Category Archives: Christmas

Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Plus Giveaways!)

Welcome to Home for the Holidays…Gluten-Free Style, a gluten-free event organized by Shirley Braden of Gluten Free Easily. Every day from November 28th right up to December 23rd, twenty-five bloggers (a different blogger each day) share their recipes that mean home and holidays to them.

In addition, there are also fabulous giveaways on each of those days that you can enter! Each time you enter on any of the bloggers’ websites participating, you become eligible for the grand prizes! The grand prizes are:

Click “more” for today’s giveaways and recipe for cranberry white chocolate chunk cookies, inspired by Starbucks’ annual seasonal favourite: Cranberry Bliss Bar.

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Christmas Spirit

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Tomorrow, we will go back to our regular programming but today I wanted to share this.

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Christmas morning – the house smells of chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread that I baked this morning; in the background of my mind Björk and Sigur Ros plays softly, creating a wintry atmosphere of serenity, as if snow is falling but there isn’t snow. It just feels that way.

On Christmas Eve, as it neared midnight and I was still awake, I thought of Christmas traditions: Santa Claus, presents, and most of all what Christmas spirit is. This year I didn’t feel that bubbly bouncing-up-and down energy that I’ve felt in previous years, when I was younger and still a child. As I contemplated these feelings, I experienced a sudden sense of serenity: peace on earth and joy to the world. An inner joy that was deep and heartfelt and content. Christmas was always an exciting time for me and that excitement climbed as it got closer and closer to when Santa Claus would come – the excitement of opening presents and the buzz of happiness in the air; that bouncing-up-and-down energy. As I grow older, this excitement has matured from that of waiting in anticipation to that of simply having a beautiful feeling of inner joy and peace within oneself. That is Christmas spirit. Christmas spirit is appreciating and being grateful for the abundance that one has and being happy, with or without a reason to be happy. The joy of it is just simply being.

Early in December I watched Elf with my grandmother and siblings. It’s one of my favourite Christmas movies. When Buddy helps Santa and everyone relearns and remembers true Christmas spirit, Santa’s sleigh is fully powered without the need of the turbine engine. I have watched it many times before but this time I started to get teary around that moment. Although I wasn’t aware at the time, I think it was then that I started to realize what Christmas spirit really is. It’s more than just that childish excitement of waiting for Christmas and waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, hoping he’ll remember what you asked for and hoping that he’ll notice the cookies and glass of milk you left for him.

It’s believing.

What we generally call Christmas spirit isn’t a feeling that is just reserved for the holiday. It’s year round. It can be felt at any time. It’s that inner calm that we feel when we meditate or when we pray, when we are at peace with ourselves – and within ourselves – and our being is wholly absorbed in something creative that provides an outlet for our energy and for us to project our energy into. A feeling of Zen.

Christmas spirit is believing. It’s hope. It’s being open to giving and receiving, to kindness and generosity. It is love.

Coconut Flour Gingerbread Cake, 2.0 (SCD & GFCF)

Once again, I am posting late. I’ve had this written since Sunday but forgot to schedule it for yesterday, and ho hum, here we are. I had to do it myself. Last year I posted a coconut flour gingerbread cake. It’s a very good cake, although it is almost sponge-like: a trait that, while appealing, isn’t always wanted. This came to my attention after Ariana left a comment on said cake, asking how it could be made less spongy.

In response, I quickly typed up an updated version of the recipe – in fact, there upon the spot – which is what I’m sharing here today. (I acknowledged Ariana’s own suggestions in my response comment as well. Haven’t tried it, though.) What is done differently in this recipe is that the egg whites are beaten: I’m not sure if I have discussed it here before, but I’ve noticed that beating egg whites and including the egg yolks, which are beaten to a ribbon stage (more on that later), in baked goods and desserts that use coconut flour creates a fluffier texture similar to gluten-based ones. Beating the egg yolks provides additional leavening as well as structure to the cake that otherwise would be spongy if made with only egg whites. I first came to discover this when I made the lemon (cup)cake for my first entry into Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free. (Speaking of which, I’ve decided to enter this cake into this month’s GAHIGF. Click here for details.) Needless to say, it is a very desirable result in gluten-free baking.

At times, I feel like a scientist in the kitchen when I am observing, placing importance on preciseness and other times an artist when I’m in a groove, following my intuition and just eyeballing it. Although both are creative flows, there is a distinct mental shift between the two.

Some people have problems with coconut flour in regards to it absorbing moisture like crazy, but like any gluten-free flour, one just has to learn its quirks – what works and what doesn’t work. What I love about coconut flour is that you need so little because of that! That’s its charm. In my experience, coconut flour doesn’t contribute a coconut-y flavour to baked goods, even when I’ve used it just on its own. The flour doesn’t even really smell like coconut either. It’s also a great choice for those following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet but might not tolerate almond flour that well, or don’t like having to rely upon it so heavily in baking.

Due to its slightly (unintentionally) marbled, rustic appearance, I imagine that this cake would be excellent with some dark or semisweet chocolate chunks thrown in. (That’s the artist talking, not the scientist.)

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