Saturday, 29 June 2013

Baobab, Mint & Pineapple Sorbet

When I visited the London Free From Show back in early June, my eye was caught by a stand called Aduna selling Baobab products. I got talking to one of the representatives of the company (a fellow food blogger) and she told me about the amazing properties of the Baobab fruit. Apparently (and according to the Aduna leaflet I was given at the show) it is 100% natural, - the only fruit in the world to dry naturally on the branch. The seeds (which come from large pods on wild trees) are just harvested and sieved, so they are also 100% organic, with NOTHING added.

The Baobab Tree is known as the Tree of Life and grows wild across Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. It is a giant................. A real treasure to behold. When travelling, I have marvelled at the beauty and enormity of many Baobabs. They are often the centre of the community and may be central to the village 'square', with locals sheltering in the shade of the huge trunk and overhead branches whilst they chat away from the heat of the afternoon sun.

I have watched fruit bats fly in sequence and perfect rhythm out of the highest branches of the Baobab near the Indian Ocean at the exact same time at dusk every evening. I have seen wild animals sheltering from the mid-day sun in Kenya in the cooling shadow of its magnificent presence. And I have watched entranced, at its imposing silhouette dominating the skyline of the Savannah at dusk.

The Baobab has always struck me as a tree which exudes power and an ability to sustain life, but until now, I knew nothing of its incredible fruit.

The statistical properties of the Baobab fruit (as outlined by Aduna) make impressive reading. Apparently it has one of the highest anti-oxidant capacities of any fruit in the world, with almost five times that of fresh acai berries and twice that of goji. It is rich in fibre, extremely rich in vitamin C, thiamin, potassium and calcium and very low in fat. It really is a super-fruit..........

And as if that isn't enough, every tree is community-owned and wild harvested. So making it part of our fair-trade economy could really make a difference to the lives of the people in rural Africa.

So what does it taste like? It is outlined in the Aduna leaflet as having a unique, sherbet-like citrussy flavour, typically described as a combination of pear, grapefruit, caramel and vanilla. My taste buds add lime and tangerine to the list, although to be honest it really is so unique, I would say that it tastes like....... well.......... Baobab! Once you get over the initial expectations that it should taste like something else (which is doesn't) and just accept it for what it is, it really is delicious. Although I am sure it is not to everyone's taste, I think I could become quite addicted.............

When I was at the Free From Show, the company were giving out shots of a smoothie made from Baobab with pineapple juice, almond milk, and fresh mint. It had such a fresh and exciting taste, I thought it would be fantastic concocted into a sorbet. So I have taken the ingredients used for the smoothie, switched the juice for fresh pineapple, changed the proportions slightly, added a little sugar and given it a test run.

I am astounded at the result................... An amazing, zingy, sharp, fresh, taste-bud tingling, palate-cleansing sorbet which would refresh at the end of any meal. I would happily eat it in place of other desserts, and would (perhaps strangely) enjoy it with breakfast as a wake me up! It really does have the power to make your mouth feel refreshed and full of life........

It is incredibly easy to make (especially if you have an ice-cream maker), and is full of really healthy ingredients, so you know and feel like you are putting something great into your body. Aduna sells Baobab powder on-line, so check out their website and give it a try. Although it may seem a bit expensive, I think it is worth it for what you are getting (and there are a number of suppliers out there to choose from, so shop around). Shame they don't appear to do small samples to try...............


