It’s not too late yet! Dark Chocolate Mocha Fudge – just in time for Christmas

Dark Chocolate Mocha Fudge

Christmas is coming!  Santa is near.   The girls can feel it in the air.

This year we’ve donated money to our local food bank on behalf of all of our nieces, nephews and family members.  To be honest, it was the best thing ever.  Each family is taking care of their own little ones with gifts, etc – but we’ve been so happy to teach the girls our reality.  And what is that reality?  Well, we may not have everything, but we have a heck of a lot more than many others in our community.  And there too, but for the Grace of God, ….  in this economy, you never know.

For the last few years, my classes and I have held special food drives for a weekend food program for hungry kids in Pre-K through 6th Grade.  (Other kids can access food programs through their family aid.)  The program (“Backpack for Kids”) sends home a backpack filled with easy-to-serve/make (pop-top cans, etc) and highly nutritious foods for little people.  The meals target little ones who may not have access to food otherwise on the weekends.  As a teacher, I know too well the look of hunger on a student’s face.  This year, the program serves 1,700 kids in our community.  That is up from 1,100 kids just last year.

600 more kids in need.

It’s a number that floored me.

I don’t need to hammer you with statistics, you probably know them.  Let’s just say, I’m happy to know that our donations will serve a purpose.  There are some great places to make a donation on behalf of your loved ones if you are struggling with what to get for someone.  Not only to I recommend your local food bank, but please consider joining us in making donations to these other organizations:

And then make some great cards to let those you love know how they’ve helped another this holiday season.  😀

And when you sit down to write your Santa letter, you could always ask for chocolates for your neighbors too.

At least that is what Zoe did.  She and I were talking about the food bank (she’s been there with me to drop off donations, etc a few times).  She asked me if the three neighbors near us would be going to the food bank this year.  I told her I didn’t know, but that I didn’t think so.  So then she asked if they had any ‘ersheys (aka “Hersheys”) in their houses.  (Can you tell what we were out of?  No chocolate in the house can be a disturbing thing.)

Since I told her that I wasn’t sure, she then added “chocolate for the neighbors” to her Santa letter.  Personally, I think fudge is better.  Especially at Christmas time.

So have no fear, if a donation doesn’t fit your last-minute gift-giving plan, try making this fudge.  I’ve sent some along with my Love to work for his Christmas party and they were a hit.  Today, I’m making another batch – more for the neighbors and this time, I’m going to make some salted-caramel mocha fudge too.  Yum!

This recipe is based on my mom’s fudge recipe.  Her recipe rocks and was so easy to adapt to add coffee extract, etc to make it a mocha flavor.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Fudge with a Toffee crunch topping

Makes one 8×8″ pan – Printable 2 page recipe here

Toffee topping:  (you can substitute GF toffee bars if you’d prefer)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sea salt  (approx. 1 teaspoon +) for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. in a shallow pan, place the olive oil and sliced almonds over medium heat.  Swirl to prevent burning, but toast the almond slices.  Remove from the heat and roughly chop.  Set aside.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cutting board.  (Use a piece about as long as a cookie sheet – which will be more than long enough for this small batch of toffee.)  Cover with half of the toasted almond slices.  (Actually, place a pile of sliced almonds on the parchment and spread them out a bit  – about to a 8″ square or so.)
  3. In a deep pan, using a candy thermometer, bring the water and sugars (white and brown) together to a boil.  Cook, stirring the middle of the pan but without scraping the sides (you can swirl the pan a bit if needed), until you reach a temperature of 285F.
  4. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda and vanilla extract.  Again, stir these ingredients in but do not scrap the pan.
  5. Quickly pour the mixture over the almond slices on the parchment paper – but don’t scrap your pan!  (Scraping will actually make your toffee crystallize and not be smooth).  Cover the top of the toffee with the remaining almond slices and sprinkle with sea salt.  Set aside to cool (which won’t take too long).
  6. Crush or chop the toffee into bits.  (About 1/2 of this toffee recipe easily tops one fudge recipe.)
  7. Make your fudge.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Fudge

Makes one 8 by 8″ pan

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 3 Tablespoons instant coffee
  • 12 regular sized marshmallows
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup or a quarter pound)
  • 1 large package dark chocolate chips (10-12 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coffee extract – OR – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Butter the bottom of your 8×8″ pan well.
  2. Cook together sugar, milk, instant coffee, and marshmallows over a medium heat.  Stirring constantly, bring it to a boil, then turn the temperature down a bit.  You want to keep a low boil – but too high of a temperature will cause the sugar to form large bubbles that pop  and become lava-like burn potential while boiling – be carefully!
  3. Stir constantly over this low boil for 5 1/2 to 6 minutes.  (Longer and the fudge will be hard, not long enough and the fudge won’t set.)  (Cook until soft ball stage or between 235-240F)
  4. Remove from the heat, add the butter, dark chocolate chips and coffee extract.  Stir until well incorporated.
  5. Pour into your prepared pan.
  6. Top quickly with the chopped toffee pieces and sprinkle a little sea salt over the top.
  7. Allow to cool/set before cutting into pieces to serve or share.

