Recipe: Verrines with Orange, Chocolate and Speculoos

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A super-easy and irresistible dairy-free dessert combining some of my favorite flavors: orange, chocolate and speculoos (aka, Biscoff).

During a recent visit to the library in our small Swiss city, I came across a children’s cookbook from the well-known French chef, Cyril Lignac. I first learned of him from watching the French baking show, Le Meilleur Pâtissier, where he serves as a judge. The cookbook I found has lots of nice recipes, and one that immediately caught my eye was for Verrines au chocolat, spéculoos et oranges.

With a few substitutions, I’ve made Mr. Lignac’s recipe dairy-free. If you don’t feel like baking and need a quick recipe with few ingredients for warmer weather, it’s incredibly easy to throw this together. I’ve tried making it with soy cream and with full-fat coconut milk. My boys liked both versions, but I had a slight preference for the one with soy cream (a thicker, creamier texture).


Verrines with Orange, Chocolate and Speculoos

Adapted from Cyril Lignac and Lets petits chefs: Nouvelle recettes (2010), p. 76-77.

Makes 4 servings
(dairy-free)

3-4 oranges
150 grams (about 1 cup) dairy-free chocolate, chopped or in pieces
200 ml soy cream or full-fat coconut milk
35 grams (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) dairy-free margarine, softened
4 speculoos cookies (I used the ones from Lotus Bakeries)

1. In a small saucepan, mix the soy cream and chocolate together. Melt the chocolate over medium heat, stirring the mixture constantly until its smooth. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the softened margarine until completely incorporated. Pour the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour until it cools and thickens.

2. When the chocolate mixture is ready, peel the oranges, separate into sections and cut into bite-size pieces (Please note: Mr. Lignac removes all the pith and membrane, which looks better, but I just don’t have the patience!). Place equal amounts of the orange pieces into four glass cups.

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3. Spoon equal portions of the cooled and thickened chocolate mixture over the four glasses of oranges.

4. Crush the four cookies in a plastic bag and sprinkle them evenly over the chocolate mixture in the four glasses. Serve immediately or return them to the fridge and serve the same day.

We’re back from vacation, and I’m ready to hear about your latest recipe recommendations, restaurant experiences and other food allergy updates, etc. I hope you’re all doing well, and thanks for your continued support and advice!

Free From Farmhouse


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Homemade Dairy-Free Chocolate and Marzipan Penguins for Valentine’s Day

The professional version of chocolate-marzipan penguins

Our local chocolate shop always makes these cute little chocolate and marzipan penguins for Valentine’s Day. This year, I decided to tackle a homemade version.

After my son’s successful food challenges for eggs and almonds last year, marzipan is one of my new favorite ingredients (remember the Swiss Stollen at Christmastime?). Even thought it’s a major improvement, his milk allergy still prevents him from enjoying store-bought chocolates at this time.

To prepare for my confectionery experiment, I bought some dairy-free marzipan and food coloring. After shaping the penguins’ bodies and wings out of the marzipan, I spread some melted Enjoy Life Foods chocolate on their backs. Then, I dotted some chocolate on small drops of powdered sugar icing for the eyes (they seem a bit scared, don’t they?). My family of penguins certainly look homemade, but they taste really good, and the kids are excited to try them on Valentine’s Day.

My very homemade-looking penguins

If you’re looking to make some allergy-friendly Valentine’s Day treats, here are some recipes I’ve shared during the last few years. All of them are dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free and tree-nut free.

And, for another super-easy and no-bake recipe, check out Allergy Shmallergy’s Sweet Strawberry Hearts.

What allergy-friendly treats are you planning on this year for Valentine’s Day? Please share your suggestions and recipes by leaving a comment below. Thanks so much! 

Special bites: A Zürich “Sweet Studio” with Delicious Gluten-free and Dairy-free Treats

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Elegantly decorated cupcakes, rich double chocolate cookies and cake citron garnished with candied lemon—all made without dairy and gluten by Special bites in Zürich. I had the chance to meet the baker who creates these delicious treats over the weekend, and my family and I are now her biggest fans.

Hungarian-born Timea Megyeri opened Special bites in October 2013 because she wanted to make sure that people avoiding dairy and gluten could still enjoy delicious sweet treats. Her goal is to make high-quality baked goods that taste just as good, if not better, than those made with milk, butter and wheat, for example. With offerings like Bakewell Cake and Victoria Sandwich Cake, Timea has a strong British influence in her baking, as she received her formal training at University College Birmingham.