Baobab, Mint & Pineapple Sorbet (makes about 800ml)


500 ml pureed pineapple (approximately equivalent to the flesh of 1 medium pineapple - cored and peeled)
250 ml almond milk - unsweetened (available in most UK supermarkets)
85g caster sugar
5 tablespoons Baobab powder
4 leaves fresh mint


  1. Peel and core the pineapple and cut into cubes.
  2. Put the pineapple into a blender with a small amount of almond milk and puree.
  3. Add the rest of the almond milk and all the other ingredients and continue to blend until completely smooth.
  4. Chill for half an hour in the fridge.
  5. Pour the sorbet mix into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  6. Once your sorbet is made, spoon immediately into a freezer container and keep in the freezer.
  7. The sorbet is ready to use immediately, but if you prefer it to be a little firmer, allow to harden in the freezer for a few hours.
(If you don't have an ice-cream maker, place the mixture at stage 4 into a shallow container and place in the freezer until mushy. Then turn into a chilled bowl and beat until the ice crystals are broken down. Return to the freezer and freeze again until mushy. Repeat the whisking and freeze for a final time.)

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Chocolate Tart with White Chocolate & Orange Blossom Cream and Hazelnut Praline

In an attempt to find some new recipes and inspiration, I was recently thumbing through the MasterChef Cookbook (2010) and came across a recipe for chocolate tartlets (made by one of the 2009 finalists - Chris Gates). They looked delicious and got me thinking that I had not yet written a post which included sweet gluten free shortcrust pastry. The idea of a chocolate tart immediately appealed so I decided I would give them a go (albeit a teeny bit adapted), but with my gluten free pastry.

The original recipe is served with crème fraiche and a sesame snap, but I really fancied combining the dark chocolate filling with a light white chocolate cream. I also love the combination of dark chocolate and hazelnut, so I added a hazelnut bite in the form of hazelnut praline.

I recently bought some orange blossom water and wondered how this would differ in flavour from usual orange essence. It has a much more subtle, slightly flowery aroma and I thought it would compliment both chocolates well, so I added it to the white chocolate cream. It worked beautifully and added a subtle, but nonetheless distinctive, quite grown-up note to the over all dessert. I had considered adding a dash of Cointreau or alternative liqueur, but as I was feeding it to my 7 year old, I figured I better avoid it this time around. I bet it would taste delicious though...

I made a combination of individual 10 centimetre tarts (although they are pretty rich and if you can bare to share, one would probably be enough split between 2 people) and mini bite-sized (well, maybe 2 bite-sized) tartlets which would be perfect for a party or buffet.

The hazelnut praline makes a great sweet treat completely on its own................. my daughter has been nibbling it behind my back (or was that my husband?), but adds a wonderful crunch and tastes deliciously nutty crushed and sprinkled over the chocolate tarts.

The chocolate tarts are incredibly delicious on their own (I ate the one which leaked a bit!) and if you can't be bothered with all the faff of making special accompaniments, would go perfectly well with plain cream or crème fraiche and some strawberries or raspberries. But I was feeling grumpy with the continued cold English weather (when are we going to get summer?) and needed a double hit of chocolate and a big mouthful of creamy, crunchy decadence to cheer me up. These were perfect and put a smile on all our faces.

Chocolate Tarts (I made three 10 cm and sixteen mini tarts)

Sweet Rice & Almond Shortcrust Pastry Base


130g brown rice flour
50g corn flour
40g ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch fine sea salt
60g caster sugar
110g cold butter - cubed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cold water

Method - by hand

  1. Weigh and sieve the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a large bowl and stir together with the ground almonds.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sugar.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and pour into the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir all the ingredients together using a table knife until they begin to clump together.
  6. Dust your hands with corn flour and bring the dough together, pressing into a ball.
  7. Knead very briefly, to make sure the ingredients are fully amalgamated. 
  8. Use the dough as from number 5 below............

