Lemon Squares: Easy, Delish and GF

I strongly believe in seasonal eating and winter is the season of citrus so more power to the lemon! As mentioned previously, my brother sent me a box of juicy Meyer lemons from his tree down in Texas. I also believe in making my own treats; truly they are a lot healthier than store made sweets.  Last night we enjoyed lemon squares, gluten free and very dainty with the special flavor of Meyer lemons.  Of course, you can use the regular lemons available in the store; will be a tad sharper/brighter in flavor but they will work nicely.

These cookies are very easy to throw together; I made a shortbread cookie style gf press and bake crust and the filling ingredients are whisked together in my mixer and poured into the partially baked crust.  So easy to make and I wanted something light and delicate after all the fancy holiday desserts.  You would never guess they are made without all purpose wheat flour.  Anyone will love them if they are a fan of lemon. Take these to your next gathering, they will be scarped up pretty fast, and you will be seen as a real baker. Best of all you are eating a safe treat that is relatively guilt free; no gluten, no preservatives, not that much sugar compared to a cake and homemade flavor. Score!

lemon squares 008


 Cookie Tart Crust

1 cup brown rice flour mixture (recipe below)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5 tbsp. cold butter cut up into 6 or 7 chunks

Directions for crust:

Mix the dry ingredients with a stand mixer, add the butter, blend with the paddle blade until the butter is small pebbles.  Press into an 8 inch square pan, be sure to first spray the pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with rice flour.  Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  While it bakes make the filling.

lemon squares 002

Baked cookie crust

Filling

3 large eggs, warm them close to room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice

2 tbsp gf flour mix

2 tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon peel

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs until fluffy, add the sugar slowly but steadily, mix, add rest of ingredients, Mix until smooth.

lemon squares 003

Adding the lemon zest.

Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 min; until set.

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Just out of the oven.

Cool completely and refrigerate if you want to serve them cold. They do not freeze well and only keep about 3 days, if any square are left that long!   I like to sift some powdered sugar on right before serving them. Use a sieve and about 2 tbsp. powdered sugar.  Luscious lemony goodness can be yours with minimal effort.

lemon squares 008

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur’s basic gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

This recipe is from Annalise Roberts; Gluten – Free Baking Classics, a fantastic source for baking gluten free treats, full of recipes just like  your old wheaty friends but so so much safer!

Originally posted in winter of 2015. Minor changes to text, not to recipe.

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Chocolate Chippers that Please Everyone!

If you are searching for the holy grail of GF cooking: chocolate chip cookies, search no further.  Bet you thought I was going to say some sort of bread!  That’s another post entirely.  Anyway, when I went GF 5 years ago I made a batch of chocolate chippers that were gf. They were rather sweet and didn’t taste all that great.  I didn’t give up, I keep looking.  Recipes seemed to require that I buy weird vegetable shortening or use Crisco.  Or they used odd flours and just not worth it to me to add another flour mixture just for one cookie.  So I had not made them in over 3 years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones are small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricy.

So one day I went to King Arthur’s website and looked in their cookie recipes.  There it was: cookies made with the same flour blend I use and made with butter, one of my few chosen shortenings.  Why the heck didn’t I look there a year ago?  Probably because I didn’t realize they had many gf recipes until that summer when I asked and was directed to their cache of gluten free baked treats. I went to the comments as they can be telling as to the truth of whether a recipe is worth actually making.  Glowing reviews and advice; make them and refrigerate a day or better yet, freeze them formed and ready to bake in a few minutes.  Words about how much they are like Tollhouse cookies, great texture and flavor.  Bingo, this seemed so hopeful.

Less than a week later I made up a batch; 2/3 with walnuts and 1/3 nut free for my nut hating friends.  Froze them all on trays and then into freezer bags except one tray to bake.  Made those and tested them on my friend Josh who came to supper.  Goal scored; perfect brown sugar nutty flavor and texture; not too hard or too soft.

