Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus and Katharine Hepburn Brownie Bites

Do you know that expression “kill two birds with one stone”? If you are not familiar with it, please don’t take me literally. At our house, we all enjoy birds (the kind outside our windows these days, but we raised happy finches for years) and would never harm one. But, I totally believe in the philosophy of satisfying more than one task/need with a single solution. I am all about doing things easily and not devoting time to multiple tasks. So the other day, I was thinking of a way that I could come up with a recipe that would work for both Diane’s Friday Foodie Fix using asparagus (the ingredient of the week) and Naomi’s Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free canapé theme. Naomi urged participants to go for true canapés—little one-bite size morsels. Asparagus doesn’t make one think of bite-sized morsels, but the asparagus sold in our grocery store is diminutive for asparagus and if I made the recipe appealing enough, wouldn’t one want to eat it in one bite? My husband has an ongoing professional position where he deals with legal code and over the years he has repeated to me many times that one must look at the intent of the code. With that in mind, my “intent” is that this recipe will be a one-bite, maybe one-and-a-half bite (pushing two-bite?), canapé. So, I hope Naomi will accept it in the spirit that is intended.

Initially, I started thinking about Diane’s bacon-wrapped avocados. (And, I’m still thinking about them and wanting one! Maybe this weekend for our house guest …) Specifically, I pondered bacon-wrapped asparagus, but that idea didn’t seem too feasible. The asparagus spears in my mother-in-law’s garden are usually thick and tall/long enough to be wrapped in a piece of bacon, but the asparagus spears at the store (the ones I would be buying) are far too small. The bacon would smother it. (I know it’s hard to believe for those of us who enjoy our bacon, but sometimes too much bacon really can really be an undesirable thing. LOL) Heading into the grocery store, I really had no idea how I was going to prepare the asparagus. All I knew was that I was going to prepare it for these two fun blog carnivals and serve it to my girlfriends for dinner as a canapé. But, first, I needed to pick up some Swiss cheese for my husband. Right there beside the Swiss cheese was prosciutto. Hmmm, delicious prosciutto … thinner, leaner, and a little more subtle than bacon, but still offering sweet and salty smokiness. I grabbed some.

At home later as the girls straggled in from work, I peeled off a piece of prosciutto from the packaging. While it was definitely much thinner than a slice of bacon and actually an ideal thickness for wrapping, the width overwhelmed the dainty spear. So I unwrapped the spear and pulled my kitchen shears out to cut the piece in half lengthwise. Then I rewrapped the spear. Ah, that was just right … even uncooked, it looked delicious. So I continued wrapping spears with prosciutto. One friend asked, “Shirley, are you wrapping prosciutto around asparagus?” “Yes, I am.” I replied enthusiastically. “Yum” was her response. (Again, that was before we had eaten them.) When I had used up all the prosciutto, I still had half of the pound of asparagus left. I decided to cook that on the same baking sheet but with the spears drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with cayenne pepper.

The “hot and spicy” roasted asparagus would be a nice contrast to the pork tenderloin with maple glaze that I was serving. It seems like for everything I roast in the oven these days (chickpeas, Brussels sprouts, etc.), I set the oven to 450 degrees and cook for 15 – 20 minutes. That approach worked well with the asparagus, too. Both the prosciutto-wrapped and the hot and spicy version were done in 15 minutes. I set the hot and spicy ones aside under cover momentarily, and placed the canapé asparagus spears on the counter to take a good photo before we ate them. They were absolutely photogenic. (Can asparagus be photogenic? Well, the answer is irrelevant … this asparagus was!) For once, waiting to get good pictures worked out as the spears cooled just enough to eat while I was snapping the shots. But, then we tried them. Out. Of. This. World. We all agreed they were absolutely divine and when was the last time you picked up an asparagus spear with your fingers? Okay, I admit we eat asparagus with our fingers all the time when we are camping ;-) … but usually not when dining at home. The prosciutto wrap gives some nice little structure to the asparagus spear, which makes for easy pick-up with your fingers and instant devouring. If you happen to be finicky about such food sharing (and are not among family or close friends—if that makes a difference to you), put out little appetizer forks or some type of skewers for everyone. But, really it’s a quick bite or two and then you’re done—there’s no real time or need for skewering. These are canapés—remember? They are meant to be picked up and enjoyed without utensils. They are so incredibly good, and I was very pleased with myself for coming up with the two-ingredient canapé. However, full disclosure: I later googled prosciutto and asparagus and it seems like tons of folks have been doing some variation of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus forever! So, I’m not quite as clever as I thought. Rats. Isn’t that always the case? LOL But, no recipe was exactly like mine. In comparison to a similar recipe I found, I didn’t use olive oil on my canapés (even leaner prosciutto provides enough fat in my opinion), plus, I used a higher temperature for roasting and no seasonings (again, not needed). Anyway, gluten-free and dairy-free, these canapes are fabulous.