by food processor

  1. Weigh the flours, almonds, xanthan gum, salt and sugar into the food processor bowl and briefly pulse to mix together and remove any lumps.
  2. Add the butter and pulse again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water and then pour into the food processor with the crumb mixture.
  4. Turn the food processor on and mix until the ingredients form a smooth dough. This will not require any further kneading.
  5. Roll the pastry out straight away (do not chill in the fridge), using corn flour on the work surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking.
  6. With the support of the rolling pin, carefully lay rolled pieces of pastry over your chosen tart tins (I used small non-stick flan bases), and ease into the base with your fingers, gently moulding to the sides of the tin. Trim the edges with a sharp knife. If you are making mini tart cases, cut the pastry into rounds using appropriately-sized cookie cutters or a glass, and gently press the cut rounds into the holes of a mini tartlet tin.
  7. If there are any holes or cracks in the rolled pastry cases, use the trimmed remains to repair, - roll and trim the remaining scraps to size and using cold water on your finger tip, dampen both the area around the hole/crack and the downside of the 'patch' and gently press together, smoothing the edges with a finger dipped in water to seal.
  8. Place the prepared pastry bases in the fridge for half an hour to chill prior to baking.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 200⁰ C / 400⁰ F / Gas 6.
  10. 'Scrunch' and then flatten small pieces of baking paper ready to line the inside of each tart case and then base fill each with a few baking beans.
  11. When the oven has reached temperature, blind bake the pastry with the baking beans for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 10 minutes until pale golden brown. If the case is browning too quickly, turn the oven down slightly and cover the top edges with a piece of foil.
  12. When the pastry is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, without taking the cases out of the trays.

Chocolate Filling (adapted from The MasterChef Cookbook (2010) - original recipe from Chris Gates - 2009 finalist)


300 ml double cream
1½ tablespoons caster sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
220g good quality dark chocolate
3 tablespoons milk


  1. Put the cream, sugar and salt in a medium non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring.
  2. Add the chocolate, and immediately remove from the heat. Continue to stir until the chocolate has completely melted.
  3. Pour into a cold medium sized bowl and add the milk.
  4. Whisk the ingredients for about 5 minutes. This speeds the cooling process and ensures a completely smooth, light mousse.
  5. Leave to cool until just warm and then pour the mixture into the tart cases (still in the trays), ensuring they do not spill over.
  6. Refrigerate once cold and leave to set for about 2 hours (or overnight if you have time).
  7. Sprinkle with crushed hazelnut praline (recipe below).

White Chocolate & Orange Blossom Cream


200 ml double cream
120ml good quality custard
100g white chocolate
½ teaspoon orange blossom water (or you may wish to add a dash of Cointreau or alternative liqueur)


  1. Whisk the cream in a medium sized bowl until it produces soft peaks.
  2. Add the custard and orange blossom water (or liqueur) and continue to whisk until fully incorporated.
  3. Melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl either over a gently simmering pan of water (low heat) or in a microwave (using 30 second bursts on medium, stirring well in between each until fully melted).
  4. Allow the chocolate to cool before folding into the cream mixture.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Hazelnut Praline


90g caster sugar (I used golden caster)
50g hazelnuts - roasted and chopped


  1. Prepare a sheet of baking paper in a tray or a silicone sheet, ready to spread the cooked praline mixture.
  2. Put the sugar and hazelnuts together in a small non-stick saucepan and place on a low heat.
  3. Stirring continuously with a wooden or silicone spoon, allow the ingredients to cook gently until the sugar melts and coats the nuts with a golden sugar glaze.
  4. Immediately pour the mixture onto the baking paper/silicone sheet and using the back of the spoon, spread the mixture to about 8mm thickness.
  5. Leave to cool completely, before breaking into pieces or crushing for sprinkles.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Cupcake Trifles..... or should that be Trifle Cupcakes?

Last Sunday, it was UK father's day and another excuse for a cake bake. I wanted to make something a little different............... a little special, and I was in quite a creative mood. My husband loves trifle, but I wanted to make cake rather than pudding.

For some while now, I have been wondering whether it would be possible to make a 'trifle cupcake'...... A cupcake sponge, cored and filled with layers of smooth custard and juicy fruit and topped with decadent cream. This was a good opportunity to find out.

I wanted to make all the separate trifle elements myself, rather than relying on ready-made custard and jam, so I whipped up some crème patissiere and a chunky cherry sauce to hide inside a vanilla sponge and then topped each little cake surprise with cherry mascarpone cream.

