December 31, 2013

It's A Marshmallow World In The Winter

Don't tell anyone but I don't like marshmallows.  There is an exception, I LOVE s'mores, so I do have an affinity for toasted marshmallows sandwiched in between graham crackers and chocolate, but raw marshmallows without the crunchy caramelized crust, not my cup of tea or in this case cup of cocoa.

Lucky for you marshmallow lovers, I enjoy making them.  They are quite an adventure in the kitchen, from bubbling sugar, to whipping egg whites to the fluffy outcome.  Now, lets talk conventional marshmallows....seriously do we have to put food coloring and chemicals in everything?  
Especially, something as innocent as a marshmallow?  Many of us grew up with the bag of conventional marshmallows, purchased for summer vacations, holiday casseroles and the wintry hot cocoa.
Who knows what the ingredient list looked like when we were younger?  Nowadays that bag of marshmallows contains a few odd ingredients, "Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate," which apparently is a "whipping aid" and of course artificial flavors and the color Blue 1.  Food coloring, oh my, how many products on the market have food coloring?  I'm all for coloring food naturally with fun food-based dyes, but I'm saddened by the ever-growing artificial and over processed world we live in.  Whenever I see this as an added ingredient, I always think to myself, what would the color of the product be without the added color?  In this case probably not that bleached out white.

If you are up for an adventure, then please read the following before jumping in!

December 29, 2013

T'was The Night Before The Party

A Visit From The Fire Alarms
T'was the night before my friend M's dinner party, when all thro' the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse........
My husband was nestled all snug in our bed,
While visions of cloud migration danc'd through his head.
And I was in my pajamas watching the pot of bubbling sugar.....
When up above there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the kitchen to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The fresh air whooshed in and I waved a towel to air out the smoke,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, my husband had awoke!
He rubbed his eyes and began to chuckle when it became clear to him that I was making caramel.

Now! Dash away! Dash away! Dash away smoke!

The alarms had silenced and my husband went back to bed,
I continued to burn sugar so that we would all have a sweet to be fed.
And then in a twinkling, I saw in the pot
The bubbling and darkening of something quite hot.
As I poured in the cream, and was stirring around,
I crossed my fingers The Caramel would not create a sound!

December 26, 2013

Honey Dumplings Has A New Look

Hello My Dearest Blog Followers,

Honey Dumplings has a new look!  We also have a Seasonal Newsletter that you can subscribe to for free! Please take a look around and let me know what you think!

I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas yesterday. 
We had a very long and delightful Christmas day, we started off at T's childhood home and then we ended the night at my childhood home.  The whole day was packed full of holiday cheer!

Above is a photo of my Christmas dessert this year, Hot Cocoa Cake.  This recipe will be starring in my cookbook, which will be released next winter.  

Wishing you all love, happiness, laughter and joy this New Year and always.


December 14, 2013

Homemade Granola

Granola is the perfect homemade gift for the holidays.  Make a large basic batch and sprinkle in your favorite ingredients.  Pack into mason jars, cover the lid with festive fabric, tie with twine and voila!

My classic base is both gluten-free and dairy-free.  Remember if you are planning on gifting granola to any gluten-free bellies out there, definitely purchase "certified gluten-free" oats.  Oats are naturally gluten-free, however they may be grown next to wheat fields and many times are harvested and processed with the same milling equipment as wheat, therefore contain cross-contaminants unless labeled GF.

If you opt to use the vanilla beans I promise you won't be sorry!  The best thing about vanilla beans besides their true flavor is that you get multiple uses out of this precious ingredient.  After you've split each pod open and de-seeded, pop into a jar of sugar for a vanilla kissed version, which you can use for any baking; I like to leave the pods in my sugar for months, but even after a week the sugar will be sufficiently scented.  If you are one to keep simple syrup on hand for desserts or cocktails, add the beans and let cure for a few days before using.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

November 21, 2013

Goldilocks & Cocoa Drops

Dark chocolate and toasted walnuts are the bulk of this gluten-free and dairy-free cookie!  Perfect for dunking into hot and cold beverages.  Use your favorite unsweetened cocoa powder; I prefer non-alkalized, but if Dutch-process is what you are familiar with, it will work just fine.  The key to baking is much like Goldilocks & The Three definitely don't want to over bake or you'll be left with crisp cookies all the way through, if you under bake they won't hold their shape and you'll end up with loads of crumbs.  However, if you bake "just right" you'll end up with a crisp outer shell and a pleasantly chewy and nutty interior.  Keep in mind that these cookies love to spread, so depending on the amount of dough you drop you may need to use several baking sheets.  I can squeeze 6 on a half sheet tray, as I use about 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of dough for each drop.

Cocoa Drops

Makes 1 1/2-2 dozen depending on the size

4 cups (1 lb/ 453 g) powdered sugar
3/4 cup (3 oz/ 83 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) fine grain sea salt
2 cups (8 oz/ 230 g) walnut halves, lightly toasted, cooled & coarsely chopped
1 cup (6 oz/ 180 g) chopped 70% chocolate
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons (12 ml) pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 320 F/ 160 C degrees.  Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and sea salt.
Stir in the chopped and toasted walnuts and chocolate until well mixed.
Stir in the egg whites and vanilla until well combined.
Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for about 6 minutes and then rotate pans, top/bottom/front/back.
Continue baking until they puff and crack a bit, the tops should get glossy, about 6-9 minutes longer.
Slide the cookies still on parchment paper onto cooling racks, and let them cool completely.
If you have any leftover, store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

November 20, 2013

Broken Bits...Petite Pieces...Chubby Chips

I've been playing with this recipe for some time now and T and I agree that this is the best batch yet!  The shape of the chocolate really makes a difference; I love the odd disc-like shape of a Valrhona callet, but they are better suited for large chocolate chip cookies than for my bread.  On your next baking adventure, I urge you to pick-up one of your favorite chocolate bars and crush it up into small pieces before folding it into your next batch of banana bread!  The broken bits, add moisture, texture and of course flavor.