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I put some in my cookie jar, closed it tightly and 4 days later those cookies (what remains) are still delicious. That is pretty long for a gluten free baked good. By the fifth afternoon my last cookie in there was getting soft so suggest not holding them for more than 4 days in a jar. I love that they can be frozen ready to bake in like 12 minutes.  If I have time I let them defrost on the cookie baking sheet before they go in the oven so they spread out nice and thin.I have made a couple batches since then, always bakes up so scrumptious. Cookie perfection!

2018 Update: for my batch today I swapped out 1/4 cup butter for 2 Tbsp. softened cream cheese, used only 3/4 cup brown sugar, and I added 1/4 cup golden flax meal and 1/2 cup old fashioned oats. Plus I used a bit less than the full 2 cups of chocolate chips; 1 3/4 cups is good. I used pecans instead of walnuts. I formed and then chilled them really well in my freezer on a parchment lined sheet pan as many comments on the King Arthur site said they were best if not made right away; well chilled and rested makes for the best flavor and texture.   They were a bit taller than last batch, not quite as crisp; more cakey and the flavor was great. The cream cheese and oats make them a bit less oily/greasy and less sugar makes my blood sugar better.  I prefer slightly less sweet than most recipes.

So, if you are still looking for a great gf chocolate chip cookie look no further: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.  Enjoy!

Originally published on my blog, September 2016.  A few minor changes.

Delish Apple Galette

If you don’t have enough apples for a pie or the time necessary for that project you can make this quick and delightful free form apple galette. I made it round but you could go oval. It only takes 3 apples and no need for a top crust. It is the same crust I always use but I did leave out the sweet rice flour which gave it a bit more firmness; up to you whether you use it.

Please use Granny Smith; you need a firm baking apple that will hold its shape for a long bake. You could leave off the sprinkle of coarse sugar but why? It adds a great crunch and looks perfect; finishes it just like a bakery might.   This might be my favorite new dessert; easy, low on the sugar and oh so delightful.  Still,  you could use less sugar if you want; maybe cut to a third of a cup. I used organic sugar and I think it made it taste just a tiny bit better for that!

Delish Apple Galette

 

Crust:

1 c plus 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour (I left out)

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Line a 15 inch pizza pan with parchment paper.  Can used a thick cookie sheet; preferably with edges. I used my silicon sheet cover but frankly it got all covered with dark brown hard sugar from leaks; a pain to clean it; go with the parchment paper!

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes.  Then roll out and put on the parchment lined pan; put back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

3 large Granny Smith apples

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

½ cup sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

Sprinkle nutmeg

Zest of ½ a lemon

1 Tbsp. white rice flour

1 medium or small egg; beat up to make an egg wash

1 Tbsp. coarse sugar

Directions: Peel apples, cut in quarters, remove cores, cut each quarter into 3 or 4 slices. Place in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice.  Mix the dry ingredients in a cup; pour over the slices, toss with a big spoon; sprinkle with the zest.

Get out the tart crust and sprinkle it with the white rice flour, just in the area you are going to lay out slices; not the edges.  Then lay out the apple slices in a big circle0  Leave 1.5-2 inches of crust around the slices, put slices in the center too. One layer only.. Fold up the edges of your crust and pinch together to create the galette shape. Try not to let it crack at the bottom; pinch and fix those cracks! Use a pastry brush to brush the crust and fruit with the egg wash. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over it all including the crust.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in a 350 degree oven. The crust should be lightly browned and filling bubbling. If sugar leaked out just break off the brown bits before serving. Let your tart rest a bit; don’t serve hot but a warm slice will be awesome.  Slice and top with a big dollop of crème or yogurt if you like that sort of thing.  We ate it plain – just my favorite way to appreciate the flavor and texture of this awesome tart. Enjoy!

apple galette slice

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur basic gf blend)

2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch – not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

The crust recipe is from Annalise Roberts great cookbook, GF Baking Classics, Second Edition.