Wow! These are to die for.............. what a discovery...................

You think you are getting a vanilla sponge smothered with a wonderful fresh cherry cream. But as you bite through the firm, but light sponge casing, your teeth and taste-buds meet with a soft, cool, sweet, light (oh..... so light) layer of crème patissiere which mingles with fresh, but not too sweet, cherry sauce, textured with chewy cherry pieces. A wonderful surprise and so very, very, VERY moreish.

With a usual trifle, you sort of know what to expect. With these, it's all back to front and quite delightfully unexpected.

When presented with a large plate of 12 cupcakes (but before trying them), my husband asked 'will you be able to freeze any?' 'Freeze them?' I asked, perplexed. They are far too good to save! And I was right............. They were all gone in a flash (although we did share some (reluctantly) with the neighbours).

These will definitely be on the menu again.

Vanilla Cupcakes (base sponge recipe taken more or less from Bronski 'Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes' (2011))

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

180g unsalted butter - room temperature
175g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg - room temperature
1 large egg white - room temperature
125 ml milk
35 ml soured cream
185g gluten free plain flour blend (I used blend A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons GF baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4 And line a cupcake tray with 12 cupcake cases.
  2. Mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and combine well.
  4. Add the egg and egg white one at a time and whisk in thoroughly.
  5. Add the milk and sour cream and whisk in thoroughly until fully combined.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and gently fold in until just incorporated and you have a smooth paste. Be careful not to over-mix.
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake cases, smoothing down the top of each one.
  8. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the centre springs back to the touch.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool in the tins for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Ensure they have cooled completely before coring and filling.

Creme Patissiere

Ingredients (makes about 300 ml / 1/2 pint)

2 large eggs - separated
3 tablespoons corn flour
300 ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g caster sugar


  1. Put the egg yolks, corn flour and milk in a medium bowl and whisk until light and airy.
  2. Pour the liquid into a pan and slowly bring to a boil on a medium heat, stirring continuously.
  3. Once at boiling point, turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, continuing to stir.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and stir in well.
  5. Pour the liquid into a clean large bowl and allow to cool until luke-warm.
  6. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then gradually whisk in the sugar.
  7. Add the egg-sugar mixture to the cooled milk-custard and whisk thoroughly.
  8. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cherry Sauce Filling


50g caster sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoons water
250g of pitted cherries (pitted weight) - roughly chopped


  1. Put the caster sugar, corn flour and water in a medium saucepan and stir until combined and smooth.
  2. Add the cherries and heat on a medium heat, stirring continuously until the liquid comes to the boil.
  3. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer (still stirring) until the mixture thickens and the cherries are soft (about 5 minutes). Squeeze the cherries with the back of the spoon, whilst stirring, to encourage the release of the juice.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before using to fill the cupcakes.

Cherry Mascarpone Cream


300 ml double cream
100g Mascarpone
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of freeze-dried cherry powder or 1-2 tablespoons cherry jam.

12 fresh cherries - for decoration


  1. Whisk together the cream and mascarpone in a medium, cold bowl until just beginning to thicken.
  2. Add the vanilla and cherry and continue to whisk until it holds its shape. Be careful - once you add the cherry, the mixture tends to thicken very quickly and can over-whisk.

Putting it all together                      

  1. Core a deep, clean hole out of the centre of each cup cake using either a sharp knife or a cup-cake corer, being careful not to make a hole in the bottom of the cake.
  2. Cut off the cap of the cored piece of cake and reserve it to use as a lid when the cakes have been filled.
  3. Carefully spoon a layer of crème patissiere into each cake, leaving room for and then adding a subsequent layer of cherry sauce.
  4. Replace the cap on each cupcake
  5. Pipe or spread the fresh cherry Mascarpone cream on the top of the cakes and top with a fresh cherry for decoration.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Chestnut & Rice Flour Bread

Bread remains one of those essential items that you need in your larder............ for an easy sandwich lunch or picnic, morning toast, to dip in soup, or just to slather with a good spread and enjoy! Gluten free bread remains hit and miss. Occasionally you get a reasonable loaf on the market, but somehow, the major manufacturers still struggle to achieve a loaf which is moist and does not disintegrate the moment you pick it up. Without gluten, there is not much to bind the ingredients together and the result is often a big mess and the need for a bib............

