Gluten-free cookbook author Carol Fenster visits the Bookworm of Edwards |

Gluten-free cookbook author Carol Fenster visits the Bookworm of Edwards

Caramie Schnell
These white, chocolate apricot and almond balls are perfect to serve during the holidays or at dinner parties, according to cookbook author Carol Fenster.
Jason Wyche | Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: Gluten free gourmet.

Where: Bookworm of Edwards.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

Cost: $10.

More information:


White chocolate, apricot and almond balls

Makes 24 balls, preparation time: 10 minutes

Serve these bite-size treats during the holidays or at dinner parties in little foil or paper candy liners. Their small size andbut rich, satisfying flavor makes them ideal for when you want just a little something sweet, not an entire dessert. A food processor makes the prep super-fast. You can replace the white chocolate with dark chocolate, if you wish.

1 cup whole almonds

2/3 cup powdered sugar

2 cups dried apricots (about 12 ounces)

2 tablespoons light or dark rum or orange juice

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 1/2 ounces white chocolate chips (or a 3.5-ounce bar of white chocolate, chopped or broken into 1/4-inch chunks)

In a food processor, process the almonds and powdered sugar until the almonds are very finely ground. Add the apricots and pulse until the apricots are very finely chopped.

Add the rum, orange zest, vanilla and white chocolate chips and pulse until the mixture is just blended. With lightly oiled hands, roll and compress the dough into 24 balls, each 1 -inch in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up. Serve in foil or paper candy liners.

STORAGE: Store leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 2 days in the refrigerator or for up to 1 month in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Per ball: 130 calories; 3g protein; 6g total fat; 2g fiber; 17g carbohydrates; 0mg cholesterol; 8mg sodium

Excerpted from “100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes,” by Carol Fenster. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


Flourless chocolate cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

Preparation time: 5 minutes; Baking time: 20 to 25 minutes

Flourless cupcakes use ground nuts as the base and are extremely quick to assemble in a food processor. They also bake faster than standard-size cakes. Instead of the simple dusting of powdered sugar, you can top them as you like, with your favorite icing and decorations. These cupcakes are my “go-to” choice for gluten-free, dairy-free guests, but you can also use the batter for a 9-inch round cake (see Layer Cake option below). Feel free to use the same amount of ground walnuts or pecans instead of the almonds, if you prefer. For best results, make sure the eggs are at room temperature.

2 cups almond flour/meal or 2 cups whole almonds

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use either natural or Dutch-processed)

4 large whole eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting

Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup nonstick muffin pan (gray, not black) with liners.

In a food processor, place the almond meal. (If using whole almonds, grind the nuts to a fine, meal-like texture.) Add the brown sugar, cocoa, eggs, oil, vanilla, and salt and process for 30 to 40 seconds. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatula and process for another 30 seconds or until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, using about [1/4] cup batter for each cupcake.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of athe cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then transfer them to the wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

STORAGE: Store leftovers at room temperature, tightly covered, for up to 3three days.

Layer Cake:

Bake in a 9-inch nonstick springform pan (gray, not black) lined with parchment paper until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Gently run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cake on to a serving plate, discard the paper, and let the cake cool completely.

Per cupcake: 390 calories; 10g protein; 31g total fat; 3g fiber; 22g carbohydrates; 62mg cholesterol; 117mg sodium

Excerpted from “100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes,” by Carol Fenster. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Cookbook author Carol Fenster grew up on wheat farm in Nebraska. She married into a wheat-farming family; her father-in-law is a professor emeritus of Agronomy at the University of Nebraska and his specialty is wheat.

So imagine her dismay in 1988 when she was told to avoid wheat. The Centennial resident had been suffering from recurring sinus infections. And while she doesn’t have celiac disease, she was labeled with “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”

“At first, I was overjoyed to learn how to curb those sinus infections,” she said. “But I didn’t realize what avoiding wheat actually meant and how hard it would be to avoid it until I went home that night to prepare dinner and realized that wheat was in almost everything I was accustomed to eating such as bread, pasta, pizza, cereal, etc. I had to revamp all of my recipes, especially my baking recipes, to exclude wheat. This took a lot a of work; 5 years of trial-and-error. For someone like me who truly loves food, this was quite trying.”

