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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in dark chocolate (5)


Recipe: Brownie Tart (Dairy- & Gluten-Free)




My love for brownies led me to try every gluten- and dairy-free brownie mix on the shelves.  Not floored (although there are some great mixes out there now), I started making my own from scratch.  Then with alternative flour in my hair and coconut oil on my shirt, I looked for a brownie-like cake that I could take to parties and have people ask, "Who made this?"  To achieve this lofty goal, I thought it wise to start with a recipe from one of the brownie masters, The Barefoot Contessa.  I adapted her recipe so that I could safely and joyfully consume, but also have "normal" guests demand a repeat performance.  This recipe is rich (you don't need big pieces), chocolatey, chewey - all of the different textures that you want in a brownie. 

And this tart gets people to make naughty sounds. 

 Just out of the oven. It smells so, so good.


6 TBS of coconut oil

20 oz. (3.25 cups) of Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (or bittersweet chunks if you are really in a decadent mood)

1 cup of sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp. of gluten-free vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. of GF coffee extract (rounds out the flavor of the chocolate)

1/4 c. GF brown rice flour (I find white rice flour too sweet) - I use Bob's Red Mill

1/4 c. GF tapioca flour -- I use Bob's Red Mill

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. sea or kosher salt

2-3 TBS of rice, almond, coconut (or other alternative) milk


Put it Together

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With coconut oil (or safflower, grape seed), grease a 9-inch tart pan with removable sides.  Then flour the pan with brown rice flour.

Wet Ingredients:  Melt the 6 TBS of coconut oil in a bowl over simmering water.  Make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl.  Add 2 cups of the chocolate chips to the bowl with the oil, then remove from heat until the chocolate melts.  If you need more heat, put the bowl of back on the simmering water for a few seconds.  (Chocolate burns easily, hence this method.)  Let chocolate cool completely.

In a bowl of an electric mixer (use the paddle attachment) beat the eggs, sugar, GF coffee extract and GF Vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy - about 3 minutes. Stir in the cooled chocolate.

Dry Ingredients:  In a medium bowl, combine the tapioca and brown rice flours, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until just combined.

Bake:  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the center is puffy.  Don't overbake - if the center puffs up and possibly cracks, it is good to go.  The inside will still be very soft, but the outer rim will be perfectly chewy. 

Dress Up:  Melt the remaining chocolate chips with the 2-3 TBS of rice milk (or other alternative milk).  You can do this right in the double boiler you used for the first melted chocolate.  Drizzle over the top of the tart in whatever pattern floats your boat.

Cool to room temperature before removing the tart pan sides.

 The End.



Recipe: Simply Coconut Truffles


Yes, Coconut is Good For You

Coconut had long been considered a decadent delight, consumed only by those purporting a devil-may-care attitude about their cholesterol levels.   How untrue that has turned out to be.  This misinformation (that coconut is bad) was proliferated throughout the marketplace because scientists and docs didn't yet understand the importance of -- and differences in fats.  Coconut is still a delight, but it is now considered an ultimate health food (and one of my favorite dessert ingredients).  Coconut is said to have anti-microbial properties (watch out you little bacterial and viral invaders).  It is also very high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Coconut even contains those rare medium-chain fatty acids that absorb easily and directly into our human bodies.  Well, these truffles are, of course, candy, but with coconut coupled with a the heart-healthy flavenoids of bittersweet chocolate - how could we feel guilty about such a tiny & tasty dessert? 


Simply Coconut Truffle Recipe

Makes about 24 or so truffles.

Prep time:  10 minutes

Inactive prep time: 20-30 minutes

Roll time:  watch your favorite TV show and it will go more quickly.




1/2 pound of dairy-free bittersweet chocolate (recommended brand, Barry Callebaut)

2 tsp.  coconut extract

1-1/2 cups of angel flake coconut

1/2 can (13.66 oz can) of organic coconut milk (recommended brand:  Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk)


Chop the chocolate into teeny tiny little pieces and place in a heat safe glass bowl.  Bring the coconut milk to a boil and quickly remove, then pour over the chocolate.  Shake the bowl so it is evenly distributed and cover quickly with a plate to seal in the heat. 

Let the coconut milk melt the chocolate for about 5 minutes.  Then uncover and whisk by hand until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.  You now have chocolate ganache.

Whisk in the coconut exract.  This will help bring out the flavor of the chocolate as well as enhance the coconut flavor.  Stir in a 1/2 cup of coconut.  Then place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is firm (but not hard). 

