Archive for the 'Refined Sugar-Free' Category



Gluten Free Agave-Sweetened Peanut Butter Cookies

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A lot of people in my life have been trying to cut down on the amount of processed sugars, wheat, and/or gluten in their diets. I’m always excited and interested in baking experiments, and want everyone to be able to have a treat, so I decided to bake some cookies that my friends could eat. I knew that one of them specifically loves peanut butter cookies, and another loves peanut butter in any form, so I decided that more peanut butter baking was the way to go. Usually when I bake gluten-free desserts, I use a mix of rice flour and almond meal, but having neither on hand, I had to get creative. I made a mix of gluten-free flours that was very nutty, and was a little worried that the cookies would turn out too heavy and dense. I used coconut flour and quinoa flour (both protein packed!) and threw in some tapioca flour to lighten it up. In the end, I decided that the coconut flour really complimented the PB very well, so I’m glad I went with that. The cookies were not too heavy and they were chewy just the way a regular peanut butter cookie should be.

While coming up with the recipe, I realized that I’ve never actually baked using agave as my primary sweetener. I planned to use it this time, but when looking through my cupboards I happened to have some dried dates in the house, and had seen some recipes using date paste as a sweetener, so I decided to mix the two in this recipe. I think they gave the cookies a really nice natural flavor, yet they didn’t make them taste too “healthy”.

The cookies had a great reception (and they were even appreciated by friends who eat regular sugar- and wheat gluten-laden desserts! Some even said they couldn’t taste the difference).

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Ingredients:
*This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies

Wet Mix:
1/2 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
2 Tblsp. coconut oil, melted
1 cup unsweetened, natural, peanut butter (try to use a kind where the oil doesn’t separate out)
3/4 cup dried pitted dates
1/2 cup medium agave
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder + 2 Tblsp. warm water, blended till frothy
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk

Dry Mix:
1 1/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cookie pan with a silpat baking sheet.
Place about 3/4 cup dates in a bowl of boiling water, and set aside for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Pour out the hot water from the bowl of dates, and place dates in a blender along with about 1/3 cup of new water. Blend on high until it forms a paste (add a little more water if needed).
In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour into the dry mix and stir with a large wooden spoon. You may have to work the dough with your hands in order to fully combine all ingredients.
Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place the balls on your prepared pan 1-2 inches apart (these cookies will not spread).
Slightly flatten the dough with a fork in a cross-hatch pattern.
Bake 11-13 minutes. Let cookies sit on pan for 5 minutes to set, and then remove with a spatula and cool on wire racks.

Agave-Sweetened Almond Quinoa Muffins

I had a ton of left-over quinoa this weekend, and while I’ve been very happy to add it to my oatmeal and salads, I wanted to find something else creative to do with it. I made quinoa muffins awhile ago (a year ago! Wow, how time flies…), and they were delicious. The recipe I used both times is from Veganomicon, and the only adaptation I made to the original recipe is to add half a teaspoon of baking powder (to make the muffins rise a bit more) and substitute chopped dried cherries instead of apricots or currants because that’s what I had on hand.

When I first tasted the muffins, a few minutes out of the oven, they were very moist and dense but still delicious. The next day when they were completely cooled and had sat out overnight, they felt a bit fluffier and lighter, which was interesting. You can’t taste the almond at all, and I’m a big almond fan, so next time I might add chopped almonds or even a bit of almond extract to the batter, but the muffins certainly don’t need that unless you’re really looking for the almond flavor. The cardamom and cinnamon spices are not overpowering, and are just plain yummy!

I love the bumpy texture that the quinoa gives the tops of the muffins, and the healthy/protein-jump-start to the day that these muffins give you. I also really like that these muffins are delicately sweet, and sweetened only with agave (so really, it would be quite healthy to eat 2 for breakfast everyday, right?). Mmm. As a big nut-butter fan, I found that they were delicious with hazelnut butter spread thickly on top!

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Ingredients:
1 cup plain non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 Tblsp. ground flax seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (you can use whole wheat pastry flour, your muffin will just be a bit heavier)
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries (or whatever dried fruit & nuts you want to use)

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
Whisk the almond milk and flax seeds in a small bowl.
Sift the dry ingredients (except the quinoa, which isn’t really dry, but just in case) together into a big bowl.
To the almond milk mixture, add the oil, agave, and vanilla.
Pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff and mix with a wooden spoon just until it’s combined.
Add the quinoa and cherries and fold in gently to combine.
Spoon the batter in the muffin tin, and bake for 20 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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Raw Banana Pie

Also Kosher for Passover, this raw banana pie was delicious! It was nice to have a lighter dessert pared with the rich dark chocolate desserts also served, which were quite heavy without any levening! This pie was pretty easy to throw together, although I will have to remember next time to take it out of the freezer quite a bit before serving time to let it thaw out. Unfortunately, I did not measure my ingredients exactly, so here is an approximate ingredient list:

1 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup dates, soaked tap water for at least 20 minutes
4 bananas, peeled and frozen
1/2 cup strawberries
1 slice lemon, or other fruit for garnish

Step 1: Grind raw almonds in a food processor until it reaches almost a “meal” consistency. Add pitted and soaked dates, and puree together until it is a good thick paste. Press evenly into your pie pan to form the bottom crust.

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Step 2: Blend frozen bananas in your food processor or blender, till smooth and thick like frozen yogurt. Pour into your crust and flatten the top with a knife or the back of a large spoon.

Step 3: Slice strawberries and layer in a circle shape, with a slice or two of lemon in the center for garnish.

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Step 4: Put pie in freezer to harden. Remember to take it out about 30 minutes before you want to serve it, and let it sit at room temperature to soften a bit. You want it to still be firm, so the banana filling holds together when you slice it.

Nothing/Invisible Cookies

Here are gluten-free, sugar-free, chocolate-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookies, made for a friend who can’t consume gluten, sugar, or chocolate, and I am vegan so my recipe of course couldn’t include animal products. How could I let her live without yummy baked treats?! I had to do something.

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A note about the ingredients I used: I know that Xylitol sounds like a chemical, but is not – it’s produced traditionally from birch trees but more often found now made from corn – it’s easier to digest than regular sugars so many people who are diabetic or have trouble processing sweeteners can eat it. It is what is used Tom’s of Maine toothpaste as a sweetener, and my yoga teacher raves about it. If you’re eating it in cookies, it’s a fine amount to consume. In terms of gluten-free flours, typically I like to use my own mix of rice flour, almond meal, and coconut flour (and i want to start experimenting with tapioca and quinoa flours too), but this time I had a store-bought mix on hand and so I used that for this recipe. You could make a mix of your own if you want; Usually I use mostly rice flour with a bit of almond and coconut flours added to help with texture and flavor.

1 cup Earth Balance
1 1/4 cups Xylitol
1 Tblsp. molasses
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix (this time I used a mix from Sylvan Border Farm, called “Gluten-Free General Purpose Flour”)
2 tsp. xantham gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups carob chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together the Earth Balance and Xylitol till fluffy. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix. Next, add the flours, xantham gum, baking soda, salt, and mix well. Fold in the carob chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls spaced about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly browned but still soft to the touch. They fell apart when I initially tried to take them off the pan, but hardened set together after I left them to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack.


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