess in the kitchen. If you are like me, I always have a ton of last minute things to do before the holidays and having a dirty kitchen from baking is something I don't like! These are beautiful if you cut them into squares or triangles (cut them into squares and then half them diagonal to get them in triangle shapes) on a glass or crystal platter or tiered cookie plate. These make a great hostess gift too! (You can even make it easy on yourself and put them in a cookie tin or holiday container in your refrigerator so you can grab & go last minute! Canned pumpkin is available pretty much year around now in the USA so don't just make these for Thanksgiving! These could be your "signature" dessert bar! Be creative! Customize them!

Who says you have to make them pumpkin flavored? Yeah, that's right! You can easily leave out the pumpkin and make them cheesecake bars instead or add a different pie filling. Like I said before...this is a fantastic recipe that you can easily adapt to use your favorite fillings or use what you have in your cupboard. 

Please feel free to leave any comments, suggestions or substitutions that you have tried. We all learn from each other and sharing tips and suggestions is very helpful! Please don't be afraid to ask me questions! I am not a professional chef or writer so if my descriptions or instructions are not clear to you, please ask for clarifications! 

Enjoy your pumpkin season!

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Cheesecake Dip

Cheesecake Dip! (also called dessert cheeseball). I LOVE THIS RECIPE! I started making this many years ago when I had tons of cream cheese in my refrigerator and I was planning on making a cheesecake but had nothing to make a cheesecake crust. At the time I had young kids taking naps so I couldn't run to the store to pick up extra ingredients. (Those days are long are all grown now!) I made a dessert cheeseball that day instead which is basically a no bake style cheesecake without a crust....rolled into a ball and rolled in nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, cookie crumbs or whatever you want. You can change the flavor just like you do for a regular no bake cheesecake. Pumpkin, Chocolate, Peanut butter, etc. The possibilities are endless! Honestly, my favorite is making it into a dip and instead of rolling it into a ball....I pour cherry pie filling over the top. Today, I made my own cherry pie filling using frozen black cherries, water, a sprinkle of sugar and tapioca starch and cooked until thick but you can just purchase canned pie filling. Just make sure to read the label if you have a gluten allergy!

This is also fantastic with lemon curd poured over the top instead of pie filling. Since my mom left for the summer....there is no one here to make her scrumptious lemon curd. I don't make lemon curd. EVER! I don't seem to have the knack for it. I end up walking away frustrated with a burnt pan in hand. So today it will be cherry cheesecake dip! Next year I will sweet talk my mom into making me a few jars of her scrumptious lemon curd before she leaves so I have enough to get me through the summer while she's off globe trotting! ;)

You can serve the cheesecake dip (or if you decide to roll it in a ball) with just about anything. I usually do a combination of gluten free pretzels (the sweet and salty combination is great!), gluten free cookies, mini flavored rice cakes and apple slices but you can use whatever you have on hand or whatever preferences you have. I really like to add Cinnamon sugar flavored corn tortilla chips (also called Churro Chips) if I can find them in the potato chip aisle. It's a rare find! If we are having a large crowd over then I will usually make two different flavors of cheesecake dip or dessert cheeseballs.

Cheesecake Dip (Dessert Cheeseball) recipe: Makes 1 dessert cheeseball or small bowl of dip
  • 1 package 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. of milk or flavored coffee creamer, flavored extract or lemon or lime juice (depending on flavor you want)
  • 1/2 cup of Cool Whip (only if you are using as a dip. If you are rolling into a ball then omit this because it will be a little too soft to form into ball shape. You can leave the Cool Whip out of the recipe all together but I like the creaminess it adds to the dip version).
  • Any gluten free crushed candies or 1 tsp. cinnamon or instant espresso powder (or anything you want), optional. I used 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon today but you can substitute a different spice or leave it out altogether. If I am making a Cappuccino flavor, I like to add a tablespoon of espresso powder or instant flavored cappuccino powder.
For Dessert Cheesecake Ball: Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and your one teaspoon of liquid (milk, flavored coffee creamer, lemon or lime juice, coffee, flavored extract or whatever flavor you are adding) with mixer or spoon until smooth but stiff. It should not be runny. If you want to add crushed candy pieces, sprinkles or gluten free cookie pieces to the batter portion, stir in now. Roll into ball. If you want to dress up the ball from the outside then you can roll into nuts, crushed candies, crushed cookies, sprinkles, chocolate chips, crushed pretzels or anything your heart desires! Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. If I am making this a day or two ahead of the party then I will wrap in plastic wrap to avoid the cheeseball taking on flavors from the refrigerator!

