Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I found this recipe in¬†The Happy Herbivore cookbook. But as I didn’t notate that information, I’m not for sure. ūüôā I certainly cannot take credit for these. While these aren’t your typical melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies, they are good and a great healthy treat, with no added fat and not too much sugar. Plus, the are gluten-free! They have become our go-to dessert when we need a little sweet fix. Within 30 minutes you can enjoy warm cookies from the oven!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
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1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. non-dairy milk
1 c. gluten-free all purpose flour mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a bowl combine applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and milk. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Pour dry ingredients into wet in three batches, stirring to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes.

Makes 15 cookies.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

For all you chocolate lovers, I have the perfect dark chocolate cake for your Valentine’s Day celebration! I dusted mine with some powdered sugar, but this would be lovely with a chocolate glaze, a thin layer of icing, whipped cream, or a puree of berries. It’s delicious, simple to make, and naturally gluten-free! Plus, Jeremy gave it two thumbs up. So, whether you’re dining out or in, make sure you end your night with something sweet.

As a conversational aside, for my wedding 3 1/2 years ago someone gave me a His and Hers heart shaped baking pan. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. The batter was a little too much for these, but I still thought the heart shape was fun for the occasion. (I definitely would not buy a pan with such infrequent uses, but I guess it’s fun to use every once in awhile, since I already own it! ūüôā )

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
(ever so slightly adapted from epicurious.com)
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4 oz quality, bittersweet chocolate (I used a 72% cacao)
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375¬įF. Butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with wax paper and butter paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. Cut butter into 8 pieces. In the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove the bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Garnish as desired.

(When completely cooled, cake will keep in an airtight container up to 1 week.)

Cherry Vanilla Scones

Valentine’s Day is¬†quickly approaching and one¬†taste of these and¬†I knew they would make a perfect addition to a¬†romantic breakfast in bed. We loved them! I made them with a couple of other dishes for Sunday brunch¬†and the meal was proclaimed a big success¬†by all four of my critics. I’m planning to post two additional recipes to add to your Valentine’s breakfast. Hope you enjoy!

These are best the first day but you can definitely enjoy them the next morning.

CHERRY VANILLA SCONES
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3 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. cold butter
1 c. vanilla yogurt or plain yogurt with 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 Tb. of agave nectar
1/4 c. milk
1 c. tart dried cherries, roughly chopped
2/3 c. vanilla chips or white chocolate chips

milk for brushing the top
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and soda in a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Combine yogurt and milk. Stir into the flour mixture until moistened. Gently knead in the cherries and vanilla chips.

Pat the dough about 1/2-3/4 inches thick. Cut into desired shaped and place on a baking sheet. Brush tops with additional milk and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Best served warm!

 

Grandma’s Molasses Crinkles

This is perhaps one of my favorite cookies ever. It brings back many memories of family gatherings and shared meals. While I mostly remember my aunt and my mom making them, the recipe originated with my grandma and so I always think of her. I searched through her recipe box and found it written in her hand with a tiny note that this is a good recipe. Love that.

These are the perfect texture, the perfect combination of spices, perfectly sweet but not too sweet, and perfectly formed with “crinkles” on top. They are delicious warm or cooled.¬†Stephanie even¬†had these as favors at her wedding. Yes, I think it’s fair to say these are a family tradition.

Molasses Crinkles would be a great addition to your Superbowl Party (along with many of other appetizer and snack recipes!) but they would also be good just about any other day. Perfection.

GRANDMA’S MOLASSES CRINKLES
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3/4 c. shortening (trust me on this one)
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening, molasses, sugar, and egg together until fully combined and creamy. Add flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until fully combined.

Scoop dough and roll into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crinkled on top and lightly golden. Makes about 3 dozen.

