Sea over at the Book of Yum had a thematic Adopt-A-Gluten-Free-Blogger event to prepare recipes for the holiday table and I knew immediately who I was going to adopt: Aylena of Gluten Free South Africa. Originally from Ireland, Aylena moved to South Africa two years ago and blogs about the beautiful landscape and gluten-free restaurants, bakeries and bed-and-breakfasts in the Capetown area. And then there are those wonderful recipes for baked goods that she provides with equally enticing photographs! Her recipes are provided in metric measurements, but these are easy to convert to American measurements if you click on the Cooking Conversions link at the lower right-hand side of the Crispy Cook links section.
I was lured in originally by her panforte recipe. Panforte is a classic Italian dessert studded with lots of fruits and nuts, somewhat like a fruitcake, only without those nauseating clots of candied fruit. Aylena's recipe makes use of some non-traditional nuts and seeds, like sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and adds a tasty bit of cocoa. Based on Aylena's photo, I assumed they would be more chocolate-y than they are. Rather, this panforte version is more spicy from the ginger and makes a sophisticated sweet treat. You could make one giant panforte or make smaller panfortes for, as Aylena puts it, versions of the "original energy bar".
Aylena's recipe was easy to follow, and though I couldn't find my candy thermometer, I was able to determine when the heated syrup was ready through the old soft ball test (a drop of syrup is plopped into cold water and it can be squished between one's fingers to form a soft ball). I decided to divide my panforte into two separate batches. One was formed into small patties and baked on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and the other half was pressed into some silicon Christmas tree forms.
The Christmas trees really came out well as the syrup base of the panforte oozed into all the crevices of the silicon mold. If you go this route, though, you have to let the panforte cool completely before popping them out. These were intended as holiday gifts for some friends, but I notice that my panforte supply has been tapped by hungry members of the Crispy Cook brigade and I will have to do a better job of protecting my homemade holiday gift supply. Or make more panforte!
Thrilled with Gluten Free South Africa's panforte goodness, I decided to make a second recipe from Aylena's wonderful blog and got another hit with her Baby Marrow Madeleines. Marrows are also known as courgettes or zucchini, and I had a bag of frozen shredded zucchini from our garden which I thawed out and squeezed dry for this lovely recipe. I actually have a madeleine pan (from the Dollar Store, woo hoo!) which formed the lovely shell shape for these appetizers. We ate them with some other snacks while waiting for the main part of our Thanksgiving meal to cook. They are like mini-quiches, delectably moist and cheesy and were so easy to make.
Two stunners from Gluten Free South Africa! Thank you, Aylena! And thank you Sea for hosting this great gluten free blogging event. It is so much fun to roam around the gluten free blogosphere in search of new recipes and blogger buddies. Be sure to check back at the Book of Yum for Sea's delicious and festive roundup.