Category:  Cookies, Candies & Sweets

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Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars (Sugarless & Vegan)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods On November 8, 2013 2 Comments

Do you usually crave something sweet with that afternoon coffee, cappuccino, latte or tea? If you’re like me, then you want sweets at all hours of the day. I created these healthy treats in an effort to avoid dairy products, eggs and sugar.

The moist texture of these bars is derived from the maple syrup and honey. Cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg are added to make these bars scrumptious, healthy and vegan. Serve these Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to your kids – guilt-free!

Prep time: 8 to 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash grated nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup safflower oil (this can be substituted with canola or sunflower oil)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8 X 8-inch baking dish (alternatively, you can use a rectangular dish measuring approximately 7 X 10 inches).

2. In a 3 or 4-quart mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, spices, cranberries and walnuts.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

4. Add the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla to the well in center of the dry ingredients.

5. Mix thoroughly and transfer mixture to the greased baking dish.

6. With your hand, pat down the mixture so that it is even from center to sides of baking dish.

7. Transfer the baking dish to a rack positioned in center of oven.

8. Bake for 25 minutes or until the oatmeal mixture looks golden brown.

9. After 25 minutes, transfer the baking dish to a counter to cool.

10. When completely cool, cut bars to measure 2 X 2 inches and serve.

To store in refrigerator: transfer Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars to a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The bars will keep, refrigerated, up to two weeks.

To freeze: transfer Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to double, plastic, freezer bags and seal completely. The bars will keep, frozen, up to one month.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Rice-Spice Cookies (Gluten-free)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On September 6, 2013 4 Comments

A few weeks ago, one of our friends on Facebook/The Kitchen Buzzz asked us for a gluten-free recipe. Here it is – rice cookies with a hint of cinnamon, allspice and a drizzle of chocolate. Please make our Rice-Spice Cookies and let us know how they taste with coffee, tea or cappuccino!

Prep time: 25 minutes (cookies and chocolate drizzle)
Bake time: 12 to 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1-2/3 cup white rice flour (preferably organic)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash ground allspice
1/3 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
2/3 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (for chocolate drizzle)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, sugar and vanilla.

3. Using a fork or pastry cutter, mix in the oil and raisins.

4. Add 2/3 cup water and mix again. If mixture is too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon water and mix again. If mixture is still crumbly, add the remaining tablespoon of water; mix until a dough is formed.

5. After dough is formed, pull off a piece of dough to form a one-inch ball. Place ball on a 18X12-inch baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue forming dough balls, spacing them one inch apart from each other on baking sheet.

6. Using a fork, flatten the cookie dough tops slightly.

7. Place baking sheet with cookie dough balls on rack positioned in center of oven.

8. Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes or until undersides are light golden brown.

9. After cookies are done, transfer the baking sheet to a counter; cool the cookies completely.

Note: Due to the consistency of the rice flour, these cookies have a grainy texture.

Make the Chocolate Drizzle:

1. When cookies are cool, set the chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt. When chocolate has melted, set the upper portion of the double boiler on a trivet, away from heat. Cool the chocolate for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. When chocolate is still warm and melted, but cool enough to handle, transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip.

3. Holding the pastry bag with both hands, squeeze it to drizzle the chocolate over cookie tops.

Cool and serve Rice-Spice Cookies with coffee, tea, milk, cappuccino or other favorite drink.

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Passover Amaretti Cookies (gluten-free)

Passover Amaretti Cookies (gluten-free)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On March 26, 2013 0 Comments

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Makes: 28 to 30 cookies

Passover is a holiday celebrated by people of the Jewish faith. It celebrates the great exodus of the freed Jews from Egypt in the late 13th century BC. Passover deals with the last of 10 plagues that God sent over Egypt. He sent the plagues to soften the heart of the pharaoh to free the Jews. But Ramesses II was not to be softened. So the plague with the hardest blow came at the end – on a certain night God was to strike the first-born male child in every Egyptian home.

Moses was ordered by God to instruct the Jewish people to kill an unblemished lamb and to cover the post and lintel of the doorway with the lamb’s blood. “… the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you and the plague shall not be on you ….” Exodus 12:13.

Ramesses II’s first born died. This is when pharaoh finally decided to let Moses’ people go.

The Jewish people left in haste and this means there was no time to let bread rise. The tradition holds that no flour should enter the preparation of Passover foods.

These delicious, gluten-free (flourless) Italian Amaretti fit in with the Passover holiday. Make these and watch them melt in your mouth, just like candies.

Happy Passover and peace to all!

Ingredients:
1 pound almond paste
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)
Slivered, roasted almonds, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 12 X 18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In order to break it up, place small pieces of the almond paste in a food processor and “pulse-blend” until it breaks down; set aside.

3. In a 1-quart mixing bowl, beat 3 large egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the sugar, little by little. Set the egg white-sugar mixture aside.

4. Transfer the broken-down almond paste to a 2 or 3-quart mixing bowl.

5. Gently fold in the egg white-sugar mixture until combined.

6. Placing a small bowl of cold water alongside the mixing bowl, slightly wet your hands (this will prevent the almond dough from sticking to your fingers) and pick up a small piece of almond dough.

7. Roll 1-inch almond dough balls, wetting your hands slightly in between rolls.

8. Place the almond balls on parchment-lined baking sheet, with 2-inch spaces between each one. Set 2 slivered almonds atop each almond roll.

9. Position the baking sheet with raw Amaretti on a rack centered in oven.

10. Bake Amaretti for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove baking sheet and set on a counter. Let the Amaretti cool for 10 minutes.

