Almondina Cookies: No Bake Valentine’s Day Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream Heart Treats

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For those of you unfamiliar, Almondina is a thin cookie that is not only less punishing caloric (only 30 calories each) wise but absolute deliciousness!  Most dunking cookies I love more how they look than how they taste because the cookies are so dry, they suck the moisture out of your mouth.  You try to dunk them to soften them and then they fall apart, so now your hot coffee is not so enjoyable anymore with pieces of dissolved cookie with every sip!  Almondina has fixed the problem but I find them better than most packaged cookies I have ever enjoyed because they are so versatile!  You do not have to commit to one flavor because they are thin cookies that come in different varieties.  You have chocolate based to the original vanilla tasting ones, to cinnamon, to even pumpkin.  You want yogurt dipped, Almondina has it and even chocolate dipped, so again this is more than just a cookie you have with a hot drink.  It is a cookie that stands alone in it’s own class of thin (but delicious) crisp cookies.  I love almonds and it started with how the nut tasted but it is also a healthier alternative.  What I like is the amount of almonds and fruit you get too.  I am not cheated out of anything, just eating less fats!  It may be a “better-for-you” cookie but what makes this dreamier, is you get all the flavor and can’t believe one thin cookie could do so much! I will be reviewing the cookies later this week and will have a giveaway for my readers.  Yes, that means the sample pack I received could be yours! So, stay tuned and just a small hint, start following and liking them on Facebook 🙂

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Let Almondina Cookies make your Valentine’s Day treats not only easy and quick to make, but they will look like you dedicated all day to them. The cookies are toasted already so no need to toast in the oven. You can even add sprinkles, chocolate ganache or just the Almondina crumble itself.

I started by using Almondina Choconut, a delicious chocolate cookie that is studded with almonds and raisins. I take the cookie and break off some of the nuts to use later as decor. Using a food processor, I pulse until get a nice mix of fine and medium crumbs. In a small bowl, I add the crumb to be used for later. I again repeat the above process with the Original Almondina cookies and the Almondina AlmondDuo, a double nut cookie, which features not only almonds but also pistachios.

Take your Valentine’s Day cookie cutters (I have both metal and plastic) . Get your favorite ice cream, sorbet, or even gelato out of the freezer. I do one flavor at a time and if I do not have a flavor…..I make it. I had left-over boysenberry preserves I made a few days ago and folded it into vanilla bean ice cream to make boysenberry ice cream. You can use a cherry preserves or any flavor you desire. This not only saves money but also makes those flavors you dream of into reality.

I use a parchment square and under that place some plastic wrap. You can also use the plastic wrap by itself if you do not have parchment.  Take your cookie cutter and place it in the center of the paper/plastic. Stuff the cookie cutter with the above frozen treat of your choice and I find using a spoon and stuff by the “sliver” versus scooping is the easiest way to avoid air pockets. I use a small spatula to smooth out the Gelato and then simply use my hands to push the form out. You can also use the assistance of the parchment paper you used the cookie cutter on if you have enough overage, this also avoids getting ice cream on your fingers. Rinse and repeat!

*The above is Pistachio Gelato

 

*The above is Coconut Sorbet 

*The above is Dark Chocolate Gelato and the Boysenberry Ice Cream I made

I then place cover the molded treat and place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are making more than one, make sure to not allow your ice cream to soften too much. I suggest placing the pint back in the freezer to keep it from melting. This is why I like to work with different flavors because I can rotate as I work.  If I need to hurry up a creation, I place it in the ice cube tray for a fast chill.

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While everything refreezes, I start making ganache. Ganache is a simple recipe of 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 chocolate. I use a mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate and slowly melt it on the stove. For convince, I place my ganache in a glass dish with a spatula for easy scooping.

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Once the molded heart has hardened again, I take out one heart at a time and begin to decorate. You can use several ways:

  • Spread Ganache and then the Almondina Cookie Crumbs.
  • Stud the hearts with the nuts you recovered from the cookies before making the crumb and then only applying crumble to the sides.
  • Make a Mold of Gelato and fill only 1/4 of the way, add Almondina Crumble and then fill again with Gelato. This gives you a crumble in the center.
  • You can do half Ganache and half crumble, so you get different textures

Return the decorated heart back and allow it to set for 20 to 30 minutes. This will of course vary by size of cookie cutter and amount of frozen treat used.