Because of my lack of satisfaction with the bread you can buy (even the artisan loaves are mostly like bricks), one of the first things I did when we had a confirmed coeliac diagnosis was to buy a bread-maker. Although I was very careful to pick one that had a gluten free programme, I have to say that I rarely use it and find that I am largely developing recipes to suit the general settings. My bread-maker is made by Panasonic and has not let me down yet, but I am sure that bread-makers differ from make to make and it may be that a good recipe for me, needs a bit of extra tweaking for you.

Bread-making by hand can be a very therapeutic process, but this is probably down to the need to knead the dough (which was always good to work off a bit of stress and frustration). Gluten free bread does not require kneading (in fact it positively shies away from it), so half the fun is gone.

Although hand-made bread will often taste very different (and may in some cases taste better, even when using the same recipe as for a bread-maker), I do love the convenience of my bread-maker. I can throw the ingredients together and set it running with only 10-15 available minutes and then get on with my day, knowing that I will have a tasty fresh loaf to come back to. If you haven't invested in one, I thoroughly recommend you think about it, particularly if you want to be freed up to spend your cooking time on other things.

My Chestnut and Rice Flour Bread is a bread-maker loaf that we have been eating for some months. It makes great sandwiches, but mostly we love it because it makes amazing toast, - crunchy, well browned, holds its shape and is delicious when topped with almost anything.  I developed it after I was mooching around in our local wholefoods shop one day and the owner suggested I try using chestnut flour, which she advised was nutritious and flavoursome. The flour is quite 'heavy', has an unusual scent, and a deep, rich, slightly bitter, nutty flavour. Used in moderation, it adds a distinctive depth of flavour to breads and cakes and I think, tastes fabulous in this loaf. I use Allinson Dried Active Yeast for this recipe and again, have not tested any alternative brand.

I will be honest, that I have never tried making this bread without using a bread-maker, and have tweaked the recipe to get it just right for my equipment, but I can see no obvious reason why it wouldn't work in any other bread-maker or in a conventional oven, providing it is mixed thoroughly and allowed time to rise sufficiently. If anyone risks it, let me know..............


Chestnut & Rice Flour Bread (for bread-makers)


150g brown rice flour
125g white rice flour
90g chestnut flour
85g potato starch (flour)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
4 tablespoons dried milk powder (I use semi-skimmed)
1 ½ tablespoons caster sugar
½ teaspoons fine sea salt
3 large eggs
370ml water
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
23g dried active yeast (1 ½ tablespoons + 1 teaspoon)


  1. Mix together the flours, xanthan gum, sugar, salt and milk powder in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the eggs with the water until light and airy and pour into the bread-maker pan.
  3. Add the oil and lemon juice to the pan.
  4. Spoon the flour mix evenly on top of the wet ingredients.
  5. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour mix.
  6. Set the bread-maker to Basic, Large, Medium Crust and leave to cook.
  7. When cooked, remove from the bread-maker immediately and tip onto a wire rack to cool.
  8. If the dough paddle has become stuck, remove when the loaf is cool.
  9. Eat as fresh bread, toast or slice and freeze.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tortilla Stack (with gluten free wraps)

Before being diagnosed Coeliac, my daughter's most favourite meal was Tortilla Stack. A stack of thin, soft, flour tortilla wraps. layered with a bolognaise sauce and cheese, baked in the oven until melted and crisp. Given a choice, this is what she always asked for............... whether friends came to lunch, for Sunday tea, or just because she had a choice.