Here is a sneak peek of my GF Banana Chocolate Chunk Bread, it is a classic that will appear in my cookbook.

Happy Baking!

November 11, 2013

Perhaps Mutant Tomatoes WILL Give Us Heat Vision!

Have you ever wished for superhero-like abilities?  Well Washingtonians and I suppose all Americans here is our chance!  Not only do genetically modified ingredients cause liver, pancreas and kidney damage in animals, third generation hamsters can no longer reproduce and more than half of the babies of mother rats fed genetically modified (GM) soy, died within three weeks. Hmmmm, makes one wonder, what do we have in store for the human race?  And what will happen to our food supply?  Well, on the upside, in the words of Stephen Colbert, "I'm hoping one day a mutant tomato can give me heat vision."

October 7, 2013

Sweet Tradition

One of the sweetest traditions of a wedding reception is the cutting of the cake, which of course involves feeding one another cake.   How romantic is that?  Our wedding cake was a nutty version of Strawberry Shortcake, luscious almond cake layered with whipped cream and strawberries.  Cloaked in vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.  We most certainly had a gluten-free option for the groom and all of those gluten-free bellies out there!  T's favorite, my chocolate cupcakes with a fat dollop of vanilla buttercream. YUM!

Gorgeous Dahlias from our local farmer were a simple and colorful garnish to our homemade wedding cake.

September 16, 2013

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chunk Bread

Brown sugar, Theo Chocolate, Butter, Mashed Bananas & My gluten-free flour blend create a delightful version of a childhood favorite!  

September 9, 2013

Our Wedding Day!

It's official, T and I are married!  The past few months have been busy....planning, preparing, cooking, baking and celebrating!  Not leaving a spare second for personal writing.  Sorry about that!  We had a blast, and feel incredibly blessed to have such loving friends & family. Thank you Everyone for spending the day with us!

Grazie mille Bryan for your gorgeous photography!
Mr. & Mrs. G

June 22, 2013

Our Wedding Cake Tastings

While many couples go to wedding cake tastings in bakeries; we've been holding our own private tastings in the comfort of our home. I've been testing different versions of our cake for a couple of months now and with just 63 days to go, the ruling is in.... gluten free almond cake with ruby red summer strawberries and vanilla whipped cream.  T and I didn't have the patience to create the whole cake, so stopped when we had our own version of Strawberry Shortcake.  Yes, you heard that right, he' not only tasting, he's in the kitchen with me, using his designing skills to decorate the layers with berries.

For our wedding the cake will be all dolled up with a classic swiss meringue buttercream.

Alas, another check off our list!

V & T's Strawberry Shortcake

June 14, 2013

I Scream....You Scream....We All Scream for Sous Vide Ice Cream!

Okay, okay, I know, perhaps we don't all scream for sous vide ice cream! However, after you try my Creme Fraiche ice cream using the SousVide Supreme, then my readers you may just indeed scream! I have a new gadget in my kitchen, I'm not at all a gadget girl outside of my gelato machine, electric stand mixer and my food processor....all of these gadgets are a must in any kitchen. The SousVide Supreme is now one of my's so much fun! It creates succulent ribs that fall from the bone, the most perfect fish you'll ever sink your teeth into and tenderizes those inexpensive cuts of meat like a champ! If any of you have ever skirted away from a homemade ice cream recipe due to tempering the eggs for fear of scrambling the eggs then you will be happy to know that this lovely new gadget takes away that worry. I must say I'm over the moon for my Creme Fraiche Ice Cream, it's just delicious on its own, however pairs well with all of those soon to be in season fresh berries. For those of you that are questioning this whole SousVide Supreme thing? It's a water bath cooking device, in order to cook in it you have to vacuum seal your ingredients in a special bag called a cooking pouch, there are different types of pouches, some are specifically used with a vacuum sealer or if your ingredients contain a lot of liquid as my ice cream base does, then you can use the SousVide Supreme Zip Pouches. As you'll learn with liquids, you never want to vacuum seal as you'll suck all of the liquid up into the vacuum sealer and not only create a big mess, but you'll most likely destroy your sealer, so you'll need to simply use the Archimedes Principle of sealing the bag.

May 22, 2013

Rhubarb: Pretty In Pink

We are heading into the final days of Spring, therefore whenever I'm at the market, I feel the need to fill my basket with stalks of ruby red rhubarb because I know when I blink....this pink beauty will be gone.  My play day of Rhubarb consisted of pickling, reducing, extracting, dehydrating & pulverizing.

Rhubarb 4 Ways: Pickled, Syrup, Dehydrated & Crushed
Black pepper & vanilla compliment rhubarb in this ode to spring plating.

Rhubarb Ribbons

May 18, 2013

Bittersweet: Bitter & Sweet

Well hello there! Honey Dumplings has had a serious makeover, it's the least I could do after all of this time....I know it's been quite awhile since I've greeted you here and I do apologize for my absence.  Alas, I'm back, and there's no getting rid of me now.  Although, I've been creating recipes, I just haven't found the time to share them with you all, so sorry about that!