December 23, 2013

Mince Pies - Part 1 (Filling)

I am new to mince pie making but it seemed just the thing to go with our Olde-Worlde meets Whole Foods gluten-free holiday feast. None of the recipes were quite right. Some called for "good quality ready made mince" oblivious to realities of the New World - a sad dusty little jar of mince at the bottom of the grocery store shelf. Does that count as good quality?

Other recipes had precise measurements in metric system or called for beef suet (tradition or not, I am not prepared to bake with beef fat). It was time for desperate measures - winging it. 

All the recipes boiled down to dried fruit, apples, spices and brandy. On to the the mince.

Gobs of dried fruit and spices
So into the pot went:

  • Loads of golden raisins
  • Handfuls of prunes chopped up
  • Dried chopped apricots, not too many
  • Chopped dry figs
  • A baggie of dried cherries
  • 2-3 tart chopped apples (mine were Granny Smith)
  • 2-3 Meyer Lemon juice and zest 
  • Juice of an orange and zest
  • Spices: cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg
  • Some dark molasses
  • In the absence of brandy, in went Cointreau (but later, once the fruit is close to being done)

Into the pot the goodies go, stir and cook, smell the goodness. Here is what did not go into the pot - no beef or any meet products and no sugar. Most recipes called for extra sugar but dried fruit are so sweet that sugar seemed an overkill.

Mince smells and tastes like Christmas.
Next step pie crust. Good luck to me!

December 13, 2013

Magic Macaroons

Macaroons are magic - they are easy, gluten-free, and universally beloved (except by coconut haters). So, without further ado, on to to the macaroons. This recipe is courtesy of Danny Macaroons.

This is the plain old regular macaroon version but I see salty caramel and spiced pumpkin in our future. And the recipe couldn't be simpler. Pop your oven on to 350 and start gathering your ingredients. Arrange the said ingredients in an artful way - 14 ounce standard issue back of sweetened shredded coconut (make sure it is sweetened!), 14 ounce can of sweet condensed milk, 2 egg whites and a pinch of salt. A dash of boozy vanilla doesn't hurt either.

making macaroons - gluten-free!
This was a double batch.
Add salt to egg whites and whip them. There are different schools of thought on whether it is better to use cold or room temperature egg whites. Mine were cold and whipped well. Oh here is a tip, use a mixer, don't be a hero with a hand whisk.

See? Upside down! I took a chance and flipped the bowl over to test if my egg white whipping skills were up to snuff. They are!
This is the sticky part - mix shredded coconut with condensed milk and then fold in the whipped egg whites.

Egg whites are folded into coconut & condensed milk mixture.
Scoop spoonfulls of the mixture onto cookie sheets lined with parchment and in the oven they go for 25 or so minutes (I kept mine a little longer to get them golden).


Danny Macaroons just came out with a book "The Macaroon Bible" - mad props! This is going on the holiday gifts short list. But then again, I might keep it for myself!


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