Tag Archives: caramel

Homemade Caramelized Honey Oat Bran Bars

oat bar with creamy seed butterIt’s almost like I just want to slide down the middle of this bar.  You know… imagine it.

Food can inspire strange behavior.  No food inspires even stranger, so let’s carry on now.

I find caramel made from honey to be a delightful little composition.  Especially if there is some form of sea salt added to it.  Perhaps a little oil.  Oh, lookey here, there’s both!  This recipe for a healthy and gluten-free granola bar has no refined sugar at all and is high in fiber (good for your arteries, yeah!).  A really nice natural energy boost by itself if you’re pragmatic, a healthy way to get that sweet fix after a meal if you’re a touch more hedonistic.  Like, a touch.

wrapped oat bars

Caramelized Honey Oat Bran Bar

-gluten, nut, soy, corn, egg-free.  Vegan with substitutions-

1/4 cup neutral oil

1/2 cup honey (or 1/3 cup agave nectar for vegan)

1/8 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla (optional but good)

1 1/8 cup gluten-free oat bran (available at health food stores or online here, also known as “son d’avoine”)

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Cook time: about 4-5 minutes

Serves about 10-12 easily (makes a plaque of bars)

honey caramel1. Heat oil, honey, salt and optional vanilla in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  If you have a thermometer, insert it and bring mixture to 135 degrees F (270 degrees C) or until it bubbles like shown at left and starts to turn a little darker in color.  Immediately remove from heat.

oat bars2. Add oats to pot and stir with spatula until coated.  Let sit, stirring every 2 minutes, for 10 minutes to cook the oats to make them more digestible.

silpat granola3. Spread on a silicon baking sheet (or an oiled baking sheet or parchment paper) to desired thickness.  With spatula, or a dull knife, outline the shape you want to cut.  Let cool then cut and wrap individually to be all precious.

Since you cooked your sugar to a “soft-crack” phase, meaning it will be a harder caramel, let it cool to solidify a bit so it’s not just a gooey mess.  I’ve been storing my bars in the fridge, as it’s warmer out now, but you can store them room temperature if you want to keep them more taffy-like with the heat.  Ah, that sounds nice, too.

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how to make cabbage rad: BRAISE IT with Ginger and Caramel

huntington beach dead of winter<–My dear friend Parisa posted this very recently on facebook.  It’s the dead of winter.

I don’t get it.  My nose is running, I’ve got the average toll up to two layers of socks a day, and my skin is whiter than unrefined sugar.  (I guess that makes it refined sugar?)

cabbage and asian ingredientsI feel like a polar bear.  And in cold times, I want to eat cozy food: things braised, hearty, yet healthy.  Which brought to mind cabbage the other morning when I awoke without the slightest idea if there was even any space between the entry way to my nasal passage and the back of my head.  Stuffed up.

However, when I think of cabbage I think of Beatrix Potter.  That’s sweet, but not exciting.

When I think of ginger, caramel, and hot sauce I want to sweat a little.  In a good way.

So, the two had a playdate and this was born.  I’m on round three right now.  Yum.

ginger braised cabbageGinger Braised Cabbage

2 tbs. sesame seed oil (for Asian flavor) or pork’s fat or high heat oil (neutral flavor), divided
1/4 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 apple, cut into small cubes (you can peel if you don’t like the skins or leave them on)
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tbs. honey
a large 1/2 tsp. tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
a few dashes your favorite hot sauce (to taste, some like it hot, some don’t)
1 large curly cabbage, cut into thin strips (use either a mandolin or thin knife cuts)
1/4 cup high quality apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbs. fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (optional)

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5 hours minimum (about 3 hours maximum)
Serves 4-6

caramel onion garlic giner apples1. Heat 1 tbs. oil or fat over medium heat in large pot.  Add onion, sauté for about 3-4 minutes, until edges are coloring and caramelizing.  Add garlic and ginger.  Sauté another minute, until aromatic.  Add honey and lemon zest.  Cook for 30 seconds to start a caramel.  Once starting to turn more brown, add apple.  Stir to coat.  Let cook for another 2 minutes, or until the caramel is a deep amber brown, not dark brown and burnt.
2. At this point add tamari, hot sauce (optional), another 1 tbs. oil and your cabbage strips right away.  Coat with caramel, and cook for 2 minutes, until heated through.  Add apple cider vinegar, increase heat to high, and reduce until there is no liquid at the bottom, about 1-2 cabbage before cookingminutes, stirring to coat cabbage evenly.  Immediately add water, thyme, and optional fresh herbs.  Bring to a boil, stir cabbage a few times to bring the bottom pieces to the top, cover, and reduce heat to low.
3. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally to bring the bottom pieces to the top, for minimum 1.5 hours.  If the water is running out at the bottom, add a bit more.  At the end there should be a bit of water left, so if you braise it for 3 hours, you’ll have to add water half way through at the least.
finished braised cabbage<–and she’s done!