And then disaster.................. No gluten allowed. No flour tortillas! The disappointment on her face when she realised this meant no Tortilla Stack, was truly upsetting. We tried substituting with corn tortillas and they were ok, but never quite the same, or quite good enough. I searched on the Internet and via all the specialist bakeries (in the UK and Europe), but couldn't find anything equivalent on the market.

Then, last weekend, we went to the Allergy And Free From Show at London Olympia. A fantastic event showcasing a wide range of 'free from' products (mostly gluten free) and always a great opportunity to see, source and taste new foods coming onto the market. There were dozens of exhibitors, both old and new companies who are dedicated to bringing us decent gluten free options, from all over Europe and beyond to Australia. And some wonderful new products from companies which are really pushing the boundaries of gluten free alchemy to create truly comparable alternatives in a gluten free world.

Slap bang in the middle of the hall, we found one of these companies, new to the UK, over from Ireland called 'BFree'. Specialising in fresh and frozen bakery products, they were doing a brisk trade, so we went over to investigate.

And there they were.............................  Wheat & Gluten Free multi-grain wraps. They looked like flour tortillas. They were soft like flour tortillas. They tasted almost like flour tortillas. They even appeared to roll like flour tortillas (without completely disintegrating into a heap of crumbs). Could this mean the return of the Tortilla Stack?

It was time to find out. We bought a couple of packs (we would have bought a load more, but we were assured that they would be available to buy in the UK and on-line) and carefully transported them home. My daughter was thrilled................... really excited at the prospect of her favourite food being back in the menu.

The Tortilla Stack recipe came originally from a free booklet called 'Mince Magic' (2006), that accompanied a magazine I bought some years ago. Used to promote UK beef mince, Mince Magic is full of recipes and ideas for using (unsurprisingly) mince. It was produced by an organisation called Simply Beef & Lamb, which has some lovely ideas for quick, tasty, nutritious meals.

The BFree gluten free wraps worked really well for the recipe. They remained soft in the centre and didn't become soggy or slimy from the moisture of the sauce. They crisped up beautifully on the edges from the dry heat of the oven, creating a contrasting crunchy bite against the chewy softness of the bolognaise and cheese filling. Although they were a little more 'curly' on the edges and browned slightly more than our original gluten-based version, this actually seemed to add to the taste and texture experience, even if it didn't look as 'pretty' as our old bake. We added soured cream and some salad on the side and truly enjoyed a wonderful, quick, easy meal. I had one happy daughter! Looks like we have found our replacement and the Tortilla Stack is back..................

Having found them, I have now tried to source the wraps in the UK (we will be so upset if we cannot buy them here) and have found reference to them being trialled in Asda from April 2013. I cannot however find them listed on the Asda product search, which is a real worry............. I guess I will have to contact the company direct to check out their plans.........wish me luck!

If you do come across them, I thoroughly recommend you give them a go. Not just for Tortilla Stack (although this is a great use for them), but because they are a truly comparable alternative to soft flour tortillas and can be filled with anything, hot or cold, to make a really tasty alternative to a gluten free sandwich. Thank you BFree!

Quick lunch - bacon, mayo and avocado wrap....





Recipe for :

Tortilla Stack (slightly adapted from Mince Magic (2006))


500g good quality beef mince
1 medium onion - finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves - crushed
3 tablespoons tomato puree
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground paprika
a handful of fresh, chopped coriander
salt and pepper to season
4 gluten free tortilla wraps
160g mature cheddar cheese - grated

(Soured Cream and salad to serve - optional)

You could try making an alternative vegetarian tomato-bean/vegetable based filling. Or throw in some chilli and kidney beans, or I quite fancy a tomato, mushroom and bacon/sausage sauce as an alternative......... Use you imagination!


