Monica Glass’ Holiday Guide to Gluten-Free Desserts

The Clio pastry chef provides game-changing recipes for tarts, cookies, and bread pudding that taste even better than the original.

monica glass

Pastry chef Monica Glass of Clio. Photo provided

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest draws of dining at Clio is the big payoff at the end, where pastry chef Monica Glass’ decadent ice cream, cookies, and cake await. But the 2013 Food & Wine best new pastry chef has been withholding a dirty little secret. That chocolate peanut butter coulant you can’t get enough of, well, it’s gluten-free. In fact, almost everything on Clio’s dessert list is prepared sans flour, spelt, and all things gluten.

“I don’t want that “gluten-free tastes like cardboard” stigma attached to it,” Glass says. “A good dessert is a good dessert. I’d rather people just be pleasantly surprised when they find out.”

Diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2009, the pastry chef refused to look at her new lifestyle as a setback. Instead, Glass embraced the challenge and began experimenting with alternative ingredients that would continue to sate her passion for pastry.

Here, Glass provides an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix that can be applied to a number of holiday recipes. Try it as a base in chewy, molasses-rich gingersnaps, apple jam-stuffed shortbread cookies, and a pumpkin bread pudding that puts the Crescent City to shame.


monica glass

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with caramel sauce. Photo by Ruby Wallace-Ewing


Gluten-Free Flour Mix


  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup garfava bean flour (or all white rice flour can be used if desired)
  • 2 teaspoons dried milk powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Measure ingredients individually and combine in a large mixing bowl.


Pumpkin Bread Pudding
(Yields one half-sheet tray or 12 x 17 inch baking pan)

Ingredients for Pumpkin Bread:

  • 3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour mix*
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups pumpkin puree (from Red Kuri or Butternut squash but can use canned pumpkin just fine as well)
    1 cup chocolate chips, optional

Prepare the baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment and nonstick spray. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Reserve. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Scrape after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla; mix until completely incorporated. Add in the reserved dry ingredients, mixing only until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly onto prepared baking sheet. Bake at 325°F until golden and springs back, about 10-15 minutes. Cool completely at room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least two hours. Cut into ½ inch cubes.

*can use a portion of the mix recipe included or a purchased mix such as Bob’s Red Mill or Thomas Keller’s Cup for Cup

Ingredients for Bread Pudding:
(Yields one-quarter sheet tray or 8 x 8 inch baking pan)

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (from Red Kuri or Butternut squash)
  • ¼ cup vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 6 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Toast the bread cubes in the oven until they are crispy, but not burnt, about 10-15 minutes. Place in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the heavy cream, milk, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the eggs, yolks, and sugar. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly temper the eggs with the hot milk, whisking as you combine the two. Whisk in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Pour the liquid over the bread cubes in a large bowl. Let sit for about one hour to completely soak all of the bread with the liquid. Grease a baking dish with either non-stick baking spray or butter. Place the soaked bread cubes into the prepared baking dish and gently press to create and even layer on the top. Bake in the preheated oven until the custard is set and bread is puffed and golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Tart

Ingredients for Chocolate Tart Crust:

  • 1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour mix*
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • ½ confectioner’s sugar, 10x
  • 3 pasteurized egg yolks

Sift together flour and cocoa powder and reserve. In mixer cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Add egg yolks, mixing just until incorporated. Chill, allowing a resting period before use. Roll out and form into pie or tart pan. Preheat oven to 325°F. Blind bake until crispy.

*can use a portion of the mix recipe included or a purchased mix such as Bob’s Red Mill or Thomas Keller’s Cup for Cup

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Caramel:

  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon glucose syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • Salt

Combine sugar, water, lemon juice, and glucose in a medium saucepan. Cook until it reaches a medium amber caramel. Remove caramelized sugar from heat and deglaze with warmed heavy cream. Cook to completely dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and emulsify peanut butter into caramel. Season to taste with salt.

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons glucose syrup
  • 1 ¾ cups dark chocolate couverture (55%), chopped
  • 1/8 cup unsalted butter, softened

In a saucepan, combine cream and glucose. Bring to a boil. Place couverture in a large bowl and gradually pour cream over it. Allow to stand a few minutes, then stir slowly to emulsify. Allow to cool to 35°C/95°F before incorporating butter.

To Assemble:
1 cup chopped peanuts

Place a layer of chopped peanuts on bottom of tart crust. Pour caramel over the peanuts, filling halfway up the tart walls. Freeze until completely firm. Pour ganache into tart mold over the caramel. Let set until firm enough to slice.

monica glass

Gluten-free gingersnaps. Photo by Ruby Wallace-Ewing.



  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups glutenfree all-purpose flour mix*
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift together all dry ingredients except for the last addition of sugar and set aside. Cream together the shortening, brown sugar, and molasses in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg and vanilla, then mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure egg is completely incorporated. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in three additions, mixing well after each addition. Roll the dough into one inch balls then toss in the granulated sugar to coat. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about two inches apart and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

*can use a portion of the mix recipe included or a purchased mix such as Bob’s Red Mill or Thomas Keller’s Cup for Cup


Shortbread Thumbprints with Caramelized Apple Jam
(Yields approximately three dozen)

Ingredients for Shortbread:

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix*
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (can sub all gluten free flour mix)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Approximately 1/4 cup of caramelized apple jam

Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the flours and salt and mix until combined. Cover and chill the dough for about 30 minutes so it’s easier to work with. Roll the dough into one-inch balls and place about an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your finger, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Fill with desired amount of apple jam. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown.

*can use a portion of the mix recipe included or a purchased mix such as Bob’s Red Mill or Thomas Keller’s Cup for Cup

Ingredients for Caramelized Apple Jam:

  • 4 apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium sauce pot. Add water until sandy. Cook over medium heat until liquid evaporates and just before sugar would caramelize, approximately 240°F. Add apples and cook until soft and syrup is slightly thickened. Remove vanilla bean and blend with an immersion blender.

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