I used some ganache and stencils to not only decorate the dessert but also my plate. You just smear a small amount of ganache and then some red colored sprinkles, or any color of your choice. Lift the stencil and then you have a cute design. Place the plate in the fridge and if the plate is freezer safe, it is much better because it then gets as cold as the hearts, This buys you time when you put everything together. Get your Love Bug and you have a gorgeous and delicious dessert that required no oven and just some opening and closing of the freezer ❤ This also a very kid friendly project, so make it a family thing too ❤ Enjoy!

To locate where you can buy Almondina’s Cookies or to view their large selection, please visit:

  • On-line– http://www.almondina.com/
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/Almondina.Brand
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/almondina

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I received the above product free of charge from Almondina Cookies.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Bob’s Red Mill: Herby Cheese Crackers made with Rice Flour, Gluten Free #MeatlessMonday

DSCN4421 Going with my Meatless-Monday dish, I decided to pair up my soup with a nice Gluten Free option, Herby Cheese Crackers. I used a mix of Gouda and Parmesan, however I have made these with a white cheddar cheese and plain sharp cheddar varieties. The cracker’s texture will vary by the cheese you use! I make sure to stick to a good quality cheese because the recipe only requires 2 ounces and I have had unpleasant experiences when a cheap cheese (this is not always connected by what you pay) that has oozed tons of oils and fats. No one wants an oily cracker….I want flaky with a nice crumble. Let’s Begin!

Dough:

  • 2 Ounces of grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese or a cheese that has a close enough moisture content. You can use a semi-soft and pair it with a freshly grated harder cheese too. Allow the cheese to come to room temperature (after you grated).
  • 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Rice Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of herbs (I mixed dried herbs with fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (taste your cheese to measure saltiness before adding salt)
  • *Optional- You can add Red Pepper Flakes, Smoked Paprika even a dash of Cayenne Pepper. You can also crumble pre-cooked bacon or pancetta to change the flavors.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the Rice Flour, baking soda and herbs. I used dried parsley, thyme, tarragon and oregano. My plants have been blooming well in this mild Winter we have been having in California, so I used some fresh sage and thyme to make a 1 teaspoon’s worth with the dried herbs. Add your salt and pepper. I used a smoked salt for additional flavor and a pepper medley variety. I also included (optional) a dash of smoked paprika, a dash of red pepper flakes and also a small dash of cayenne to give the crackers some kick.

In another bowl, grate your cheese. I used a semi-soft gouda and a grated hard cheese variety of mixed parmesan and romano. DSCN4382 Add the cheese to your flour mixture and then incorporate the softened unsalted butter to the mix. I do not want to smell crackers on my hands all day so I use a glove to pretty much make a ball. Want a different way? Cream the butter and cheese in your with your mixer and add the flour mixture after. If the mix seems dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon of water. You do not want a super moist dough as this dough will rest and re hydrate in the fridge, plus we are making crackers and not bread. I usually rarely add water and just keep gathering the crumbs around until they play nice 🙂 DSCN4383 DSCN4388 Using plastic wrap, create a log that is almost 11 inches long. You can decide how large you want the crackers but since I want to have mine swim in my soup, I always go small. DSCN4390 The log can be shaped and in this case I used the assistance of a wooden chopstick to make a crease, which will then help me work these into a heart shape. You can just go square or even round….or we can also have fun and create and abstract shape!

Allow the dough to rest in the fridge 20-30 minutes if you need to shape after, or 40 minutes if you will be just slicing and baking. Heat your oven 350 degrees. Take the dough out and you can I usually slice half a log and return the other half to the fridge while the first batch bakes.  I used the chop-stick to help refine the heart shape too.

Bake the crackers for about 10 minutes and then cool. DSCN4409   You then bake the other half and these go great with soup, salads, or just by themselves. Enjoy!