After admiring her stunning photos of cupcakes and other treats on Facebook for months, I finally placed an order for pick up in Zürich. When I arrived at her commercial kitchen, her brightly lit workspace was immaculate and absolutely free of products containing dairy or gluten. Timea had set out a platter heaped with freshly baked cookies and bars. There was a layered sponge cake with berry filling and some lightly sweetened breakfast cookies, including one with grated carrots, gluten-free oats, agave syrup and raisins. I also had the chance to meet Timea’s boyfriend, Malcom Hett, who serves as her taste-tester and marketing advisera fitting role given his day job working as a global marketing manager.

Special Bites Tea Time

Photo courtesy of Special bites

For my 3-year old son with a milk allergy, it’s not often he gets to eat something that I haven’t made for him—which is why I was so excited to discover Special bites. He can safely eat gluten, so I don’t normally buy gluten-free products, but from my experience in Switzerland, its more common that dairy-free products are also made without gluten. Unfortunately, the few prepackaged cookies like this we’ve bought for him haven’t been very good. However, the photos I kept seeing from Timea made it seem that gluten-free ingredients weren’t holding her back from making really delicious baked goods, so I had to give it a try.

I had such a lovely time chatting with Timea about her baking, it wasn’t long before I realized an hour had passed! My usual snack time routines involve cleaning up spilled soy milk and reading children’s stories, so I enjoyed the opportunity to just sit and talk with someone who really understands how to bake exceptionally well, including for people with food allergies and intolerances. When it was time for me to leave, she bagged up my order of chocolate cookies and lemon cakes in a Special bites tote bag, and I could haven’t been more pleased.

Back at home, both of my sons were thrilled with everything from Special bites. The lemon cake had a great flavor and light icing, without being too sweet (she admitted to actually liking salty things more than sweets, and it’s reflected in her baking). I was especially impressed with the double chocolate cookies—so rich and with a texture almost like a brownie. I had to remind myself they were for my son, so I wouldn’t eat them all!

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies

If you’re living or traveling in Zürich with special dietary needs, I highly recommend Special bites for delicious and elegant dairy-free and gluten-free, as well as vegan and gluten-free, baked goods. We plan on placing another order the next time we’re nearby. You can order products online that can be picked up in Zürich or you can find them at the following:

Eva’s Apples
Weinbergstrasse 168, 8006 Zürich
Phone: 044 363 56 54

Mr. and Mrs. Glutenfree
Forchstrasse 28, 8008 Zürich
Phone: 076 548 43 23

Simply Soup
Hallwylstrasse 24, 8004 Zürich
Phone: 044 554 66 71

Pelikanstrasse 19, 8001 Zürich
Phone: 043 497 22 32

FELFEL (no retail shop; food items delivered to enrolled workplaces)
Grubenstrasse 11, 8045 Zurich
Phone: 043 536 74 51

A big thanks again to Timea Megyeri of Special bites for hosting me and for creating quality products that taste great while catering to the needs of people avoiding dairy and gluten in Switzerland.

Recipe: Magenbrot – Chocolate Gingerbread

‘Tis the season for Christmas markets in Switzerland, and I hope to visit one soon! To date, I’ve strolled through these festive markets in Montreux, Neuchâtel and Zurich. With a steaming mug of vin chaud in my hands, I have to always stop and admire all the sweet Swiss treats. I still have many to try, but one of my favorites is Magenbrot—small cocoa gingerbreads coated with dark chocolate icing.

Christmas market stall - Zurich

Zurich Christmas Market, December 2013

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Onion Market in Bern, November 2013

Magenbrot means “stomach bread” in German. According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, the name developed because the spices and sugar contained in the bread were supposed to aid digestion. Instead of wheat flour, recipes for Magenbrot call for rye flour, which gives the gingerbread a little more texture. You can typically find these at fall festivals in Switzerland, like the Bern Onion Market, and at Christmas markets. Bakeries that make Magenbrot traditionally sell them wrapped in pink paper.


Magenbrot

(dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free)

Recipe adapted from Betty Bossi.

Dry ingredients:
300 grams rye flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
125 grams sugar
150 ml rice milk
1 tablespoon kirsch

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl until well-blended.

2. In a separate container, whisk together the wet ingredients and then pour into the large bowl with the flour mixture. Stir until a dough forms.

3. Turn the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll with a floured rolling pin until you have a rectangle, about 2 cm thick. Cut the rectangle into about 5 strips of dough with a sharp knife. Please note: The dough will be a bit sticky, so use a little extra flour to help shape it.