Blueberry Ricotta Tart

In search of a dessert that uses what I have on hand. Too cold to head out to the grocery store… So, I had a container of ricotta about to reach its expiration date, frozen blueberries, eggs, sugar and crust materials. Saw a tart recipe, adapted it slightly to make it gluten free and I wanted a touch of lemon. Used my favorite gf shortbread cookie crust for tarts. Added some lemon extract to the filling for that desired lemony flavor. I used to make a similar tart when I still ate gluten; this replication came out just perfect.

Boom! A great quick tart that is not too sweet and has a lighter texture due to the ricotta; my old tart was made with cream cheese; heavier. Plus, I didn’t have to buy any ingredients!

I used a long rectangular pan to create mine but you can use a round one if that is what you have. I just enjoy the rectangular pan as I can cut it across into bars; easy to eat with fingers if you cut your bar in half to make two squares. Plus it looks awesome…. blueberry ricotta tart

blueberry ricotta tart slice

Notes; you can leave out the lemon extract if you don’t want that flavor. I used King Arthur’s basic gf flour blend, the one that is just flours, no xanthan in it. I used blueberries but I am sure you could make this with raspberries or a mixture of the two.

I used my awesome new kitchen scale to weigh out the ricotta. I got it for Christmas from my sister, Elaine. Guessing that she noticed that my old scale was ancient and inefficient: from decades ago and so got me this futuristic one that can weigh in ounces or grams! I think it is gorgeous; bonus….scale.jpg

The ricotta was in a 15 ounce container so I have a little leftover. Might make a tiny bit of dip for crackers. Or maybe an egg custard for breakfast tomorrow…hmmm.
Ricotta Blueberry Tart

Cookie crust:

1 cup brown rice blend

1 tsp. xanthan gum

¼ cup sugar

5 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 10 pieces or more

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tsp. water

Mix the dry ingredients in stand mixer bowl.  Add the butter, mix until fine like sand.  Add extract and water. Blend briefly.  Spray pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle in the mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Press lightly in with your hands. DO not press too hard or it becomes way too firm.

Filling:

12 ounces of ricotta cheese, whole milk is best

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. lemon extract

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Pinch sea salt

1 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, I used frozen

Mix ricotta with eggs and rest of ingredients except fruit; can use same bowl with your stand mixer.  Carefully pour into the tart crust. Top with the berries. If you have too much liquid filling as I did: pour rest into a small low casserole and top with ¼ of the berries; bake that small pan about 25-30 minutes. Bonus treat!

Bake tart 50 min at 375 degrees. It should be fairly firm in the center.  Let cool before slicing.  You can sprinkle it with powdered sugar if desired. I was so eager to try it I totally forgot to do this! Enjoy.

GF Flour blend (if you want to make it yourself)

2 cups brown rice flour

2/3 cup potato starch

1/3 cup tapioca starch

Meyer Lemon Meringue Tartlets

Pies are lovely but sometimes I like to make little tartlets. Folks just love having their own miniature pie.  I haven’t tried this shrink job before on a lemon meringue pie. But today I did it. This is my take on my mom’s bastardized version of an old Betty Crocker recipe and (of course) made gluten free with my favorite crust.  It has no gelatin for you gel haters! I make it with the lesser amount of sugar in the filling but you can double it if you are a sweet freak.  The Meyer lemons in these tartlets are sweeter than regular lemons so they really don’t need all that much sugar compared to regular garden variety lemons.

I used Meyer lemons for this recipe since I had some my brother sent me.  These  tartlets have a really delicate lemon flavor – so try it if you can get a couple.  Don’t worry; regular lemons work just fine. It can be slightly difficult to find Meyer lemons and a bit pricey too.  I saw them at Giant this week, might be worth it…

My mom always added a touch of corn syrup to replace some of the reduced out sugar and because it makes the texture of this pie creamier and more delicate.  In this tartlet form you can leave out the corn syrup…the resulting lemon custard kinda needs to be firmer  in this tiny format.

Tip: Don’t make this on a very humid day or the meringue will weep and bead on the top.  It will taste fine but the look will suffer from the humidity.

Store any leftovers in the fridge. It probably won’t keep more than two days but frankly these tartlets will be eaten if you have anyone else in the house!

 

Lemon Meringue  Tartlets

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe) [King Arthur plain mix]

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes. Then roll it out and line 7-8 tartlet pan with it.  Make sure you get the crust nice and thin; this crust can be tough to get the center as thin as the edges. Prick it all over with a fork to keep it from bubbling out and bake the empty crust at 350 for 9-10 minutes until light brown.  Let cool.

Lemon Filling:

Ingredients:

1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar

1/3 plus 1 tbsp. corn starch

1 ½ cup water

3 eggs, separated; yolks for filling, save whites for meringue

1-2 tsp. lemon zest

½ cup fresh lemon juice

2-3 tbsp. clear corn syrup (optional but it does make it extra creamy)

3 tbsp. butter cut in small chunks

Directions:

Start oven heating to 400 degrees for browning the topped tartlets.

Mix the sugar and corn starch in a heavy bottomed medium sized saucepan.  Add the water, stirring.  Heat until it boils, stirring constantly, boil one minute, take off heat.  Beat yolks briefly in a small mixing bowl, then add the hot stuff slowly to it; half the hot mixture, stirring constantly.  Then dump it all back into the saucepan, bring to a boil, stir like a crazy person so it doesn’t scorch. Boil 1 minute at medium heat.  Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and zest and then stir in the butter.  Let it melt as you stir.  Glug in some corn syrup. Let it stand in the hot pan while you make the meringue.  Then use a big spoon to pour the hot lemon filling into the mini pie crusts.  Top while still hot with the meringue you just beat up. I put it on very carefully in 2-3 spoonfuls and spread it gently to keep it from overflowing the filling. There should be enough filling for eight flat bottomed tartlets or seven deep dish ones.  Make sure you get the meringue all the way across the top and along every single edge. No cracks, no gaps. Bake it 10-11 minutes until light brown. Cool to room temperature and then chill for 1-2 hours before serving. This short chill time is one benefit of tartlets; they cool much faster than a big pie does. Enjoy! lemon tartlet side view

Meringue topping

three egg whites, room temperature

¼ tsp. cream of tarter

sprinkle of salt

6 tbsp. granulated sugar (or 8-10 tbsp.)

Beat the whites, sea salt and the cream of tarter until it is past the foamy stage, add the sugar half a tbsp. at a time beating on high until the whites are stiff and glossy.  This will take several minutes.

If you add one or two extra egg whites add another ¼ tsp. cream of tarter and add 2 tbsp. sugar for each extra white. I do think for the tartlets that an extra egg white would make the topping thicker. Up to you bakers!

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Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Kiffles! Just Delicious GF

Kiffles are a local favorite when it comes to cookies, particularly Christmas cookies.  The Kiffle Kitchen outside of Bath, PA has made their reputation on their outstanding kiffles, sold on line! I used to enjoy them but never took the time to make them until a few Christmases ago.  I had purchased “Gluten-Free Baking Classics The Heirloom Collection” by Annalise G. Roberts and page 170 had the answer to my search; Rugelach, Kifles, and Kolaki.

I made a batch of kiffles (the preferred local spelling) on Christmas Eve 2015.  I just did jam filled, apricot and raspberry. The cream cheese dough in formed into two discs and chilled before rolling out between wax paper sheets into an 8 inch square. I did find myself chilling it a bit to keep it from getting too soft.  After rolling, cut each big square into 16 two inch squares and put a tsp. of best quality jam on each; fold together so the filling peeps out both ends and chill some more on the baking sheet.  I brushed them with heavy cream and sprinkled a touch of granulated sugar on before they hit the hot oven. The cute packets of dough and jam bake up lightly browned and delicate. Success was felt when my mom ate a few that evening.  Her smile told me how yummy they were.

