Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gluten-Free Triple Chocolate Brownies

These brownies are so chocolatey, gooey, moist…. I could go on and on! No one will ever know they're gluten-free. When I made these, everyone was raving about how good they were (they didn't last long at all). When I let out the little secret that they were gluten-free, no one could believe it! I hope you enjoy them!


Gluten-Free Triple Chocolate Brownies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
6 ounces (about 1 cup) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate of your choice, plus 1/2 cup chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

* you can make half of this recipe and use a square 8-by-8 inch pan or 9-by-9 inch pan rather than a 9-by-13 pan.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the edge a bit.

Melt the 6 ounces of chocolate and butter together in a large microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals at 50% power. It should take about 2 minutes total. Whisk in 1 cup of the sugar and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, cornstarch, flours, xanthan, and salt.

Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs with the remaining 1 cup of sugar until the eggs are light and doubled in volume. Stir half of the egg mixture into the chocolate. Stir in half of the dry ingredient mixture. Repeat with the remaining egg and remaining dry ingredients. The mixture will be rather thick. Mix in the vanilla. Stir in the extra chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Mix up a batch of chocolate fudge frosting (click the link to get it). I use this same frosting for chocolate bundt cake and ice cream cake.

Smooth the frosting over the cooled brownies and allow to set for about an hour (or more). Lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars.


recipe slightly adapted from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free

Monday, February 24, 2014

Deep Dish Gingerbread Cookie for One

I know gingerbread is usually a flavor associated with Christmas, but it's still cold where I live. I'm really really tired of it… I am NOT a fan of cold weather. I'll take 110 degrees any day over cold and windy. I also think that if you live in the north or northeast part of the United States, you're still in for cold weather this week. So I think this gingerbread cookie is perfect for a cold evening. Have it with a nice cup of warm tea. That's what I'm doing. I can't wait for warmer weather… but until then… I'll eat warm cookies! I hope you will enjoy them too.


Deep Dish Gingerbread Cookie for One
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon molasses
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Pinch ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour (you can make it gluten-free by using G-free all-purpose flour)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Coat a small ramekin with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the butter for about 30 to 45 seconds or until melted. Whisk in the sugar and molasses. Add the salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and flour and whisk to evenly combine.

Spoon the dough into the prepared ramekin and bake for 10 to 15 minutes (don't over cook it... it's supposed to be soft and gooey). There's no egg in this dough so don't worry about cooking completely. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes before eating.

Serve with a small scoop of ice cream or whipped cream if desired. I used a blend of softened cream cheese, whipped cream, and a little powdered sugar. Devine!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Little White Bows

I know there hasn't been a blog post from me for a while. I was spending my extra time this past week working on a very special project… a Tiffany's-inspired set of cakes, cupcakes, and cookies for my goddaughter, Vivienne on her first birthday. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy… more Luscious Confections recipes coming tomorrow!



Friday, February 14, 2014

Chalkboard Wall Calendar How-To


Mark came up with this great idea for our laundry room. He painted one whole wall with black chalkboard paint (you can get it at Home Depot or Lowes). Then we measured out space for twelve boxes, divided them, and created a 2014 calendar. We're really happy with how well it worked. If you've got a good wall in your house, I highly recommend it as a fun way to keep your family's activities all organized.

Here's what you'll need…
1 can black chalkboard paint (or more depending on the size of your wall)
paint roller and paint brush
large ruler and/or yard stick and/or tape measurer
chalk line (optional)
chalk pens

First paint the wall and allow it to dry. Follow the instructions on the can for how long you need to wait before using chalk on the wall. Our paint said to allow the paint to cure on the wall for at least three days before using chalk.

I used some square pieces of paper (mine were 12 inches by 12 inches, but you can use whatever size works for you) to lay out the approximate placement for each month on the wall before beginning exact measurements.

I then measured down from the ceiling to 2 inches above my top left paper placement. Mark helped me to snap a chalkline across the entire wall at that height. We used a level to make sure the line was perfectly straight. If you don't have a level, you could measure down in about three different spots across your wall and "connect the dots" using your ruler or tape measurer to create a straight line.