Find out more about Bob’s Red Mill products at:

  • On-line– http://www.bobsredmill.com/
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/BobsRedMill
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/BobsRedMillNaturalFoods
  • Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/bobsredmill/
  • Save with a $1.00 off coupon– http://www.bobsredmill.com/get-a-coupon.html

DSCN4154 I received the above product free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Bob’s Red Mill: Crake! a Fusion Dessert made of a Cinnamon Roll and caKE all-in-one

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With all the fusion of desserts going on today, I thought I would enter into that playground and have a go at it.  I present to you what I call a Crake!  It’s actually pastry dough that I made using a blend of flours and a cake that engulfs each roll.  Being that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, we all need a hug and this moist buttermilk-based cake does just that to each roll.  So let’s get started creating and let me add, this has a sticky bun topping so I made sure to splurge!

We start by getting our starter going:

Starter-
3 ounces of Warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon of White Sugar
1/2 tablespoon of Yeast
1 ounce of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

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I have a proofing option with my oven that I set at 110 degrees.  No need to have one, so you can also place the starter to bloom in a dark warm corner in your kitchen.  I gently mix everything in a small bowl, but one with enough room for the rise. Then cover with plastic and give it about 15 minutes.

While that starter get’s….well started, I begin with the Sweet Dough Mix for the Rolls:

Dough-
3 ounces of Yogurt (or you can use 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 ounces of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 egg at room temperature
1 3/4 ounces of White Sugar
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
6 1/2 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Between a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of All Purpose Flour (separate from above measurements) will be needed while the dough kneads.

I cream the sugar and butter together with a mixer (stand or hand will do, use your whisk attachment).  I then add the Yogurt but in this case I went with the 3 ounces of cream cheese (with 1 tablespoon of milk).  Add the egg and vanilla.  I then add the starter and incorporate everything, being careful not to over mix.   In another bowl, I mix the salt and both flours with a whisk.  I add the mix to the wet ingredients, still with the whisk attachment on.  Things will look a little shaggy at this point; that’s okay. I then change over to the dough hook.  I find using a little butter on my dough hook makes it easier in preventing the dough from sticking to it.  I begin to knead and add All Purpose Flour as needed.  Sometimes I need a 1/4 cup and other times I need up to a 1/2 a cup, it all depends on the elasticity it builds.  I knead for about 10 minutes using the mixer.

After the dough is a nice texture, I place it in a buttered bowl and cover it with plastic. In it goes to the proofer for a hour to an hour and 20 minutes. You want the dough to grow almost double in size.

I then begin on the “sticky bun” topping that I call “The Glaze”:

Glaze-
4 tablespoons of Butter (salted)
3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1/2 a cup of Brown Sugar

I melt the above items down and I find my little “gravy” pan works great as it has a notch for pouring.  Stir frequently and don’t hurry it up by turning up the heat.  Use low heat until things melt and just begin to bubble.  You want no sugar crystals (grains), just a smooth glaze.

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While the glaze melts, I get 1/2 a cup of pecans and throw them on some parchment paper to toast.  This intensifies the flavor profile and also adds a nice texture to the glaze.  The glaze will actually almost create a butter nut toffee texture over the pecans, so it is really delicious and beautiful looking at the same time.  I use my toaster oven because my dough is proofing in my oven.  Just place them at 350 degrees and then watch them so they do not burn.  It may take 5 minutes or 10 to be done, so the time is never exact but keep an eye on them until the color changes (darkens slightly).

Nuts-
1/2 cup of toasted Pecans (or any nut of your choice)

I then get a glass pan that I will use to bake this entire concoction in.  I use a “lasagna” pan that is the size of 9 x 13 inches (3 quart).  This allows enough room for the rolls to rise and for the cake batter to fit.  I use cooking spray on the glass and then place parchment.  The spray allows my parchment paper to stick and stay put better so I don’t have to fuss with it.  I also find that it’s easier to first cut and shape the paper to your liking BEFORE spraying so you don’t then end up with baking spray on your hands too.  Yes, it has happened where I forget and then end up with slippery hands!