Flour-less Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know the flurry of holiday baking is behind us and we’re looking to tighten our belts and say “no” to sweets. But sometimes you just need a sweet fix. Or perhaps you need a¬† little something to share with company or to bring to a gathering. How about five-ingredient flour-less cookies?! Not only are these quick to mix up, but they are awfully tasty as well. We are fans of peanut butter and chocolate around here, so one night when we “needed” an after dinner sweet treat, I made these. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

I found this recipe in the October issue of Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine. In keeping with how I approach dessert recipes, I cut back on the sugar by 1/3 of a cup. I thought the cookies were perfectly sweet that way, allowing the peanut butter and chocolate flavors to shine through. But, feel free to up the sugar if you like your sweets super sweet. Additionally, I’ve made these egg-free by making a flax gel to replace the egg (1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp hot water whisked together and set aside for a few minutes to gel). The texture was slightly different with the flax gel in place of the egg, but the flavor was just as good.

FLOUR-LESS PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(from Every Day With Rachael Ray, Oct. 2011)
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1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Beat first 4 ingredients with a mixer. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop rounded Tablesoons of dough 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350¬įF for 10 minutes. Let cool on pan.

Makes 16 cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies

We enjoyed having friends over to decorate giant gingerbread people Рcandy, icing, sprinkles, the works! It was much less work than houses for our age group.

So I was in search of the perfect gingerbread cookie recipe and I think this one is pretty close! The recipe I adapted it from received great reviews but after reading them and reading the recipe, I adjusted the spices. So, this is my version of gingerbread.

I rolled these out but I’m also thinking you could form them into balls, dip the bottom of a cup in sugar and flatten the cookies before baking. If you do the latter, I think the refrigeration time would matter less.

These make your house smell wonderful and they are truly delicious – not too sweet. It was so fun making memories with my kids and their friends as they decorated their people. Their cookies were be-decked with candy – too cute! My examples are not nearly as cute. ūüôā

GINGERBREAD COOKIES
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3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp/ salt
1/4 tsp. freshly milled black pepper
2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
2/3 c. unsulfured molasses
1 large egg

Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper into a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In a large mixer, beat the butter and vegetable shortening until well-combined, about 1 minute.  Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg.  Gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough.  Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until chilled Рat least 3 hours.  (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)

To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated.¬† Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.) Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour.¬† Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick, being sure that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface (run a long meal spatula or knife under the dough occasionally just to be sure, and dust the surface with more flour, if needed).¬† For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker (about 1/4 inch or a little less).¬† Using cookie cutters (or these templates – I printed the large boy and girl¬†on cardstock and cut around them), cut out the cookies and transfer to nonstick cookie sheets, placing the cookies 1 inch apart.¬† Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk.¬† Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling if it is sticking and then cut out more cookies.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely.  Decorate as desired.  (The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.) Makes about 3 dozen depending on size of the cookies.

Cocoa Thumbprints

Welcome to our week-long Christmas treats extravaganza! Our focus will be on chocolate, but we might sneak something else in as well. We hope you find plenty of inspiration for your holiday baking!

I enjoy a good jam-filled thumbprint cookie. Last year I made lovely little butter thumbprint cookies. This year I was imagining a chocolate cookie base with a berry jam center. And what do I find in the December issue of Food Network Magazine? That’s right, Cocoa Thumbprints!

I tinkered with the recipe a bit to make them gluten-free. I cut-back on the sugar by a couple of Tablespoonfuls. And I used a slightly sweet, four-fruit jam as the center. Oh my, these are tasty!

As usual, if you are not gluten-free, feel free to substitute all-purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.

COCOA THUMBPRINTS
(slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine, Dec. 2011)
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1 1/2 c. gluten-free all-purpose flour
scant 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar (for rolling)
1/4 c. granulated sugar (for rolling)
favorite jam (for filling)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, scant 3/4 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325¬įF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the confectioner’s sugar and the granulated sugar in two separate bowls. Roll scant Tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Roll each in granulated sugar and then in confectioner’s sugar. Place 1-inch apart on baking sheets.

