Girlfriends and Chocolate: The Gluten-Free Way!

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Each year, TRB and her closest girlfriends get together to celebrate the holiday season, eat some healthy (and not-so-healthy) food, and exchange gifts. This year is special because it marks TRB‘s first Christmas in her new home. As the host of the annual fete, she wanted to serve something really special — and gluten-free. Enter: Nigella Kitchen, the latest cookbook from Food Network personality, Nigella Lawson.

While shopping for gifts at the mall, TRB made an epic discovery at her local Borders store — Nigella Kitchen is marked down 50% — an unbelievable deal for this book, which is chock full of simple, hearty and “feel good” recipes. (“Merry Christmas to me,” TRB recited over and over in her head, rushing to the checkout counter to ensure the price wasn’t a cruel mistake!)

An obsessive Food Network enthusiast,
TRB recalled watching Nigella prepare a gluten-free, dairy free carrot cake recipe on her show, which she hoped to bake up for the girls. That recipe is, in fact, in this book, but on the very next page, so is one for Flourless (and Gluten-Free) Chocolate Cake. Now, when faced with a choice between carrot cake or chocolate cake for a show-stopping dessert to serve the besties, there really isn’t a question – is there??

So, without further adieu, here is the glorious recipe from Nigella:

3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
(TRB used bittersweet baking chips, such as Ghirardelli)
10 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 cup ground almonds
4 tsp best-quality cocoa powder, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the base of a springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave (following manufacturer’s instructions), then set aside to cool slightly.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar together until about tripled in volume, pale and mousse-like. Nigella uses a freestanding mixer, but says a hand-held electric model is fine too; obviously, by hand is possible, but would demand tenacity and muscle. (TRB tried by hand at first, but was unable to achieve the “moussy” quality Nigella recommends and gave into using a hand-held mixer. This is an important step because the cake does not contain any rising agents. Its density is based upon this mixture).

4. Mix the ground almonds with the cocoa powder and fold gently into the egg and sugar mixture, followed by the slightly cooled chocolate and butter.

5. Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes (though start to check at 35); the cake will be just firm on top, but still have a bit of wobble underneath.

6. Remove from the oven and let the cake sit in its tin on a wire rack to cool. Once the first heat has left it, drape a kitchen towel over the cake to stop it from getting too crusty, though a cracked and cratered surface is to be expected, it’s crunch I’m avoiding here.

7. When cold, unmould and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

(TRB Note: Nigella’s recipe calls for a hint of lime and offers up a side of Margarita Cream for this cake. TRB opted not to add the lime or serve the cream for her chocolate purist crowd).

Since it *is* the holidays, while you’re at it, why not serve up a cocktail with your sweets?

TRB recently caught up with Dannielle Kyrillos of Top Chef: Just Desserts fame, who recommends serving the Godiva Midnight Martini this holiday season. The Midnight Martini, created by mixologist Elayne Duke, features the new Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka. (Um, chocolate + vodka = we must try this!)

Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 ounces Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka
Chocolate swirl for garnish

1. Pour Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka into a cocktail shaker
2. Shake well and strain into a martini glass
3. Garnish with a chocolate swirl

In a choco-coma yet?

Did you try these recipes? Post a comment.

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