Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dangerous Doughnut Muffins (Gluten-Free!)

I love food TV. Admittedly, some of the shows are pretty goofy and others are just plain bad. But over the years, I've learned a lot about cooking from these shows, mostly long before the Food Network or the Cooking Channel were even around. Nothing against the current food and cooking programming I certainly watch a few of the shows. If it's about food, after all, it's pretty easy to draw me in.

One evening recently, my son was watching with me. It was one of those shows where they feature the best restaurants and bakeries around the county. They were spotlighting Chocolate Doughnut Muffins. They didn't sound particularly amazing to me, but my son was enthralled and could hardly go to sleep that night because he wanted to travel to this bakery in Durham, North Carolina that very night to get one of their delicious confections. I told him there was no way we were traveling to North Carolina anytime soon, but we'd look for a recipe and try to make our own. I actually thought he'd forget all about it by the next day, but he did not.

So, I found a recipe online. Of course, I had to convert it to gluten-free if I was going to be able to partake. So, I took the recipe I'd found, and a doughnut recipe from a gluten-free baking book I have, plus what I learned about the doughnut muffins from the food show, and came up with a recipe I thought might work. The kids helped me to mix it all together. After baking, we rolled them in melted butter I guess you have to do something to make up for the fact that the "doughnuts" are not fried and then in cinnamon and sugar.

Guess what? They were good, really good! Softer and springier than a cake doughnut definitely more like a muffin,  but that touch of nutmeg in the batter and the cinnamon-sugar on the outside gave them that doughnut quality. They're dangerous because after eating one, you really want another, if only to ponder the question: Is it a muffin or is it a doughnut?

Chocolate Doughnut Muffins (Gluten-Free)  PRINTABLE RECIPE

1-1/2 cups brown rice flour blend  PRINTABLE RECIPE
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray a standard muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. Combine flour,  cocoa powder, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl and whisk together.

3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour mixture, and then the oil, milk, cream, and vanilla. Mix for about a minute on low speed. The batter will be a little lumpy.

4. Divide the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin center comes out clean.

5. Let the muffins set in the tin for about a minute or so, then remove to a wire rack. While they cool a bit, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. In separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave; or melt on the stove top in a small saucepan.

6. Roll the warm muffins in melted butter to coat all over; then roll in the cinnamon-sugar, again coating all sides.

Delicious warm or cool.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Morning Scones (Gluten-Free!)

I'm a coffee person. I make my own most days, but I like to stop by a local coffee place once in awhile too, and get a nice latté. As you know, those little coffee shops almost always have a tempting offering of pastries: donuts, croissants, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, muffins, cookies, and my favorite  scones. Since going gluten-free, I suppose I've saved a few dollars and a few calories by passing on the morning pastry, but I do miss it and sometimes I feel so bummed and left out that I can't get a baked treat along with my kids or my friends on those occasions when we stop for coffee. There was a little place in town that carried gluten-free scones and other pastries that were pretty decent, but sadly, they went out of business. There's another place that has gluten-free donuts, but BLAH! They're no good!

I prefer not to make my own scones because you can't make just one (can you?). And when I have half a dozen or more in the house, I tend to eat them up far too quickly. Getting a single one at the coffee shop, not more than once a week, works out far better for me and my belly. But, I finally gave in recently and baked some for myself. This morning, I made another batch, with a few modifications, and the recipe is good enough to share.

If lemon poppy seed is not your thing, omit the last three ingredients below and leave them plain or add nuts, blueberries, chocolate chips... whatever you like.

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones (Gluten-Free)  PRINTABLE RECIPE

2 cups brown rice flour blend  PRINTABLE RECIPE
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter - cut into tiny pieces
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk (or, for richer scones, use cream)
2 tsp (approx) finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp poppy seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425 -->° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until very light and foamy.

4. Add flour mixture, milk, lemon zest, juice, and poppy seeds to the eggs and mix on low for about a minute.

5. On a lightly floured surface, pat out the dough (a little flour on your hands will help as the dough can be sticky) into a one-inch thick round. Cut into eight triangles and place on the baking sheet.

6. Place the scones in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375°. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden/lightly browned.

Serve warm. These scones are best if served right away. You can store them in an airtight container, but you'll notice that by the next day the texture just isn't the same. So plan a tea (or coffee) party with your scone-loving friends and eat them up before it's too late.

Now, if only there was a gluten-free recipe for my other favorite – the buttery, flaky, chocolate croissant. I have a feeling there's no gluten-free version of the croissant that would come close to the original, but if you think you can prove me wrong... please do!