Make a deep indentation with thumb in each cookie. Place 1/2 teaspoon of jam in the indentation. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and slightly cracked. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheet. Then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle, the holidays may seem rather daunting. However, this time of year can be joyful in the kitchen for you as well. You don’t have to pass up on all desserts. If you have a favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, you can very often substitute one-for-one by replacing all-purpose wheat flour, with your gluten-free mix. For some recipes you will need to add a little xanthan gum for texture, but that’s about it.

And, if you love pie, I’m here to share my favorite pie crust recipe. I’ve posted this before, but thought now would be a great time to remind you how possible it is to live gluten-free. This recipe is quite simple and freezes well, if you want make several batches to have on hand. I’ve served this to gluten eaters and they don’t notice a difference. So, go ahead, eat a piece of pie this holiday season!

TRADITIONAL PIE CRUST
(from The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook)
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1 c. + 2 Tbsp Brown Rice Flour Mix*
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces (don’t use margarine)
1 large egg
2 tsp orange juice or lemon juice

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the flours, sugar, xanthan gum and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture is crumbly and resembles a coarse meal.

Add the egg and orange juice. Mix on low speed until the dough holds together; it should not be sticky. Form the dough into a ball using your hands and place on a sheet of wax paper. Top with a second sheet of wax paper and flatten the dough into a 1-inch thickness. Roll out the dough (if it seems tacky, refrigerate for 15 minutes). Remove top wax paper and invert into 9-inch pie pan. Remove second sheet of wax paper and crimp the edges. Fill with desired filling.

Makes 1 9-inch pie crust.

*Brown Rice Flour Mix: 2 c. Brown rice flour; 2/3 c. Potato starch (not potato flour!); 1/3 c. Tapioca flour.

 

Baker’s Delight: Peach Pie

Summer fruit pie has been on my mind. So, last week I made three batches of pie crust and froze two. The other one I made into a peach-blueberry pie. Each bite was like a taste of summer!

Since it’s just Jeremy and I here, a 9-inch pie is a little too much for us. I found a lovely 6-inch Pyrex pie plate at the thrift store and it’s become my go-to pie baking pan. One 9-inch pie crust becomes a top and bottom crust for this little pan. When I made this pie, I cut the recipe in half, but aired on the side of a heavy-half. If you want to make the recipe into a peach-blueberry pie, substitute a cup or two of blueberries for some of the peaches.

PEACH (-Blueberry) PIE
(slightly adapted from Pie Pie Pie)
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Basic pie dough for a 9-inch, 2-crust pie (I made a gluten-free pie crust)

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (for gf, use a gf all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 pounds peaches, halved, pitted, and thinly sliced, to make about 7 cups fruit
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 425¬įF. Roll out half of the dough for the bottom crust and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out the remaining dough for the top crust and set it aside on a sheet of waxed paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt with whisk until evenly mixed. Add the lemon juice and peaches and toss until the fruit is completely coated with the sugar mixture. Pile the peaches in the dough-lined pan, mounding them slightly in the center. Scatter the butter over the fruit.

Put on the top crust, then trim and flute the edges. With the point of a sharp knife, cut several vents in the top for steam to escape.

Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350¬įF. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and you see juices bubbling through the vents.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Baker’s Delight: Lemon Pound Cake w/Lemon Cream

I adapted a recipe for plain pound cake into a lemon pound cake. And I came up with a lemon cream to add the lemon flavor. Any kind of berry would be delicious topping this cake РI chose lightly sweetened strawberries. It was the perfect dessert for a summer dinner party!



LEMON POUND CAKE
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1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 lg. eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
zest of 2 lemons
1/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan. Combine flour and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Using a mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well vlended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in extracts and zest. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then milk, then remaining flour. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake cake until golden and tester comes out clean – about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Cute around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.

LEMON CREAM

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. heavy whipping cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon

Whip the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add zest and juice and mix until fully combined. Add whipping cream and whip until stiff peaks form.