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Pear Buckwheat Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve made a rustic cake like this. Something that could be as welcome at a breakfast or brunch table as after dinner. Something your grandmother might make. Something unpretentious; something that just says “Hey, it’s late summer, sit down and enjoy some pear cake.”

I’d picked up some small pears at the farmer’s market, and they sat around in my kitchen for about a week. I knew I wanted to do something with them, but wasn’t sure what. I wasn’t up for making jam. (Although I need to sometime before pear season is over – I’m out of habanero pear from last year!) I opted instead for cake. After all, who doesn’t like cake?

Buckwheat happened to be the perfect compliment to the subtle sweetness of the pears. Now, I am not really a fan of store-bought buckwheat flour. It’s really strong in flavor. However, if you take raw buckwheat groats and grind them (I use my Vitamix), the flour that results is much lighter in flavor – something that’s more readily accepted by the gluten-eaters. It also doesn’t overwhelm the pears. And even if your flour isn’t powder-fine (mine wasn’t), there’s no residual gritty texture once the cake is baked. Buckwheat flour isn’t for everything, but in this cake, it was lovely.

Of course, if you don’t have access to raw buckwheat groats, you could simply substitute sorghum flour or superfine brown rice flour. I haven’t tried these substitutions myself, but since they are similarly weighted flours, I imagine they would substitute pretty well. Don’t have pears? Apple slices would make an equally delicious cake. The beauty of a cake like this? It’s opportunistic. What you have available is what you use. (That’s often how many recipes appear here, to tell the truth!)

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Pear Buckwheat Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free)

6 T vegan butter, softened

¾ c plus 2 T sugar

1 large egg

1 t vanilla extract

¼ t almond extract

½ c buckwheat flour (raw buckwheat groats ground)

¼ c sweet white rice flour

¾ c arrowroot starch

¼ + 1/8 t guar gum

2 ½ t baking powder

Pinch salt

½ c coconut milk

1 T grated lemon zest

About 1 lb pears, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced

Confectioner’s sugar, for serving

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch springform pan and dust with sweet white rice flour.

Beat the butter and ¾ cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat for about a minute on medium.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, guar gum and salt in a bowl. Add the flour to the butter mixture a little at a time, alternating with the coconut milk, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for at least another minute or until everything is well mixed. Add the lemon zest and mix in.

Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread out evenly with a spatula. Arrange the pear slices in a circle on the top of the batter, starting at the edge of the pan and standing them on end with the narrow point in the batter. Fill the center with as many slices as you can fit. They should be close together. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake (not the pears) comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack, removing the outer ring after about 10 minutes. Once completely cool, serve, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Those of you that are avid gluten-free bakers: have you ever noticed how much a brand change in a gluten-free flour affects your end result? I’ve heard this, but didn’t really experience it to a point where I thought “ugh, I really need to stick with this other brand” until I was making pie crust. You see, I’ve had this amazing pie crust under wraps for a while. I love it. It’s reasonably easy to roll out, and it’s light and crisp once baked. And until I switched flour brands, it wasn’t gritty or grainy in the least.

But the last time I was out of my Authentic Foods superfine brown rice flour and Mochiko sweet white rice flour, I opted instead to buy a different brand, just because it was more convenient. Big mistake on my part – at least for this recipe. This time around, I purchased Bob’s Red Mill flours. They’re fine in most baked goods – especially the ones with plenty of moisture to “soften” the coarser grind of the flour. Pie crust is not one of those things. The crust with my usual flours is really great. It works with the Bob’s Red Mill flours as well, but it’s less pliable, and after baking, the mouthfeel is a bit grittier. I definitely could notice the difference, and while I like and use Bob’s Red Mill flours for a ton of things (in fact, they are the majority brand in my pantry), for this recipe in particular, I’m sticking to more finely ground flours.

That being said, I want to share this recipe with you all. It’s quite good – the best I’ve made or eaten so far. Like I mentioned above, it’s pliable, easy to roll out (as long as you roll between sheets of parchment), it tastes delicious, and it holds up to fruit fillings quite well. I won’t say that it behaves just like a gluten dough – I have yet to experience that in any gluten-free baking, really – but it’s easier to handle than most. It was excellent with this blueberry pie.