We did two more chalk lines at 18 inches below the first line, then 18 inches below the second line. Our layout is three rows of four months. You could arrange any way you like, chose to do only one month, or three or four months at a time.

Once you have the reference lines, you can start measuring to create squares. I created four 12-inch by 12-inch squares (each 4 inches apart horizontally) across the first row.

Using a pencil, in the first square, measure down 1 inch (this creates the line for labeling the days of the week) and draw a horizontal line in the box. From this line, measure to the very bottom line so that the "0" of the tape measurer is at this line and the "15" is at the bottom line of the box. Mark off points at "3," "6," "9," and "12." Draw horizontal lines at each of these points. This gives you 5 evenly spaced rows. Use a level or a T-square to make sure that your lines are straight and level.


Next use the same process to create seven even columns within the box. Place the "0" on the far left vertical line and the "14" on the far right line. Mark off points every 2 inches and draw vertical lines at each (again using a T-square or level to keep lines straight). This will give you seven columns.

You've now got your first month created! Now you can trace over the pencil lines with a chalk pen (I used a wide chisel pen for the boarder and a thinner chalk pen for the interior lines, text, and numbers). 

Now repeat the process for each month. Once you've got the first one, you can use the lines as guides for the following squares. Continue using a T-square or level to keep lines straight and parallel throughout the process. I drew each month in pencil first, then traced over with chalk pen. The great thing about chalk pens is that if you make a mistake, you can simple erase with a wet towel and start again!

When the whole calendar was complete, I began adding events with different colored chalk pens. Create away! Have fun!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Popcorn

You'll be able to deceive all of your friends with this fancy snack. The end result seems extravagant, but the process is so simple. It only takes minutes to prepare!

Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Popcorn
1 bag microwave popcorn (unsalted)
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon sea salt (you can eliminate this if your popcorn was already salted)

Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave according to directions on the bag. Do not remove the popcorn from the bag.

In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar, butter, corn syrup together, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the baking soda and continue whisking until the caramel is smooth. When you add the baking soda, the caramel will bubble up (didn't want it to worry you - just be careful that it doesn't bubble over the edge of the saucepan). Immediately pour the caramel into the bag of popped popcorn.

Give the bag of popcorn and caramel a little shake and microwave for 45 seconds. Remove the bag from the microwave and shake a few times. Microwave again for 45 seconds. Shake the bag again and microwave for a final 45 seconds. This helps to get the popcorn evenly coated with caramel.

Spread the caramel-coated popcorn on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips at 50% power at intervals of 30 seconds. It will probably take a total of 2 minutes.

You can now use a spoon to drizzle chocolate from the bowl onto the caramel popcorn. You could also transfer all of the chocolate to a ziplock bag, snip of a small corner, and drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn (that's how I did it).

Immediately sprinkle with sea salt. You can either let the chocolate set up at room temperature (which could take an hour or so). Or you can place the whole baking sheet with popcorn in the refrigerator or freezer to speed up the chocolate hardening. Break up any large clumps and transfer to a bowl. You can store in a large ziplock for several days.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gluten-Free Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake

I made these rich, decadent, and luscious lava cakes for an extra special dessert following our family Christmas dinner. You could definitely do this for any extra special event - maybe Valentine's Day?! You can make it gluten-free by simply using a gluten-free all-purpose flour.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake
1 stick butter, plus melted butter for brushing ramekins or cupcake wells
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon gluten-free all-purpose flour
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
4 heaping teaspoons of cold caramel sauce
sea salt for sprinkling
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Brush 6 ramekins or 6 wells of a cupcake pan with butter and dust each with the cocoa powder/flour mixture. Place the ramekins or cupcake pan on a sturdy baking sheet.

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and and butter over low heat, stirring occasionally. Allow the chocolate and butter mixture to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the granulated sugar with the eggs and salt at medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow (about 3 minutes). Using a rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate until no streaks remain. Fold in the 1/4 cup of flour using the spatula.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the batter into each ramekin. Top with one heaping tablespoon of caramel and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover the caramel with the remaining batter evenly divided among the ramekins. Bake the cakes for 16 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 to 8 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of each cake and invert onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with a side of whipped cream if desired.


adapted from Grace Parisi on

Monday, February 10, 2014

Spicy Soy Shrimp Pasta

Looking for a quick weeknight meal? This spicy shrimp pasta is yummy, but simple. Serve with a little salad and you've got dinner done in no time.