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éclairsRight before I moved to Paris, I remember speaking with a friend about how excited I was to learn real French pastry: “You know, like, éclairs and millefeuilles and those puff pastry bits… but I really want to know how to make éclairs.”  I now do.  And have perfected those little what makes an éclairbuggers into gluten-free form for you, yours, and all those who are either not able to eat gluten or fly to France for pastry.  (Take it to you, take it to you!)

Eclairs are made of:

1. “choux” pastry – which is made of liquid, either water or milk, wheat flour, egg, and butter

2. pastry cream – which is traditionally composed of milk, egg, wheat flour, cornstarch, and whatever flavoring it receives and

3. some sort of “fondant” glaze topping – generally made of glucose which is almost always derived from wheat for cost purposes

That being said, if you have an aversion to wheat, forget about éclairs no matter what country you live in.  What’s more, for those with lactose sensitivities, the cream filling ain’t exactly the easiest thing to hold down because of the high percentage of lactose that has not been cultured.

Do you have a stove?  Do you have an oven?  (Even if it is a tiny European toaster one like yours truly.)  You’re good to go to bring that éclair to you.  Gluten-free.

pretty eclairsHomemade Gluten-Free Eclairs

with a vanilla rice milk pastry cream filling

and caramel topping

Choux Pastry:
1 cup (250 ml) water
1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbs. (100 g) butter, cut into 1” cubes
1 tsp. (4 g) salt
1 tsp. (4 g) sugar
1 cup (130 g) rice flour
1/3 cup (40 g) arrowroot starch
4 eggs

Pastry Cream*:
2 cups (500 ml) rice milk
1 tsp. (a large pinch) vanilla
4 egg yolks (raw)
1 1/4 cup (125 g) sugar, divided
1/4 cup (30 g) arrowroot starch

Caramel topping:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Cooling time: 30 minutes-1 hour
Makes many many tiny éclairs (would feed about 8 if all you were having is éclairs)

à la nappe1. Prepare pastry cream: Whisk together egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk right away and quickly so that you do not accidentally cook your eggs with the sugar.  Whisk in starch until “blanched”, aka lighter in color and homogenous.  Bring milk, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of the sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan and remove from heat.  Immediately pour 1/4 of the mixture into the egg yolk mixture whisking as you go.  Then add the entirety of the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan (whisking) and put back over heat.  Cook over medium-high heat until boiling and keep whisking the whole time.  To check for doneness, the pastry cream should stick to the back of a metal spoon and should leave a line if you run your finger over it.  (“à la nappe”)
2. Cover pastry cream in a large metal bowl with plastic film touching the cream and pop in the fridge immediately to cool down.  (Putting the plastic film in direct contact with it will eliminate insulation and help it cool down more quickly.)
choux3. Prepare your choux pastry: Measure out all of your ingredients before you start cooking, and mix together rice flour, sugar, salt, and arrowroot starch in a medium bowl.  Heat water and butter together in a large enough saucepan until butter is melted and the concoction has boiled for about 15 seconds.  Remove from heat.  Quickly stir in the flour mixture, mixing well until homogenous.  Put the mixture back over medium heat and keep stirring it to dry it out for about 30-45 seconds.  You don’t want it to be sticky anymore.
4. Remove from heat and put in a large mixing bowl.  Add your eggs and stir in until homogenous one at a time.  Mixture should be like a very thick cake batter.  Spoon into a pastry sack with a 3/4” wide tip (or put in a plastic bag and cut out a tip that size).  Pipe out your éclairs into desired length (for minis do about 3”, for normal sized ones do about 5”) onto a baking eclairs are ready to fillsheet lined with parchment paper, not waxed paper.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, or until top is golden, it has poofed up, and the inside is cooked through (not egg-y anymore).  You might just have to test one by eating it when you are very sure they are done.  It just might have to be done.  Just saying.
5. Remove choux pastry from oven and let cool to the touch before filling with your pastry cream.  During this time, you can spoon the pastry cream (or other filling) into a pastry bag with a small metal tip and set up the ingredients to make your caramel!  If you do not have a pastry bag with a tip you might just want to cut the eclairs in half and spoon in the filling, because this requires a tip to do the filling method where you hardly see it.
pipe6. Eclairs are cool to touch? Now you want to prepare them: cut a small hole in the end of the eclair on both sides.  Pipe in your filling until the side starts to inflate and get full with pastry cream.  Repeat with the other side.  Turn it over.  It’s filled.  Repeat with all of the éclairs.
7. Make the caramel: Pour water then sugar into a saucepan and put over medium-high heat.  Stir once right when you add the sugar then do not touch it or you will mess up your caramel.  Let boil until you see the edges start to turn, you guessed it, caramel.  About 5 minutes, but stay close as this is easy to mess up.  Watch it change color and right when it all starts to look caramel-like remove from heat.  Leave it in the saucepan to stay warm, because if it cools it watch out!will harden.  Spoon the caramel on top of the éclairs in a thin line to make it look really pretty, let cool, and you’ve got something real special.

*If you don’t want to take the time to make pastry cream, you can fill it up with a dairy-free pre-made pudding, whipped cream (there are vegan options available out there), or your favorite allergy-safe ice cream.  Simply cut the éclair in half and fill it up!

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