I just don't have enough time in the day to cook, that is, unless you count chemistry as cooking. I mean, it's combining ingredients to form something new right?
Which leads me to wonder about what actually happens when the cake is in the oven, or when the baking soda ("Not a milliliter over one teaspoon!") is added to the batter. This chemical reaction is so unknown to me when encased and hidden in a well-greased baking pan and surrounded by 350°F heat I can't venture into without my trusty mittens.
I've had many failures cooking gluten-free lately, especially with the breads when I replace eggs with flax or don't add enough liquid. My chemical reaction is imbalanced. Before the mixture goes into the oven, it seems moist enough (often, too moist), and I think,
"Yes! This is it! It will definitely work!"
But I've learned my lesson: let the batter sit for a while to see whether it is affected by the humidity of the air, and therefor whether it requires more liquid. (You may want to try this, and perhaps it won't even be necessary as the air becomes more humid this fall.)
These gluten-free attempts, not failures simply because I in fact learn from them every time, are probably the most frustrating thing when I bake with the purposes of indulging in my hard work. I crave something sweet RIGHT NOW.
I have this image in my mind of sitting down in a big lounger chair, with the sun streaming through the windows and warming me up while I hold onto a large cup of steaming hot tea. I imagine enjoying a freshly baked piece of gluten-free zucchini loaf in a few moments; expecting to see a baked-to-perfection loaf sitting well-risen in the oven when I open the door, I am disappointed to see only a depleted center. It hasn't risen. It's still crumbly. And I'm exhausted from all the effort.
A lot of my energy has gone into the kitchen recently, cooking as well as cleaning my dirty mixing bowls and sticky measuring spoons, causing me to rethink my usual approach to baking, which formerly began with,
"What's the most difficult thing I can attempt today?"
Because with regular flour it was pretty easy to pull off something gone manic even if it didn't go so well. And it always ended up tasting good.
That's so not the case anymore.
Some flours taste weird... Like vegetables. And as much as the U.S. Congress tries to fight it, pizza still isn't a vegetable, even if my dough tastes like snap peas.
So I decided today I would treat myself to something easily home-baked.
I needed to unwind from my busy days at school, and to relax a bit before sitting down and starting on the continually growing pile of homework. And I'm sure I de-stress the best with a little chocolate in my system.
So I set about finding something amongst our ingredients to make something simple and quick, containing pure enjoyment with each and every bite.
They're delicate, decadent, and desirable.
Ginger Coconut Cranberry Chocolate Clusters
Click here for printable version.
Because these are so quick, they're a perfect go-to treat for guests, family or yourself when craving chocolate!
When setting, these clusters require some space in the fridge, so if it's packed from your latest trip to the grocery, I would recommend clearing a shelf (or half) before you carry your laden tray to the open door and attempt to clear a space with one hand! (And nearly drop all of your little clusters on the floor, to the dog's delight!)
225g dark or milk chocolate chips (depending on your preference of sweetness)
1 c shredded coconut
3/4 c chopped dried cranberries
3/4 c chopped candied ginger
In a medium size bowl over a pan of simmering water, pour in the chocolate chips until they heat and begin to melt. As the chocolate melts, begin to stir more frequently until it is completely smooth.
While the chocolate melts, line a large baking sheet with parchment, and set aside.
Add in the coconut, mixing in before stirring in the chopped cranberries and ginger.
Once all ingredients are mixed together, drop the mixture onto the baking sheet by using a spoon.
Transfer the sheet to the fridge, and allow the chocolate to cool and harden. (Approximately 30 minutes)
Makes about 18 small clusters
Next time, I will definitely try different flavors of chocolate. Especially the ones that come around Christmas time: Chai? Mint? Sea salt or caramel? Let me know any other combinations you try!
Labels: candy, chocolate, cluster, coconut, cranberry, dessert, easy, ginger, gluten free, quick recipe, spice, treat