Magenbrot dough

4. Bake at 180°C/350°F for about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. When still warm, cut into pieces, approximately 2 x 4 cm. Let the pieces continue to cool while you prepare the glaze.


Magenbrot Glaze

100 grams allergy-friendly dark chocolate
20 grams dairy-free margarine
100 ml water
250 grams powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of salt

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the first three ingredients together, just until the chocolate is melted and well-blended. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients.

2. Put the cooled Magenbrot in a large bowl and pour the warm glaze over them. Toss them gently in the glaze until well-coated.

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3. Place the Magenbrot on a wire rack to cool and for the glaze to harden. Store in an airtight container.

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I just froze some homemade Magenbrot so my son can have an allergy-friendly treat during our next visit to a Swiss Christmas market. They’re easy to make and highly addictive!

Third Birthday and Upcoming Food Challenges

Dairy-free birthday cake

Our youngest son turned 3 years old this week. As we celebrate his birthday, there’s a lot to be thankful for in terms of his food allergies. We’ve had some good news this year. Here’s a quick summary:

Now I can use eggs in my son’s birthday cakes. For his party, I opted for a traditional yellow layer cake with a rhubarb swirl and chocolate frosting. The Kitchn has an easy recipe for this traditional birthday cake, which I adapted by using dairy-free margarine and rice milk.

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We will be scheduling a food challenge for eggs in the upcoming months. If our son passes this test, he’ll be able to eat scrambled eggs, french toast, frittata and all those other egg-based dishes I’ve been anxiously waiting to make again. To prepare for this challenge, I’m making sure he eats some form of baked egg every day—like dried pasta, homemade cake or bread—to hopefully build up his tolerance and increase the likelihood of him passing the test.

We also have a new testing plan for his milk allergy, developed in partnership with his pediatric allergist. This involves a series of food challenges, starting with baked milk. If there’s a negative result (i.e., no reaction occurs), then we move down the list to the next test, and so on, until he completely outgrows his allergy. If there’s a positive result (i.e., a reaction occurs), then we’ll repeat the test after a certain period of time and hope he eventually passes it.

For each of these food challenges, here’s what he’ll eat:

  1. Baked milk: Cake baked with powdered milk. Looking at the data, there’s a good chance my son will pass this test. For example, a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2011) reported that approximately 75 percent of children with a cow’s milk allergy can tolerate eating foods with baked milk.
  2. Baked yogurt: Cake baked with dairy-based yogurt.
  3. Baked cheese: Pizza baked with cheese on top.
  4. Cold milk: Cold milk or possibly petit suisse again—to be determined.

From what I’ve read, our son has a good chance of outgrowing his milk allergy. I recently came across the milk allergy guidelines from the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI), which indicate that the majority of children will resolve their cow’s milk allergy and recommends individuals “be reassessed at 6-12 monthly intervals from 12 months of age to assess for suitability of reintroduction” (p. 643).

Instead of our selected approach, we could have chosen to skip all these additional tests and go straight to the cold milk test for a second time, as our son could outgrow his milk allergy on his own, without any intervention. This was the other option we considered, and it could also work.

Even though my son could outgrow his milk allergy on his own, I’m just too impatient to wait. Plus, the study cited above found that for children, consuming baked milk products can accelerate the resolution of their allergy. Knowing this, our pediatric allergist suggested this incremental approach, and my husband and I agreed with the recommendation. I would much rather actively do something and test these different forms of milk, than wait another year, have the same result and find we can’t make any changes to our son’s diet.

Being able to add powdered milk to baked goods would be such a major improvement, and it may be something we can start doing soon, should my son pass this first test. If so, our family would no longer be living completely dairy-free in Switzerland, so once again, I may have to change the name of this blog (which I would be overjoyed to do!).

Questions: Do you or your child have a cow’s milk allergy? What approach are you taking to try and resolve it? Please leave a comment below or send me an email at dairyfreeswitzerland@gmail.com. If you have a moment to do so, I would really appreciate it.

Many thanks, and bon week-end!

Granola Bars, Hives and Cross-Contact

Managing my son’s food allergies often involves an assessment of trust. Do I trust a restaurant to serve a safe meal that’s free of cross-contact? Will a crèche (child care provider) know how to identify and respond to an allergic reaction? When I buy prepared foods at the grocery store, I also put my trust in the manufacturer to fully disclose allergens on its labels. Even though Switzerland has requirements in place for labeling allergens as intended and unintended ingredients, I still recommend contacting the manufacturer if you have any doubts, as I learned most recently from our experience with Coop’s chocolate-coated granola bars.

