Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Pumpkin Seed & Sunflower Seed Bread - Gluten Free; Dairy Free

I have been getting a bit bored with making the same old bread, so this week decided to try doing something 'seedy'. I have been experimenting with some new flours and grains recently and had bought some millet a while back, which I hadn't felt confident enough to try. When I think of millet, I always think of bird seed and that image has probably prevented me from considering it as 'food' ........ until now..........

When I started trying to find out more about it and how to use it, I discovered that far from being consigned to feeding the local wildlife, it is a staple in many parts of the world and particularly throughout Asia and Africa. A small-seeded grass, it is a good source of vitamin B, has an interesting texture (a little 'porridgy' if you use the flakes) and is pretty mild in flavour compared to some other grains, so is well suited to using in bread without becoming too over-powering.

There seem to be a number of different types of millet which vary in size, shape and colour, and if I am honest, I have no idea which was in the packet I bought. I just assumed that millet was millet, and although the pack has long since been thrown away when I transferred the contents to a container, I couldn't say that it would have left me any the wiser to have read the detail. Either way, I bought millet flakes, because they looked softer and more familiar than bird seed!

So, to the loaf........ Apart from adding millet to the mix, I have also thrown in some seeds. I love a scattering of seeds in bread, especially when they are dotted through the loaf. They seem to make it more interesting and appealing both to look at and to eat. I particularly love pumpkin seeds for their nuttiness, colour and crunch and sunflower seeds because they add a creamy, nutty experience to the bake. I wanted a loaf which was wholesome, but especially balanced in flavour so that the taste and texture of the seeds really shone through.

I tried a number of combinations of flour and bake before I settled on the one below and I played around with different quantities of liquid, yeast and honey to reach a loaf which I think does what I set out to do. It is moist, mild, nutty, has a fantastic bite, tastes great with anything from cheese, fish or meat to houmous, peanut butter or honey. It holds together well (those of you who are gluten free will know what I mean.....) and makes the most fantastic toast!

So here it is....... my

Pumpkin Seed & Sunflower Seed Bread (gluten & dairy free)

Ingredients (makes 1 large loaf or if you prefer, use mini individual loaf tins)

160g fine brown rice flour
80g quinoa flour
60g buckwheat flour
50g potato flour
60g tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 generous tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 generous tablespoon sunflower seeds
50g millet flakes
4 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
250 ml hand warm water
20g easy bake yeast (I used Allinson's)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons runny honey


  1. Get ready a 2 lb/900g non-stick loaf tin.
  2. Weigh and mix together the brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, potato and tapioca flours, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are completely broken down.
  3. Add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and stir through.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix the millet flakes with the boiling water thoroughly and leave to stand for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. In a 3rd medium-sized bowl, whisk the lemon juice, sugar, yeast and warm water and leave to ferment for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs and honey to the flour mix and blend together using a mixer with a dough hook attachment. I am sure a large spoon will work just as well.
  7. Add the soaked millet and yeast mix to the flour blend and continue to mix until thoroughly blended.
  8. Spoon the dough-batter into the loaf tin and smooth the surface. Gently press a few pumpkin and sunflower seeds into the surface and sprinkle a little brown rice flour across the top.
  9. Loosely cover the surface with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour until more or less doubled in size.
  10. Pre-heat the oven to 200⁰ C / 400⁰ F / Gas 6.
  11. Remove the cling film and bake the bread for 10 minutes at this temperature and then turn the oven down to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4, and bake for a further 30 to 45 minutes until the surface is nicely browned and a sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  12. Once cooked, remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  13. If you want to freeze, cut and seal in a freezer food bag and freeze as soon as it has completely cooled.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Orange Cupcakes Filled with Vanilla Choc-Chip Custard and Topped with Chocolate Ganache

Have you ever put chocolate chips in your custard? If you haven't, try it! But make sure the custard is really smooth, cold and creamy (preferably home made) and the chocolate chips are really good quality. The result is totally delicious, but way too moreish.

I made the most delectable custard this week, using a recipe from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cupcakes by Kelli & Peter Bronski, and then folded in a full 70g of Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate Tiddly Pot buttons, which (I confess) I stole from my daughter as I had run out of any suitable alternative........... Shame on me! Technically the recipe was for 'pastry cream', but whatever........ it is still thick custard to me.

It tasted heavenly.................... but me being me, I was not satisfied even with that. No. I had to encase that delicious chocolate chip custard in a soft, moist orange sponge and top the whole lot with chocolate ganache.

