Homemade nutella. (vegan,gluten free and sugar free)

nutella 2Cacao,vanilla and sugar. We all know they taste good. But what is more important is,how to make something scrumptious,sweet,luscious with the richness of the cacao and the beautiful aromas of the vanilla. A real temptation! Something,though,not overloaded with sugar and packed with calories. Well,that now has become a challenge!

As a kid, I have always loved chocolate hazelnut spread,cookies,cake and cheesecake,and as an adult,too! Who doesn’t?You see,chocolate is so addictive,it can be eaten as breakfast,brunch,lunch,dinner.

Growing up as a Greek, they are a lot of traditions to follow and some of those are making cookies for every occasion and celebration,baklava,syrupy cakes because it’s most likely an unwritten law. “You can’t pay a visit without buying something sweet or making it!” It’s preposterous! Cooking with heart and soul! That’s my heritage and my prerogative…The warm hospitality someone can offer you…

I have a crystal-clear memory of sneaking in the kitchen,enjoying secretly and silently a jar of a chocolate hazelnut spread,with my always loyal and foodie partner in crime,my little brother… Of course,few times we got caught by our mother. There has always been a lot of hidden sweets in our house. But our mother,was making us either a cake or baking cookies,tarts and sweet pies,without to much sugar. Wherever she could,she was substituting sugar with pure honey,an ingredient full of protein and vitamins.

An irresistible healthy version of chocolate hazelnut spread! The presence of hazelnuts and cocoa is profound, and cohesive.

 

Prep time:10 minutes

serves: 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ½ cups hazelnut,roasted
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cacao powder
  • ¼ cup date syrup,or pureed dates,or 1 1/2 teaspoon Stevia powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk.

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a food processor or a high speed blender,add the hazelnuts. Blend until the hazelnut has become a smooth butter.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor or blender,and blend until it turns into a smooth spread.
  3. You may need to add more milk,to get that spread consistency.
  4. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

sugar free nutella

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French Baguette (gf)

french bread and oilLong time ago,while I was in the beginning of my celiac journey,I tried a prepacked baguettes from a well known gluten free European brand which you can find in US super market,too.

I must admit,that it was awful! There was nothing to remind me of that beautiful crust,with the fluffy interior. It was completely tasteless! That’s something gets me angry! Just because we are gluten intolerant,doesn’t have to be tasteless! We deserve a better flavored product like other people!

After many experiments,I finally found a recipe that reminds me of the classic baguette. This recipe makes two baguettes. You can find the baguette pan,online at Walmart,or look at your local kitchen supply store.

Beautiful crust and fragrant interior. We ate the baguettes in one day! Perfect for a sandwich! In one loaf I added sun dried tomatoes and the oil from the sun dried tomato jar. How much I love the aromas of the fresh baked bread! Just out of this world bread!

unbaked french bread

 

 

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Ingredients:

  • 7.4 oz brown rice flour
  • 2.4 oz white rice flour
  • 3.8 oz arrowroot starch
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoon  butter
  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 teaspoons xantham gum

Directions:

 

  1. Using a heavy-duty mixer, blend the following on low: brown rice flour, white rice flour,arrowroot starch , xantham gum and salt
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in the water and then add the yeast.
  3. When the mixture foams slightly, add the mixture to the dry ingredients.
  4. Next, add butter, egg whites,the egg, and vinegar.
  5. With the mixer on high, beat the mixture for 3 minutes.
  6. Spoon dough into French bread pans.
  7. Make diagonal cuts a few inches apart.
  8. Brush with melted butter.
  9. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 20-25 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven at 380 F.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  12. Remove from pan and allow to cool.

french bread


Ravani Politiko ( Gluten free Almond- masticha cake with syrup, topped with pastry cream)

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRavani is a semolina cake drunk in luscious sweet syrup with Middle Eastern roots. Some make it with coconut flakes,some other add almonds,in Greece we do both,but what makes it so special,is the beautiful and aromatic spices we add. We add masticha. Masticha is originally come from a small and picturesque island of Greece,Chios. The collection of mastic drops is hard labor,but it’s a labor of love! Its unique aromas and taste made it popular around the world.

The Greeks from Istanbul,have one specific recipe,and that’s where I got inspired from. Greeks from Istanbul are amazing cooks,with  great knowledge of spices and desserts. There is so much respect for them!

As a gluten intolerant,I had to substitute the semolina with almond flour and coconut flakes with the hint of orange. Fluffy,aromatic topped with luscious pastry cream, is a heavenly dessert!