As we enjoyed the canapés, we sipped our beverages. There was Chateau Morrisette’s Blushing Dog (a lovely Virginia wine, which my friend, Veronica, had brought to the Valentine’s Day party) and Georges Duboeuf Pinot Noir (a French wine that “Fred” brought—beautiful and fruity). There was also sparkling grape juice for our favorite teetotaler of the group. Then we moved on to the actual dinner: Kathi’s great salad (she made it while I finished cooking), pork tenderloin with maple glaze (if you haven’t tried it yet, you should … this is an amazing dish), pan-baked Parmesan potatoes (a twice-baked taste without the work), the hot and spicy asparagus, and sourdough bread (NOT gluten free—brought by Vivian for the gluten eaters). After dinner, we sat and chatted for a bit. Then, it was time for dessert.

Cathy at Noble Pig had shared a recipe for Katharine Hepburn (KH) brownies on her site a while back. Because the recipe called for only ¼ cup of all-purpose flour (i.e., flour containing gluten), I knew it would be easy to duplicate gluten-free by replacing the all-purpose flour with the same amount of gluten-free flour mix and adding just a pinch of xanthan gum. I was right. These brownies are rich, fudgy squares—absolutely delicious. (Cathy’s version calls for walnuts. I actually prefer these brownies “plain” because the chocolate doesn’t compete with the walnuts, and the plain ones cut “cleaner” and have the perfect texture, too.) I served a few of the KH brownies—cut into canapé-size bites for sampling—as a prelude to the very fine chocolate ice cream that Fred’s husband had made for us. The brownie bites were met with sounds of approval and quickly disappeared. Eventually, we moved on to the ice cream. With the ice cream, I served more KH brownies these cut into regular-sized squares. Some made their way into the bowls of ice cream. Delish! No whipped cream needed. 


It was a delicious evening, on so many levels. Aren’t the times spent with true friends the best times ever? The next day we exchanged emails in rapid fashion saying how wonderful our evening was, thanking each other for contributions to the meal, and just sincerely counting the blessings of our friendship. There’s no doubt that all of us who share such friendships are extremely fortunate and are better for them, but read more here (if you like) about the actual health values of such friendships. (I’ve recently discovered this blog, Happy Healthy Long Life, and have really been enjoying the positive perspective shared.)

Finally, what’s your favorite canapé? If you’re a fellow blogger, make a gluten-free canapé, write a post, and share with everyone, by submitting your link to Naomi. (The deadline is tomorrow, Saturday, April 25. If you miss this one, the Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free carnival continues each month with a different theme and host. I’ll be hosting one month this summer.) Or perhaps you have a favorite asparagus recipe that’s gluten free … post it and submit your post to Diane’s Friday Foodie F ix using the widget on her site (those are due today, but if you want to join the fun later, be sure to check each Friday to see which ingredient Diane has picked for the following week’s FFF. Next week’s ingredient is strawberry.). Even if you can’t post a gluten-free recipe for either of these carnivals, please go and enjoy the entries—-there’s always some really good stuff at each site! : – )

Happy Friday!

Not just gf, but gfe!