The recipe that I used for the sponge and ganache were also adapted from the Bronski's recipe for Boston Crème Cupcakes, which I have made before (without the addition of orange or chocolate chips). They were so delicious on that occasion they needed to be made again.

The first time I made them, I was patient with the cooling of the ganache and got that beautiful silky shine that comes from not being in a rush (and not throwing the cooling chocolate in the fridge to speed up the process).

This time round, I (stupidly) tried to cut corners and chilled the ganache in the fridge to save time, thinking to myself 'can 5 minutes really make that much difference?' Well........ clearly it does. The ganache tastes just as delicious, but is nowhere near as shiny and attractive........... Oh well.......

Looks aside, these little morsels of creamy, orangey, chocolatey pleasure are wonderful and worth all the steps involved to produce them. The sponge is light and fluffy, the custard is rich and decadent and the dark chocolate ganache offsets the vanilla sweetness and orange tang with a slightly bitter, firm, deep cocoa bite. Yum.............

Orange Cupcakes (Makes 12 to 15 cupcakes) - adapted from a recipe by Kelli & Peter Bronski


180g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
finely grated zest 1 orange
1 large egg (room temperature)
1 large egg white (room temperature)
100 ml orange juice
35 ml soured cream
185g gluten free flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch fine sea salt


  1. Prepare your cake cases.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  3. Weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, making sure you break down any lumps. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add the vanilla, orange extract and orange zest and beat until fully combined.
  6. Add the egg and then the egg white, beating well between each addition.
  7. Mix the soured cream and orange juice together in a jug.
  8. Add the liquid alternating with the dry ingredients, about a third at a time, gently folding in between each addition, until you have a smooth batter. Be very careful not to over-mix (stop when it is just combined evenly).
  9. Spoon the batter into your cupcake cases, smoothing the top of each.
  10. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until springy to the touch and a 'cake tester' inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Custard Crème adapted from a recipe by Kelli & Peter Bronski


80g caster sugar
25g corn flour
3 large egg yolks
375 ml milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
70g good quality milk chocolate chips


  1. Place the sugar and corn flour in a medium sized bowl and blend together.
  2. Add the egg yolks and whisk until they have turned very pale in colour.
  3. Heat the milk in a saucepan to bring to the boil (use one which is suitable for using a whisk in later). Once boiling, remove from the heat.
  4. very slowly pour half of the milk onto the egg yolk mixture in the bowl making sure that you are continuously whisking throughout the process.
  5. Once you have a smooth, even batter, pour this onto the remaining milk in the saucepan, whisking in the saucepan as you do so.
  6. Return to a gentle heat and slowly bring to the boil again, whisking in the pan continuously.
  7. Cook for about 1 minute, whilst continuing to whisk.
  8. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract until completely blended.
  9. Immediately transfer the custard to a clean bowl or container and place a piece of cling film over the surface, making sure that it touches the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming as it cools.
  10. Refrigerate until cold.
  11. When ready to use, beat through the custard with a spoon or whisk until smooth.
  12. Add the chocolate chips and fold evenly into the custard.

Chocolate Ganache from a recipe by Kelli & Peter Bronski


230g good quality dark chocolate (cubed or chopped)
190 ml double cream

Sprinkles to decorate


  1. Break the chocolate into a medium glass bowl.
  2. Heat the cream in a saucepan until gently simmering.
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and gently stir until the chocolate has fully melted and the ingredients have blended into a thick, even paste.
  4. Leave the ganache to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally until it has thickened to a spreading consistency.
  5. If you are not using straight away, refrigerate until ready to use and then bring back to room temperature to spread. It will still taste great, but refrigerating will result in a less glossy ganache (as I found out!)

Putting it all together

  1. Once the cupcakes are cool, core a hole out of the centre of each using a sharp knife or cake corer. Trim the top circle from the cut piece and reserve to use as a lid once filled.
  2. Fill each cup cake hole with chocolate chip custard and replace the cake lids to close each cake.
  3. Spread your ganache on the top of each cake and use sprinkles to decorate.
  4. Eat greedily as they are so delicious!

