Shooting the Moon

“You’re making chocolate chip cookies? That means there’s a stash of chocolate chips for me to munch on.”

“No, babe. I’m making snickerdoodles.”

“Even better. Where are those Snickers bars?”

You see, this is what my life’s like. This is the guy I live with, cook for, clean up after, and love more than I ever thought humanly possible. But I bet he’s not unlike a lot of you out there, is he?

For one, not only does he think about the finished product of the dish in progress, but he also thinks about the steps leading up to said finished product, and what can be snacked on along the way. I find no fault in this thought process, actually.

Second, he thinks that snickerdoodles are cookies with bits of Snickers candy speckled throughout. C’mon – he isn’t the only one, is he? I mean seriously, I thought the same until less than exactly five years ago. I can’t tell you how many times I proclaimed (silently) that my snickerdoodle holiday coffee did not taste one iota like Snickers and come to think of it, really just tasted a lot like cinnamon.

Now that I finally get it, I still don’t completely understand the name behind the cinnamon-laden holiday cookie, but I’m ok with that. Maybe there’s no explanation other than the fact that someone wanted a persnickety name for a simple cookie? (Also, I love the word persnickety. Persnickety. Persnickety. Persnickety.)

Third, he is one competitive guy, and this has nothing to do with these fine cookies other than the fact that they were made as a snack during a night of Hearts and tostadas with Jennifer & Jon. Hubs always wins when we play Hearts, even against my pops, and he’s been playing Hearts since the 60’s. Two of my lifelong goals are related to the 52-card deck – to beat Hubs at cribbage, and to beat him at Hearts (without cheating, of course).

I’m still workin’ on the former (although I swear I’ve beat him before, although I just can’t remember when!), but these cookies and the fact that I ate exactly 8 of them (give or take) must have made me lucky, because by golly I ‘shot the moon’, took him out, and never looked back. Add in a couple of victory-laden snickerdoodles, and the food coma fast approached – my excuse for being unable to successfully defend my title the second time around.

Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free Snickerdoodles
Adapted from Eat the Love via Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef; makes ~48

time commitment: 1.5 hours

these cookies are gonna be good gluten-free or not. i put what i did first and in parentheses what you can do differently if you don’t need a gluten or dairy free recipe {the vegan butter makes them dairy free and the flour substitutions and addition of xantham gum make them gluten free}. i also didn’t have enough eggs, so i used a trusty (and healthier!) substitute – 1 T ground flax + 3 T water for each egg. you can cut out the flax and water and instead use 2 eggs (plus the yolk of a third, as in the recipe) if you have them.

printable version (cookies and gf ap flour recipe)

ingredients
1/2 c (1 stick) vegan butter spread (or regular butter)
1 T g cinnamon
3 T + 1 1/2 c sugar, divided
2 T flax seed
6 T water
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 large egg yolk
2 t vanilla extract
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1 t xantham gum (leave out if not making gf)
465 g all-purpose gluten-free flour, recipe below (or regular ap flour, ~2 3/4 c)

instructions
Cut vegan butter or butter into 1/2″ pieces and add to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the cinnamon and the 3 T of sugar together in a shallow bowl. Put aside. In blender, grind flax seeds until fine; add water and blend until a smooth paste forms (i did this in a spice grinder, using 1 T flax and 3 T water at a time; it was a little messy, but the spice grinder probably grinds the flax better). Pour into small bowl and sit aside (if you’re using eggs, omit this part, obviously).

Add shortening to butter and mix on medium until well-blended. Add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the flax paste (or 2 eggs, one at a time beating after each addition), the egg yolk, and then the vanilla, beating and scraping down the sides with a spatula after each addition. Add the cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and xantham gum into the butter mixture and beat well. Add the flours and beat until all ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth.

Roll 1 T amounts of dough into balls and roll around in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place onto baking sheets about 2” apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies start to crack a little. Let them cool on the sheet for 3 minutes and then move them to a rack to cool.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
Adapted from Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef; makes 1000 g of ap flour

i’m definitely NOT a gluten-free expert, but Shauna certainly is. in the past, I’ve somehow managed to avoid making my own gf ap flour, but i finally caved in and did it, once i realized i had a decent amount of gf flours on hand. if you’re only cooking gf for someone occasionally, you may be better off buying a pre-made gf ap flour (like Bob’s Red Mill) which will usually work just fine. however, if you make a lot of gf stuff (or don’t but like the challenge AND hate that your gf friends get left out way too often), making a batch of gf ap flour using Shauna’s suggestions will serve you well. but remember, it isn’t just about using gf ingredients – you have to be sure your cleaning surfaces, etc are gf too. if you’re unsure about something you’re making for someone who eats gf, just ask them – they are (usually!) more than happy to talk about it and give you pointers.