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Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 4.5 oz sugar
  • 3 oz almond flour
  • 2.4 oz gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1.7 oz unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

For the syrup:

  • 8.8 oz sugar
  • 7.5 water
  • 1 oz honey
  • an orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon mastic powder or 7 oz mastic liqueur

For the pastry cream:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon mastic powder or 1 tablespoon mastic liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest.

Directions:

Make the pastry cream first:

  1. In a medium bowl,beat egg yolks well.
  2. Stir in milk.
  3. In a sauce pan,under medium heat,mix sugar,cornstarch and salt.
  4. Gradually,stir in a small amount of milk of milk mixture.
  5. Add the mastic powder,the vanilla extract and orange zest.
  6. Keep on whisking until your cream gets nice and thick.

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven at 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl,beat the egg yolks with 3.5 oz of the sugar,until you get that pale thick cream.
  3. Add the almond flour,baking powder,coconut flakes and the all purpose flour.
  4. In a different bowl,beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until you get a stiff meringue.
  5. Add the meringue into the egg yolk-sugar mixture in two batches and fold carefully. Be gentle,so the cake will not deflate.
  6. Pour the batter into a well greased 8 inch cake pan and bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

For the syrup:

In a heavy bottom  sauce pan, add all the ingredients for the syrup and bring it to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Take the cake out of the oven,don’t let both the syrup and cake cool. Pour carefully the syrup in the cake. It may seems a lot of syrup but it will absorb it fast.

Let it cool.

When it’s cooled down completely,topped it with the pastry cream and some whip cream.

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Cheesy pretzel balls stuffed with caramelized onions (gf)

 

I must admit,I’ve never had a full bite of soft pretzel. The only time I tried it,was a year ago,to finally see why people are so excited about these. It was so good! Fluffy,soft,buttery and salty! Such a great snack and I found out why everybody is so thrilled about pretzel.

Of course,I didn’t want to make simple pretzels. I want ed to make something that you can’t find at the stores.

The sweet and sour onions along with the buttery bread and  melted cheese is just heaven in your mouth!

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Instructions:

  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water, 100º-110ºF (you may need just a tad bit more)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 pack quick acting yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey or organic sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or softened butter)
  • 3 1/2 cups gf artisan flour blend

For the caramelized onions:

  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of salt
  • (optional) pinch of granulated sugar or other sweetener
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2-4 tablespoons dry white or red wine (or chicken/beef/veggie stock)

1/2 cup fontina cheese,cut in 1/2 inch cubes

Baking Soda Bath:

  • 8-10 cups water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • pinch of salt

For Topping:

  • kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • splash of water

Instructions:

Line a couple rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

Combine water, yeast and sugar in a bowl; allow to sit for 5 -10 minutes until the mixture foams. Put the flour blend salt and baking powder in the bowl of your stand up mixer . Whisk together until well blended. Add the olive oil (or butter) and yeast mixture. With the dough hook, mix until it comes together, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Stop the mixture a couple of times to use your spatula to incorporate all of the flour. Once combined fully, continue mixing an additional minute to knead dough. It should be just a tad bit wet, but not too wet where it doesn’t come together and hold. If it’s too dry add a teeny splash more water, if it’s too wet, add a teeny more flour. Don’t go crazy and let it be what it is. Different then glute dough.

Remove dough from the bowl and place in a oiled glass mixing bowl. Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will vary based on the temperature. You are looking for the dough to be approximately double in size.This dough is very tacky, thick and stretchy. Wet your hands when working with it and you can also very, very lightly flour your work surface, too.

In the meanwhile make the onions.

Heat butter in a large saute pan over medium heat until melted.  Add onions, and toss until they are coated in the butter.

Cook the onions for the next 40 minutes or so until they are caramelized, using a spatula to stir the onions and scrape the bottom of the pan every 3-5 minutes.  As the onions begin to caramelize and darken, you may need to scrape the pan more often.

Once the onions reach a deep golden brown color and are nice and syrupy, sprinkle them with a pinch of two of salt (and sugar, if desired).  Stir the stock a tablespoon or two at a time, adding enough so that the browned bits on the bottom of the pan loosen when scraped with a spatula. Add the thyme.  Stir the onions for 1 more minute, being sure to stir in the browned bits, then remove from heat.

