Archive for February, 2010
A couple months ago, I received an email offer to try Attune Chocolate Bars. About two lines into the email (where it said a gluten-free snack and chocolate!), I was sold. “Show me the chocolate!” was my response.
Attune says their chocolate bars are “packed with more beneficial probiotic cultures than yogurt (with less sugar than most brands), are low in calories (with 100 or fewer) and have calcium and fiber for better health on the go.” You’ll find more specifics on the nutritional content at the Attune Foods website.
I was told to put these into the refrigerator when I received them. They contain probiotics, so putting them into the refrigerator insures that the probiotics will stay alive and well. (“Un-refrigerated cultures begin to decline within a month.” is what it says on the box.) I did as I was told, but I was really excited to try them so I took one out and read the packaging. I know I was told that they were gluten free, but it was new to me and my habit is to read the labels. I was surprised and disappointed to see a cross-contamination warning about being made in a facility where wheat is processed. So, I put it back into the refrigerator and there it sat until I finally got around to asking the company about this.
I was very happy with their response: “We take the issue of cross-contamination very seriously…. Attune uses only gluten free ingredients in making their Probiotic chocolate bars, but as stated on the packaging, the bars are made on equipment that also processes wheat. At this time, we do not have the ability to manufacture our products in a gluten-free facility but want you to know that every batch of Attune bars is tested by an independent lab called Silliker to verify that the bars meet the gluten free standard of testing less than 5 parts per million of gluten.” Considering that the proposed standard to the FDA is 20 ppm, 5 ppm sounds good to me.
So, I decided to give them a try. They come in seven different flavors: Dark Chocolate, Coffee Bean Dark Chocolate, Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Almond Milk Chocolate, Chocolate Crisp, Mint Chocolate and Blueberry Vanilla. I started with the dark chocolate and moved on from there.
How do they taste? Like a chocolate bar. I suggest before eating them, that you take them out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature first. Chocolate is always best at room temperature, don’t you think? They are like small, thin chocolate bars. Not exactly smooth and creamy chocolate, but yummy just the same. I saved the blueberry vanilla flavor for last. It, too, was very good. My only problem with these is that I want to eat more. But, I kept to one a day, and they were soon all gone.
Where do you find them? The email I received said they are kept in the refrigerated yogurt section of more than 3,000 retailers across the U.S. such as Safeway, Whole Foods, H-E-B, Hannaford, Wegmans, A&P, and Bristol Farms. I looked in the yogurt section at our local Wegmans week after week, but couldn’t find them. I should’ve asked for them at Customer Service, but always forgot to do that by the time I got around to the front of the store. It wasn’t until recently that I finally found them. They were in the refrigerated section within their Nature’s Marketplace area. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? They are being kept beside the organic yogurts and other allergen-free, dairy-type products. I had the option to buy one chocolate bar for 99 cents or buy a box of 7 for $6.69. I went for the box.
They only had one flavor to offer: Milk Chocolate Crisp. That was alright with me. Normally, I would choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate, but I actually enjoyed the Milk Chocolate Crisp best. It reminds me of a Hershey’s Krackel or a Nestle Crunch bar, both of which are not Gluten Free. Attune puts the rice crisps in the chocolate bars, but they are flavored with molasses instead of the gluten-containing barley malt. So now I can eat a crispy chocolate bar and feel like I’m doing my body good by eating probiotics, too. What a great find. I love having these for an afternoon snack. I pull one out of the refrigerator in the morning, and then have it after lunch when I’m feeling that afternoon slow-down. If you are having a hard time finding these at your local grocery store, you can also order them online at www.attunefoods.com.
- Attune Foods website and nutrition information
- National Institute of Health talks about Probiotics
- Article at Celiac.com talks about live bacteria (probiotics) blocking the toxic effects of wheat.
- FDA (Food & Drug Administration) proposed rule for labeling gluten-free foods and standard to be set at 20 parts per million. And, for an easier read, check out the Q&A on the proposal.
- Europe’s FSA (Food Standard Agency) new ruling for the gluten content of gluten-free products to no more than 20 ppm.
This winter, our family went to the movie theater to watch Disney’s latest animated film “The Princess and the Frog.” We loved the movie. And, although I haven’t spent a lot of time in New Orleans, I was reminded of the fun times and good food I’ve had there in the past. In the movie, there were scenes where Tiana (“the princess”) makes or powders beignets (pronounced ben-YAYs), a kind of doughnut that was made famous by Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. While watching the scenes, I wondered about making these gluten free. Of course, I couldn’t find a gluten-free recipe, so I had to come up with my own.
I am so excited to share this recipe with you. I’ve never actually eaten a lot of beignets – only when I’ve been at the French Quarter in New Orleans. They really are a delicious treat. If you’re not familiar with them, I would describe them as a square doughnut, or bread dough deep fried into little square pillows, and topped with powdered sugar. They are so yummy! If you aren’t celebrating Mardi Gras with a Gluten-Free King Cake this year, then you should definitely indulge in these little gems.
Gluten-Free Beignet Recipe
1/2 Cup warm water
1/4 Cup sugar
2 tsp yeast
3/4 Cup almond milk (Regular milk should work, too.)
1/2 Cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Cups brown rice flour (I use Authentic Foods finely ground.)
1 Cup potato starch
1/2 Cup sweet rice flour
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 liter vegetable oil for frying beignets
powdered sugar for dusting the beignets after cooking
- You’ll need a large pot of vegetable oil to fry the beignets. Electric deep fryers are great for keeping the temperature consistent. However, you can use a pot of oil on the stove top, but you’ll need to watch the temperature closely. You should fry the beignets between 360° - 380° F.