With a small melon baller, scoop out the chocolate and roll into truffle balls.  Roll each truffle into a bowl of coconut so that it has a nice little coconut coat.  Place in a container - preferebly with coconut flakes as a bed (this will help keep the truffles from sticking together) and place in the refrigerator. 

Serve cold and with confidence. 


Serve These With . . .

Candied Orange Peels

Almond Cognac Truffles

If you want to mix it up with a few different bite-sized morsels of yumminess, try these recipes, too. 


What is a Coconut?

According to the Library of Congress:

Botanically speaking, a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, also known as a dry drupe.  However, when using loose definitions, the coconut can be all three:  a fruit, a nut, and a seed . . .

Coconuts are classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe. A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word drupa meaning overripe olive. A coconut, and all drupes, have three layers:  the exocarp (outer layer), the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer), and the endocarp (hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed).


Allergen Note

Some folks who are allergic to tree nuts are also allergic to coconut.  Coconuts are required by the FDA to be labled "contains tree nuts", but not everyone reacts to coconuts in the same way.  So if you have a nut allergy, ask your doctor if  coconut is something you should consume or be tested for before trying this recipe.


This blog does not offer, assume or intend to be medical advice.  Please consult your doctor and manage your unique health and wellness concerns responsibly.









Power Chicks & Lemon Chicken

Photo taken by Lisa Visbeen Lehmann of Studio Jewel

Brainstorm Party


Sometimes you need a little extra IQ.  A shot of cool, quick inspiration.  A few of the best peops in your corner. 

Since The Tender Palate is a budding business, I can use as many healthy brain cells as I can get.  So I brushed off my rusty entertaining skills, dished up a light supper for a few new power chick friends and “experimented” on them with a totally gluten- and dairy-free menu.  These fun and generous women agreed to help me jump-start a couple of ideas, so I made a variety of dishes that were fairly well-practiced.  I use the word “experiment”, because I’m always curious to see how the palates of people without food allergies react to alternative ingredients.  

We met at one of my favorite event venues, the historic The Leonard at Logan House.  A couple of bottles of Natura Organic Wine added just a teensy-weensy bit of creativity as well.  Both the cabernet sauvignon and the gewürztraminer got rave reviews.  I usually prefer red, but that evening, I tried the white and stuck with it.  I loved the Gewurztraminer’s unusual and pleasant mix of dry and sweet.  I could even taste the promised hint of jasmine.  I think it is my new favorite white (and “gewürztraminer” is really fun to say.)  The cabernet drinkers were especially happy when alternating bites of chocolate truffle with sips of the deep, toasty red.  


The "No Men" Menu

Although no men  were invited to this particular party (next time I'll do an ALL MEN Menu), I threw a bone to equality by serving the same number of dessert items as savory-type dishes.  Because when it comes to chocolate . . . baby, there ain’t no glass ceiling. 

My unsuspecting power chicks were not aware, however, that many of the yummy ingredients in each dish were also power foods.  Here’s the menu plus a little of the moxie behind it. 


Recipe: Cilantro-Lemon Chicken Strips (RECIPE COMING SOON)

*cilantro is purported to be anti-bacterial, there are theories that it can attach to and remove heavy metals from the body (like mercury), and is thought to also balance blood sugar.


Recipe:  Grown-Up Chili

*Lycopene is an anti-oxidant that is thought to reduce the incidence of cancer.  The lycopene in tomatoes is activated best when cooked.


Recipe:  Ina Garten’s Grapefruit/Avocado Salad
               (I also added blanched asparagus to the dish)

               Link to Ina's original recipe

*Adding more lycopene to the dinner is the wonderful and sweet red grapefruit.  A healthy fat, like the avocado in this salad, is the lycopene activator for the grapefruit.  And with the Dijon vinaigrette, the two taste incredible together. 

*Asparagus is high in folate (6 spears contain almost ½ the recommended daily intake), Vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants.  The dijon vinagrette liked the asparagus, too.


Recipe:  Almond Cognac Truffles (RECIPE COMING SOON)


Recipe:  Simply Coconut Chocolate Truffles 


Recipe:  Candied Orange Peels


*Chocolate (particularly dark, minimally processed chocolate) contains flavanols and oleic acid both thought to have healthy effects on your heart.


Natura Organic Gewurztraminer 2010

Natura Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2009


*Red wine is also full of heart-healthy flavanoids.  Of course, doctor’s orders, moderation and other such laws of your own personal health trump any information given here. 


My Warmest Thanks 


As suspected, it turned out to be a really great evening with great conversation.  If you have an idea that needs some kicking around, try throwing a brainstorm party – and drop me a note to tell me how it went!