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23 Responses to “Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus and Katharine Hepburn Brownie Bites”

  1. Diane-thewholegang on April 24th, 2009 12:11 pm

    Girl you are talking my language. I love prosciutto and any cousin to bacon. These are such a great treat. I totally forgotten about making these. Sorry someone made it before you but your recipe is different and they taste great so no worries. The last time I had these was when I catered my husbands book release party for his book. That was way before I even knew what gluten free was. So glad this one is a keeper. Now those brownies, I can’t stop eating them once I start no matter what size they are. I end up cutting them in the pan and then tasting one. Well then I’ve made them uneven so I have to have another one. Well I might as well put them on a plate but they’re not all the same size so I must cut them to adjust and eat the scraps. You see where this is going, to my hips! I’m going to drool over yours from here and pretend I can smell them for real, since I am smelling them in my mind. Thanks for sharing!

    • Shirley on April 24th, 2009 12:26 pm

      Hi Diane–You always crack me up! I can totally identify with the brownie paring and sizing. If the girls hadn’t been here, I would have probably been doing the exact same thing. LOL I tell you … my answer is to have an intended recipient in mind so my tasting, testing, and perfectionism can’t go too crazy. I am making these brownies again today for my SIL’s birthday, but I’ll be taking all of them to her as part of her present. I am going to make a dairy-free version of this recipe soon, also.

      How awesome that you catered your husband’s book release party! That must have been a very, very special night. :-) BTW, your point is excellent on the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus being gluten-free and you having no knowledge or need to know that at the time. So many simple out-of-this-world dishes are naturally gluten-free—gfe!

      Hey, aren’t you proud of me for getting my submission in before noon? It’s usually more like midnight for me! ;-)


  2. H.Peter on April 24th, 2009 6:16 pm

    Full size squares of brownies only….none of those little cavity fillers for me (though you do include a tooth pick).

    I must say they look very incredible. Well done Shirley.

  3. noble pig on April 24th, 2009 7:08 pm

    I’m so glad they worked! Now I want some.

  4. WendyGK on April 24th, 2009 8:06 pm

    You and Diane must be twins separated at birth and I am your long lost cousin. Great minds and all that…

  5. Shirley on April 24th, 2009 9:05 pm

    H.Peter–You crack me up!! I think your logic is faulty ;-) , but notice that the toothpicks I provided were the sturdy, functional kind–not those frilly “just for looks” types. I’m sure that Victoria and Lauren already have an awesome recipe for brownies that they use at the GF Patisserie, but if they don’t they should see if they can adapt this recipe for a little larger volume. :-)


  6. Shirley on April 24th, 2009 9:10 pm

    noble pig–Cathy, they are great! With the gluten-free ones, it does work better to leave them in the pan until they are well cooled. The first time I lifted them out on the parchment paper right away to cool, but they cracked a lot. After they cooled, some of the cracks “healed” though. It’s probably just due to the GF factor. Well, you know they are so easy to bake! I am sure the Wild Boar and the hooligans would be very happy. :-)


  7. Shirley on April 24th, 2009 9:14 pm

    WendyGK–When I read your comment, I immediately flashed back to Arnold and Danny in Twins! Remember that one? You made me laugh out loud for sure. It will be interesting to see if we demonstrate similar thinking as the Friday Food Fix continues with different ingredients. ;-)

    Thanks so much for commenting!

  8. Linda on April 24th, 2009 11:21 pm

    Your asparagus canapes look great, especially with that tablecloth. If I had know about the Go Ahead Honey carnival, I probably would have tried combining the two also. How is it that I didn’t know about that anyway? Is there one blog that coordinates it?

    • Shirley on April 25th, 2009 12:00 am

      Thanks so much, Linda! Every time I look at the photo, I want some more of those canape spears. The dish is actually on a placemat and I am quite in love with the set. Linen is so nice and it’s just such a lovely print. Set anything green on it and it really is vibrant. :-)

      I am sorry I wasn’t clear about the Go Ahead Honey carnival. Naomi Devlin, who also happens to be this month’s host, is the originator and, therefore, the coordinator. You can stay up to date by visiting her blog, Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. Naomi would love to have you join in the fun, whether she’s hosting or someone else. Kelly from The Spunky Coconut hosted last month. I don’t know who’s hosting next month, but stay tuned to Naomi’s blog.