It took Fenster awhile before she could tell her family that wheat was the culprit, she said.

“Of course, their reaction was ‘how could something so natural as wheat be a problem?’” She didn’t quite know the answer, but she knew she felt much better. And when she realized other people had similar health problems associated with wheat, she decided to self-publish her first book called “Wheat-Free Recipes & Menus.”

That was in 1994 and there weren’t many books on the subject, so it was well received, she said.

One book led to another, and her latest book, “100 Best Quick Gluten-Free Recipes” came out in October. It’s her 12th.

“The big New York publishers now publish my cookbooks because the gluten-free topic is very popular now,” she said. “One of my gluten-free cookbooks is for beginners, another is for vegetarians/vegans, yet another is for people with multiple food allergies, and so on.”

Fenster visits the Bookworm of Edwards Thursday.

“We have a tremendous interest in gluten-free cooking, and so do our customers,” said Bookworm owner Nicole Magistro. “Past events with Eliza Klearman and Elana Amsterdam have been sold out, so we are expecting tickets to go quickly for Carol Fenster. She is one of the pioneers in the gluten-free movement, and a true joy to learn from.”

Attendees will get to sample four recipes from the cookbook: Parmesan Shortbread with white bean spread and prosciutto; loaded potato skins; curried lentils and grilled chicken; and gluten-free cornbread muffins topped with fresh guacamole and seared shrimp.

Along with the tasty nibbles, Fenster will share tips and secrets about how to save time in the kitchen, yet still enjoy home-cooked food. Attendees are invited to bring their questions, and Fenster will sign cookbooks.


To Fenster, eating is the “most profound thing we do to our bodies every day. Food nourishes our body and our soul, but it must be safe for those of us with gluten sensitivities.”

Often times that means that gluten-free people must often prepare their own food at home. But one of the most common complaints Fenster hears is “I don’t have time to cook.”

So, she took a basic set of recipes and modified them to take less than 30 minutes in hopes that busy people can still prepare their own food, without spending all day in the kitchen.

“I strongly feel that we should all be preparing more of our own food,” she said. And “of course, gluten-free people have to cook more of their own food for safety’s sake.” Fenster also realizes “our busy society often views food preparation as drudgery.

“When we prepare our own food we have more control over the ingredients, the standards under which our food is prepared, and research shows that food cooked at home contains fewer calories and less sodium and fat,” she said. “So, I wrote this book with the goal of getting more people into the kitchen by shaving precious time from food preparation.”


While there’s 100 recipes in the book, there are a few that Fenster is particularly satisfied with, she said.

“I am most happy with the Mediterranean pizza, especially the crust,” she said. “It took many years of experimenting to eventually master that recipe but it is one of my most popular recipes and has won national acclaim. Even though the recipe in the book is vegetarian, the crust can be used for any type of pizza so it is quite versatile.”

The recipe for Focaccia Flatbread is another of Fenster’s favs.

“Traditional Focaccia is extremely easy, but it takes time to let it rise. So, I modified the recipe to make it thinner and start it to bake in a cold oven. It can actually be ready to eat in around 30 minutes. The magic in this recipe is that the dough rises as the oven pre-heats. This works in most ovens, but not all … but works great in my KitchenAid wall ovens.”

The other two recipes she really likes are perfect to serve during the holidays, which are fast approaching: the Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes and the White Chocolate Apricot and Almond Balls, which are raw, no bake and super easy, she said.

To learn more about Fenster, visit her blog at She also offers gluten-free recipes that come with a grocery shopping list for subscribers ($7 a month) to her weekly e-cookbook at

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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