Spicy Soy Shrimp Pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined and tails removed
8 ounces cooked pasta (I chose whole wheat spaghetti) 
Salt & pepper
1 green onion (green parts only), thinly sliced

Whisk together oil, cheese, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Toss with shrimp in a large ziplock bag. Marinate for 30 minutes to overnight.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp and all of the sauce to the skillet and cook until the shrimp is opaque and pink (about 4 or 5 minutes). Stir in the cooked pasta until the pasta is well-coated with the sauce. Season with salt & pepper or additional red pepper flakes if you would like to increase the spice.

Sprinkle with green onions. 


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Baklava


Baklava might be my all time favorite dessert. I know that may sound crazy…. many people would probably name a soufflĂ© or a decadent chocolate cake as their favorite dessert… not me. While I also love those luscious desserts, baklava has been a favorite of mine since childhood. I've shared a more traditional baklava on this blog before. This chocolate hazelnut creation is a bit more decadent - like the flavors of Nutella twisted into the amazing flaky layers of phyllo dough. Oh. So. Good.

Chocolate Hazelnut Baklava
1 pound hazelnuts
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or about 2 cups chocolate chips)
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups honey

Remove the skins of the hazelnuts by heating your oven to 350 degrees, spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and place the sheet in the oven. Toast the hazelnuts for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the skins blister. Allow the nuts to cool. The skins will rub off quite easily. You can use a clean kitchen towel to rub the skins off.

Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and coarsely chop. Add the chocolate chips, 2/3 cup of the sugar, and the cinnamon to the food processor and pulse the chocolate and hazelnuts together until they are finely chopped. You might need to do this in two batched depending on the size of your food processor.

Unroll your phyllo dough (be sure to thaw it for at least 30 minutes before trying to work with it so that it doesn't break). Brush a 9 by 13 inch baking pan very generously with melted butter. Layer 8 sheets of phyllo into the bottom of the pan, brushing each layer of dough generously with butter before adding the next layer. If any edges come up the sides of the pan, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to trim them. 

Sprinkle 1/3 of the filling over the phyllo. Layer 4 more phyllo sheets over the filling, brushing with butter between each sheet. Sprinkle on another 1/3 of the filling. Layer another 4 sheets with butter. Top with the last third of the hazelnut chocolate mixture. Butter and layer 3 more phyllo sheets. 

Brush the top generously with the remaining butter. Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava (all the way through to the bottom) into approximately 3-inch squares. Cut each square in half diagonally to make triangles.

Bake the baklava at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for another 50 minutes or until golden.

While the baklava is baking, you can make the honey syrup. In a medium saucepan, heat the water, honey, and 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Watch the syrup carefully as it's simmering… I almost always boil the mixture over onto my stove - making a huge mess… 

When you remove the baklava from the oven, immediately pour the syrup over the baklava. Let stand until completely cool (at least 4 hours, but overnight is better).

You either need to lift the baklava pieces directly to individual serving plates, or place on small pieces of parchment paper or cupcake lines to catch the extra syrup.


slightly adapted from Ana Sortun on

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Guinness Ice Cream


If you have an ice cream maker, this is a super simple dessert to create. Even if you're not a fan of Guinness, I think you'll enjoy this ice cream. It has subtle notes of coffee and pairs very well with something chocolate (like brownies or dark chocolate-covered pretzels). 

Guinness Ice Cream
1 bottle Guinness
1 cup heavy cream
1 scant cup whole milk
7 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

In a large saucepan, combine the Guinness, cream, and milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add a little of the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to get the eggs warm without scrambling them. Add the rest of the cream mixture to the eggs slowly, whisking constantly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Continue to cook until the mixture thickens, coating the back of a spoon (about 8 minutes). Do not boil the mixture.

Pour the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until cooled, stirring occasionally.

Pour the cold mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until firm (about 4 hours or overnight).

Spoon ice cream into bowls and server with chocolate-covered pretzels, brownies, a bottle of cold Guinness, or anything else that sounds good to you! Enjoy!


adapted from