- Start by combining the yeast with the sugar and the warm water (110° - 115° F is recommended but I don’t usually check the temperature.) in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the brown rice flour, potato starch, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, and salt. Add in the melted butter, milk, and eggs and mix thoroughly.
- Now stir the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. The dough should start to pull together into a soft ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and top with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8″ thick.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the beignets into 2-1/2″ squares. You should be able to make 24 – 30 beignets.
- Fry the dough in the heated oil 1 – 3 beignets at a time. Don’t fry too many at once, as it can lower the temperature of the oil too fast. Thus, inhibiting the beignets to puff up like they should. Once the beignets start to brown, flip them over using a slotted spoon or tongs. Once the beignets have been lightly browned on both sides, carefully remove them from the oil and place on paper towels to absorb extra oil. The beignets should only take one or two minutes to brown on each side.
- Generously top each beignet with powdered sugar and serve while warm.
- These aren’t terribly sweet. Most of the sweetness comes from the powdered sugar, so you can easily adjust it to your liking. You can even drizzle a little honey on it, like my husband did, if you have a sweet tooth.
- In case you’re wondering: I didn’t find it necessary to wait and allow the dough to rise. I simply cut them out and fried them up.
- This dough wasn’t very sticky, so you might be able to roll out the dough without using the parchment paper and plastic wrap, but I find it convenient. A little dusting of potato starch on the counter and rolling pin should work fine.
- Just roll out the dough once. I tried to re-roll the dough (balled it up and rolled it out again) to cut perfect squares. As a result, the dough fried up flat and a little tougher.
- Watch the temperature of the oil while frying. If it’s too low, the beignets won’t puff up. If it’s too high, the center won’t cook through and will be a little gummy. If you’re having trouble, try putting two pieces of dough into the oil at a time when it’s at 380° F.
- Although I don’t believe it’s traditional, I think these would be nice with a little cinnamon mixed into the dough. I might try that next time.
- In order to save time for breakfast, the traditional meal time to eat these, make up the dough the night before and keep the dough in the refrigerator. In the morning, roll it out, cut it and fry.
- I did eventually find another recipe for gluten-free beignets. This one by Teri Gruss at About.com uses a cake mix for the flour.
- There are more tips for cooking beignets at Cafe Du Monde .
- I’m linking this to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays because I only used 1/4 Cup sugar in the dough and I reduced the lactose content by using almond milk.
- For more gluten-free recipes, visit The Gluten-Free Homemaker at this week’s edition of “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten Free?“
- Know a fan of Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog”? Here are some coloring/activity pages my daughter has enjoyed.
This month I’ve been experimenting with chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. I made three different versions: Easy, Delicious, and Addictive! Plus, some heart-shaped ones for Valentine’s Day. Let me start with the easy recipe:
Easy Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts
Whole Raw Macadamia Nuts
Dark Cocoa Candy Melts
You’ll also need a Truffles Candy Mold.
- Melt chocolate candy melts in the microwave. Start by melting at half power for about two minutes. Then, put in for another minute at a time to finish melting.
- Fill about a third of each candy truffle mold with the melted chocolate. Push a nut into the melted chocolate in the mold. Then, finish filling the candy mold with more melted chocolate. Tap the mold on the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Place the mold in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Then, pull it out of the refrigerator, turn it upside down and pop the candies out.
- The candy melts are so easy to work with, and they make very pretty, shiny candies. However, it isn’t as tasty as using good chocolate. (That doesn’t mean they didn’t disappear as quickly as I made them.)
- For melting the candy melt discs, I used a plastic squeeze bottle. It made it easy to melt the candy and fill the candy mold. You can keep the bottle in a bowl of warm water to keep the chocolate warm while you’re filling the candy molds with nuts. Or, just pop it back into the microwave for a minute or two, if necessary.
- You can, of course, melt the chocolate on the stove with a double boiler. Just be careful not to get any water into the chocolate, as it can make the chocolate seize.
Delicious Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts
For an even better tasting candy, instead of raw macadamia nuts, I used Elana’s recipe for candied macadamia nuts at Elana’s Pantry. It’s a pretty quick and easy recipe, and is a very tasty treat by itself. But, the sweetness of the agave nectar combined with the salt, and then roasted in the oven gives this chocolate candy another tasty layer which is delicious!
Best Tasting, Addictive Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts
For the best tasting chocolate covered macadamia nuts, use the candied macadamia nuts and use real dark chocolate! Using real chocolate just makes these even better. In order to get the best looking results, too, you’ll have to temper your chocolate. I’m still trying to perfect the tempering process, but even if it doesn’t work for you it will be delicious! It just may not be as pretty. Un-tempered chocolate also has a tendency to bloom at room temperature. So, if you don’t temper your chocolate, eat them right away or store in the refrigerator.
Valentine’s Day Treats
So, for Valentine’s Day, I made some of these with heart-shaped molds. I couldn’t find any candy molds that were deep enough to accommodate the macadamia nuts, so I used these silicone gelatin/ice cube molds I found at the dollar store.
- Elana’s Pantry Candied Macadamia Nuts recipe and directions.
- Diane made Chocolate Macadamia Nuts without using candy molds at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.
- Detailed directions of Tempering Chocolate is at Cooking For Engineers.
- The Giver’s Log has great tips for buying chocolate and melting and tempering chocolate.
- For more gluten-free recipes, visit The Gluten-Free Homemaker for What Can I Eat That’s Gluten Free?