And don’t forget to walk some over to your neighbors as well.

After all, chocolate is for sharing, right?

Merry Christmas, All!

~Kate

PS.  Thanks for the fudge recipe, Mom!  I’ve had it for years in my recipe book from you… and don’t think I’ve ever dared to make it. Not that it’s hard… I just knew that I would eat the whole pan!  Thank goodness for little girls (who love chocolate) and neighbors, right?

Unbelievably fabulous: Gluten Free Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Really. Un-freakin’-Believably DELICIOUS.

GF Oatmeal & Peanut Butter Cookies

GF Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by Kate Chan

I have finally clicked “POST GRADES” on my last class for the semester. The finals are all stacked up neatly and ready to be returned to the students. And I am DONE DONE DONE! I truly love my job (parenting wins, but teaching is great too! LOL) but the paperwork involved is insane. Really. It is.

It follows you wherever you are: classroom desk, reminders written on post-it notes scrunched quickly into pockets or my purse, email (everywhere!), class web page updates, in the car next to the kids day-care bag rides my school BAGSSSSSS, and on every spare surface in the family room/office of the house. Teaching paperwork hangs around link a lingering perfume. And after a while, you are almost drowning in it. And it never ends.

I am just getting better at carving out time for me and my family. There are several hours each day when we are just here together – wherever that may be. But together? Always.

And now both babes are engaged in conversation and action (the baby just sat up for the first time tonight by herself!), life is getting good. The Chicklet and I have been whipping up cookies, rolls and pancakes like nobody’s business. And she has some interesting ideas for flavors. In her mind, everything needs a little cumin. I’m fairly certain that this influence comes from two things: (1) my mention of needing milk and cumin as the purpose for our grocery trip MONTHS ago and (2) her dad will eat anything and EVERYTHING with cumin in it. ;D

I know I’ve been stressed about the paperwork/semester finals etc when we’ve made several batches of cookies. And once again, it’s fabulous to have colleagues to happily volunteer to munch on your test batches of cookies or my booty would seriously needs its own zip code. 😀

Do you have a favorite cookie flavor?

I enjoy peanut butter cookies and my sister’s blue ribbon winning “Aunt Selma’s Oatmeal” cookies. But when I decided to make some cookies, a couple things came up. First, I’m not a fan of using vegetable shortening any more. I can really taste it after making something with it. So that was something I needed to modify from the Aunt Selma’s recipe. And two: I wanted some chocolate! 😀 And that is always a happy thing – unless there isn’t a lot of chocolate in the house.

Anyway, after a few attempts, I have my perfect hybrid recipe. This one is easily adapted too. I’ve used it with almond nut butter in lieu of the peanut butter. I’ve used peanut butter and sliced almonds (instead of the oatmeal) too. I’ve used my GF flour mix with delicious results, and my favorite batch used just millet and sweet rice flours. YUM! Oh – and you can make large or small cookies – and even freeze the little dough balls for “cookies on the fly” if you would like. (This was particularly helpful for me as I am the only cookie-sweet-tooth in the house.) And there is no need for gums of any kind.

Genius, right?

Well, okay. Not really. But it is fabulously tasty. And I will continue to make this recipe over and over again. I think my next trip to the store will involve some hazelnut butter, sliced almonds and dark chocolate chunks. 😀 It’s going to be a fabulous weekend.

How will you make yours?

GF Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe makes 24 -28 small (1.5 inch) cookies or 12 -18 large (2.5 inch+) cookies

Download a printable copy of this recipe here.