Blueberry season is coming to a close around here. I’m kind of mourning that fact. I love blueberries, and the local ones have so much more flavor than any I’ve found at the grocery. It’s a complex flavor, more than just sweet or tart. Almost perfumed, floral…it’s hard to describe, but I adore them. I’ve purchased a dozen pints from a nearby farm and have frozen them for yearlong use (which sadly, will in reality only last me until December or January). But I did have to sacrifice a good amount of the fresh berries for this pie. Although I wouldn’t really call it a sacrifice – because after all, who doesn’t like pie?

This pie isn’t overly sweet, but I found it the perfect way to end the day. A happy helping of this, and a scoop of vanilla (dairy-free) ice cream, and I’m definitely in heaven. But I won’t judge if you decide that you need a slice for breakfast too – it would be a perfect compliment to a cup of coffee.

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Blueberry Pie (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Pie Crust – this recipe makes enough for a double crust. Halve the recipe to make this blueberry pie, or save the remainder of the crust for another purpose:

1 ½ c sweet white rice flour (I prefer Mochiko)

¾ c superfine brown rice flour (I prefer Authentic Foods)

1/3 c tapioca starch

1 t kosher salt

¼ t guar gum 

12 T (1 1/2 stick) vegan buttery sticks (I like Earth Balance) or butter, if you can handle dairy

2 eggs, cold

1/4 c cold water 

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Cut the vegan butter into smaller pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse until everything looks like a somewhat fine meal. Add the eggs and water. Process until it becomes thick dough. It should be pliable and hold together, but not overly sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a tablespoon of starch. Too dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of water.

Place half of the dough (unless you’ve halved the recipe; in that case, use the entire amount) onto a large sheet of parchment paper and pat together into a circle. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top, and roll out dough using a rolling pin with the dough in between the two sheets. You can stop and pull up the top sheet and lay back down to reposition if you get wrinkles in the sheet. Roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness.

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Place a pie pan upside-down over the dough, and slide your hand underneath the dough and bottom sheet of parchment paper. With one hand on the bottom of the pie pan, and the other on the dough, flip everything at once, so that the pie pan is right-side-up with the dough laying over the top. Peel back the parchment and press the dough in. If it cracks, simply press back together.

Bake crust according to your pie recipe (or as I am doing below).

For the blueberry pie filling:

7 c blueberries

1/2 c maple sugar (can also use regular white sugar or coconut palm sugar)

1/4 c tapioca starch

1 T lemon juice

1 T vegan butter, cut into small pieces

In a large bowl, place the blueberries, sugar, starch, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Using a potato masher, mash some of the berries. You don’t want them to look totally mashed – you just want to release some of the juices.

Transfer the blueberries to your pie pan with the crust, mounding towards the middle. Scatter the butter on top of the berries.

For the Crumble Topping:

1/4 c sweet white rice flour

1/4 c superfine brown rice flour

1/4 c tapioca starch

1/4 t guar gum

3 T maple sugar (can also use brown sugar or coconut palm sugar)

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t kosher salt

1/3 c melted vegan butter, cooled slightly

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, guar gum, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and mix with fingertips to blend and crumble.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Crumble the crumble topping over the top of the blueberries. Place the pie in the oven on the center rack and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, covering with foil after 45 minutes if it starts to brown too much.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serves 8-10.

Do you have experiences with varied results when it comes to using different brands of gluten-free flours? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

Lemon Sugar Cookies and Finding My Way Back to Center

Going through life, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned to let go. I’ve learned to be okay with less than perfect. I’ve learned that it is better to be happy with the “right now” instead of dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. I’ve learned that sometimes, simple is best. And sometimes, I don’t need to “healthify” every single thing that passes my lips.