  1. Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  2. In a large saucepan, gently fry the chopped onion and garlic with the beef mince over a medium heat, stirring intermittently until the mince is browned.
  3. Add the tomato puree and stir into the mince mix allowing to cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and paprika and bring to the boil, stirring intermittently. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the coriander, stir and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Place a gluten free tortilla wrap on a large non-stick baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on the surface.
  7. Top with a couple of spoonfuls of tomato-meat sauce and gently and evenly spread out over the tortilla.
  8. Carefully place a second tortilla wrap on top and repeat with a further sprinkling of cheese and sauce.
  9. Continue with a further layer of tortilla wrap, followed by cheese and sauce and place a final tortilla wrap on the top.
  10. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese melts and the wrap edges begin to crisp.
  11. Cut into portions and serve

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Saturday, 8 June 2013

White Chocolate & Strawberry Ice Cream and Strawberry Meringue Nests

The weather still seems to be progressing slowly towards summer and the spring flowers are still looking beautiful. It really is such an inspiring time of year. Even the peacocks are flirting with their incredible display of deep blue, 'eyed' tail feathers. I always find them so fascinating to watch and wonder why in the bird world it is the males that have to do the 'dressing up'?

Having eaten our last batch of ice cream, I had to get the ice cream maker out again this week. Like a child with a new toy, it is still drawing me in and begging me to use it! What is a girl to do? I guess I just have to oblige and try another flavour. So this week, I decided to try a straight liquid base (without egg), with melted white chocolate and then add strawberry sauce in swirls. I love the combination of white chocolate and strawberry and it works beautifully in ice cream, especially when mixed only lightly so that you have the contrasting strawberry-red against the white chocolate, both in colour and flavour.

I added some freeze-dried strawberry pieces to the strawberry sauce mix which gave an amazing, unexpected chewy bite to the ice cream - a delightful extra dimension. It was perfect dumped on gluten free waffle cones sourced from Barkat (now available in Sainsbury).

Made with good quality pure white chocolate, this ice cream is delicious, - the recipe I have given below. However, when I made one of my batches, I discovered that I had a couple of bags of Hotel Chocolat, white chocolate Citrus Puddles in my cupboard which I had bought a while back with the intention of using them to decorate a cake. When I checked the 'use by' date, I realised that they needed to be eaten, so I decided to try adding them to the ice cream mix as an alternative to straight white chocolate.

When I eat chocolate, I prefer a really good quality chocolate, and Hotel Chocolat is one of my favourite brands, - expensive yes, but worth every penny and the easiest way to justify the extravagance is to just eat less (but enjoy and savour every mouthful).

Citrus Puddles are large white chocolate buttons with a hint of lime and tangerine. Added to this ice cream mix, they gave a wonderful additional citrus dimension which worked perfectly against the sweet white chocolate and strawberry sauce. Having just checked the website, they do not appear to be listed any more (which is a real shame), but you could try adding a touch of finely grated lime zest to the mix and see what happens?

After my last batch of ice cream (which was made with egg yolks), I had a load of egg whites languishing in the fridge, so had to find a suitable use for them. I often use them up with plain white meringue, but I wanted to find out what would happen if I tried flavouring meringue with freeze-dried fruit. I am a big fan of freeze-dried fruit, because it preserves longer term with the flavour intact, but with the moisture removed. Although you can now buy it in some larger supermarkets in the baking aisle, I buy mine in larger quantities on the Internet from a company called Healthy Supplies. I often use it in cake mixes and icings without the risk of making the results too soggy and it seemed perfect, because of its dryness, to add to the meringue mix. It worked well................ The finished meringue is dry, crisp, beautifully pink and tinged with a delicious hint of strawberry.

We have eaten them with cream and fruit, with Rhubarb Curd from my last post and now, with White Chocolate and Strawberry Ice Cream. Dress them up however you like, they are a delight!