For the Dip Version: Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and your one teaspoon of liquid (milk, flavored coffee creamer, lemon or lime juice, coffee, flavored extract or whatever flavor you are adding) with mixer or spoon until smooth but stiff. It should not be runny. If you want to add crushed candy pieces, sprinkles or gluten free cookie pieces to the batter portion, stir in now. At this point I like to add the Cool Whip if I am making it into a dip but it is completely optional. Stir until well combined. It just makes the dip a little creamier with a fluffier texture. Spread into a bowl or serving dish. Top with your favorite topping(s) like pie filling, lemon curd, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, melted peanut butter, nuts, crushed gluten free cookies, chocolate chips, M&Ms, pretzels, sprinkles or whatever you want.

Mixing the ingredients for the dip version

It should be spreadable but still thick and firm

Perfect texture for the dip version. Creamy and fluffy.

The cheesecake dip in spread into a bowl ready for topping

I chose a cherry topping (one of my favorites!)

Rich and creamy dip. Ready to eat!

Up close view of the dip. I am eating it with gluten free pretzels.

Side view of the layers
View of the dip being eaten with gluten free wafer cookies

Ready to eat! 

Some of our family favorites: Cherry Cheesecake Dip, Lemon Curd Cheesecake Dip, Butterfinger Dessert Cheeseball (I add a couple of tablespoons of creamy peanut butter and crushed butterfingers candy bars and roll it in additional crushed butterfingers), Reese Peanutbutter Dessert Cheeseball (I add a couple of tablespoons of creamy peanut butter and roll in chopped Reese cups and if I want chocolate then I add a 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the cheesecake mix), Caramel Macchiato Cappuccino flavor (I add a couple of tablespoons of instant caramel or french vanilla cappuccino powder to the cheesecake mix and roll in chocolate chips and drizzle with melted caramel sauce, Margarita flavor (I add tablespoon of lime juice, lime zest and roll in gluten free crushed pretzels), Chocolate Coconut (I add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, mini semi sweet chocolate chips to batter and roll in sweetened shredded coconut), and turtle Cheesecake Dessert Ball (which I just drizzle with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and toasted pecans).  This recipe is super easy and very flexible especially if you are spreading it in a bowl or serving dish as a dip! This is also a great recipe for the summer festivities because it doesn't require baking.

Chocolate Cheeseball version

Dark Chocolate Bacon Cheeseball Version

Dark Chocolate Bacon Cheeseball served on Churro Chips (Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas)

If you have decided to add more like 1/3 cup of something creamy like peanut butter or Nutella and you want to roll into a dessert cheeseball, you may want to increase your powdered sugar to 3/4 cup or add 3 tbs. of tapioca starch or corn starch to get it to stay firm enough to roll into a ball. Another option if  you don't want it sweeter is to add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. Like I said...this recipe is ridiculously flexible and you can add or delete just about any of the items. Specialty stores even carry a cream cheese substitute for those that are vegan or have dairy allergies. Trader Joe's carries a Goat Cheese cream cheese for those allergic to Cow's milk. 

I love these Walmart chips. Great for dessert cheeseballs. However, not every Walmart carries them :(
I love easy recipes like this that doesn't require baking. It is a recipe that even an inexperienced cook can make easily! It is a recipe that you can take to a party that everyone will enjoy and doesn't taste "gluten free". It can be made several days in advance so if you are rushed for time or planning a holiday party....this is a great option for dessert. You can make a couple different flavors to appeal to everyone. Another really fun option for a buffet style party is to make a large bowl of the basic cheesecake dip and have toppings on the side so everyone can customize their own cheesecake dip! How fun is that? It is the same concept as an "ice cream bar" dessert table but this is even better because it is CHEESECAKE!

I hope you have fun experimenting with this basic recipe and customize it to fit with your favorite flavors. Feel free to post any comments or pictures of your cheesecake dip dessert. We all learn from each other and I always love hearing from people.

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcake! Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake! The velvety texture of the buttery almond cakes with slightly sweet strawberries with their juices and a dollop of whipping cream (or cool whip). Actually, any type of fruit will work with shortcakes....but berries are my favorite. I chose this buttery cake recipe and baked in a little shortcake maker I bought on clearance. ( feels like an adult version of "Easy bake oven" but I just love it!) If you don't have a shortcake worries....just bake in a muffin pan or you can bake in a loaf pan or cake pan and just cut into cubes or squares.

I prefer making my cake from scratch when I have the time. However, if you are in a hurry or are not a can "doctor up" a gluten free cake mix to get similar results. Let's face don't have to be a chef to get a great dessert! I will share my favorite shortcake recipe with you but I will also give you tips on how to "doctor up" a cake mix to get very similar results. Baking should not be stressful! If you don't have all the ingredients on hand for baking gluten free from scratch then it might make more sense for you to "doctor up" a gluten free cake mix. Pillsbury makes a pretty decent gluten free cake mix and the one they carry at Aldi in the midwest is also really good. Gluten free baked treats are rather expensive and difficult to find and many of them are just plain disgusting. This is an affordable and easy way to make a fantastic gluten free treat that EVERYONE will eat! :)

 Shortcake Recipe: (This recipe makes a bunch so you can half the recipe if you want)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (you can use raw sugar if you prefer)
  • 3/4 cup margarine (make sure it is a margarine that contains at least 65% fat or it will won't work well for baking! I found that Kroger brand works well and it is cheap! (It can be found at Kroger or Fry's grocery stores). Or substitute real butter or you can substitute Crisco if you are dairy free
  • 3/4 cup real mayonnaise (this will give the cake a moist, rich texture. You will not taste the flavor of mayonnaise at all! Trust me! This is a great option for people that need dairy free options! I use BEST FOODS brand since it is gluten free & dairy free. 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract or baking emulsion (I prefer the baking emulsion which I find in the cake baking department at Michael's crafts, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby & Walmart
  • 2 tsp. butter vanilla baking extract or emulsion (optional)
  • 4 eggs 
  • 3 cups of gluten free flour (If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can just use regular flour).
  • 1 tsp. Xanthan Gum if your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain it. If you are using regular flour or if you gluten free flour blend already contains it then you don't need to add this ingredient.
Combine the sugar, margarine (or butter or Crisco), mayonnaise, water and almond baking emulsion + the butter vanilla baking emulsion (optional) together until smooth. Add eggs and beat well. Gradually add the baking powder, salt and flour. (Dough mixture will be thick  - kind of like a brownie dough). Spoon into the shortcake maker as directed in the instructions or bake uncovered in 350 degree oven  [35-45 minutes for 9x13 pan, 45-50 minutes for loaf pan, 18-25 minutes for muffin pan] or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs and top is lightly golden brown in color. Check your oven at the lowest cooking time and adjust. Each oven cooks slightly different and altitude can affect baking times. These shortcakes can be made ahead of time and put in a covered container for several days. They can also be frozen.

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. almond baking emulsion
  • 2 tsp. butter vanilla baking emulsion (optional)

Take rinsed strawberries and slice them up and place in a bowl. I like to add just a tablespoon or two of sugar and then cover with plastic wrap and let them rest on the counter for at least an hour or two so the strawberries produce juice. Spoon the berries and juice over the shortcakes. I like to add a dollop of whipping cream (or cool whip - specialty stores carry a non-dairy coconut milk version of cool whip which works well too). I grate a sliver of chocolate on top for extra decoration but you don't need to do that. I like to serve in wine glasses, parfait cups or pretty plates. If we are going to a picnic or a huge group of people...I put in individual plastic cups with pretty spoons for single serving size. Less waste and minimal cleanup! :)

This is my handy dandy shortcake maker (AKA: adult easy bake oven!)

My shortcake maker box

The inside of my shortcake maker so you can see how it makes the shortcakes with the indention

My shortcakes are cooling
View of shortcake prior to topping it with whipping cream and chocolate shavings

Ready to eat!

Up close view

This one is on a plate rather than a wine glass

Up close view before cutting into it!

Delicious! See how moist and the juices are soaking into the scrumptious cake! Mmmmm!

I hope you enjoyed one my favorite summer treats! It is refreshing and super easy! It is a crowd pleaser and leftovers (if there are any!) will freeze fabulously. If you prefer chocolate cake in place of the almond cake then you can leave out the almond baking emulsion and leave out 1/2 cup of the flour and add unsweetened cocoa powder. The chocolate version shortcakes tastes fabulous with cherry pie filling and/or chocolate pudding. Yummy! :) This recipe (as well as ALL of my recipes can be made with regular flour if you do not have a gluten allergy.) These recipes have been created, tried and enjoyed by those of us that are gluten free!)

Welcome summer by treating your friends and family to this super easy dessert that can be made a couple days ahead of time. Bring on summer! 

Gluten Free Casually

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

Pretzel Crusted Chicken! This chicken coating is SOOOOO much better than using bread crumbs! It has a fantastic crunch, doesn't burn easily and keeps the chicken super moist as you bake it. I came up with the idea one day when I was going through my cupboards and organizing. I found a partial bag of gluten free flavored pretzels that were getting close to expiration date (but they were still crunchy). So rather than waste them....I decided to crush them very fine and use them to coat chicken for dinner! The old commercial from "Shake & Bake" ran through my head. I haven't coated chicken and baked it for a long time! We absolutely loved the results. My mom was having dinner with us and commented on how moist the chicken turned out and the coating was extra crispy without frying!

The pretzel coating is not limited to just chicken! I have since done it to boneless pork chops and fish too! The results were the same....crispy coating with meat that was very moist! I used gluten free pretzels (honey mustard flavor this time) but you can use regular pretzels if you don't have a gluten allergy. This recipe is ridiculously simple but I thought I would post it because it offer new ideas to people with gluten allergies. Gluten free bread (and bread crumbs) can be really expensive and I want to keep you on your grocery budget. This way you can buy the pretzels to eat in your lunch or snack + use them for coating your meat. (I also use gluten free pretzels (the plain flavor) as a crust for cookie bars sometimes. It gives a great sweet & salty twist to cookie bars! (I will post a recipe soon!) You can also use other gluten free items like flavored potato chips or tortilla chips to coat your meat and bake it. I have recently started doing that too. I really like the Maui Onion flavored potato chips (I found a brand out here in Arizona that doesn't have gluten) and used them finely crushed as a coating for pork chops. DELICIOUS! However, my favorite is still the pretzel coating. It has extra crunch and the texture is just more dense than chips or bread crumbs.

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Recipe:

  • 4 bones chicken breasts or thighs (you can probably use wings and deep fry them but I have never tried it). You can substitute boneless pork chops or fish if you prefer.
  • 1 egg, beaten  (if you don't have an egg on hand then you can use mayonnaise which does contain egg). If you are allergic to eggs then you can substitute sour cream or plain yogurt. It will help the crumbs to stick to the meat. Just spread a light coat on each side prior to dipping in crumbs.
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed pretzel crumbs (depending on the size of your chicken pieces you may not use all the crumbs or you may need a little more)

Dip both sides of chicken (or other meat) pieces into the beaten egg then dip into the finely crushed pretzel crumbs. Place on cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper for easy removal and cleanup). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until juices run clear and center of chicken is no longer pink (but still moist) which will depend on the thickness of your meat. If your meat is really thick then you may want to consider slicing it into smaller pieces so it cooks faster and evenly. *Note: do not save any unused pretzel crumbs or beaten egg that has come into contact with the raw meat. I only use the minimal and add more as I need them so I don't waste any.

This is the brand of gluten free pretzels I used today. I liked the flavor it gave my chicken.

I used my handy dandy mini food processor but you can just smash in a ziplock bag

This is the chicken after I removed it from oven and put on a dinner plate

This is the same pretzel crumbs but on a boneless pork piece (the lighting gives it a different color)

Crunchy topping with moist meat & ready to eat!

I hope you enjoyed this super easy weeknight dinner recipe. Feel free to post any tips, substitutions or photos that you have tried. We all learn from each other and I enjoy the comments!

Enjoy your week!
Happy eating!

Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Chipotle Fudge Brownies (Gluten Free)

Chipotle Fudge Brownies! These dense, moist brownies have a deep chocolate flavor and a slight little touch of heat. (It is really subtle and just delightful!) These brownies are one of our favorite dark chocolate desserts at our house and I like to serve them for dessert after a Mexican inspired meal or on a night we are having friends over on the patio by the fire pit table relaxing. I never would have considered chile + chocolate = delicious but it really does. The subtle flavor of the smoked chile power makes the dark chocolate flavor of the brownies more intense. You absolutely must try these!

You can find Chipotle chile powder at most grocery stores in the spice aisle or order it online. I really suggest you use the Chipotle and not Cayenne because the flavors are different. However, in a pinch...I guess you can use the Cayenne pepper but you will miss the smokey flavor that the Chipotle chile brings into this scrumptious dessert. You don't need a lot....a little bit of the Chipotle chile is enough. You don't want to over power the brownies and make your friends rushing for a drink to get the heat out of their mouth. You want it to enhance the depth of the dark chocolate and feel a slight shiver of heat tingling on your a gentle kiss. This dessert is great served with coffee or with red wine. (At least that is my story and I am sticking to it!) Don't let the idea of chile powder mixed into brownies turn you off. Most people assume they won't like them but are pleasantly surprised and this is one of my most requested recipes.

The brownies are great on their own with a light dusting of powdered sugar (or you can kick it up a slight notch and add a pinch of chipotle into the powdered sugar!) or I really like to dress them up with a dark chocolate glaze that is not too sweet. The brownies are also tasty if you want to leave out the Chipotle chile powder....they hold their own on any dessert table. I am sure this brownie recipe can be adjusted to add/delete items to get your customized flavor.

I designed this recipe by experimenting in the kitchen with different brownie recipes and wrote down all the ingredients I either added or deleted and adjusted oven temperatures until I got the consistency and texture I wanted. This is probably my absolutely favorite brownie recipe. Of course the geek that I am....I HAD to add some Star Wars white chocolate candies to the top. My friend Andrew suggested that I "draw" with icing the Death Star in the background. Obviously, he hasn't seen me draw....I guess we will have to wait until he visits to try that together since he is the artist!

Chipotle Fudge Brownie Recipe:

  • 1 bag (12 oz) dark chocolate chips (I use Guittard brand which is gluten free)
  • 3/4 cup of real butter (you can substitute Crisco vegetable shortening or Coconut Oil shortening but you won't get the exact same buttery flavor)
  • 3 large eggs (I prefer using brown eggs)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (this gives a chewy texture to the brownies and a richer flavor)
  • 2-3 teaspoons Chipotle Chile powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Espresso powder or instant coffee granules (you will not taste the flavor of coffee at all in this recipe. It actually helps enhance the dark chocolate flavor. I learned this trick from a patient that was a pastry chef. I learn so much from our lovely patients!)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend (If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular flour). I used Pillsbury gluten free flour blend today. If your gluten free flour blend does not have either guar gum or xanthin gum then you will need to add 1 teaspoon of xanthin gum. If you are using regular flour you can omit this. 

