Amaretti Tiramisu

June 25, 2010

I have eaten many delicious gluten-free desserts, but I never thought I would taste Tiramisu again. Then I spotted these tiny Italian cookies made almost entirely from ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. These amaretti cookies are the Italian version of macaroons, which are very popular here in France. They are quite similar in texture to ladyfingers and turn out to be a wonderful replacement for ladyfingers in your Tiramisu recipe!

If you can’t find any amaretti cookies among the imported foods at your grocery store, you can try making them yourself by following Mario Batali’s recipe or doing a quick search for a recipe on the Web. This Tiramisu will feed a crowd, so if you are serving a small dinner party, consider halving the recipe and doing two layers instead of three in a glass pan. Enjoy!

  • 18z amaretti cookies (gluten-free)
  • 500 g mascarpone cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 C strong coffee
  • ½ C dark rum, Kahlua or brandy based cream liqueur

In a large mixing bowl, add the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream and powdered sugar. Beat the mixture with until you get medium peaks (it should be easily spreadable, not stiff like butter).

In another bowl combine the coffee together with the rum. Soak 1/3 of the amaretti cookies in the coffee mixture for a few seconds, then place them in the bottom of a round trifle dish. Top the amaretti cookies with a third of the mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle 1 T of cocoa powder over the mascarpone layer. Repeat the process 2 more times, ending with a dusting of cocoa powder over the last mascarpone layer.

Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.


I much prefer a cup of hot cocoa in the morning to a cup of coffee. The problem with most commercial hot cocoa mixes isn’t gluten but, rather, hydrogenated oils and weak flavor. I choose a decent quality cocoa powder (avoid generic brands…Hershey’s makes a wonderful product for everyday use, in my opinion) and I add coconut cream powder for richness without the dangers of hydrogenated oils. I know some folks feel strongly about avoiding saturated fats completely, so you can read my post about coconut oil to find out a bit more about why I am a fan. Coconut cream powder is powdered coconut milk, not coconut flour or shredded coconut, and it can be found at most Asian markets or from Wilderness Family Naturals.

Vanilla sugar is also a wonderful addition, but you can use regular sugar and add a dash of vanilla extract with the hot milk as well. If you are in France, you can just add a couple packets of sucre vanillé to the mix and use regular granulated sugar.

We don’t have a microwave in our room currently, so I usually fill the cup about 3/4 full with very hot water from the electric tea kettle and then fill it the rest of the way with whole milk from the fridge, which brings my cocoa to just the right temperature for immediate sipping. Can you tell I take my cocoa pretty seriously? 😉 Enjoy!

  • 3 C dry milk
  • 2 C vanilla sugar
  • 1 ½ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4z coconut cream powder
  • 1 tsp table salt

Mix ingredients together thoroughly and store in a covered container. Fill a mug about a quarter full of hot cocoa mix and add hot water or milk. Stir well and enjoy.

Spiced pear crisp

May 11, 2010

Pears are plentiful here in France these days. And the pears I am finding are perfect for a baked dessert, ripe but firm. You can substitute honey or simply sugar for the Port if you don’t happen to have any around, but the Port is a wonderful bridge between the delicate sweetness of the pears and the spiciness of the cloves and cinnamon. It gives the dessert some nice color as well. I also used a raw cane sugar (turbinado) in the topping  instead of brown sugar, simply because brown sugar is hard to find here. But, to my delight, the raw sugar added wonderful flavor and crunch, so you might like to give it a shot.


  • 1 1/3 C gluten-free oats
  • 2/3 C sorghum flour
  • 1 1/4 C brown sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1 C (2 sticks) of salted butter

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and work the butter in with your fingers or a fork until everything is incorporated (or pulse in a food processor).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.


  • 3 lbs pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T Port
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves

Toss the sliced pears with the lemon juice, port and cinnamon  in a large round cake pan or a 9 x 13 pan. Scatter the three cloves among the pears. Take the topping out of the refrigerator and crumble it over the pears. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbling at the sides of the pan. Serve warm.