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Double Chocolate Cheesecake

Apparently is was National Chocolate Week in the UK last week. I have no idea how I missed it......... Did I even know there was a National Chocolate Week? To be honest........ No......... Well, not consciously anyway.........
It seems that in the depths of my psyche, something instinctive was stirring anyway. Perhaps I could sense the sweet heavenly aroma and happiness that is chocolate spreading across the nation in recognition of this little known annual celebration. Either way, somehow I managed to join in, even if it was by default (or through an unconscious psychic response). My offering to the deliciously versatile substance? A wonderful double chocolate cheesecake.......

I haven't made a cheesecake in ages, but I thought I would bake one for my husband to celebrate his birthday last week. I mostly make vanilla cheesecakes and rarely make a baked variety. But I found an amazing-looking baked chocolate cheesecake whilst I was thumbing through Nigella Lawson's 'Feast' and thought it sounded a perfect alternative to the usual birthday fare.

I adapted the base slightly as Nigella's version was not gluten free and added a hint of hazelnut to compliment the chocolate, by grinding some in with the biscuits and cocoa. I also deviated from the suggested dark chocolate glaze and topped this cake with a thick white chocolate sauce and some fresh raspberries to give a wonderful contrast of colours, polarity of flavours and rich caramel-sweet creamy decadence.

I've left the baked bit in the middle just as Nigella intended............. a luscious thick layer of soft, chocolaty, deliciousness. Well................ you can't change 'goddess' perfection can you?

The end result is truly delicious, totally divine and looks and tastes amazing for any celebration.

Double Chocolate Cheesecake (adapted from Nigella Lawson - 'Chocolate Cheesecake' (Feast))


For the gluten free base
200g gluten free digestive biscuits
50g gluten free amaretti biscuits (I used Orgran Amaretti Biscotti)
50g hazelnuts
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
120g butter (cubed)

For the filling                                                                                

175g good quality dark chocolate (chopped or cubed)
500g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g caster sugar
1 tablespoon custard powder
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
150 ml soured cream
½ teaspoon cocoa powder (dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water)

For the topping and decoration
80g white chocolate (chopped or cubed)
100 ml double cream
1 teaspoon golden syrup
chocolate curl sprinkles
150g fresh raspberries


  1. Get ready a 23cm/9 inch spring-form, non-stick round cake tin (7cm/3 inch deep). If not non-stick, base line with baking paper. You will also need a roasting pan large enough for the cake tin to fit in comfortably (to make a water bath).
  2. Crush the biscuits and hazelnuts together with the cocoa using a food processor until you have chunky crumbs.
  3. Add the butter and pulse briefly to mix with the crumbs and break down the butter.
  4. Tip the crumb mix into the tin and press down firmly to make an even base. Set aside in the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  6. Melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl either using a microwave set to medium on 30 second bursts (stirring well between each), or sitting the bowl over  a gently simmering saucepan of water (but not touching the water). Cool slightly.
  7. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with the sugar and custard powder until combined and soft.
  8. Add and beat in the whole eggs, followed by the egg yolks and finally the soured cream. Ensure they are fully combined and smooth.
  9. Finally add the melted chocolate and liquid cocoa and mix again until smooth.
  10. Take the cake tin out of the fridge and carefully line the outside with 2 layers of cling-film and a layer of strong foil, making sure there are no holes at the base, so that the cake is protected from the water bath.
  11. Pour the mix into the cake tin on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top.
  12. Place the cake tin into the roasting pan and fill with just boiled water to about half way up the cake tin.
  13. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the top of the cheesecake is set but the underneath still has a slight wobble.
  14. Remove from the oven when cooked and take off the foil and cling-film, before leaving to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
  15. Once cool, place in the fridge and leave to fully set for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
  16. To make the topping, melt the chocolate with the cream and golden syrup in a saucepan over a gently heat, stirring frequently, then beat with a spoon or whisk until smooth and silky.
  17. Allow to cool and then spoon and spread over the surface of the cake. Save any left over to use as an additional sauce to accompany the cake.
  18. Decorate with raspberries and chocolate curls and enjoy!

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Roasted Aubergine with Quinoa, Pine Nut & Vegetable Stuffing

We actually managed to grow some aubergines this year..... the first time they have been successful in about 4 years of trying. All quite exciting....

Having managed to get a crop (ok........ so it was only 4....... but that's still enough for a couple of meals), I wanted to do them justice by exploiting them fully both in flavour and versatility. As always, I trawled the trusty internet for interesting recipes and came across one for 'Quinoa Stuffed Aubergine' on the London Unattached website, posted by Fiona Maclean. Interestingly, the recipe is put forward as suitable for the 5:2 fast diet.