 

Once the dough is done rising ,preheat the oven to 450ºF. Add the water and baking soda to a large pan over a high heat, whisk it quickly to dissolve the baking soda. While you are waiting for the baking soda bath to come to a boil, you will shape the dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, I like working on a bit of parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, divide the dough carefully into 8 equal parts. Wet your hands with a little water and roll each piece of dough on the floured surface into a cylinder about 1-inch in diameter, it is a very thick and stretchy dough, so really give it some elbow grease.

Take the pretzel ball,flatten it with your hands,stuff it with 1 teaspoon caramelized onions and a cube of fontina. Try to close carefully the edges of the disc and seal it.

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When you finish shaping all the pretzel balls,with a sharp knife, score each pretzel ball by cutting diagonally into the top about ⅛ inch deep.

Once your water is boiling, take the heat down to a medium-high, you want it barely boiling. A rolling boil will break your pretzel bite apart. Place as many pretzel balls of dough into the nearly boiling baking soda bath as will fit comfortably. Allow them to cook in the water for about 30 seconds on one side before gently flipping the bites over. Allow to cook for another 30 seconds. Remove the balls with a strainer and place them, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheets. Whisk together the egg yolk and honey mixture or just honey and brush on each bite. Sprinkle each with a little coarse salt, to taste.

Place the pretzels in the center of the preheated oven and bake until golden brown all over, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool a bit on the baking pan then go to town.

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Brioche baklava (gluten free)

 

One of my favorite type of bread is brioche.That buttery,fluffy and fragrant goodness it has always been close to my heart!

The first time and last time I ever tried it,was ten years ago. Few months after I tried brioche,I diagnosed with celiac disease and I was struggle to accept my new permanent diet. It wasn’t easy giving up an old lifestyle to a new one. Deep inside me I knew it was for my own good,but as a teenager,it was a really hard adjustment.  After a long time,I finally accept it and I realize There is nothing to miss from my old diet!

After a long texting with my mom about recipes,she sent me a recipe for baklava cake. It was really moist and fluffy and the syrup was runny on the sides. Oh my goodness! I remembered every bakery in Greece has baklava every day. It’s a must!

As dozens of recipes were coming in my mind,I thought”Why not brioche baklava?” And that’s what happens when I am hungry and an idea comes in my mind. I just can’t get it out of my head!  The brioche baklava it’s moist,fluffy,the crunch of the walnuts and the warmth of the spices take it to another level!

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Brioche with baklava filling

 

Ingredients:

  • 7 grams (2 teaspoons) instant (bread machine) yeast
  • 20 grams (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) granulated sugar
  • 230 grams (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons + 1¾ teaspoons) warm water, at 75°F/23.8°C
  • 380 grams (3 cups ) gf artisan flour blend
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • juice and zest from half orange
  • 3 eggs
  • 22 grams (1½ tablespoons) egg yolks (about 1 yolk)
  • 80 grams (1/4 cup) honey
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces – 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg for the egg wash

For the baklava filling:

  • 1 cup walnuts,chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  •  cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered clove
  • orange peel
Instructions for the filling:
It’s recommended to make the filling first,it will allow it to cool down and handle it easier.
  1. In a medium saucepan,bring water,sugar,honey and orange peel on medium heat,into  boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. It will have that amber color.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the  walnuts,and the spices.
  3. Put the mixture in the food processor and pulse it until everything is incorporated and the walnuts are chopped. We don’t need a puree consistency.
  4. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Instructions for the brioche batter:
  1. Combine the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Stir in the warm water, and set in a warm place for 10 minutes. The mixture will be foaming and bubbly.
  2. Once the yeast has proofed, combine the flour blend and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, orange juice and zest,yolk, honey, butter, and proofed yeast mixture.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the flour in a steady stream with the mixer running on low. Increase the speed to medium and mix the dough for 10 minutes. It will be very silky, almost like a cake batter.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm place for an hour, the dough should about double in size.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, deflate the dough, turning it over a few times in the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, recover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Make an egg wash by beating an egg lightly.
  7. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray. Fill up half the wells of the pan,add a heaping teaspoon of the baklava mixture and the top it with the rest brioche dough.Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar or some salt if you like.Set the pan somewhere warm for 40 minutes. You want the dough to raise and spread – but it will not double, so don’t let it sit for longer waiting for that.
  8. When you have about 10 minutes left of raising time, heat up your oven to 350°F. Bake your rolls for 15-17 minutes. You want the tops to be golden and a toothpick to come out clean when it is inserted into the middle.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

walnuts ans syrup