this recipe is one i made using Shauna’s suggestion of 60% starch flours, 40% whole-grain flours. visit the link above for suggestions if you don’t have these exact flours on hand (and for her tried and true ap version, which i’m sure works better than mine!). you’ll notice the flours are all in grams – precision is key here!

printable version (flour only)

ingredients
225 g brown rice flour
175 g sorghum flour
250 g sweet rice flour
200 g potato starch
100 g arrowroot
50 g tapioca flour/starch

instructions
weigh each flour out and mix together  in a large container, preferably one with a lid. once they’re all in there, whisk them together for a few minutes, or snap the lid and shake the hell outta the container until well blended.

I Heard You Wanted S’more Marshmallows?

I will not apologize for what you see here, nor the recipe that follows. In fact, my post from Friday foreshadowed an occurence such as this (speaking of Friday, don’t forget to vote for this Friday’s post over to your right) and therefore, if you did your reading, you should not be too terribly surprised.

What I will say, instead, is that, if you ever have the desire to splurge, or perhaps to impress a large group of hungry chocoholics, this is the post for you. For today, don’t worry yourself with sugar content, calories, or fear of  trying a daunting recipe and failing miserably. Take a deep breath, and make the jump.

Because I promise you, I promise you, it’s well worth it. Just ask any of the 7 of us who downed two batches of these babies this past weekend. In a matter of minutes, in between Rock Band sets, many delicious s’mores were consumed – without guilt, instead with unadulterated happiness.

For starters, have you made the marshmallows yet? Or did you take a look at them, perhaps print the recipe(s), and still just haven’t found the time to pull that stand mixer out? Well, life is all about second chances. I’m giving you one now.

And while you’re making the marshmallows, you can also throw together a batch of graham crackers (we even have a gluten-free version here, so that’s not an excuse either!). I’m serious. The ingredients come together without a hitch in your food processor, and the taste isn’t even comparable to the over-processed Nabisco product. The best part about them? The fact that you made them, and you know exactly what you put into them.

Now, take those tasty marshmallows, if you can muster up the strength to not eat them right out of the pan, and sandwich them between your beautiful homemade graham crackers. Slide a chunk of chocolate in there and let your oven melt the chocolate and the marshmallow into a gooey, stringy, warm heavenly mess that, within an instant of eating said mess, will remind you of all things good in the world.

Like all those times when your gramma put s’mores into the toaster oven for you while you were stuck at her house all summer long watching The Price is Right, and even though she had a pool, you couldn’t go swimming in it unless your mom was there. But having s’mores was what made that ok, because you could stand on that little stool in the green-tiled kitchen and watch those quiet metal rods in the toaster turn into orange fire, orange fire that magically made the marshmallow and chocolate (or even peanut butter) pieces turn into hot liquid before your very eyes. Eating those, even though she never seemed to make quite enough, was enough to make gramma’s house fun. How I wish I could go there today – with or without the s’mores – but instead I treasure that memory, which is more than enough to make me smile.

Maybe your gramma didn’t make s’mores for you? Evenso, I’d be willing to bet that the sheer thought of s’mores takes you to a better place. A place where life is easier, a place where happiness is abounding, or a place where your biggest care in the world was deciding who would get the last one.

Tell me, where is that place for you?

Homemade Mint S’mores
makes ~1 dozen ooey, gooey, samiches

printable version, with gluten-free graham crackers
printable version, with regular graham crackers

ingredients
1 batch of homemade graham crackers (recipes below)
1 batch of homemade mint marshmallows (recipe below)
2 or 3 Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bars

instructions
preheat oven to 350 F. line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper. place half of graham crackers on sheet. put a marshmallow on each cracker. put chocolate piece (you choose the size) on top of marshmallow. place remaining graham crackers atop.

bake in oven for ~10 minutes, or until chocolate melts and marshmallow begins oozing all over the place. remove and let cool for a couple of minutes and pretty them up before serving (will have fallen over in oven, so you will have to put them back together somewhat).

eat 1. eat another. keep eating until they are all gone.