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Pour the glaze onto the paper and make sure to help it spread evenly.  Once it spreads out, add the Pecans.

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I get started in making the filling for the Rolls:
Roll Filling-
You can use the standard cinnamon roll filling of 1/2 tablespoons of melted Butter, 1 cup of Brown Sugar, 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of ground Cinnamon, with a dash of Nutmeg.
Roll Filling Variations-
With Strawberries being in season and I am going for a Valentine’s Day dessert, I picked Strawberries.  You can go with any berry you wish like Blackberries or even a mix.  I used 6 ounces of fresh Strawberries that I sliced up and because they were already sweet, I used less than a teaspoon of White Sugar and just tossed them.  Take note the glaze is sweet and you don’t want an overly sweet filing too but do sugar the fruit by taste.
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By now the dough has “poofed” to my liking and close enough to being double the size so I get it out of the proofer and just flip it on to a floured surface.  Have a 1/2 cup of flour ready if needed when it comes to rolling the dough out.  I roll the dough out to about 14 inches (length wise).  I then spread the filling and in this case the fruit, and then I begin to roll like I would any cinnamon roll.
You want 8 rolls in total and this is my method:
Cut the ends off and then cut the roll in half.
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You now have 2 small rolls and you will cut each on in half again.
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You now have 4 pieces and you then simply cut each piece in half and you end up with 8 (close enough) equally sized rolls.
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Place the rolls in the pan that has the glaze and in it goes back in the oven to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.  You want expansion but not so much that you won’t have room for cake batter.
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While the rolls proof, off we go to make the cake batter.  Start making the batter when you are about 10 minutes away from the rolls finish proofing:
Buttermilk Cake Batter-
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/3 cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup of Buttermilk
Cream the sugar and butter together.  While that incorporates nicely, get the 3/4 cup of buttermilk and add the egg, vanilla, maple syrup to it until well blended.  Then in a separate bowl blend the dry ingredients, the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the butter and sugar are nice and creamy, add 1/2 of the “wet” buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the “dry” flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Make sure to not over mix as this results in a tough textured cake.  Scrape the sides and bottom, then add the rest of the wet and dry ingredients.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
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Take the rolls out of the proofer and then add the cake batter to the areas around each roll.  Make sure to not get cake batter on the top of the rolls since you do not want a soggy roll.  A couple of drips is okay but do not spread the cake batter on top of the rolls.  I used all my cake batter because the point here is for the cake to rise to the height of the rolls.  You do not want when you flip these over to collapse.
By now my bossy oven has beeped at me that it is ready for the Crake to go in.  I then bake it between 30 to 40 minutes.  If you see it start to over brown, just place foil on top and make sure to not over bake.  Take it out when the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was ready at 37 minutes.
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I allow the pan to cool for 8 to 10 minutes and carefully place a dish that accommodates the size of the pan you used over the Crake.  I use a glass cutting board so that I just dirty one thing and I can just slice when needed.  Use oven mitts to keep a nice grip and also in case it’s too hot.  Flip and this is where you will thank the parchment paper….just carefully peel and I use a small spatula in case a pecan here or there tries to escape.
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Viola, you made a Crake!
I then heated up dinner and allowed the Crake to cool.  It won’t get soggy on the bottom as the glaze stays on top.  After dinner I cut into it and served it with a whipped topping made of Heavy Cream, Mascarpone Cheese, and Powdered Sugar.  You just whip until you get nice stiff peaks but don’t over-whip as you will make butter.  To let my guest know the pastry had a Strawberry filling, I added a cut Fresh Strawberry on top and also a whole one to a dollop of whipped cream I placed on the plate.  This allows anyone to get more topping in case I went light on it.  Enjoy!
You can do this any way you desire.  What I mean is this is a dessert that is really two-in-one.  Want to just make the glaze and the cake, you can.  Stop at the glaze and the rolls….go for it.  I write my recipes as I go on a note pad and the above was created on my first try, so if I can do it, so can you…..so make it any way you want 🙂
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I received some of the above products free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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