The Confident Kitchen Series
Featuring a recipe for Gluten Free Italian Almond Macaroons
There are many reasons why I am writing a post on Gluten-Free Tips and Techniques. We all have gatherings of every kind: from book clubs to cookie exchanges, birthday celebrations to holiday open houses and seasonal events. One of the questions I am often asked is “what can I make my gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive guests”?
This is a question that sometimes makes dinner hosts and event organizers very nervous. This article will focus briefly on some tips and techniques that I have developed during my culinary career regarding gluten-free products and recipes.
Thankfully, there are many options now available in grocery stores for gluten-free products. As a chef who has had to develop many, many recipes for clients who are gluten-free and for my daughter who needed to focus on a gluten-free/grain-free diet, my job has been made much easier by companies such as “Bob’s Red Mill” or Udi’s Gluten Free products. Their products, whether in flour or meal form or prepared products are widely available at our local grocers and natural food stores. Part of this journey has also been developing a gluten-free flour blend that I used when writing my book, Gluten Free Chocolate Desserts.
Gluten Free Tips and Techniques – Gluten Free Entrees?
Some of the dishes that I have created were adapted from dishes that I have previously made for gluten-tolerant guests. For example: a herb and bread crusted rack of lamb was modified by toasting the brown rice in the oven, grinding it to a powder and substituting this powder for the fresh breadcrumbs. The results were excellent! We have also used this ‘rice powder’ to lightly coat little balls of one of my favourite appetizers called arancini or for coating a fish fillet in a classic preparation called “Meunière”. You can also use lightly seasoned gluten-free flour for this fish preparation with wonderful results.
What would you do if you wanted to make meatloaf for a gluten-free guest? Have you seen the packages of dehydrated vegetable flakes in the stores? You can rehydrate these gluten-free vegetable flakes with hot water or broth, let them absorb the liquid, puree the mixture, and then use this flavourful paste as a substitute for breadcrumbs which you would normally use in a meatloaf, hamburgers or meatballs. I used this technique when I created the recipe for Gluten Free Rock Star Veggie Burgers for my gluten free, grain free daughter.
- Dried Vegetable Flakes and How to Use them in Gluten-Free Cooking
You will enjoy the taste of the gluten-free meatloaf even more than the original recipe. This has actually happened in our family and we would not think of making meatloaf or meatballs any other way now. In my post for Gluten Free, Grain Free Whole Stuffed Cabbage, which I adapted from a recipe from Laura Calder, you can see the small flakes of dried vegetable flakes. They add so much flavour to any recipe – you must try it.
Gluten-Free Tips and Techniques – Gluten-Free Desserts?
Many options are also available for gluten-free desserts that will be enjoyed by all of your guests. There are also numerous flourless cake recipes now available. I enjoy making a chocolate flourless cake with fresh raspberries and softly whipped cream for a lovely finish to a meal. Or, have you heard of Sabayon?
It is an elegant French dessert that you can be proud to serve your guests. You may have also heard the term zabaglione, which is the Italian version of sabayon. For a step by step process, you can read all about it in this post. It is a lovely thick dessert sauce. It can be used immediately after making or it can easily be made ahead and chilled, making it quite convenient, depending on your time allowances. Typically, the sabayon is spooned over fresh berries and served with gluten-free cookies. I like to serve this dessert with something crunchy, so to accompany this gluten-free dessert, I have included the recipe for Italian Almond Macaroons, below. I will also post this recipe for Italian Almond Macaroons into a separate post.
ITALIAN ALMOND MACAROONS
Yield: Makes about 80 cookies (approximately 1.5” in diameter)
CHEF TALK: These cookies are very simple to make. Children will love helping, too! A few egg whites go a long way in producing 80 lovely cookies that store well in an airtight container. Dip them in chocolate for a special treat.
NOTE: Please note that there are two additions of granulated sugar and two additions of sliced almonds in this recipe
To Prepare the Almond Mixture:
- 1 1/2 cups sliced Almonds (140 g)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Meringue:
- Egg Whites from two large eggs (60 ml)
- A Pinch of Cream of Tartar
- A pinch of salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Almond Extract
For Coating the Macaroons:
- Sliced Almonds – As required, to coat the macaroons (you will need approximately 3 cups of sliced almonds for this stage)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with baking parchment.
- Combine sliced almonds and ¾ cup of the sugar in a food processor and process until they are very fine. Set aside.
- On another tray, place the additional 3 cup of sliced almonds for coating the cookies. Crunch the almonds slightly to break them up with your hands into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar and salt until they barely hold a soft shape.
- Gradually add the remaining ¼ of granulated sugar, and beat on high speed until the whites hold a firm, straight point and are quite stiff. Now, add the lemon juice, vanilla and almond extracts and stir to combine. (CHEF TIP: The reason you want to add most extracts at this point is that some extracts, like almond extract and orange extract, have oil in them and prevent the egg whites from achieving a stiff peak)
- Add the whipped whites all at once to the ground almond mixture, folding in the whites and almonds together until they are incorporated.
- Using a small cookie scoop, drop cookies directly into the sliced almonds. Gently turn the mounds of almond meringue to coat them thoroughly with the sliced almonds.
- Place the almond meringue mounds onto the prepared baking sheet about 1.5” apart. Bake for 7 – 9 minutes.
- Do not overbake or the cookies will be crisp instead of chewy. The almonds should be nicely toasted and the meringue should be only lightly coloured.
- Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Store. Dust lightly with icing sugar, if desired. The cookies will freeze well.
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- GlutenFree Flour Blends
- Toasting Your Nuts
Check out some of the delicious Bob’s Red Mill Recipes from Bob’s Red Mill. I encourage you to explore these companies and learn about their commitment to sourcing and providing the purest grains available (Gluten Free Resources)
You Might Also Enjoy These Gluten Free Dessert Posts from UrbnSpice:
To Gluten Freedom!
If you found these tips and techniques helpful, please leave me a comment below with your feedback.
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Happy Baking from Denise – The Urb’n’Spice Chef