With the day of thanks approaching, a lot has been going through my mind. Who to be thankful for and what to be thankful for. More often than not lately I have sat in front of the computer screen, hands on the keyboard and I feel defeated. Most of the food bloggers I follow all have amazing childhood memories that inspire them to create scenes with their photography. To create new flavors or recipes out of something old from a memory. To use those memories and create new ones with their new families. Not having that kind of childhood with those happy memories to pull inspiration from makes me feel defeated. People with all those sweet childhood memories to find so much creative inspiration is not me, and not what I should pretend to be.
My friends, my husband, and my current environment should be my inspiration and should never make me feel defeated but lucky to be around people who love me, appreciate me, and want me to succeed. It may have taken years but I am finally starting to see what everyone else sees in me, so thank you to my friends and my husband for never allowing me to think I am less than worthy of everything and everyone I have in my life. I am a person of simple means, simple life, complex childhood, and a small family of two. After all isn’t it how every family starts with just two people? It’s hopeful and encouraging to think of. With very few close friends we live a quiet life, and it is an annoyingly happy one. It is my husband and the close friends turned family that inspire me to do more, to challenge myself to keep trying, and not give up. I thank them for their support and inspiration.
As the days are now growing colder, making up a batch of amaretti biscuits is essential to go with a cup of coffee in the morning. Since I always seem to have a cookie jar full of them lately, it made sense to make something with them. So I decided to give a favorite gluten-full recipe a conversion, and here we go with some gluten-free tiramisu cupcakes.
These cupcakes are not new in our home, and we have been meaning to share them for a while, but as always life jut gets in the way. And by in the way, I mean having to go gluten-free. I first made the original versino a year ago when I picked up Baking Made Easy by the amazing and beautiful British model-turned baker and TV personality Lorraine Pascale. The first time I made them it was like getting hit with a tasty brick. I was floored. They were so good! I think anyone that loves tiramisu will love these gluten-free tiramisu cupcakes.
A former co-worker’s desire to enlighten and educate others brought what is known as Movember to my attention a few years ago. November is the month to bring not only education but awareness to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges for men. November or “Movember” has become a very special month to me. The most important people in my life are men; My husband, my best friend and his boyfriend, my father, my brother, my nephew, my uncles and even co-workers. Just as many bloggers do their breast cancer awareness post in honor of their mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, and any woman they love, this is my way of honoring all the men in my life by donating to a good cause to bring awareness to a subject some men might not be comfortable with talking about openly.
The donations gathered every year in the US go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Livestrong Foundation. My friend JP has a website where anyone can donate to the cause. If you so choose, follow the link and you will be able to donate but you can do so anywhere in any country across the world throughout the month. The purpose is to bring awareness, not demand donations. I want to make that clear, but I am leaving the option there if you choose to. This is about making more people aware why this month should mean so much to everyone who reads this page because we all have a father, brother, son, grandson, uncle or just a friendly neighbor who can be affected by prostate cancer or mental health issues that can go undiagnosed.
People often ask me “Why bother making your own gluten-free all-purpose flour when it is easily found at the store?” You can look on Google and find dozens of mixes of gluten-free all-purpose flour mixes, some are good some are great and others leave you wanting. You can go to Whole Foods or any good grocery store and find quite a few verities of gluten-free all-purpose flour mixes pre-made in packages, not to mention what you can buy online. Then why did I make my own? One reason – because I wanted to. We wanted to find a gluten-free all-purpose flour that would fit in to our recipe repertoire already established. One that you could hardly tell any difference. This was our goal because the thing is I found the all purpose flours from sites and stores worked great for some items, but not so much for others. They were too soft for bread flavors or on the other side of the spectrum too strong for delicate baked goods.
The first instance of this was when I tried making some cookies with a pre-made gluten-free flour mix. They end result was they were too delicate in flavor and lacked a robustness they needed to feel and have the mouth feel of the traditional version. Then again it was almost perfect for a genoise, and horrible when making pitas. After reading Gluten-Free Girl’s site she had this basic premise to make your own just sticking with ratios, I loved that! It was right up my alley so, I started trials.
An eton mess is very basic. It contains crispy meringues with a marshmallow like center, soft whipped cream, and fresh berries all tossed together into a happy pile of goodness. Easy, all you need to have a very basic eton mess is those three ingredients. It is simple in its core but you can always add little things to bring it up to something new. We absolutely adore Eaton Mess because of the versatility in textures and flavor combinations. It is a simple way to have a quick dessert any night of the week. You can always add in flavors to the meringues we have quite a few favorites. Just think of flavor combinations you love, here are some ideas to help you along.
Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are probably one of the first things people make once they start gluten free baking. After all isn’t a chocolate chip cookie one of the first things you remember making with your mother, aunt, or grandma? It feels right for it to be the first thing you make in your new life. The smell in the kitchen as it’s baking, the texture of the sweet nutty dough giving way to the rich gooey melted chocolate chips, happy times.
Food is one of those things that we use to take us back to happier times, moments, memories. Food is like a time machine. Every time I bite into a chocolate chip cookie, I become 11 years old again, making cookies with my best friend in her kitchen and her mom letting us make this mess. The joy of making something this warm and delicious was exciting. Before that time, I thought cookies only came from a store and were hard and unpleasant. This was fun, it was new, and it is a happy memory that will always stay with me. Making a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie would make sure that memory is going to be always with me.
The Chocolate Frangipane & Poached Pear Tart is a delicate crisp dark cocoa crust, with a rich and chocolaty frangipane. Then topped with delicately poached pears, and drizzled with a reduction of the poaching liquid. It is very rich, time consuming, and absolutely delicious way to show off for a special occasion. Many of my readers might be offset by the fact our recipe is in full metric measurements. Keep in mind, this was the best way for us to reproduce this recipe in mass quantity for sampling with consistent results every time. This recipe is a long time coming and it took some time to break it up in a almost readable way to replicate.
Yes, we understand that for us making this was simple, but if you have questions please ask. We will answer any and all. In the course of 12 hours we made nine 12″ square tarts and one 8″ round. This recipe is now in memory now, and I was quite sure we were reciting it in our sleep the next day after the event. With hopes that you will feel adventurous and give this a go I wanted to post this. There is not a recipe that I have created and put as much work into as this chocolate frangipane poached pear tart, and felt it was a good send off to my gluten past and a perfect thing to leap off of into a gluten-free future.
Never to be one who is shy of sharing my love of all things coffee related, today we bring to a mocha cupcake recipe that will blow your mind. Laced ever so lightly with wonderful coffee-flavored enhancers like Kahula, instant espresso powder and deep bitter chocolate, my friends, these cupcakes are sublime. They even turned the heads of non-coffee drinkers (yep they exist) into possible converts after experiencing this mocha cupcake.
It is almost June, where did the time go? It has been one of those months that you are shocked it is almost over. At least there is one saving grace among all the hustle and bustle of a busy work week — coffee! — which was the inspiration for me to finally make a mocha cupcake. Honestly, I slightly surprised myself when I realized there is not one already on the blog! But just to you know, this mocha cupcake recipe was worth the wait ;)