Or get a PDF copy of it here. (with a photo to remind you)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, cold but not hard
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 egg
1 1/12 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup GF Flour OR 2/3 cup millet flour + 1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 GF-certified oats (OR 1/2-2/3 cup sliced almonds)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (OR peanut butter-chocolate chips, or chocolate chunks, etc)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F if baking (not freezing) the cookies.
  2. Cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar for 4 minutes on medium.
  3. Add vanilla and egg. Beat mixture again for 2 minutes on medium-high.
  4. Add peanut butter. Beat again for 2 minutes on medium-high.
  5. Add flour(s), oats, baking soda and salt. Mix again. Dough will be exactly like regular cookie dough.
  6. Quickly and carefully (so as not to mash them) mix in the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks.
  7. If you are freezing the cookies, form in to the size ball that you want. Place the balls on a plate so that they are not touching. Place the plate of cookie balls with a loose covering of plastic wrap in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When the balls have hardened and are no longer super-sticky, move them into a freezer-ready package (freezer bag or other type of freezer container). Use as you would any other frozen cookie ball. Remove as many as you wish and bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes (small cookies) or 22-25 minutes (larger ones). Watch the baking time as it will vary based on the size of your cookie, how frozen/cold the cookie dough, and your oven. The photo above shows the golden brown tinges that you are looking for to determine “doneness”.
  8. If you are baking the cookies right away, shape into balls. (I use my ice cream scoop when wickedly lazy and wish for large cookies. It works great with this recipe. I might just have to invest in the little cookie scoops.)
  9. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 11-13 minutes for small cookies or for 15 – 18 minutes for large ones.
  10. Remove from the oven when the top begins to turn golden brown. (See the photo above.) Allow the cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes before attempting to move them on to a cooling rack. Cool and pack for transport to work (or to a hiding place in the kitchen for your secret stash of goodness).

Enjoy!
Kate

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Gluten Free Chocolate Chip & Tahini Cookies

MMM!

So life is exciting around here.  Sorry for the lack of posts, but my body just hasn’t had the energy I’ve needed to keep up with working full-time, grading papers at night, playing with my Chicklet/toddler and managing a household of illnesses in the last several weeks.  I’m thrilled to tell you that we are all healthy again, but now in recovery mode.  Time to get the laundry, grading, etc back up to speed!  I hate it when we fall behind like this… it’s completely normal, but when I’m so stinkin’ tired, I don’t have the energy to catch back up.

Ah, but I did have the energy to make cookies!  Actually, in the last several weeks, my niece has been over to stay a couple nights on the weekends.  (She and her mom just recently moved to our little town.)  She has helped me make gluten-free cupcakes (experimental recipes… not quite ready for posting yet) and I swear she now believes that every Saturday is GF Cupcake baking at my house.  In fact, that is what she told my sister (her other aunt who lives in town here too) when she was staying with them.  She told her that she had a “gluten free cupcake baking date” with me.  Ay!  There are only *so many* cupcakes a girl can eat/bake.  (And I’m a cupcake lover… don’t get me wrong.. but the rest of my family does NOT eat sweets! They’re weird, I know, but I love them.  LOL).

To take a break from cupcake baking, I made a batch of these delicious cookies to share with colleagues on Monday.  None of my colleagues thought the cookies were GF until they saw me munching away on a cookie too.  They looked SURPRISED to say the least.  I actually like the way this recipe turned out so much that I am posting it after only the second batch and I can’t wait to make variations for future batches as well.  I think you will find that this recipe satisfies the need for a chocolate chip cookie with a subtle delicate and creamy finish.

Tahini is made by grinding sesame seeds into a creamy paste.  While it is similar to the idea of peanut butter, it is more creamy and less thick.  You can find tahini made from roasted sesame seeds or plain.  Typically, tahini is used when making things like hummus or other Middle Eastern foods.  It makes a fabulous addition to salad dressings, sandwich dressings, etc.   Normally, you find tahini combined with flavors like:  garlic, lemon, olive oil, chickpeas or mashed eggplant – or even honey!  It is not a sweet flavor, but rather nutty.  If you can’t find tahini, you can substitute with peanut butter, sesame butter, ground hazelnuts, etc.  (See!  An easily adaptable recipe from a flavor profile point of view!  Now you know why I’m excited to try more!)

I think the next batch of cookies that I make will used roasted sesame tahini as it is the batch that I am enjoying the most.  After that, I shall venture forth with this recipe with other flavors – like adding almond butter and a splash of almond extract maybe.  Hmm.. the possibilities are endless.. much like my waistline if I keep baking these!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip & Tahini Cookies

You can print a copy of this recipe by clicking here.
Recipe makes two dozen (or 2 baker’s dozen)

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature butter
1/4 cup tahini
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups GF Flour blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, tahini and butter in the bowl of your mixer.  Beat until fluffly (3 – 4 minutes).’
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract.  Beat again until fluffly and even. (2 minutes)
  4. Dump in your dry ingredients (all but the chocolate chips) and mix again until even.
  5. Add chocolate chips.  Mix until well distributed.
  6. Form into balls (about 2″ for semi-large cookies) and place on parchment paper (or a silpat baking mat) about 2 inches apart.  The cookies will spread when baking.
  7. Bake at 325F for 9 minutes or until the top becomes slightly golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes on the cookie pan before lifting gently with a spatula to your cooling rack.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Happy Cookie Baking, All!
~Kate

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