This is a big deal in my world. I am definitely what you might call a “healthy eater”. Around the time I went gluten-free, I started becoming more aware of the food I was putting into my body. My health wasn’t so great – gluten was starting to take its toll on my digestive system and my energy levels, among other things. So gradually, along with removing gluten (and then dairy) from my diet, I also removed processed foods, and for a while, even grains, beans, and sugar, in an effort to regain my health. I’ve been gluten-free now for right at 4 years, and in the past year, I’ve finally turned the corner and really have started to feel “better”. I’ve been able to eat things in moderation that previously would set off my oh-so-delicate digestive balance for days, sometimes weeks. So gradually, I’ve expanded my “allowed” foods. I eat grains, I sometimes eat beans, and sometimes, I even eat sugar.

What I really didn’t expect when going through this process was the mental hurdles I’d have to jump. Over the past 4 years, being at odds with my body which seemed to want to reject anything, trying to stay away from “offending foods”, and feeling deprived and overindulging in “off-limits” things anyway (never gluten, but sometimes sugar or grains – and I paid the price for it) caused me to become somewhat “scared” of foods. Some foods were bad. Some were outright demonized. Any amount of sugar was certain to give me diabetes, or at the least, send me down into a spiraling-out-of-control sugar binge. I’d get cancer if I consumed anything with preservatives. I’d cause damage to my intestines if I ate grains, and at best, I wasn’t honoring my body if I didn’t give it 100% nourishing, whole, organic, healthy foods. And all the while, I was afraid my digestive system would get worse if I deviated from the world of natural, whole meats, vegetables, nuts and the occasional piece of fruit. While I certainly would never have put these kinds of restrictions on someone else, I found that I’d landed myself smack in the middle of this world. I didn’t like it. It made me a little crazy, and definitely sucked all of the joy out of food.

And the joy of food is why I started really cooking, and why I started blogging. I wanted to share that joy with others. Especially those who must eat gluten-free; I wanted to share that we can still enjoy breads, cakes, cookies, and other things and be happy and satisfied on a gluten-free diet. We are blessed with such a variety of amazing things to eat, and eating and enjoying a meal together is a lovely, sacred thing. We ought to be able to embrace that pleasure. Obviously, I was losing sight of that.

So I’m finding my way back to center. I’m learning to balance. As I’m finding that my body is healing and that I’m tolerating more and more foods, I’m learning moderation again. I certainly still eat a healthy diet – I want to nourish my body and give it the fuel it needs to power through my day, and I do the best when I’m not at war with it. But I also know that part of health is pleasure, fun, and acceptance. Pleasure and fun come from enjoying all sorts of delicious treats, and acceptance that sometimes, those treats won’t be what is defined as “healthy”, and that’s okay. Sometimes, I will eat sugar. I will eat candy. And cookies. I won’t have to over-indulge, because these things are no longer forbidden. While I still can’t eat gluten, I can eat so many other amazing things. I am grateful. I’m still learning how to be in this new place of acceptance, but so far, I love it here.

I invite you to join me in this place. After all, in this place, there are lemon sugar cookies. They’re simple, sweet, and a delight to enjoy as an afternoon treat. They are gluten and dairy-free, so they won’t upset tummies, but I made no attempts to “healthify” them. Because sometimes, you just need a real cookie. And that’s okay.

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Lemon Sugar Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter, softened

3/4 c + 2 T organic sugar

1 egg

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 t lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

1 1/2 T lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t kosher salt

3/4 c brown rice flour

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c arrowroot starch (can substitute tapioca starch as well)

1/2 t guar gum (can substitute xanthan gum)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat in until well-combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, flours, and guar gum. Add this to the mixing bowl and beat in.

Spoon into mounds on a lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on edges.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Macadamia-Coconut Cookies with Cacao Nibs

This is what happens when you leave me to my own devices in the kitchen for an hour or so, folks.

Cookies happen.

Delicious, rich, heavenly, sinful-but-they’re-actually-good-for-you cookies.

Wait, what? Cookies that are good for you?

Yes. These cookies are full of nutrient-dense macadamia nuts, cashews, coconut, and cacao nibs, and are not only gluten-free, but also grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. So you get a good dose of omega-3s, vitamin E, palmitoleic acid, thiamin, lauric acid, and antioxidants, without a bunch of sugar or grain – both of which seem to bother many sensitive tummies (like mine!).

But don’t tell your tastebuds that. After all, macadamia+coconut+chocolate=pure heaven, right? And don’t let that somewhat plain photo above fool you. Truth be told, the battery on the camera died after just three shots, and I was running out the door for a soccer game, throwing these still-warm cookies onto a plate to share with my team. Speaking of, just don’t just take my advice on the deliciousness of these little treats. My soccer team and friends happily gobbled up cookie after cookie after our game on Saturday. (They’re thankful that I sacrificed a pretty photo of these cookies for their sake, I’m sure!) I find that the true test – if gluten and sugar-eaters go back for seconds, then it’s a sure winner.

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Macadamia-Coconut Cookies with Cacao Nibs (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, paleo)

About 1 cup macadamia nut pieces

About 1 cup raw cashew pieces

1/4 c Grade B maple syrup

1/4 c pitted Medjool dates (about 4)

1/3 c coconut butter* (also called coconut cream concentrate or creamed coconut)

1 egg

1/2 t liquid stevia (if you like your cookies sweeter)

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t Kosher salt

1/3 c tapioca or potato starch

1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 c raw cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the macadamia nuts and cashews. Puree for several minutes, until a smooth nut butter is formed. (Yes, it will clump to the side of the food processor a bit before the nuts completely release their oils, but let it keep going, as it will eventually smooth back out into a delicious nut butter.) Scrape out of food processor, and measure out 1 cup of nut butter. (If there’s extra, then I won’t tell if you just eat it by the spoonful.)

Add the 1 cup of nut butter back to the food processor along with the maple syrup, dates, and coconut butter. Puree until the dates are in tiny little bits. Add the egg, stevia (if using), and vanilla and puree again until well-blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, tapioca starch and shredded coconut. Scrape out the nut butter mixture from the food processor into the bowl and stir together with a spoon until evenly mixed. Add the cacao nibs and stir again.

Scoop dough into small rounds (about 2 tablespoons in size for each) onto the baking sheet (about 2 inches apart) and bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes almost 2 dozen.

*NOTE about creamed coconut/coconut butter/coconut cream concentrate: It’s all the same thing; it just depends who makes it. Let’s Do Organic calls it creamed coconut , Artisana calls it coconut butter, Nutiva calls it coconut manna , and Tropical Traditions calls it coconut cream concentrate. Lexie of Lexie’s Kitchen made some from scratch. I have used several of these brands with success, and have even made my own. Any of those will work just fine in this recipe.

 

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Flatbread

I know it’s not really the height of sweet potato season. That being said, it’s sweet potato season around our house for much of the cooler months. Plain and simple – they’re healthy, easy, and we love them. Most often, we enjoy them in the form of a sweet potato puree. Of course, as evidenced by this recipe, we often end up with leftovers. That’s when I get creative.

In fact, I was so excited by the crust from that quiche that I’ve since been playing with the recipe, coming up with various ideas based on the same theme. In fact, I made sweet potato puree just so I could have “leftovers” for this flatbread. I highly suggest you do the same. This flatbread is that good. It’s perfect with a salad, but really shines alongside a soup, or even roast chicken with some gravy or au jus, so you can use it to mop up the soup or some sauce. You could definitely use it as a pizza crust. Whatever you do, you’ve gotta try it out.

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Sweet Potato and Rosemary Flatbread (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

2 egg whites

1 egg

1 T psyllium husk powder

1 T ground flaxseed

1 c sweet potato puree (follow instructions on how to make sweet potato puree here, omitting maple syrup)

2 T coconut butter* (also called creamed coconut or coconut cream concentrate)

1/2 c white rice flour

1/2 c blanched almond flour (I used Honeyville)

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t baking powder

1 T chopped fresh rosemary needles

Additional coarse salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add the psyllium husk powder, flaxseed, sweet potato puree and coconut butter (warm this a bit if it is too hard) and stir until well-blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice flour, almond flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until well-blended. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and press out evenly into a rectangle about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. If the dough sticks to your fingers, oil them with a little olive oil before pressing. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the bottom is browned and the middle springs back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and cut into 8 pieces. (I found using a pizza cutter to be the easiest way to do this.)

