And Now for Something Completely Frivolous: Gluten-free Marshmallow Cereal Squares

Oh Pinterest, sometimes you are silly (see this for proof), but sometimes you are genius. Because without you, I never would have thought to make a batch of these last Friday.

They are super colorful, not all that good for you, and full of sugar.  (Though they’re pretty low on fat, if I stop to think about it.) In other words, fun.

~ Gluten-Free Marshmallow Cereal Squares ~

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan (if made with vegan marshmallows)

I used Trix, but you can use any gluten-free cereal you like. I was THISCLOSE to using Reece’s Puffs (for obvious reasons – they are puffs of Reece’s), but opted for the Trix because it had 1.5 grams less fat per serving, because that matters when you’re making something that is 85% sugar.  (Ssssh. It does.) Also, the squares come out looking like something straight out of a Lisa Frank-themed party, which makes this very sneezy-itchy-allergy time of year seem a little better.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups gluten-free cereal of choice
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1 bag marshmallows

Melt Earth Balance over low heat in a non-stick skillet, add marshmallows. Stir occasionally until marshmallows are completely melted (a silicone spatula works wonders here), mix half of the cereal into mixture while pan is still over very low heat.

Once incorporated, add remaining cereal and smooth out into a lightly-greased pan (a few sprays of Pam will do). A baking pan about 10 x 10 will work. Let sit till cooled, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

A Note: If you make these with a gf rice cereal, there is a certain one that many health food stores sell in bulk that doesn’t work as well in this recipe. They look like Rice Crispies (without the malt) but they’re much harder and crunchier, and don’t soften up as well after being combined with the marshmallow – they come out more crunchy than chewy. Last summer we were promised a GF version of Rice Crispies, but I have yet to see them on shelves. In the end I think you’re better off with a fun cereal. Kix would be good too!

Gluten-Free Date-Meringue Bars

19 It has been interesting around here lately, but some things are certain; the seasons will change, you will get that back-to-school cold (even when you are no longer going back to school), and you will get the urge to bake. And if you’re like me, that cold-thing will make you scour the cabinets for ingredients instead of making a trip to the store. 

It began with a bag of bulk-medjool dates. They have haunted my cupboard for longer than I care to admit, so I googled “date bars” and discovered this little gem of a recipe on food.com. Using online recipes is always a risk when there aren’t photos or many directions to go with it, especially when it’s on one of those huge submission-based sites. This recipe had only one review, but the person gave it five-stars so I figured I’d give it a go. The nice thing about these bare-bones recipes is that you can work easily with them once you’ve gotten familiar with your basic ingredients.

So the moral is, for every chocolate-coffee cookie flop (yep, that happened) you get lucky with a bar like this. I think I knew it would be fabulous when I caught a whiff of the dates in the saucepan; who knew dates were such chameleons? The result is a bar with the taste of pecan pie, the crunch of walnuts, and the fluffiness of a meringue topping.

In short, it tastes like Fall.

~ Gluten-Free Date-Meringue Bars ~

There’s something about the richness of the filling with the lightness of the meringue that is a match made in dessert-heaven.

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Ingredients

For bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter substitute
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tbsp molasses (optional, but adds nutrition and deep flavor)
  • 1 1/4 cups GF flour (whatever mixture you like best; I happened to have about  1/4c sorghum, 1/2c tapioca, and the rest brown rice flour.)

For date filling:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • handful of raisins

For meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (optional, but helpful if your whites ever happen to collapse of if you’re using a hand-mixer)

1 Beat together butter and granulated sugar, add egg yolks, vanilla, and molasses. Mix in flour and blend until batter comes together; it will look much like a shortbread dough.

3

Press into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Keep in fridge until filling is ready. 

6

Add water, chopped dates, raisins, and brown sugar into medium saucepan, cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened (about 10 minutes).

 7 Once mixture starts to bubble about halfway in, add chopped walnuts. Mush up the dates a bit with your spoon; watch as your dried-out dates turn into sweet, gooey deliciousness.

10

Pour filling over bottom layer; spread evenly.

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For meringue: beat egg whites  and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar until frothy, slowly add brown sugar one tsp at a time. Once all sugar is added and you’re at soft peaks, add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and crank up the speed!

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Beat to stiff peak stage, or when the meringue stand up on top of the whisk, and spread over filling.

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  [Image this peak flipping up and curling]

15

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. If meringue begins to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil partway through.

Let cool on a wire rack until meringue is cooled and starts to pull away from the pan; serve warm!

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Notes:

  • If you view the original recipe, you’ll see I added a few things to it, which you can just as easily take away if they;re not your thing. The molasses, however, is seriously delicious. Pecans could be substituted for the walnuts.
  • If you only have dates, increase amount to 1 1/2 cups and cut out raisins and walnuts.
  • Recipe calls for a 9 x 7 inch pan, but really who has that on hand? 8×8 is much more accessible, in my opinion.

 

Overall, not bad for a scrounged-up recipe, I must say.

Happy Father’s Day (from a Blondie)

  DSCN7194   I have a small obsession with these.

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But they’re just so…compelling. All the chewy gooey-ness of a brownie but with a caramel, peanut-ey flavor. I might even venture that these are better than the chocolate version. Le sigh.

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I can’t think of a Father who wouldn’t like one of these; much tastier than a tie or a box of golf balls. And for a recent grad student looking for work, very cost-effective!

Click here for Blondie Recipe

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….from a Blondie

(bad joke)

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Rice Krispie Treats

  DSCN6983

It is a common misconception that rice-crispy treats are gluten-free; the truth is, most are contaminated. With malt. Sadness.

[I shall now refrain from ranting about companies who use unnecessary gluten ingredients…]

In the past, I used to view rice-crispy squares as the one gluten-free haven that could be found at almost any coffee shop. Now, while there are some kinds of rice cereal out there, there is usually no way to tell which is which, since most places do not list ingredients or allergens in their cases [another potential rant…]. imageHowever, there is good news: Kellogg’s is actually coming out with a gluten-free cereal variety made with brown rice in June! But until then, we can adapt Kellogg’s classic recipe found here.

But recently, a party called for a batch of rice crispy squares, and thankfully my local grocery store carried a GF rice cereal in bulk. So without further ado…

Gluten-Free Rice Crispy Squares

DSCN6969

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread or Sticks
  • 1 10 oz package regular-size marshmallows
  • 6 cups rice cereal
  • chocolate for topping, if desired

In a large saucepan, melt Earth Balance over low heat. Add marshmallows, stirring until completely melted. A non-stick spatula works wonders here; you can use it to mash down the lumps. The mixture should be completely melted to the point that it’s shiny and easy to stir around without sticking too much.

DSCN6960 Add half of cereal into pan, mix in slightly, and add rest. (This helps ensure the rice cereal is evenly distributed into the marshmallow mixture.)

Transfer mixture into greased 9 x 13 pan. Smooth out with spatula (spray spatula with cooking oil if it sticks too much) an add any desired topping.

DSCN6964 I usually desire chocolate, so… Mmmhmmm.

DSCN6970 All that’s left to do is to cut when cool. Store in airtight container for 2-3 days, or freeze within sheets of parchment paper.

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Tips:

  • DO NOT stick on paper towels. I did, and spent forever trying to peel off the layers of paper stuck to the squares. Not so fun.
  • Gluten-free rice cereal can be a little crunchier and more substantial than the transitional Rice Krispies, so they may seem firmer. You can remedy this by microwaving squares for 10-15 seconds (watch carefully) or by adding a little more marshmallow.

And if you try Kellogg’s new brown rice cereal, let me know!

P.S.

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