Strawberry Meringue Nests


4 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
 teaspoons corn flour
10g freeze-dried strawberry powder


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150⁰C/300⁰F/Gas 2.
  2. Prepare baking trays by lining with baking paper ready to shape your meringue nests.
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until very stiff and dry.
  4. When stiff enough, add the sugar a little at a time, whisking very thoroughly between each addition.
  5. Whisk in the corn flour.
  6. Finally, whisk in the freeze-dried strawberry powder about a third at a time. The meringue mix should be very stiff, glossy and form soft peaks which hold their shape.
  7. Use immediately to shape into 'nests' by making a circular base the size of your nest and then adding a dollop of meringue mix on top and gradually working out to the edges with a flat knife, to form a nest shape (make sure the middle of the nest still has a good covering of meringue).
  8. Place in the oven and immediately turn down the oven to 120⁰ C / 250⁰ F / Gas ½
  9. Bake for about 2 hours until firm and dry (the meringue should not feel sticky at all). Check from time to time and if there is any indication of browning, turn the oven down slightly further and continue to cook until firm and dry.
  10. Turn off the oven, leaving the meringues in there until the oven has completely cooled.
  11. Remove the meringues when cold and either wrap and store in an airtight container, or use immediately.

White Chocolate & Strawberry Ice Cream (heavily adapted from a recipe for white chocolate ice cream found in Gordon Ramsay's Secrets (2003) cook book)

Ingredients (makes about 1 litre)  

for the base mix

150g white chocolate - must be good quality - chopped into small pieces
450ml double cream
300ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
60g icing sugar
140g tube liquid glucose

for the strawberry sauce (to swirl in)

300g strawberries - hulled and cut into quarters
40g caster sugar (I used golden caster)
1 teaspoon cold water
handful of freeze-dried strawberry chunks (optional, but they give lovely chewy strawberry bites to the ice cream)


  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl (preferably heat-proof glass) and add the cream, milk, icing sugar and glucose.
  2. Place the bowl over a saucepan of warming water (before the point of simmering) and continue to heat the water under the bowl, whilst stirring the ingredients. The bottom of the bowl should not come into contact with the water underneath.
  3. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and stirring frequently, continue to heat slowly, until the chocolate has fully melted and all the ingredients have fully blended. Do not heat too quickly or allow the mixture to become too hot, or the chocolate might 'seize'.
  4. Once fully blended, continue to heat the mixture, still stirring frequently until it is beginning to steam, but does not reach boiling point.
  5. Remove the bowl from the heat and pour into a cold bowl or jugs and leave until completely cold. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Whilst your base ice cream mix is cooling, make the strawberry sauce so that it has time to cool before starting the ice cream freezing process.  
  7. To make the sauce, place the prepared fresh strawberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan and gently heat until the mixture is simmering and the strawberries have begun to break down and release their juice.
  8. Turn the heat up, add the freeze dried strawberry (if using) and boil, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until the fresh strawberries are mush, the sugar has fully dissolved and the mixture has reduced in volume to a sticky, thickening liquid (but not a jam).
  9. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  10. Make sure you have ready a clean, prepared, freezable tub to store your ice cream when made.
  11. When your 2 mixes are cool, put the base chocolate mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturers instructions.
  12. Once the ice cream has reached thick, 'soft-scoop' texture, turn off the machine and remove the paddle from the bowl.
  13. Pour the cold strawberry sauce into the ice cream mix and using a clean mixing spoon, gently swirl or fold the 2 mixes together, making sure that you don't over-mix, so that you can still see streaks / areas of dark red strawberry in the pale ice cream.
  14. Spoon immediately into a freezer container and place in the freezer to harden for a few hours
  15. Once fully frozen, serve in a cone, or place a scoop in your meringue nests and drizzle with your favourite sauce or sprinkles.

(If you don't have an ice cream maker, place the mixture at stage 11 into a shallow container and freeze until mushy. Then turn into a chilled bowl and beat until the ice crystals are broken down. Return to the freezer and freeze again until mushy. Repeat the whisking and before freezing a final time, gently fold in the strawberry sauce as at stage 13 above)

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated