A Gluten-free option for Thanksgiving

One question I am frequently asked by clients is whether I make anything that is gluten-free.  While this seems like a pretty straight-forward question, the answer isn’t so cut and dry.

Yes, but…”

In other words, there’s a lot of naturally gluten-free desserts that I can make, but I have to follow up this answer by letting the person know that I do not work in a gluten-free kitchen, nor do I have mixing bowls and utensils that are specifically for gluten-free use.  What I can make is most definitely not for everyone.  But, I can offer some advice, which anyone can have, whether you’re gluten-free or not:  If you’re gluten-free and feeling sad that you cannot partake in typical holiday desserts like pies, etc, please know you have options that require nothing more than your kitchen, your imagination, and a little time.

There are so many desserts that are naturally gluten-free.  Chocolate mousse, pumpkin mousse, caramel mousse, etc.  Chocolate flourless cake.  Almond macaroons.  Meringue cookies.  Chocolate peanut butter mousse cake.  Cheesecake made on a chocolate flourless crust, or on a crust made out of coconut macaroons.  Pie filling baked in a dish, served with fresh whipped cream.  Lemon cream with fresh berries.  The list goes on & on.  There is no need to feel deprived, and I’m going to try to help you.

I was organizing my recipe books today to make sure everything is in order for Thanksgiving, and I came across an old recipe that I used to make at Nashoba Brook Bakery.  It’s worth trying.  I based my recipe on the original created by pastry chef Emily Luchetti.    This is really an easy dessert to make, and it doesn’t require any baking!  There are two parts to this dessert – a crunchy pecan and walnut crust and a top layer of chocolate mousse.  Note:  the chocolate mousse is made with raw eggs.  I would recommend buying separate containers of pasteurized egg whites and pasteurized egg yolks if you are worried about consuming raw eggs.  Here’s the recipe:

Equipment:  Mixer with a whip attachment, one 9″ springform pan; parchment paper

Prep:  Place the springform pan over the parchment paper, trace the circle, and use scissors to cut out the circle.  Place the parchment circle inside the pan; set aside



1/2 cup Walnuts, toasted & chopped

1/2 cup Pecans, toasted & chopped

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

1/8 tsp Cinnamon

3 oz Butter (unsalted), melted

  1. To make the crust, mix together the chopped nuts, brown sugar & cinnamon.  Pour the melted butter over the nut mixture, and stir to combine.  Pat the mixture into the bottom of the pan, over the parchment paper.  Press flat with your hands or with a spatula or spoon, and refrigerate until firm.

Chocolate Mousse:

10 oz Semi-Sweet or Bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 oz butter, unsalted

2 Tbs Coffee – room temperature

4 Eggs, room temperature, separated

1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar

2 Tbs Sugar

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl place over a pot of hot water.  If you’re a microwave person, you can also melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave-proof bowl by microwaving the mixture for 30 second intervals at 50% power.  Stir in between each 30 seconds and repeat until fully melted.  Set aside.
  2. Make sure eggs are at room temperature, then separate eggs into two bowls; set aside
  3. Add coffee and egg yolks to the melted chocolate and butter – stir well
  4. Place egg whites in a bowl and start whipping either with a hand-held mixer or with the whip attachment for your stand mixer.  When the egg whites are frothy, sprinkle the cream of tartar over the whites, and continue whipping.  Slowly add the 2 Tbs of sugar to the egg whites and whip just until stiff and glossy.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the whipped egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until mousse is smooth and uniform.
  7. Remove pan with crust from the refrigerator.
  8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the crust and smooth with a spatula.
  9. Return pan to the refrigerator, and let set until firm (3 hours – overnight).
  10. When mousse is completely firm, remove pan from refrigerator, and open the springform pan.  Gently slide the cake off the base of the pan and off the parchment, and onto a serving plate.
  11. Garnish with whatever you feel like – drizzled melted chocolate, fresh berries, fresh whipped cream, or all of the above!

I can guarantee that I won’t have time to make this before Thanksgiving, but I will put it on my list post-holiday so that I can make it and take pictures for you to see the various steps.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just need a little baking tlc.  If you want help brainstorming for other gluten-free options, just let me know and I’ll post some other recipes.  Enjoy!!!


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Owner, Baker,
& Storyteller

You know that friend who has it all together? Yeah. That’s not me. What I can offer you instead are my experiences, insights, and passions. Pithy observations about making cookies. Wry commentary on running a business. Loving (if slightly sarcastic) parenting advice. And if that doesn’t interest you, I have dogs. Cute ones.

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