I love stuffed vegetables, providing the stuffing is interesting, flavoursome and compliments the vegetable being stuffed. This particular recipe caught my eye not only because it required roasting the aubergines first (which always helps to intensify flavour), but also because it used quinoa as a stuffing base, which I thought would add a really interesting chewy texture, alongside the sweet crunch of carrot, earthy mushroom and pungent coriander that were part of the recipe.

Coriander is one of my favourite herbs. The intense sweet tang and distinctive smell tantalise the taste buds and speak of exotic lands (and delicious food). Alongside the coriander, this recipe uses turmeric, cumin and Harissa which add a little extra touch of Asian temptation with a bit of North Africa thrown in for good measure from the smoky 'Harrissan' heat.

For my version, I have kept fairly close to the original ingredients (with a few quantitative tweaks) but have added a handful of pine nuts to compliment and add to the array of textures and flavours already combined. I think the pine nuts are a perfect addition which give a wonderful nutty dimension to make this a perfect meal in itself. Topped with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese, these aubergines are both wholesome and healthy..... and (of course) gluten free.

Given the importance of roasting the aubergine at stage one of this recipe, it is also an ideal entry for this month's Four Season's Food Challenge hosted by Louisa at Eat Your Veg and Anneli over at Delicieux. This month's theme is of course, 'roasting' which seems perfect for those 'chill in the air' Autumn nights and the abundance of wonderful food being harvested and just perfect for throwing in a hot oven......

Roasted Aubergine with Quinoa, Pine Nut & Vegetable Stuffing


2 large aubergines
60g Quinoa
½ vegetable stock cube
1 medium red onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot - chopped
1 stalk celery - chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
a little olive oil to fry
100g mushrooms - chopped
handful of pine nuts
pinch turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Harissa paste
2 handfuls fresh chopped coriander
salt and pepper to season
70g Parmesan cheese - finely grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 220⁰ C / 425⁰ F / Gas 7.
  2. Prick the skin of the aubergines and roast in the oven on a baking tray for about 40 minutes or until they feel soft to the squeeze.
  3. Remove from the oven and cool.
  4. Whilst the aubergines are roasting, prepare the Quinoa by cooking according to the packet instructions using the vegetable stock. Set aside.
  5. When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving the shells. Reserve the scooped flesh in a bowl and mash slightly to break down or roughly chop.
  6. Gently fry the chopped onion and garlic with the olive oil in a pan for about 5 minutes until softened.
  7. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring well.
  8. Add the chopped carrot, celery, mushrooms and roasted aubergine flesh, stir and continue to cook over a gentle heat for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Add the Harissa, cooked Quinoa, pine nuts and tomato puree and stir through the vegetable mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add and fold in the chopped coriander.
  11. Use the mixture to stuff the aubergine shells and sprinkle the tops with about half the Parmesan cheese.
  12. Bake in the oven at 190⁰ C / 375⁰ F / Gas 5 for about 20 minutes.
  13. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Gluten Free Brioche..... with chocolate chips or without!

Brioche............. A bread of French origin which is enriched with butter and eggs. I have been trying to replicate it gluten free for months. Or at least to get close to that delightfully buttery, slightly sweet, rich but light bake.

I have tried numerous recipes that claim to be the gluten free alternative, but none have come close and most have been dry, hard and either bland or slightly bitter. I had almost given up, when I was skimming through the pages of some recipe books the other day and came across a 'golden raisin brioche loaf' in Gluten Free Baking, by Phil Vickery. The photos of the loaf in the book looked promising, so I gave it a go.

My daughter always loved brioche for breakfast before she was diagnosed Coeliac, sometimes plain and sometimes (when she could persuade me that it was suitable breakfast-fodder) with chocolate chips. With that in mind, I substituted the raisins in the recipe for chocolate chunks..... Not so healthy, but who cares?

The resulting loaf was actually pretty good, although for me was still a tiny bit dry and not quite smooth and creamy enough. So I have made a few adaptations - a little less water, a little more egg, a rebalancing of flour, the addition of some honey and a sprinkle of brown sugar. And what a difference..............

I am so excited to share my brioche recipe with you, because we think it is deliciously good. I am so thrilled with it, that I have made it my offering for the October Tea Time Treats challenge hosted by Kate over at What Kate Baked and Karen at Lavender and Lovage. The theme for this month is Bread - Sweet Breads & Yeast Breads so hopefully, this brioche fits the bill.