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Soft Snack Granola Bars

I first discovered Coop’s apricot “Soft Snack” granola bars last year, and they quickly became one of my son’s favorite treats. Then, I noticed a chocolate-coated cereal bar from the same product line. From the start, I thought the product wouldn’t be safe. Swiss-made chocolate always seems to carry a warning about potential traces of milk, eggs or almonds. I read through the ingredients and the allergy declaration, but everything looked okay for my son.

Back at home, I served the bars to my son. On at least two occasions, he developed some hives around his mouth. Concerned about the potential for cross-contact with his allergens—even though it wasn’t indicated on the package—I stopped buying them.

Last month, I finally decided to contact Coop and ask about unintended ingredients for the chocolate “Soft Snack” granola bars, as well as the “Bio Crunchy Choco Riegel” bars. As always, Coop responded thoughtfully and promptly to my questions. For its two granola bars made with chocolate, a Coop consumer service representative wrote in an email that:

“…we cannot guarantee that these products are 100% free from milk, eggs and almonds because our manufacturer has a factory which processes gluten, eggs, milk, nuts and soy. This means that products may still contain small traces below the legal limits unless otherwise declared on the packaging (e.g. gluten free).”


“May Contain Traces of…” 

Even though traces of my son’s allergens may unintentionally be included in these granola bars, Coop wrote that the amounts fall below the limits in which Swiss regulation requires a company to list them on the label: 1 gram for each kilogram of the finished product. (For more information about Swiss labeling requirements, see Ordonnance du DFI sur l’étiquetage et la publicité des denrées alimentaires, Art. 8). At the same time, manufacturers can voluntarily label their food products to indicate the potential presence of allergens, even if the unintended amounts fall below these limits. For these granola bars, Coop has decided not to include such a statement.

I emailed Coop last week to see if they would consider adding a voluntary statement about potential traces of allergens to these cereal bars. In addition, I inquired as to whether any of their food products include such a voluntary statement, even if the amount of unintended allergens falls below the Swiss limits. Yesterday afternoon, I received the following statement in an email from Coop:

“Whenever possible, we avoid the use of warnings about traces of allergens, as we believe that such warnings unnecessarily restrict the choice available to allergy sufferers. For this reason, manufacturers are only required to state unintentional contamination with allergens in the product information (which we use for the declaration) if they exceed the legally defined limits. Many manufacturers also specify traces of some allergens that are well below the limit, which we then include in the declarations on the product.”

While I want Coop to be absolutely clear about what allergens could be included in its food products, I can also understand their rationale. Blanket allergy statements like those recently seen at Tesco in the UK, for example, do not help consumers.

I think it’s great that Switzerland has set limits for labeling unintended allergens, but it’s still up to manufacturers to include a “may contain” or “shared equipment” statement for products that fall below these limits. This leads to inconsistent practices among manufacturers, which can be challenging for consumers. For example, an overly cautious allergy warning may unnecessarily limit the options for consumers. On the other hand, without full disclosure of unintended allergens, a consumer may be putting themselves at risk of an allergic reaction.

In my opinion, voluntary labeling of unintended allergens doesn’t always meet the needs of people living with severe food allergies—for which even these trace amounts can sometimes be harmful. Therefore, if you have to avoid incredibly small amounts of allergens and have questions about food products and cross-contact—whether its Coop or Migros or any other grocery store—trust your instincts. Don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturers directly, just to make sure—for your own safety and peace of mind.

I’m curious to hear from others on the “may contain traces” labeling issue. How often do you contact manufacturers? What are the labeling requirements where you live for unintended allergens? Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and comments. Bon week-end, all.

Recipe: Mocha-Cardamom Snack Cake

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Ever since our winter vacation back in February, when we drove across the border to do some exploring in France, I’ve been wanting to make a chocolate cake flavored with coffee and cardamom. I discovered this wonderful combination at a French chocolate shop in Morteau: Chocolaterie Klaus. After baking many test cakes, I’ve found an easy recipe to share that’s dairy, egg and nut-free.

I’m trying very hard not to eat cake for my second breakfast this morning…


The French Village of Lods

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When we originally planned our little excursion to France, the intent was to visit Lods. This small village alongside the Doubs river has been designated as one of the France’s Plus Beaux Villages (most beautiful villages). In all, 157 villages have this title and receive support from a nonprofit association working to maintain the character of these historic places.