11. After 10 minutes, using a spatula, carefully remove the Amaretti from parchment paper and set them on a serving platter. Alternatively, place Amaretti in double freezer plastic bags and freeze up to 2 weeks.

To thaw: set Amaretti on serving platter and thaw about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Text & Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nancy’s Mostaccioli (Spiced Cookies)

Nancy’s Mostaccioli (Spiced Cookies)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On January 1, 2013 1 Comment

The name “mostaccioli” denotes a pasta variety as well as a type of cookie. I learned to make these Italian spiced cookies from my mom, Francesca Sciscente. Her delicious version contains butter, cocoa and chocolate chips.

My recipe for this exquisite cookie contains no cocoa or chocolate chips. It’s also fat-free.
On New Year’s Eve, serve mostaccioli with champagne and bring in a bright 2013!

Active prep time: 1 hour
Bake time: 12 minutes
Makes: 30 to 34 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest from each a 1/2 lemon and a 1/2 orange
1/2 cup dark or light raisins
1/2 cup roasted, slivered almonds, coarsely ground
1 egg white, beaten (as part of garnish)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (as part of garnish)
-or-
candy sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12 X 18-inch baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a 1-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; set aside.

3. In a 3-quart mixing bowl or a stand mixer bowl, mix together the eggs, honey, sugar, lemon and orange zests, raisins and slivered almonds.

4. On medium speed, gradually stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Mix on medium speed until a cookie dough forms, about 2 minutes.

5. Using a spatula, clean sides of bowl and mix once more for a few seconds or until the dough is uniform.

6. Turn cookie dough out onto a flat, lightly floured surface. Gently knead dough until it is smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide dough into two dough balls.

7. Take one dough ball and, with lightly floured hands, flatten it to a 6-inch circle. Place the dough circle between two lightly-floured waxed paper sheets measuring about 15 inches long.

8. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough. After two to three rolls of the pin, lift off the top waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the dough once more. Placing one hand between waxed paper and flat surface and, with the other hand placed on top, make a quick flip of the dough (turn it over).

9. Lift off the second waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the dough surface. Replace the waxed paper over dough and continue rolling it out. Repeat instructions on lifting off the wax paper sheet and flouring as you roll out the dough.

10. When the dough has extended to a 10 or 11-inch circle and measures 1/8-inch thickness, remove top waxed paper sheet.

11. Lightly flour the top surface of dough and quickly flip it over onto the flat surface. Peel off the second waxed paper sheet and lightly flour the dough.

12. Using a 2-1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles in the dough. Gather remaining dough and repeat roll-out instructions. Cut out more circles.

13. Place dough circles on parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving one inch between each one.

14. Brush each dough circle lightly with beaten egg white; sprinkle with sliced almonds or candy sprinkles.

15. Place baking sheet on a rack positioned in center of oven. Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove baking sheet with cookies from oven and set aside to cool on a counter.

16. Meanwhile, repeat roll-out instructions for remaining dough ball. Repeat baking instructions for the second batch of cookies.

17. Cool the cookies completely. Mostaccioli can be made ahead and frozen.

FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS: When the mostaccioli have cooled completely, place them in double Ziploc® freezer bags. Mostaccioli will keep frozen up to one month.

TO THAW: Take mostaccioli out of bags and set them on a platter for 15 to 20 minutes.

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Marzipan Easter Eggs

Marzipan Easter Eggs

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods, Holidays On April 5, 2012 0 Comments

Marzipan has its origins in ancient Arabic countries, including Persia (modern-day Iran). It was introduced to Europe by medieval Arabs and Persians who had mastered the art of confectionary. Made with simple ingredients such as almonds, sugar and rosewater, marzipan is so delicious that you just can’t stop reaching for it.

These marzipan delights resemble eggs, except that they’re round instead of oval. Children will become expert confectioners as they transform marzipan into candy eggs.

In the end, you’ll have to go hunting for Marzipan Easter Eggs , since the kids will surely hide them from you!

Active prep time: 30 minutes (for marzipan)
Inactive prep time: 30 minutes (for soaking almonds)
Makes: 50 to 55 Marzipan candies

Ingredients:
1-2/3 cups raw, unsalted almonds (skin on)
1 quart boiling water
2-1/4 cups unbleached, granulated sugar (for marzipan)
3 tablespoons rosewater (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
50 to 55 candy paper cups
25 slivered almonds (for garnish)
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, cut into slivers (for garnish)

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil.

2. Set almonds in a 3 or 4-quart glass or porcelain bowl; pour boiling water over almonds to cover completely. Set almonds and water aside 10 to 15 minutes or until almonds slip out of their skins easily.

3. Drain almonds and discard water; pat dry the almonds with paper towels.

4. In a food processor, grind together the almonds, 1-1/4 cups sugar, the rosewater and 2 tablespoons water.

5. Process the mixture until it is smooth. To test: with slightly wet hands, grab 3/4 teaspoon marzipan mixture and roll it into a ball. If it is too dry, add 1 extra tablespoon water and process; set aside.

6. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1 cup sugar in a shallow bowl – you will use this to coat the marzipan balls.

7. With slightly wet hands, shape the marzipan into 3/4-inch balls.

8. Roll balls in sugar, coating them evenly. Shake off the excess sugar and place marzipan eggs in candy-size paper cups.

9. Set  paper cup swith marzipan egg on a serving platter.

10. Garnish marzipan eggs with slivered almonds and slivered strawberries.

Note: Marzipan can be made up to two weeks ahead in the following manner: after rolling marzipan balls in sugar, place them in double freezer bags and freeze. When serving, thaw marzipan balls for 1 hour; garnish with slivered almond or slivered strawberry.

Text & Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real