Thank goodness pure chocolate is gluten free.
In fact, so many of the foods I love are gluten free, if they haven't been processed in some way. Pure chocolate, whole almonds, spinach, eggs, coffee – all of them gluten free (yes, coffee is a 'food' :)). In fact, most food is gluten free.
Real, whole food, that is. Being gluten free means I am wary of any pre-packaged or processed product, but that doesn't rule out any food for me, it just limits convenience. And, if you pay any attention to processed, convenience foods, you know that these are the least healthy things you can put in your mouth, so I really don't think the convenient food itself is much of a loss – just the convenience.
(See, most food in restaurants and in the middle of the grocery store are always under suspicion. Food producers take things like wheat and barley and use them to make products fuller, thicker, or enhance the flavor. But then, they are called things like, “natural flavors,” or, “modified food starch” when they are listed in the ingredients. Why do they muck things up like that?? The easiest way to keep from getting a headache wondering if the “natural flavors” are barley-based (or getting that headache, or worse, from eating the product) is to avoid the product altogether. However, this is changing dramatically, even as I type. So many companies are beginning to test and label their gluten-free products. And so many grocery stores, like our Food Front Coop in Portland, are purposefully stocking these items as well as appropriately labeling deli items.)
When I have to tell people I'm gluten free, I am usually met with a sympathetic look and an, “oh, I'm so sorry!” I really appreciate their sympathy, but I think what they don't realize is that, while gluten hides in a number of various processed products under a number of different names, the majority of real, whole food is naturally gluten free. Being gluten intolerant means I can't eat wheat (or its cousins), barely, rye, or spelt without getting sick. You can count those things on one hand! And, I couldn't begin to list the foods I can eat without getting sick!
And one of those lovely, naturally gluten free foods is pure ground chocolate. And thank goodness! Otherwise, I couldn't enjoy a good chocolate financier, like the ones pictured above.
One of the birthday gifts I received was a very thoughtful gift card to Sur la Table, with which I purchased the bake mold pictured below. It has heart, star, rose, sunflower, and other shapes to make small baked treats or chocolates! It was way too cute; I couldn't resist!
The first thing I decided to make were chocolate-mint financiers. These are one of my favorite gluten free desserts - first, because they are so incredibly delicious and second, because they are so darned easy to make. I found the original recipe for chocolate financiers from the Gluten Free Girl, who discovered them via her meeting David Liebovitz (!). I added peppermint extract to mine, making them an oh-so-delicious combination of chocolate and peppermint!
Gluten Free Chocolate Peppermint Financiers:
1 cup almond flour
¾ cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dagoba)
6 tablespoons butter
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
Muffin tins work great for these as well, if you don't have any other molds. Prepare your molds as you would for a cake (grease and flour); if you have non-stick molds, you don't need to do anything special.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan on low heat and set aside to cool. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the almond flour, sugar, and cocoa powder until blended. Add the egg whites and the peppermint extract and begin to stir the mixture. Slowly add the melted butter and continue stirring until all the butter is incorporated.
Spoon your mixture into your molds of choice, but don't fill more than ¾ full (the mixture rises a bit as it bakes).
Bake at 400F for about 12 minutes (depending on the size of your molds). The financiers are done when they are puffed up slightly and springy to the touch. Allow the cookies to cool a few minutes in the molds before you try to remove them (or, however long you can wait!).