Warmest thanks to my power chicks for the evening: 

Kelly Jansens Boos of Green Dog Pet Accessories   & Black Dog Productions, LLC 

Jennifer Phillips Wilson of Grand Development Associates, LLC.

Lisa Visbeen Lehmann of Studio Jewel  


Thanks again to Dave Russo of G.B. Russo & Son for recommending these great wines.







The Best Allergen-free Chocolate

Since I am a chocolaholic, I will always be on the lookout for the best chocolate for baking, cooking, eating and giving.  Here is a start to my list.  I'll keep adding to it and letting you know what else I find out!


Cooking, Baking & Confections

Barry Callebaut - North America - DARK CHOCOLATE

  • Dairy Free (processed on a dedicated dairy-free, dark chocolate North American factory line & tested for milk.)
  • Kosher
  • Vegan (no animal products are processed on their dark chocolate line)
  • Contains small amounts of soy (soy lecithin is used for consistency)
  • GMO Status?  Currently Unknown.
  • **May be OK for gluten and nut allergies (currently, nuts and gluten products are not processed in the North American Factory, however, there is no testing for this at the moment.  Some European factories do process nuts). **If you have nut and gluten allergies, please do your own research
  • Used by confection makers, restaurants and bakers world-wide


Check out Tender Palate's recips for Almond Cognac Truffles (contains nuts) & for our Coconut Truffles (dairy-free) using Callebaut.



Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

& Bittersweet Chunks

  • Free of the 8 most common allergens (NO wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, or shellfish. Also made without casein, potato, sesame or sulfites).
  • Nut-free (tested and produced in a dedicated nut-free and gluten-free facility)
  • Gluten-free  (tested and produced in a dedicated nut-free and gluten-free facility)
  • **Dairy-free (tested)
  • **Soy-free (tested)
  • **(produced in a facility that also processes dairy and soy, but produced on a dedicated dairy-and soy-free line.  Ingredients have been additionally tested for the presence of dairy and soy)
  • GMO status?  Currently unknown.



Giving & Eating

Indie Candy 

Indie Candy makes allergen-free confections for Tender Foodies of all kinds.  They offer selections that are:

  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Soy-free
  • Nut-free
  • Kosher
  • Vegan
  • Feingold Diet Approved

Check out what The Tender Foodie has to say about Indie Candy in our Review.




Review: Indie Candy


Allergen-Free Sweets for Your Valentine

Having a tough time finding the perfect sweet for your favorite Tender Sweetie? You can pull out all of the stops and make your own, or order from a professional like Indie Candy. Most of their sweets contain none of the “Big 8” allergens. Plus, they cater to special diet protocols (like Feingold, Kosher and Vegan). You would think this is a recipe for crappy candy, but it’s not. It’s tasty. I sampled a few of their Valentine-themed products for you. You don’t have to thank me. No really. Here are my choices.


Dark Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are love. Truffles are sensuous. “Truffle” even sounds romantic. So when you bite into one, you long to hear that naughty little voice in your head say, “Ohhhh. (pause) “Ohhh Yeah.” And these truffles do not disappoint. What I like the most is the initial snap as you bite into the hard chocolate shell and the caramel-like consistency of the center. Yum. Are they as fluffy as the dairy-packed confections that I remember? Not quite. But they don’t have to be. They are the “real thing” and they are very, very good.


Sweet Hearts Gummies

These gummies are yummy. And pretty. Indie Candy uses no artificial dyes or flavors so the wild cherry and watermelon flavors pop genuinely. The texture is satisfying and sexy, too. Might make your gluten-free Valentine’s imagination run wild.


Other products that I sampled were the Pineapple “Love Heart” which was not a favorite (it just tasted like sugar).  But the “Beary Sweet” dark chocolate sucker used high quality chocolate and would please adult and child alike. The packaging of each product is not highly designed, but sweet and down-to-earth.


Sweetheart GummiesThe Company

Before I took my first bite, I wanted to understand the company and its practices. I spoke with the President/CEO, Hanson Watkins. I was sincerely impressed with her knowledge and passion for both confections and health. She emphasized their goal of making things truly delicious, not just allergen-free – a goal that the Tender Foodie requires. Indie Candy carefully sources each ingredient right down to the factory where it is processed and to the seed that is sown. The majority of their ingredients are organic and they do their best to use non-GMO foodstuff. They sell their own in-house artisan candies (no Big 8 allergen is allowed in their kitchen) as well as those from other independent confectioners who cater to more narrow allergen-free markets. The Indie site clearly directs you by allergen, diet and confection and includes the ingredients, so read them.

If you are a Tender Foodie (or a Tender Valentine) and you give Indie Candy a try, let me know what you think!