As I don’t go tired of saying, going gluten-free from one day to the other was not hard on me. It was hard in terms of figuring out what to eat and what not to eat, but I wasn’t sad or grieved (as I have learnt others do) when I received my celiac diagnosis.
I’ve been eating gluten-free for what will soon be ten months, and I have managed to find two or three items that I am sad about not being able to eat any more. But this is only because there is no gluten-free version offered that I can buy instead. These are: the magical pain au chocolat I ate during my Paris-trip in 2012 and Raffaello. Egg-rolls used to also be on that list, but I’ll save that for another blog post on another day.
Perhaps also known to you as “German Kleinigkeit” (German Little Thing), Raffaello is a concoction of the finest candy maker brain cells. It’s a shell, consisting of two wafers, that when placed together form a globe. Inside this shell, the eater finds a very creamy and sweet center that tastes of milk powder, vanilla and coconut milk. At room temperature this center is frothy, in the fridge it will firm up. Floating inside this delicious filling is a single peeled almond. The wafer shell is dipped in white chocolate and then coated with coconut shreds. They look very innocent and pretty, something so pure that could serve it at a sorority luncheon, along with cucumber sandwiches and sweet tea.
Due to its white and chocolate-free nature, Ferrero, the Raffaello manufacturer, markets Raffaello as a light and fresh little candy, reminiscing of summer and summer. The commercials always feature a skinny and beautiful blonde woman in a white, bleached attire, always at an exclusive location that contrasts with the hue of impeccable blue skies. Wealth is implied. The woman is always the center of attention, there is either a lover close-by or many friends at a party who are joking with her. In the newest commercial, her magic powers extend to befriending cockatoos. If you want to stroll down memory lane, you can watch all of the Raffaello commercials on youtube. It’s fun.
I used to love to eat Raffaello at room temperature. I would begin by parting the wafers, then lick out all its content, saving the almond for the end. I then would eat the wafers, preferably the coconut-white chocolate coating first. While my version does not render you able to lick out the inside of the wafers (oh my, we are getting a bit sensual today, aren’t we?), I find that it tastes just like Raffaello and I absolutely love how the cornflakes provide crunch. Just like in good old days!
I came by my Raffaello recipe by pure accident. We were recently invited to a birthday party, and I figured I would bring a couple of sweets and decided on “Schokocrossies”, a popular treat consisting of cornflakes dipped in melted chocolate. It’s easy, quick and everyone loves them. I wanted to make two versions: one with white and one with milk chocolate, and wanted to add nuts to the mix, because really: who doesn’t love those?
I started off with the white chocolate refused. It refused to melt. I ended up with a huge, somewhat firm ball worth 200g of semi-melted white chocolate. The consistency reminded me of marzipan. Even adding coconut butter wouldn’t help. My husband looked at me quizzically. I told myself: apparently this recipe is too simple for you, that’s why it works for everyone else, but not for you.
However, I’ve learnt to work with mistakes in the kitchen, plus there was no way I was going to eat a ball made up of 200 grams of white chocolate entirely on my own or throw it away. My husband came in, eager to try Schokocrossies and I kept chasing him out of the kitchen. I was quite the damsel in distress, but only in part because my recipe was falling to pieces. I was mainly unhappy, because I had managed to make a huge mess of the kitchen already and needed to clean up before proceeding any further. Oh, the joys of cooking in a tiny kitchen!
I then began kneading all the ingredients I had intended to go into my white Schokocrossies into the white chocolate marzipan: gluten-free cornflakes, shredded coconut, shaved almonds, more coconut butter. I then tore the giant ball apart into smaller pieces, and allowed them to cool. When I tasted one of these pieces, I knew that I had made an amazing discovery: Raffaellos are no joke. They are not a light snack. Its existence is one based on tons of sugar, a lot of fat and many, many calories. Trophy wives don’t eat them, because they render you unable to wear white attire of any kind, because as is basic knowledge: white only makes you look fatter and heavier than you already are. Also, there is no way you will be sharing something this good with friends – or even your lover. Raffaello are meant to be eaten in solitude, in a quiet dark corner where no one can see you or behind drawn curtains. Hogging these is only natural and will make you insanely unpopular with friends and family.
I did discover that one thing about their marketing campaign is in fact based on the truth: Raffaello are indeed highly suited to befriend birds. I know Yoshi would appreciate the sweetness and the crunch.
Recipe for about twelve gluten-free Raffaello-Imitations:
200g gluten-free white chocolate (e.g. Milka or Rapunzel)
1 tbsp coconut butter (or more)
two drops vanilla aroma
Dry ingredients (beware: this is an approximation of what you will need):
two generous handful gluten-free cornflakes (e.g. Glutano)
1 tbsp shaved almonds (should be peeled prior to shaving)
1 tbsp shredded coconut plus shredded coconut for garnish.
Break the white chocolate into pieces.
Melt in a water bath together with the coconut butter. Bit by bit add the shaved almonds, the shredded coconut and the gluten-free cornflakes. I suggest that you not add the dry ingredients in their entirety, because I did not weigh them. You want a good part of the mass to consist of white chocolate, so be careful and if need be stop adding dry ingredients (unless you want to run out mid-way and buy a second bar of white chocolate like I had to the second time I made these). Let cool.
If your chocolate doesn’t melt (like it didn’t for me the first time around), don’t despair. Knead the ingredients into the marzipan-like mass and proceed from there. I have no picture of this, sorry!
Meanwhile, line a baking form with a baking sheet and generously spread coconut shreds onto it.
Once the mass has cooled down (you should be able to hold it in your hand for a longer period of time without hurting yourself), form a small and even ball. Roll in the shredded coconut until all of the outside is covered in shredded coconut. Repeat with the rest of the mass until it is used up. Allow your treats to cool entirely and enjoy! We have managed to eat these up with in a day of making, so I cannot tell you how long they will keep whilst maintaining their crunch.