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While we enjoyed walking through this quiet town, I didn’t find many options for a fancy French pastry. Instead, I bought some treats in Morteau, a larger town on the border with Switzerland. From what we’ve heard, it’s a common stop for Swiss residents seeking cheaper groceries in France.


Chocolaterie Klaus

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As we drove through Morteau on the way back to Switzerland, I spotted a “chocolaterie” sign and requested my husband take a quick turn. Soon after, we arrived at Chocolaterie Klaus. I ran into the small factory store, while my youngest napped in the back seat.

Inside, I found piles of delicious chocolate bars with small dishes of broken pieces to sample. While they had the typical flavor combinations, I saw some new ones too, like grapefruit and piment d’Espelette—a chili pepper grown in Spain and France. I bought some cookies and caramels, and two bars of chocolate, including a milk chocolate one with coffee and cardamom.

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Inspired by this chocolate bar, I began experimenting to create an allergy-friendly chocolate cake with the same flavors of coffee and cardamom. After several attempts, I found a quick recipe from my favorite ol’ Betty Crocker cookbook. My mother’s recent visit included a delivery of allergy-friendly mini-chocolate chips from Enjoy Life, so I had everything I needed to make a safe cake for my son (dairy/egg/nut-free). This recipe is incredibly fast and easy—and similar to the one for Crazy Cake. My 6-year old enjoyed helping to mix all the ingredients in the pan.


Mocha-Cardamom Snack Cake

Adapted from my favorite Betty Crocker cookbook, 7th edition (1991).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Dry ingredients:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
1 cup strong coffee
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used dark rum instead)

Topping (added before baking):
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chips)

Use an ungreased square pan, 8×8 inches or about 20×20 cm.

1. Sift dry ingredients directly into the square pan, and stir together with a fork.

2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and use the fork to combine them, just until blended.

3. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top of the cake batter.

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4. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°C/350°F until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Cool on a wire rack in the pan. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, if desired.

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In the United States, May is Food Allergy Action Month. Check out FARE’s calendar of activities which have the purpose to:

“go beyond raising awareness in order to inspire action so that we can improve understanding of the disease, advance the search for a cure, create safer environments and help people live well with food allergies.”

Bon week-end, everyone!

The April Fish

Happy April Fools’ Day! Are you eating chocolate fish today? Did your local newspaper publish a few nonsense articles this morning? Have you put a paper fish on someone’s back? If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, you may be living in French-speaking Switzerland (or France, for that matter).

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Poisson d’avril

In Suisse romande, April Fools’ Day is known as Poisson d’avril (April Fish). There are many theories for why this name developed, but the tradition of playing practical jokes on friends and family remains the same, as in other parts of the world. Long ago, people would apparently give fake fish as gifts on this day as a joke. Today, the tradition continues with beautiful chocolate fish displayed in store windows.

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Poisson d’avril display at the Musée d’horlogerie du Locle

Similar to giving fake fish, another unique tradition here and in France involves people secretly affixing paper fish to people’s backs. Whoever wears the paper fish is the Poisson d’avril. I’ve been talking about this tradition with my 6-year old, so I’m expecting a surprise paper fish from him at some point today.

To make sure a certain 2-year old can participate in Poisson d’avril, I bought a silicone mold with small springtime shapes, including a few little fish amongst the bunnies and Easter eggs. I melted some Divvies chocolate and added some grated coconut, poured it into the molds, and voila! Delicious little chocolate fish that our family can share together.

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I hope you enjoy your April Fools’ Day or Poisson d’avril. Be wary though, pranksters will be lurking everywhere today!

Vermicelles: Sweet Chestnut Noodles

Spring must be arriving soon, as our local roasted chestnut stand finished up its season on Saturday. The stand had been open for business since November, marking the start of colder weather and the holiday season. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts, and even though I have to wait until next year to enjoy them again, the Swiss have another popular use for chestnuts that’s available almost all year long: vermicelles.

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Vermicelles from Wodey-Suchard, Neuchâtel


Roasted Chestnuts

On the last day of roasted chestnut season, my boys and I bought a paper cone filled with the hot, sweet-smelling nuts. After removing the hard outer shell, you’ll find a warm chestnut inside with that distinct, yet mild flavor. The texture can be a bit dry and almost like paste, so a hot drink like mulled wine or tea makes a nice accompaniment. We brought our chestnuts to the park, and I snacked on them while the boys played on the slides.

