Yes, I made Chocolate Haystacks. Dark Chocolate Haystacks. And they are gluten-free, grain free, dairy-free … oh, and good … as in really good. If you’re familiar with Haystack Treats, they’re usually made with butterscotch chips, which give the haystacks a more suitable golden color. However, not all butterscotch chips are gluten free. Most contain barley and, therefore, gluten. Plus, that butterscotch coloring doesn’t come naturally; it’s courtesy of “Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, and Blue 2 Lake.” No thanks. But I digress … a bit.
If you remember making Haystacks from your gluten-full days, you’ll also remember that chow mein noodles are required. They form the basis of the haystack structure, but chow mein noodles contain gluten, right? Well, yes, almost all brands do. Certainly any chow mein noodles that you can pick up in the Asian food aisle of your mainstream/basic grocery store or even your ethnic grocery store contain gluten. But now Goldbaum’s has come out with a gluten-free chow mein noodle. I didn’t know that I even needed gluten-free chow mein noodles in my life, but making these Chocolate Haystacks might have convinced me otherwise.
Let me back up a minute. Goldbaum’s sent my support group a complimentary package of products to try. Their new gluten-free Chow Mein Noodles were included. I didn’t have any Asian dishes in mind for our next meeting, but I did plan to make Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Chicken and Ham. Testing out the Chow Mein Noodles as “Crispy Noodles” like the ones I used to love in my Egg Drop Soup seemed like a good idea. I liked the addition to my soup. I didn’t think Goldbaum’s Chow Mein Noodles tasted quite as good as crispy noodles, but I and others agreed that the more we sampled them, the more we liked them.
Goldbaum’s Gluten-Free Chow Mein Noodles are gluten free, grain free (at least they appear to be grain free per the ingredients), dairy free, GMO free, and kosher. They contain no coloring or preservatives. The ingredients are: PALM KERNEL VEGETABLE OIL, TAPIOCA STARCH, POTATO STARCH, PASTEURIZED EGG WHITE, SALT, SPICES (SWEET PEPPER). Goldbaum’s products are also made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. I love Goldbaum’s gluten-free ice cream cones and I also enjoy their gluten-free pasta, too. FYI: Goldbaum’s is having a raffle of $200 worth of products. The drawing will be in January 2013; enter here.
It was a conversation with Jeanne (Art of Gluten-Free Baking) earlier the day of our support group meeting that inspired me to make these Chocolate Haystacks. Jeanne was our wonderful guest speaker. She had traveled cross country in conjunction with the release of her new cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays. She shared her gluten-free baking approach, new cookbook, divine gluten-free spritz cookies, and much more with my support group. (I’ll tell more in my November GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group post.) From the moment, I picked Jeanne up at the airport, we had done what girlfriends do … we had talked nonstop. As we prepared for my support group meeting, Jeanne saw the gluten-free chow mein noodles and commented that she had eaten some Chocolate Haystacks years ago, not realizing that they contained chow mein noodles and, of course, she had gotten glutened. When cleaning up from the meeting and storing the remaining chow mein noodles, it seemed only appropriate that I should plan for some safe, gluten-free Chocolate Haystacks in the near future.
True haystacks, the ones shown in Van Gogh’s famous Haystacks in Provence, are rarely seen these days. Well, at least in our area. Giant hay bales and some small square bales are usually the presentation of hay on our local farms and the ones we pass on the way to our mountain property (as shown above in a spring photo from a few years back). And some say that my Chocolate “Haystacks” don’t exactly look like haystacks; they’re right, of course. When I shared the photo on my gfe Facebook page, one of my friends across the pond, Naomi (Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried), stated “They look like little campfires – especially the ones with cranberries (or cherry?) on top. I’m thinking that they would be great for Bonfire Night (November 5th UK).” Naomi is right about both the presentation of these treats and the cranberries on top, and I appreciate her compliment and idea! First, I don’t think anyone will mind that they look more like prone haystacks than standing ones, or little campfires. They do look like little campfires and would be great for a bonfire celebration. Being a camping gal, I love that! Second, those are cranberries (Craisins to be exact; I keep those on hand for Kathi’s Great Salad) on some of the treats and pistachios on top of others. So these could be Chocolate Campfires. Or I could have called these Chocolate Clusters. Longtime gfe readers will know that I have a hard time choosing appropriate names for some of recipes (e.g. Molasses Banana Bread … or Is It Cake?). Haystacks are seasonal though and tied back to the original chow mein noodle treats of long ago. Anyway I quickly topped the treats with these little adornments after I placed them on the baking sheet to indicate what was inside each as I had made a few variations. (I also made some with pecans, but didn’t have any pretty pecan pieces for topping.) Note that topping the treats is a great job for one of your kitchen helpers as you will have to work fairly quickly in just dropping the treats on the baking sheet before the chocolate hardens.
An online search revealed another brand of packaged gluten-free Chow Mein noodles—from GlutenFreePalace.com—but I don’t know anything about their version. And, by the way, you can even make your own gluten-free chow mein noodles by following Heidi’s (Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom) instructions. Note: If you want to make something gluten free, dairy free, etc. that seems impossible, chances are that Heidi’s already done it, and done it very, very well! Cases in point: dairy-free (and soy-free, vegan) butter; Goldfish crackers, plus Goldfish “everything else”; and corn-free Worcestershire sauce. (Find many more examples of her recipe genius by clicking on her recipe tab and then choosing the individual categories of interest.)
These treats also reminded me of Kim’s (Cook IT Allergy Free) Sweet and Salty Pretzel Bites. Those are such easy and delicious goodies!
Another very tasty, easy-to-make drop treat would be my Almond Chocolate Double Coconut No-Bake Cookies here on gfe.
Have you noticed that I seem to be fixated on desserts of late? There’s a reason for that. Well, I should say more of a reason than usual because I always love desserts! Plus, I haven’t been posting as much here on gfe. There’s a reason for that, too (and it’s not just because of the totally irksome computer problems I’ve been having). Ah, the intrigue. Stay tuned to gfe … there’s a big, exciting announcement coming very soon! But for now, here’s the recipe for Chocolate Haystacks … enjoy!
- 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chips or broken pieces (I usually use these chocolate chips which I can get at my basic grocery store and are by far my favorite, or these which I can order online)
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free chow mein noodles (or gluten-free pretzels, or even slivered almonds for smaller treats)
- 1 ½ cups pistachios, shelled OR up to 1½ cups of other favorite ingredients (e.g., small nuts (or nut pieces), dried cranberries (or Craisins), raisins, sunflower seeds).
- Line one very large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) with waxed paper or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Using the double-boiler method, melt chocolate in a large pan. Once chocolate is melted, remove pan from heat and immediately stir in other ingredients. Add additional amount of ingredients if needed to get haystack “clusters.”
- Drop bite-size spoonfuls of mixture on prepared baking sheet.
- Place baking sheet in freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes so haystacks will set.
- Makes a little over a dozen 3-inch haystacks.
Full disclosure: Goldbaum’s provided the gluten-free Chow Mein Noodles free of charge to my support group, but the opinions expressed in this unsolicited review are strictly my own.