It is light and buttery and tastes amazingly..... well..... brioche-like! It looks and feels pretty brioche-like too, both in bite and colour and when you toast it, you get that incredible sweet wafting, buttery-caramel aroma which has 'brioche' written all over it.

Great baked with 'bits' and great without. Eat on its own or slather with a thick layer of jam or your favourite spread. Delicious warm, cold and especially toasted. Freezes amazingly well ready to be defrosted whenever you need it. Gluten free breakfast just got exciting again!

Gluten Free Brioche....... (makes one 2 lb loaf or 14 to 16 individual mini-loaves)


275g white gluten free flour mix (I used Mix A from this post)
50g tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
11g/1 tablespoon easy bake yeast (I used Allinson)
200g unsalted butter (cold and cut into small cubes)
50 ml water
120 ml milk
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tablespoon runny honey
100g chocolate chips/chunks (optional) or 85g sultanas (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar (to sprinkle on top)


  1. Base line a 23 x 12 cm (2 lb) non stick loaf tin with baking paper (or prepare individual loaf moulds if you are using instead)
  2. Weigh and mix the flours, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are broken down and all ingredients are well-blended.
  3. Add the cubed, cold butter and lightly rub into the mix with your finger tips so that the butter is broken down but you still have small pieces (not bread crumbs).
  4. Mix the milk and water together in a pan or jug and heat to just above hand temperature either on the hob or in a microwave.
  5. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the honey.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the flour-butter mix and add the beaten egg-honey, mixing well with a spoon to combine fully.
  7. Add the liquid and gently fold in until combined and the mixture is completely 'wet', but be careful not to over-mix.
  8. If you are adding chocolate chips, sultanas or any other additional fruit, add to the mix at this stage and gently fold to combine.
  9. Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin/moulds (to about half-way up) and gently smooth the top.
  10. Cover with cling-film and put in a warm place to rise for one hour, or until more or less doubled in size.
  11. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  12. When risen, remove the cling-film, sprinkle the top with brown sugar and bake for approx 30 minutes (large loaf), or 15 to 20 minutes (mini loaves), until dark golden brown in colour.
  13. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  14. Best eaten warm or toasted but also delicious cold, sliced and slathered with jam.
  15. Freeze on the day you make them, and defrost in a microwave for breakfast!

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Chocolate-Caramel Ice Cream

I cleaned out my larder a couple of weeks ago and found a jar of Waitrose 'Seriously Buttery Caramel Dipping Sauce' hidden in the darkness. I had completely forgotten it was there, but as it was getting close to its 'best before' date, I needed to find something to do with it. I did consider grabbing a spoon from the drawer and unashamedly devouring the lot neat, spoon by spoon, but I figured that was not only selfish, but may just make me feel a little unwell.

My daughter has for ages, been asking for caramel ice cream and I have been hankering to make a new batch of chocolate, so I decided to combine the two required ingredients to make chocolate-caramel ice cream. Good move on both counts!

I have not actually eaten the Waitrose caramel sauce before, but now I have tasted it, I can confirm that it is what it says on the jar........ 'seriously buttery' and superbly rich and caramelly. It is not too thick, so is perfect for stirring into ice cream and stays soft and gooey even when frozen. It is probably one of the nicest shop-bought caramels I have had!

The chocolate base to this ice cream is a creamy, eggless batter made with plenty of dark chocolate to give it a rich chocolately (not cocoaey) flavour. The resulting ice cream is lushiously smooth, a little bit sticky and incredibly decadent. Simple to make, easy to scoop, delicious to eat.......... don't expect it to last too long............ it is very moreish.

I am not particularly happy with the photos. They really don't do it justice, but unfortunately things have been such a rush lately and they are as they are! Never mind........... take it from me, this ice cream is FAB!

Chocolate-Caramel Ice Cream (makes approx. 700 ml)


100g plain chocolate (70%)
300 ml double cream
70g liquid glucose
35g icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
120 ml whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 ml caramel sauce


  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt, stirring in a glass bowl placed over a saucepan of gently simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water), or use a microwave on medium setting at 30 second bursts, stirring well between each.
  2. Put the cream, glucose, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a large saucepan and whisk to combine thoroughly.
  3. Heat the mixture on a medium heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to the boil and starts to froth up.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the melted chocolate. Whisk to fully combine.
  5. Add the milk and vanilla extract and whisk very thoroughly until the mixture is smooth and even.
  6. Allow the mixture to cool as quickly as possible and then place in the fridge until completely chilled.
  7. Once chilled, churn into ice cream using an ice cream maker as per manufacturer's instructions.
  8. Before turning the ice cream into a container (and whilst it is still soft), remove the paddle from the ice cream maker and add the caramel to the mix. Fold in very gently so that the caramel is evenly distributed but you still have some visible swirls.
  9. Spoon into an air-tight storage container and place in the freezer to harden fully.