Melt the dark chocolate chips and butter until smooth and melted. (You can do this in the microwave in 30 second intervals & stirring or you can do this on the stove top in a saucepan). Gradually add the sugars and stir until smooth. Beat in the eggs until well incorporated. Add the flour and baking soda; stir until just mixed and smooth. Don't over-mix. Pour into greased (or spray with cooking spray) 9" springform pan that has foil wrapped on the bottom to catch any grease dripping out of pan. (I personally prefer using a springform pan to bake this brownie but you can use a 9" round or square pan. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. (I have used both a regular oven and a convection oven and both bake about the same. I didn't find any cooking time difference. Altitude and each oven bakes different so I suggest you check at the earliest baking time and then adjust your recipe accordingly. I usually write a note on the side of my recipe). Bake for approximately 35-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean or with moist crumbs. If you are getting runny batter in the middle then you need to continue baking. If your temperature is off and it looks like your edges are getting crispy and the center isn't done, put a piece of foil on the top of your pan and lower your oven temperature 25 degrees. My new oven bakes fabulously but my old oven required me to play around with recipes to get them to bake correctly....but I did it!
I melted the chocolate chips and butter in glass bowl in my microwave

Stir until fairly smooth

Getting ready to bake the brownies in pre-heated 350 degree oven
Let it cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan. I like to put a clean dishcloth over the top of the pan so it stays moist as it cools. Foil can cause the brownies to sweat which isn't a good texture. Once the brownies are cool, you can sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve it, frost it with a gluten free store bought frosting like Betty Crocker brand OR you can do what I do and add a sinful glaze over the top. Yes....dark chocolate glaze on top of a sassy brownie. Yep, that is the way I roll at our house!

Getting ready to pour glaze over the top of the cooled brownie

Side profile of the brownie before pouring the glaze on top

Dark Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup water (I substitute milk unless I am baking for people with dairy allergy then I use either water or Coca Cola. will be surprised how I can improvise when I need to. I have used water, milk, goat milk, canned milk, non-dairy creamer, Coca Cola and coconut milk. It all worked fine. I have not tried Almond milk or Rice milk so I can't guarantee they will work but I can't imagine why they would work if water works). 
  • 1/2 cup real butter (I like the sinful flavor the real butter brings into the glaze but if you don't have it on hand or have a dairy allergy you can use Crisco vegetable shortening or Coconut oil shortening or a non-dairy butter substitute).
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use a gluten free dark chocolate type. I prefer using the European style that my German family sends me when I have it on hand. Hershey Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder works fine too). 
  • 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (make sure it is gluten free. Most brands are but you need to double check the ingredients if you have an allergy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Chipotle Chile powder, optional. (I like to add this little touch of sassiness to the glaze but you can certainly leave it out).

Heat the water (or milk), and butter (or shortening) in a saucepan on stove top until melted and smooth. (You can probably do this in the microwave also but I always do it on the stove top. Old habits are hard to break!) Stir in cocoa powder until smooth and then gradually add powdered sugar. If it appears too thick (should be a pourable consistency) then add a tablespoon of water or milk until you get the right consistency. If it appears too runny then add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar. Once you have the glaze nice and smooth you can add a pinch of chipotle chile powder if desired. Pour over slightly cooled brownies.
Melting the butter, water and cocoa powder on stove top

Just poured glaze on top. It looks messy because I wanted to cover the edges of the brownie. I transferred to new plate

Glazed brownie prior to decorating with my Geek chocolates

Ready to eat!

Up close view of my Geek Brownies

Side view of the brownies

Dessert Time!
I chose to melt some white chocolate candy coating (also called almond bark) in my silicone Star Wars molds and refrigerate until they were hardened. I drizzled the leftover white chocolate over the dark chocolate glaze for a little decoration. You do not need to do this and make extra work for yourself. I just like to geek stuff up and my friends and family always get a chuckle out of it. I feel like I need to justify all the silicone geek molds! Ha! Ha!

Up close side view of cut brownie

Top view of brownie (geek style!)

Ready to eat! 

My Star Wars silicone molds that I poured melted white chocolate for shapes

I hope you enjoyed my Chipotle Fudge Brownie Recipe and try making them at home soon. They are great for any casual event or you can fancy them up for a gourmet party! The taste of these will rock any get-together and impress everyone. They are easy to make and the flavor is unforgettable.

Have a geeky brownie weekend!
Gluten Free Casually