Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gluten Free PSA #7: Winter / Spring Celiac Events, the GCCA Cookie Exchange...and Chewy Cherry Chocolate Bark

Last weekend, I went to the Greater Cleveland Celiac Association's (GCCA) meeting and cookie exchange. 

Actually, let me amend that. Last weekend, I attempted homemade butterscotch for cashew cookies in a kitchen that was not my own - and thus, not gluten free friendly - discovered homemade butterscotch is not as easy as it looks, threw away aforementioned terrible cookies (they were at once crumbly and paper thin, as only failed a gluten free can be).  I crossed my fingers and whipped up an on-the-fly batch of surprisingly delicious Chewy Cherry Chocolate Bark, THEN drove 3 hours from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Parma, Ohio to go to the Greater Cleveland Celiac Association's meeting and cookie exchange. 

The things I do for a little gluten-free education. 
(Okay, the cookies might've had something to do with it, too.)

Gluten-free baked goods aside (and who ever thought a celiac would say that), the GCCA's meeting was pretty cool. Having no friends or close family with the disease, I still find it amazing to be in a room filled with people who can differentiate between potato flour and potato starch and know the invaluable, mythical power of xanthum gum. 

The meeting was well attended, from those just diagnosed to those who've lived gluten free for nearly two decades. Equally cool was the attendance of non-celiac spouses and parents, not only supportive of their celiac loved ones, but also wanting some gluten-free baked goods! 

The meeting covered everything from favorite baking tips and books, to restaurants that were particularly accommodating to special food requests,  to reminding everyone that Kraft (and anything under the Kraft family umbrella) has agreed to disclose any gluten containing ingredient. This means if no offending mention of wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc is mentioned, the product is gluten free. This includes modified food starch (which, if derived of wheat would be listed as modified food starch (wheat) or the like). 

If you're bummed about missing out on the food and the fun, worry not! The GCCA has its meeting for the next six months planned out already - these people are more organized with gluten-free meetings than I've ever been with my life! With so much notice, how can you not pencil one in? If that's not enough gluten free goodness for you, maybe some of these other events will suit your fancy. 

Winter & Spring 2008/2009's Gluten-Free Events 

***Sunday, December 14th - yet another gluten free cookie exchange. This one is in Akron, Ohio at the Akron Children's Hospital from 2-4pm and it is hosted by the Akron Celiac Support Group.  I have to admit, I'm a bit cookie-ed out, folks, and Akron is a trek from my side of town, but you can find more information on it at the NEOceliac's page

January 11th: GCCA meeting in Solon. This meeting's theme is bread, so come with a loaf of your favorite (home baked) gluten free bread, sweet bread, or cornbread. 

January 15: The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking begins its series of 3 gluten free workshops with a gluten free dinner at Sapore Restaurant. Please click here for details on all classes. 

February 8th: GCCA meeting in Solon. This meeting's theme will be soup. 

February TBA: The NEOCSG will be having a cupcake decorating party, date TBA 

March 4th & 11th: The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking offers classes on gluten free cookies! 

March 15th: GCCA meets in Parma

April 13th: The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking hosts a class in gluten free pasta! 

April 26th: the GCCA meets in Solon

Both the May 17th and the June 14th GCCA meetings will be in Parma. 

Chewy Cherry Chocolate Bark
...and on to the good stuff. 

Sometimes, kitchen experiments end in disaster. Sometimes, simple food is simply boring. And sometimes, a little experimenting with long favored ingredients pays off. I'll let my recipe and pictures speak for themselves. 

2 packages semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate
1 1/3 cup dried cherries
1 cup salted cashew pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon (as desired)

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper.

Place chocolate squares in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove, and stir. Microwave for an additional 45 seconds before taking out at stirring again. Microwave in additional spurts of 10 seconds, if needed.

Mix cherries, cashews, vanilla, and cinnamon into the melted chocolate. Spread the mixture over the wax paper. Refrigerate at least an hour – until the chocolate becomes hard. Break into pieces and store in the refrigerator.

*Note: For prettier bark, once it's spread out on the wax paper, sprinkle the top of the still hot chocolate mixture with extra dried cherries and cashews (or reserve 1/4 cup of each to sprinkle on top). Press the top layer in slightly to help it set. 


VeggieGirl said...


Travis Ingersoll said...

This is exactly the kind of recipe I'm always on the hunt for... sweet, simple, and obviously delicious! Thanks for sharing. I can see endless possibilities:)

H.Peter said...

Your Celiacs association is one of the busiest I have seen online.

Trust all is fine in your area, holidays just around the

With today's snowfall, Western Canada is guaranteeed a white and happy holiday! Well, happy for those who like snow (not me).

glutenfreeforgood said...

Wow, you have a whole line-up of events coming up! And that's very cool that you're getting the word out about the importance of support groups.

Oh, and the chocolate cherry bark looks amazing!

Happy holidays!

Sophie said...

I've really missed out, look at that chocolate! ...and cherry AND chocolate :). I hope you're enjoying this holiday season! Happy gluten-free baking to you :).

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