(If you don't have an ice cream maker, place the mixture at stage 7 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 freeze a final time, remembering to fold in your caramel whilst the ice cream is still soft enough to do so)

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Pistachio, Hazelnut, Apricot & Apple Biscotti (Gluten Free)

I have never made Biscotti. I have often thought about it and have lots of recipes that I have bookmarked and saved for that moment when the inspiration finally gets played out in the kitchen, - some are gluten-free versions and some are not. But for some reason I have never managed to put the intention into action...............

This month I have finally been pushed into taking the 'Biscotti plunge' by the October Biscuit Barrel Challenge, hosted by Laura over at 'I'd Much Rather Bake Than...'. Laura's theme this month is 'bookmarked'............... Perfect! Thanks Laura..... those Biscotti have finally seen the light of day.

Biscotti (also known as Cantuccini) originated in Italy and are long almond biscuits which are twice-baked to give them their characteristic dry, crunchy texture. The first bake is made with the dough in cylindrical form, after which the dough is cut into slices and baked a second time. Apparently they originated from the need to produce baked goods that could be stored for long periods of time without deteriorating. They are traditionally made without the addition of fat, but use a base of flour, almonds, eggs, sugar and nuts, with the second baking defining the degree of dryness. A good Biscotti should have a really crisp 'snap'.

The recipe that I have chosen to use is from the book 'Gluten Free Baking' by Michael McCamley who, in 2010 won the UK Gluten Free Chef of the Year competition. I have adapted his recipe for almond and pistachio Biscotti slightly, mainly because I didn't have all the ingredients to hand and couldn't be bothered to make another trip to the supermarket. Sometimes in life (and in the kitchen) you just have to make do with what you have, which meant substituting the suggested cranberries and dates with dried apple and dried strawberry.

These Biscotti have the characteristic hard bite that any good Biscotti should, but as you chew, it is closely followed by creamy-textured almond swirling round the palate. A few seconds in you start to get the flavour of the other nuts...... first the sweet pistachio kicks in, and then the wonderful rich dark nuttiness of the hazelnut takes over, mingled with the sweet apricot, chewy slightly tart apple and sticky strawberry. These Biscotti really do offer a wonderful variety of flavours and textures which are experienced individually, yet blend perfectly to tantalise the taste buds.

They were incredibly easy to make too..... And as biscuits go, they are probably reasonably good for you - full of nuts and fruit! My daughter likes them best dipped in yoghurt (or tea, or anything else she can find to dip).

Pistachio, Hazelnut, Apricot & Apple Biscotti - gluten free (adapted from a recipe by Michael McCamley)


450g gluten free flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
245g caster sugar (I used golden)
10g ground almonds
pinch salt
3 large eggs - beaten
60g flaked almonds
60g pistachio nuts
40g hazelnuts
90g dried apricots - chopped
20g dried apple - cubed
40g dried strawberry - chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
  2. Line a baking sheet with baking paper
  3. Weigh and mix together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, caster sugar, ground almonds and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Add the beaten eggs and the remaining nuts, dried fruit and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly to form an evenly-distributed dough. 
  5. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each into a sausage-shape about 5 cm/2 inches in diameter.
  6. Place on a baking tray, leaving space between each roll of dough. Using a small piece of baking paper placed over the top of each roll to prevent sticking, slightly flatten, using your finger tips.                                                                        
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven.
  8. Leave the oven turned on and using a sharp knife, cut each roll diagonally into 8 to 10 slices about 2½ cm/1 inch thick.
  9. Place the slices back on the baking tray cut side down and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes.
  10. Turn the Biscotti over and bake for approximately 10 minutes more. 
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. The Biscotti should feel dry and crisp.
  12. If the Biscotti do not feel ready/are too soft when you take from the oven, turn off the oven and leave them in there to continue to dry out as the oven cools, checking frequently to make sure they do not burn.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated