Gluten-free goodness

I really enjoy cooking for people who have diets a little bit different to the every day. It's just a little bit more challenging than whipping up any of my regular recipes. My most recent challenge was to make a dessert that was both gluten and dairy-free. Since baking is my thing, I decided to try my hand at gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with dairy-free ganache.
The recipe is both easy and delicious. You can't ask for more than that!

Dairy-free chocolate ganache - good enough to eat by itself
Perfect as a dessert topping

Chocolate cupcakes

4 eggs
1/2 cup "smart" sugar
2 tsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup gluten-free flour
1 1/2 tbs cocoa

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Line a 12 cake muffin tin with cupcake cases.
Beat the eggs, sugar and golden syrup together at high speed until light and fluffy. 
Sift together the baking powder, flour and cocoa. Gently fold in to the egg mixture, being careful not to lose too much volume.
Place the mix in the cupcake cases and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the cakes spring back.
Cool before icing or topping with ganache.

Dairy-free ganache

400g can coconut cream
1 tsp gelatine
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate melts

Method

Separate the solids from the liquid coconut cream. Heat a little of the liquid with a small amount of water. Add the gelatine and stir until completely dissolved. Add the remaining coconut cream and heat until hot enough to melt chocolate. Add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside until slightly thickened before pouring over cakes. 



Basic biscuits

The biscuit aisle at the supermarket is full of many marvellous things. But no matter how much you love Tim Tams, or Mint Slices, they still don't compare to home made. The taste, texture and aroma of biscuits fresh out of the oven is something you just can't get at the shops. The comparatively low cost is just a bonus!
I have a cookbook just for biscuits, but this week, I wanted to try something a little bit different, so hunted around a little before finding the easiest biscuit recipe ever.


Basic biscuit dough

2 cups butter
1 cup sugar
400g sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
5 cups self raising flour

Method

Preheat oven to 190 Celsius. Cream the butter and sugar. Gradually beat in the sweetened condensed milk, then add the flour and mix to a stiff dough. Drop spoonfuls of mixture on to a lined baking sheet. Press with the back of a fork to flatten.  Cook for 15 - 20 minutes until golden. Cool on trays for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Variations

The recipe makes between 100 and 120 biscuits, so is just perfect for fetes or Christmas gifts, but gets a bit boring if you only make one flavour. I made the following four flavours from my dough, and got around 115 biscuits all up. 

Cranberry and cornflake

Add 1 cup of cornflakes and 3/4 cup of dried cranberries to the mix. 

Apricot muesli

Add 1 cup of rolled oats, 1 cup of shredded coconut and 1 cup of chopped dried apricots.

Peanut butter choc chip

Add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 3/4 cup chocolate chips to the mixture. Try to find peanut butter with no added salt or sugar. 

Vanilla coffee pinwheels

Split the remaining dough in half. Add a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to half. Add a teaspoon of coffee essence to the remaining dough. Roll both pieces of dough into long rectangles, placing the coffee on top of the vanila. Starting from the long edge, roll into a fat sausage. Wrap in cling film or baking paper and allow to chill. Slice thinly then bake. 


Coffee scrolls

After a few weeks on the croissant bandwagon, including a failed attempt at pain au chocolat, I was looking for something different for afternoon tea. Turns out coffee scrolls are pretty easy to get right; this recipe makes scrolls that taste exactly like something you would get from a cake shop. Not doughy, not heavy, not cake-y. Just right.


Cinnamon and walnut scrolls with coffee icing

1/2 cup warm milk
3 tsp dried yeast
3 1/2 tbs sugar
2 1/2 tbs butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bread improver
2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

For the filling:

1 tsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon sugar*

For the icing:

1 cup icing sugar
1 tbs strong coffee

Method

Combine the milk, yeast and half of the sugar. Set aside until the mixture is foamy. Combine the remaining sugar, cinnamon, bread improver  and flour. Make a well and add the yeast mixture, butter, egg and water. Knead until smooth and elastic. Sprinkle over the walnuts and continue kneading until incorporated. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap, and set aside to rise until doubled in size. Give the dough a quick knead, then return to the bowl and allow to double again. When doubled, roll the dough out to a large rectangle - use a chopping board as an indication of the size. Spread the melted butter over the dough, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll in to a long scroll, starting from the long side. Slice into pieces around 2 cm wide. You should be able to get around 15 or 16 scrolls from your roll. Place on a lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel and allow to prove for 30 - 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190 Celsius. Brush the scrolls with an egg wash or sugar glaze, then bake 30 - 40 minutes until golden. Allow to cool before icing. To ice, combine the coffee and sugar and stir until smooth. Spread over the scrolls, allow to set, then enjoy. 
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