      Have a good weekend!

  9. Jennifer on April 25th, 2009 6:34 am

    I looove proscuitto and have found a nice one at Costco.
    They have two types. I buy the more expensive one, because it is sliced thinner. I made gluten free chebe rolls for our church, put dijon mustard and proscuitto on them. They flew off the plate! One young lady who is 11 ate one, and said “I love prosciutto.”
    Cracked me up!

    • Shirley on April 25th, 2009 8:10 pm

      Hey, Jennifer!–All the Costco fans will be so happy to hear that news if they haven’t already disovered the prosciutto there themselves. :-)

      Chebe rolls with prosciutto and dijon—now that sounds really good! I see an amazing life of food for that 11-year old … her comment is terrific. ;-)


  10. H.Peter on April 25th, 2009 9:23 am

    GF Patisserie has a Brownie going, I believe they keep Alberta’s dairy industry going with what goes into theirs?

    As you can relate, taste is key when baking gluten free, so they need to be inventive with pretty much everything they produce for their clients. Especially with a classic such as Brownies.

    But again, this recipe looks like a hit to me.

    • Shirley on April 25th, 2009 8:15 pm

      H.Peter–Butter, butter, and more butter, huh? LOL I am sure their brownies taste absolutely wonderful. Thanks again for your very kind words re: mine … well, “mine” via Cathy and Katharine. ;-)


  11. Naomi on April 25th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Yum! Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto sounds completely delicious – I always eat it with my fingers, you’re obviously sooo much more refined than me. I don’t mind a bit if they were more than one bite, and yes – I’m sure you could cram them into your mouth if you felt like it.

    As for the brownies, what can I say? Fudgy and chocolatey, finding their way into ice cream, it all sounds incredibly good. Thanks for taking part, I’ll post the round up on the 30th.

    x x x

    • Shirley on April 25th, 2009 8:20 pm

      Hi, Naomi!– :-) Well, if I keep making this recipe, I may never use a fork with asparagus again. LOL I think canapes are certainly a nice way to begin and end a meal. ;-)

      Can’t wait to see what’s submitted!


  12. H.Peter on April 26th, 2009 9:52 am

    Re.: “mine”,
    Basically what you proof in my view with this GF brownie, is that you can take any regular recipe that is not so heavy on flour and turn it into a gluten free gem.

    So many newly diagnosed Celiacs start to overthink and stress out over how to make things gluten free.
    Relax and follow your gut.

    Or of course take the path of least resistence and read “Gluten Free Easily”?

  13. ~Z~ on April 27th, 2009 3:31 pm

    Hi! This is Z from Gluten-Free From A to Z! That’s my gluten-free blog, but I have another blog – From This Point. Forward. – that is a little bit more personal. There’s a surprise for you on that blog today! I hope you’ll check it out:

    • Shirley on April 27th, 2009 10:54 pm

      Hey, Z!–Wow, thank you for the Lemonade Stand Award! Great attitude and gratitude sounds good to me. ;-) It’s so sweet of you to honor my blog this way. I’ll do a post on this award soon.

      Thanks so much!

  14. glutenfreeforgood on April 27th, 2009 9:18 pm

    I thought everyone ate asparagus with their fingers! How else do you eat it?

    Sounds like you all had a wonderful time. You know, it seems every time I come over here you have some wonderful looking treat featured. I’m still on my “no sugar” binge (binge obviously isn’t the right word, but nothing else comes to mind), so I’ll just gaze longingly at my computer screen and swoon over your brownies.

    Do they have scratch and sniff blog widgets? If so, you need to get one!

    Melissa (sniff, sniff)

    • Shirley on April 27th, 2009 11:02 pm

      Melissa–I told you I had only recently eaten asparagus. How is it I never noticed that everyone was eating asparagus with their fingers? I was using a fork … silly me!

      I won’t keep making it so hard on you. LOL I promise more non-treat recipes and even non-food (well, more accurately, less food) posts soon. Scratch and sniff blog widgets certainly seem within the realm of possibility … wonder if we’d really like them though. Wouldn’t it make it harder to return to our heathier foods?


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