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Roasted chestnuts at the park

From what I’ve read, Swiss chestnuts are primarily grown in Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. During the holiday season, Swiss Christmas markets often have a stand selling marrons chauds (hot roasted chestnuts). Beyond using chestnuts for roasting, they can also be ingredients in other food products, like beer, flour, pasta, jam and vermicelles—a popular Swiss dessert.

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Marrons chauds: roasted chestnut stand, Neuchâtel


Chestnut Vermicelles

Before moving to Switzerland, I associated the word vermicelles with a thinner version of spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce, for example. Here in Switzerland, however, it can have an entirely different meaning—except the shape remains the same.

I noticed these noodle-like desserts in the grocery stores almost immediately after we moved here. You can find them as part of layered whipped cream desserts, little tarts or larger cakes. For some reason, I always imagined them being coffee-flavored though. Right before Christmas, I figured out that vermicelles were actually made of pureed roasted chestnuts, and these desserts always contain dairy. If a milk product isn’t mixed in with the chestnuts, then of course it’s in the whipped cream.

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Vermicelles at the grocery store

Finally in November of last year, I purchased my first vermicelles from our local patisserie, and now I’m a fan. The combination of chestnut and whipped cream with pastry was sweet and nutty and smooth. After trying to make my own marron purree—which was a ton of work and not properly executed—I was thrilled to find a tube of ready-made vermicelles at Coop, made by Hero, that’s dairy and egg-free.

I had leftover puff pastry from last week’s gâteau aux noisettes, so I made two little round circles and baked them for about 25-30 minutes. After they cooled, I squirted out a nest of vermicelles on top. Honestly, this took a long time because I wasn’t using the tube properly. Thankfully, this video helped me figure out how to do it! I topped it all off with some soy whipped cream mixed with vanilla sugar and powdered sugar and some mini-chocolate chips from Enjoy Life.

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Vermicelles sans milk and eggs

Unfortunately, our little guy was sick with a stomach bug when I made vermicelles, so he didn’t have an appetite for anything—even dessert! I’ll likely be making them again soon. It’s so nice having a quick and allergy-friendly way to do it.

Last-Minute Homemade Sweets for St. Valentin

Joyeuse St-Valentin! Happy Valentine’s Day! This wonderful holiday provides yet another excuse to eat sweets—and chocolate in particular—while celebrating the people you love. What could be better?

Our local confiseries have beautiful displays of handmade chocolates in their windows. My boys and I often stop and admire them on the way to school.

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While our 2-year old will not be getting milk chocolate again this year because of his food allergies, I’m not going to make him feel bad about it. Instead, I’ve prepared three homemade sweet treats for our family to enjoy together.

These recipes could not be easier. All three have short ingredient lists and can be thrown together quickly. So if you want to make any of these today, there’s still time!

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Chocolate Coconut Bonbons

Recipe adapted from Saveur.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)
Makes 20 candies

Filling:
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut*
1 1/2 cups powered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons soy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla sugar**

Coating:
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoons cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon

*I used grated coconut (Noix de coco râpée) from Coop that’s already very finely chopped, so I skipped the food processor instructions listed under step #1 below.
**If you use vanilla sugar like I do, you’ll need to use about 4 tablespoons of soy cream to compensate for the loss of a liquid ingredient.

1. If needed, place coconut flakes in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer coconut to a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

2. Spoon out about 1 tablespoon of the coconut mixture and roll it into a ball. Repeat process with remaining mixture and set them aside to rest for about 1 hour.

3. Combine all of the ingredients for the coating in a bowl. Dredge each coconut ball in the coating mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.

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Blood Orange Madeleines

(dairy/nut-free, contains baked egg)

I made madeleines earlier this week for a playdate, using my favorite dairy-free recipe, and all the kids seemed to like them. I just used blood orange zest instead of lemon. Also, I tossed them in a bowl of light pink icing made of 2/3 cup powdered sugar and about 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed blood orange juice.

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Chocolate Peppermint Bark

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Here’s another wicked easy chocolate idea that you’ve probably already made before, but it was another first for me. Just melt 2 cups of whatever allergy-friendly chocolate chips you can find in a heat-safe bowl over a small pot of water, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate into the pan and spread around to your desired thickness. Sprinkle the top with 2-3 crushed candy canes or any other allergy-friendly toppings like raisins, chopped toasted pumpkin seeds or shredded coconut, etc. Put it in the fridge to cool for an hour or less, and it it’s ready to go.

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What allergy-friendly treats are you enjoying for Valentine’s Day? Please let us know by leaving a comment below. I’m always looking for new recipes and suggestions. Bon week-end!