Instant Chocolate Pudding (GFCF)

Without any eggs or dairy cream at all, you can still make a luscious chocolate pudding. The secret? Marshmallows.

Originally a chocolate mousse, I’m still calling it pudding mainly because the coconut cream did not behave the same way as dairy cream would, so it wasn’t mousse-like in the least but surely not faulted. It gets thicker even more so when it’s refrigerated for an extended period of time, such as overnight, to the point of a consistency that is solid enough to resemble a mousse and that you can dig right into with a spoon.

This recipe comes from Nigella Express, which I found via Nigella Lawson’s Quick Collection app and have had bookmarked for sometime, yet only made it now – primarily to use up what I had left of some marshmallows I made for Japan but ultimately, I think, an excuse to whip up something with chocolate.

While the original recipe calls for dark chocolate, I decided to go for semisweet because that’s the kind of chocolate I had on hand and also that I’ve found a few blogs that have stated that the dark chocolate is really for dark chocolate lovers and I wanted this pudding to go all around. Also I found that I could get away with less chocolate than Nigella called for; originally a memory blip on my part and then deciding to go along with my feeling when I double checked the recipe. Despite using a hundred grams less (original recipe calls for 250 grams or 9 ounces) it was still chocolate-y through and through. Rich and deeply satisfying.

The pudding was eaten up, leftovers unheard of; a sure hit.

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Mastering How to Make Sugar-Free Meringue with Video

Crunchy meringues. Something magical happens while glossy peaks of meringue slowly dry out in the heat of the oven that makes the cookie give way with a crunch before dissolving into sweet nothingness on your tongue. This perfection eluded me for ages until some three or so weeks ago when I shared with you crispy crunchy meringues.

Since then, I’ve been asked about other possibilities that include making these with agave nectar instead of honey as well as flavourings and variants such as chocolate chip. (We’ll get to that soon; I’m working on it.)

For purposes of making meringue SCD, I found that it’s best to make Italian meringue in which a hot syrup is added to softly whipped egg whites and beaten till stiff. It’s choice for those who are following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) or are avoiding refined sugar in general and use honey as a sweetener.

I’ve tried making meringue with honey in its natural state and have not had exactly satisfactory results with it as honey is a humectant, which means that it holds moisture. Honey is also heavier than whipped egg whites and it would make it difficult to sufficiently fold it in without fear of deflating the egg whites.

In my recipe, the  meringue is made with a hot syrup using just honey and water and pouring that into soft peak egg whites, beating until stiff. Italian meringue is similar to candy making, specifically marshmallows, so it is more involved and needs precision. Despite being more involved, however, its execution is easy.

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Rice Pudding (GFCF)

When I announced that I’m hosting Sugar High Friday this month, I made a secret promise to myself that I would also make January 2011 a grain-free month: that all the recipes I would publish this month would be void of any grains, true grains. In effect, kind of participating along with you all who are joining in on the SHF grain-free challenge. As well, I also appreciate the simplicity of grain-free baking, which is something I like to fall back on now and then as gluten-free grain-based baking is still sometimes of a learning curve for me as far as how different grains behave and interact with each other, though I’ve learned quickly – and continue to learn.

That said and that personal promise being not so secret anymore, this promise has cracked slightly to allow this rice pudding, which leads me to return to that challenge of food photography I so love. Perhaps it’s because rice is in a clump, virtually shapeless without help and that’s what makes it so danged elusive to take decent pictures of.  To make it more visually interesting, I use the sharpen tool on Picnik to make the grains of rice pop a little more. I use a point and shoot – there’s only so much I can do with the camera before I must resort to photo editing, minimal at best.

Anyway, I don’t come on here to stand on a soapbox and rant about my photography shortcomings: this was never the intent of creating this blog nor is it one I intend to embark upon, especially as I’m not yet confident enough or know how to answer questions regarding food photography. If I must rant, I must also give a solution. (Something I’m trying to learn and apply in other areas of my life as well.)

I doubt very few remember but I once posted rice pudding – twice, actually – in my early days of blogging. I’m posting it again not so much out of hope that this time it will be seen but that I think this version is way better. What’s funnier is that I looked at that recipe only once and went from there, just going by feel, and it was while I was adding a little bit of this, a bit of that, I thought to myself that rice pudding really is easy. It’s practically a no-brainer and, unless there’s something really specific about it, you don’t really need a recipe. At it’s most basic it’s just rice, milk, some sort of sweetener, and spices.

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