Gluten-Free Graham Crackers
adapted from Shauna, makes 1-2 dozen crackers

if you have questions about storing these, I’d suggest you go to the source and click on Shauna’s link above. and although I think this recipe turned out just fine, if you have the ingredients listed on her site, I’d recommend following hers to the letter – she’s the expert!

printable version (crackers only)

ingredients
2.5 oz sorghum flour
2.5 oz brown rice flour
2.5 oz tapioca flour
2.5 oz all purpose gluten-free flour (or sweet rice, as Shauna uses, if you have it)
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
3/4 t xanthan gum
1/2 t salt
7 T unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 c honey
3 to 6 T cold water
cinnamon sugar, optional

special equipment: a food processor, a rolling pin and if you want jagged edges, a fluted pastry cutter

instructions
Measure out the sorghum, brown rice, tapioca, and all purpose flours and put into food processor. Mix together. Add the cinnamon, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix until everything is well combined.

Cut the butter into small pieces. Add to the flours in the food processor. Pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flours. The mixture should have a coarse texture.

Stir together the honey and 3 T of the water. With the food processor running, pour in the honeyed water. Let the food processor run for a few minutes, allowing the dough to form a ball. If it still has not come together entirely after a few minutes of processing, add the remaining cold water, a tablespoon at a time. (I ended up using 5 T)

Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Have another piece of parchment paper ready for rolling.

Cut the ball of dough in half. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Put the ball of dough onto the parchment-lined sheet tray. Cover it with the other piece of parchment paper. Carefully, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 1/2 the length of the sheet tray, or until the dough is about 1/4-inch thick (there will be extra ragged edges). Cut the dough into desired shape and number of pieces. Dust with cinnamon sugar if desired and roll over to make it stick. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes. Repeat with other half of dough ball.

After 15 minutes, using the tines of a fork, prick holes into the crackers in whatever pattern you want. Bake the graham cracker dough until golden brown and starting to be hard, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the tray halfway through to even baking. Allow them to cool on the sheet tray until they are cool; they will harden as they cool.

 

Graham Crackers
adapted from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It; makes ~2-3 dozen

in the event that you aren’t going to demolish these right away, two at a time with chocolate and marshmallow in the center, these babies will keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container. they could also be frozen for 2 months – just unthaw for a couple of hours before eating.

printable version (crackers only)

ingredients
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
1 t kosher salt
2 t baking powder
1/3 c unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 c honey
1/4 c blackstrap molasses
1/3 c + 4 T sugar
1/4 c 2% milk
1/2 t vanilla extract
cinnamon sugar, optional

special equipment: a food processor, a rolling pin and if you want jagged edges, a fluted pastry cutter

instructions
Measure out flours and put into food processor. Mix together with salt and baking powder. Mix until everything is well combined.

Cut the butter into small pieces. Add to the food processor. Pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flours. The mixture should have a coarse texture. Add the honey, molasses, and the 1/3 c sugar, blend. Add milk and vanilla and mix until a stiff soft dough forms.

Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Have another piece of parchment paper ready for rolling.

Cut the ball of dough in half. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Put the ball of dough onto the parchment-lined sheet tray. Cover it with the other piece of parchment paper. Carefully, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 1/2 the length of the sheet tray, or until the dough is about 1/4-inch thick (there will be extra ragged edges; should be ~12×15 inches). Cut the dough into desired shape and number of pieces. Dust with cinnamon sugar if desired and roll over to make it stick. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes. Repeat with other half of dough ball.

After 15 minutes, using the tines of a fork, prick holes into the crackers in whatever pattern you want. Bake the graham cracker dough until dark brown and starting to be hard, about 18-22 minutes. Turn the tray halfway through to even baking. Allow them to cool on the sheet tray until they are cool; they will harden as they cool.

Homemade Mint Marshmallows
makes ~2 dozen large marshmallows

another variation on a favorite new treat of mine!

printable version (marshmallow only)

ingredients
3 .25 oz envelopes of unflavored gelatin
2 c sugar
3/4 c corn syrup
1/4 t salt
1 t mint extract
1/2 c of powdered sugar
Water

must-haves
candy thermometer
stand mixer

instructions
Line your square baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray (foil is optional if you use enough spray).

In the bottom of your mixer, mix the gelatin with a 1/2 cup of water. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

In a large pot, mix together the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water. Insert the candy thermometer and turn the heat onto medium low. Without stirring, let the syrup cook until it reaches 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and slowly add sugar syrup to the gelatin mixture. Add the salt and mix at high speed for 10 minutes or until it’s fluffy and tripled in size (may take less time, so check). Add the mint extract and pour marshmallow fluff into prepared pan.

Let it set for at least four hours. Remove marshmallow slab from the pan. Cover both sides of slab with powdered sugar. With a sharp knife, cut marshmallow into squares using scissors or a sharp knife coated in cooking spray or powdered sugar.