Next time I made them with the nut and cinnamon filling that is very traditional around the Lehigh Valley.  Yummers!  Stores sell special kiffle filling meant just for these cookies but I don’t think it is gluten free due to cross contamination issues and therefore not safe for me to enjoy.

So if you are gluten free and crave kiffles; this cookbook by Annalise Roberts is the place to find a workable recipe.  She has never failed me yet with her desserts and I thank my lucky stars her cookbooks are on my shelf to guide me through holiday, parties and everyday meals. I don’t mean to sound like a salesperson for her but I can’t say enough great things about this new cookbook and her prior best seller Baking Classics – my copy of that is well worn and I couldn’t exist without it.  This kiffle recipe is way too involved to type out for you and I think that if you are serious about baking gf you need to check it out and get your own copy, real soon! Here are the dough ingredients to help you in deciding whether  you want to make it:

1 cup gf flour, King Arthur Basic blend

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. softened butter

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

I am baking a batch today; the dough is chilling….using apricot and raspberry fillings. Might try another jam filling….lots in my larder to pick from.

Note: I did a search on line for a gluten free kiffle recipe and didn’t really find one; lots of other cookies but these are quite a specialty and not made by most home cooks except in areas where they are popular and what you can buy is not gluten free.  Let me know if you can provide any other recipes but I am very happy with the one I used and recommend to you for your own holiday baking. Enjoy!

Originally published December 2015.

Moravian Spice Cookies

Time to bake more cookies!

We all long for things familiar, things remembered from our childhood. Especially when it comes to cookies. In my family the holidays were framed by a huge array of fancy cookies, no chocolate chips or peanut butters for my relatives but we had spritz, springerly, butter horns, almond crescents, Russian tea cakes, candy cane cookies, and sugar cookies rolled, cut into Christmas shapes like trees, bells, stars or reindeer and sprinkled with fancy colored sugars. So going gluten free meant finding ways to re-create the special cookies I loved. My first effort was the Russian tea cakes and the results were utterly delicious. Last year I made spritz cookies and they were a big hit. This year I have the newest cookbook by Annalise Roberts, “The Heirloom Collection” and so far nothing has disappointed. If you like to bake gf it is a must purchase, not just for cookies but tarts and lots of other tasty treats.

Today I bring you her Moravian Spice Cookies. I chose them for many reasons – the memories of spicy cookies being foremost. I am blogging this recipe for a friend who avoids chocolate as well as gluten: makes it hard to find great cookies. I think you will love this cookie for its flavor and crisp texture. I live not far from Bethlehem which is the home base for the Moravian Church.  You can buy these cookies in the Moravian Book Shop but probably not gluten free.  So now those who can’t eat gluten can have them to enjoy this holiday season.  xmas cookies 007xmas cookies 005

You can cut them out in shapes but I found I liked to mostly make diamonds using a sharp knife. I did do some hearts and ornament shapes but it was tough going to get them off the wax paper and onto the baking sheet without distorting their original shape. You can take her advice and chill them further to facilitate the moving process.  I do love them any shape they are!

 

Moravian Spice Cookies

1 1/4 cup brown rice blend (recipe below)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
¼ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter or vegetable shortening (room temp)
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses

Directions: First combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
Beat shortening, brown sugar and molasses in your big mixer bowl until smooth, add flour mixture and blend until well combined. Shape dough into two disks, chill about 30 minutes, lay between two sheets of wax paper, roll into a very thin (1/8 inch thick) sheet. Cut into 2 inch or less shapes, move with spatula onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If they are sticky and hard to lift up return the sheet to the freezer for a few minutes until they are stiff enough to move. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-11 minutes. Make sure they are fully baked or they won’t be crisp. Leave on the cookie sheet a minute before moving to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight cookie jar or tin.

Spicy and crisp. Great with a cup of coffee or tea! Annalise says you can reduce the spices for less zing; 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, ¾ tsp. ginger and ½ or less of cloves.
Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur GF flour)
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca flour