Banana bread

April 2, 2010

Classic, and gluten-free! I based this recipe on the Joy of Baking recipe…and as many of you have probably already discovered, the Joy of Baking recipes are always delicious.

We made this bread last night for our Maundy Thursday observation with the boys. Jude repeated with wonder, “Jesus is the Bread of Life, broken for you and me” as we ate our first bite of banana bread. He retold the story of the Last Supper to himself as he finished his slice, repeating “Jesus broke the bread,” with each bite. It was a very special, wondrous time, and God spoke to our hearts as we shared this meal. We wish you a wonderful Holy Week.

  • 1 C sorghum flour, spooned into cup
  • ½ C tapioca starch, spooned into cup
  • ½ C cornstarch or potato starch, spooned into cup
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ C unsalted, melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ C sugar
  • 1 C toasted, chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mash the bananas thoroughly. Beat in the eggs, then the melted butter, vanilla and sugar. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Fold in the walnuts or chocolate chips if desired. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for approximately 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean. Let the bread cool most of the way in pan, then remove the loaf from the pan onto a wire rack. Slice and enjoy!

Okay, here’s my excuse this time. Our computer totally broke (it was six years old). We had to wait for a new one to be shipped from the States. Enough said.

While I may not be able to enjoy many of the pastries and breads that are around every corner, I have discovered that the French have a wonderful take on chocolate cake that is very Celiac friendly. The emphasis in a French chocolate cake is on the chocolate, and not on the crumb structure. Flour is not always needed, and when it is, usually in small quantities.

When referring to a cake, “fondant” could be translated as “melt in your mouth.” This is a very rich dessert that majors on smooth chocolate, plain and simple. Enjoy!

  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8z bittersweet/semisweet chocolate squares or chips
  • 1 T milk
  • 1 C sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 C seedless raspberry jam
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 C cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter, chocolate and milk together in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt, vanilla and raspberry jam. Combine thoroughly and let it cool until it is warm but not hot. Add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Mix in the cornstarch thoroughly and pour the batter into a buttered cake pan. Place the fondant into the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes, give or take a few minutes. You know the cake is done when the top gets crackly.

Orange scented rice pudding

January 20, 2010

I have been eating this rice pudding for breakfast these days since I cannot find any gluten-free cereal around. I just make a big batch for the week and keep it in the refrigerator, and I use brown rice since it keeps me going a little longer than white rice. I even think the texture and taste of brown rice, especially for this pudding, is more pleasing than white rice, (and, of course, it is more nutritious) but some people prefer the less hardy texture of white rice. So by all means, use the rice you like best! This pudding is not too sweet, so if you are serving it for dessert you might want to increase the sugar a little or sprinkle each serving with some brown sugar.

  • 1 C white or brown rice
  • 2 C water
  • 1 ½ C coconut milk
  • 1 ½ C milk
  • ¼ C white sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch or two of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine the rice and the water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low, simmering the rice until it is cooked (15 to 20 minutes for the white rice, and about 40 to 45 minutes for the brown rice). Stir the coconut milk, regular milk, sugar, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in with the cooked rice until everything is well combined. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Simmer the pudding for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until it has thickened considerably, stirring every few minutes to keep the rice from sticking or burning. It is thick enough when the rice no longer sinks to the bottom of the pot after you finish stirring it. Take the pudding off the heat and stir in the vanilla. The pudding will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cream cheese cookie dough

December 14, 2009

Here is the recipe for a very rich, tender and versatile cookie dough. This year I used it to make thumbprint cookies and bar cookies. If you are not gluten free, substitute 2 C all purpose flour for the gluten-free flours and omit the xanthan gum.

  • 8oz cream cheese, softened (gluten free)
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1 ¼ C sorghum or rice flour (or half sorghum and half rice)
  • ½ C tapioca flour
  • ½ C cornstarch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine the flours and xanthan gum together in a bowl. With an electric mixer, cream together the softened cream cheese and butter. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar and the vanilla. Then gradually mix in the remaining dry ingredients.

*For thumbprint cookies, chill the dough for an hour or two. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough into small balls. You can roll the balls in some finely chopped nuts if desired. Place the balls of dough on a greased cookie sheet and make an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Using a baby spoon, place some jelly of your choice in the indentation. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes or until the cookies are set but not browned.  Allow the cookies to cool thoroughly on the cookie sheet before removing.

*For cookie bars, you can mix the additions of your choice into the dough (I used chocolate chips, chopped almonds and sweetened, dried cranberries) or press the toppings firmly into the top of the dough after spreading it in a 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake the 9 x 13 pan for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the pan. Allow the cookie bars to cool completely, at least a couple of hours, before trying to cut them.

Shortcut brownies

November 8, 2009

I am thankful for the many wonderful gluten-free mixes widely available at grocery stores. One of my favorite mixes is Trader Joe’s (16z) brownie baking mix. This mix has appealed to my pocketbook more than any other product on the market. But take my word for it, your brownies will taste heavenly only if you stray a bit from the directions printed on the back of the bag. Use the mix, but follow my directions below.

  • 16z gluten free brownie baking mix
  • 1 stick (1/2 C) of melted, salted butter
  • ¼ C milk
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a square 8×8 inch baking pan. Mix all of the ingredients above thoroughly in a mixing bowl and pour the resulting batter into the baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes on the top rack of the oven. Let the brownies cool at least 15 minutes before cutting them into squares and serving.

Chocolate fudge cake

October 26, 2009

If there’s one thing I can’t live without, it’s chocolate cake. There’s no need to apologetically explain, “it’s gluten-free,” before you serve this cake.  Nobody will know! You definitely ought to use a decent quality cocoa powder for your chocolate desserts, and my all-time favorite is Hershey’s natural or special dark cocoa. Adding the hot liquid at the end helps to bring out the cocoa’s flavor. For the frosting I usually make Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting. And don’t worry, you won’t taste any coconut.

  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C white sugar
  • ¾ C cocoa
  • 1 C sorghum flour
  • ½ C tapioca flour
  • ½ C cornstarch
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 ¾ C coconut milk (1 14z can), divided into 1 C and ¾ C
  • ½ C (1 stick) melted salted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 x 13 pan or two 9″ round pans. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the sugars, flours, cocoa, baking powder and soda, salt and xanthan gum. Add the eggs, 1 C of coconut milk, the melted butter, the vanilla and the almond extract. Mix until thoroughly combined (I just use a wooden spoon). Heat the remaining coconut milk in the microwave until it is about boiling, approximately 1 minute. Stir the hot coconut milk into the batter and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).

Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven, 35 to 40 minutes for the 9 x 13 pan, or about 30 to 35 minutes for the round pans, or until the center is firm to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely and frost.

*If you would like a little lighter cake, substitute boiling water for the last 3/4 C of hot coconut milk.

**You can add a 1/4 C of almond meal if you would like for extra flavor (but it will make the cake a little bit denser).

***For a special twist, try adding 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 T of ground ancho chili powder to the batter.

****For a non gluten-free cake, substitute 2 C of all-purpose flour for the sorghum, tapioca, and cornstarch. Take the baking powder down to 2 tsp and omit the xanthan gum. Use an electric mixer to mix the batter as you add the liquid.

Oatmeal apple crisp

October 24, 2009

An easy gluten free dessert! We like to keep the apple skins on for texture, health, and ease of preparation, but you can peel the apples if you like. Leftover apple crisp makes a great topping for pancakes.


  • 1 1/3 C gluten-free oats
  • 2/3 C sorghum or brown rice flour
  • 1 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1 C of salted butter (2 sticks)

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and work the butter in with your fingers until everything is incorporated (or pulse in a food processor).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the apples.

Apple Filling

  • 8 medium green apples
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash, core and cut the apples into thin (about 1/4 inch) slices. Place the apple slices into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Pour lemon juice over apples and mix in the zest, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg, combining thoroughly. Take the topping out of the refrigerator and crumble it over the top of the apples. Bake until the topping is brown and the apples are bubbling, around 40 minutes. Serve in bowls with vanilla ice cream.