Enjoy!

*NOTE about creamed coconut/coconut butter/coconut cream concentrate: It’s all the same thing; it just depends who makes it. Let’s Do Organic calls it creamed coconut , Artisana calls it coconut butter, Nutiva calls it coconut manna , and Tropical Traditions calls it coconut cream concentrate. Lexie of Lexie’s Kitchen made some from scratch. I have used several of these brands with success, and have even made my own. Any of those will work just fine in this recipe.

 

Chorizo and Chard Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust

So here I was, on a Friday night, with no plan for dinner. Apparently my usual meal planning ways had failed me. Hubby and I had no plans, and I didn’t have a soccer game that night. Still, there was some food in the house, so I nixed the idea of grabbing something on my way home, and instead decided to do what seemed the best plan of all:

I winged it.

With some leftover sweet potato puree (sans maple syrup) that needed to be used, along with some eggs and a bit of fresh Mexican chorizo, I started to develop a plan. I grabbed random ingredients in hopes of making a pie crust of sorts with the mashed sweet potato, with little-to-no idea whether it would actually work.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how well it actually did work! (This isn’t something that usually happens with experimental gluten-free baking – typically you have to tweak, tweak, and tweak some more to get something just right.) This crust isn’t a typical flaky pie crust. In fact, it’s rather bread-like, almost akin to a pizza crust in texture. (which ought to be my next experiment – sweet potato pizza crust!) It baked up well, so I proceeded with filling it with eggs, cooked chorizo, and swiss chard. Back into the oven it went, and what emerged was quite lovely indeed.

This quiche is perfect for a brunch or weekend breakfast, or alongside a salad for a light dinner. Personally I just ate two slices and called it dinner that night. What I was particularly fond of, however, was how well the leftovers were. I could reheat a slice for breakfast the following morning and it was delicious – the crust didn’t suffer in the least. This was a pleasant surprise, and ensured none of this quiche went to waste.

As we typically end up with leftover sweet potato puree, I’m sure this crust will reappear in some form again in the near future. Of course, I’ll be certain to share with you the successes. Until then, I hope you enjoy this simple quiche.

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Chorizo and Chard Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust (gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free)

For the crust:

2 egg whites

1 egg

1 T psyllium husk powder

1 T ground flaxseed

1 c sweet potato puree (follow instructions on how to make sweet potato puree here, omitting maple syrup)

2 T coconut butter* (also called creamed coconut or coconut cream concentrate)

1/2 c white rice flour

1/2 c blanched almond flour (I used Honeyville)

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a glass or ceramic pie pan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add the psyllium husk powder, flaxseed, sweet potato puree and coconut butter (warm this a bit if it is too hard) and stir until well-blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice flour, almond flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until well-blended. Transfer the dough to the pie pan and press out evenly. If the dough sticks to your fingers, oil them with a little olive oil before pressing.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before filling.

For the filling:

6 oz fresh Mexican chorizo (not dried/Spanish chorizo - and check labels. I find that the chorizo purchased at the butcher’s counter is gluten-free; the cheap stuff found in the prepared deli meats section usually isn’t.)

4 large leaves Swiss chard, stems and leaves chopped

6 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Meanwhile, while the crust bakes, heat a large skillet to medium heat and add crumbled chorizo. Brown until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the stems of the Swiss chard and sauté for a minute, and then add the leaves, sautéing for another minute. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Once the pie crust is cooled, add the chorizo-chard mixture to the crust, spreading out evenly. Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper and pour over the chorizo-chard mixture evenly.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the eggs are completely firm and no longer wobbly in the center. If the edges of the crust begin to brown too much, you can cover the edges with foil. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then slice to serve.

Serves 6-8.

*NOTE about creamed coconut/coconut butter/coconut cream concentrate: It’s all the same thing; it just depends who makes it. Let’s Do Organic calls it creamed coconut , Artisana calls it coconut butter, Nutiva calls it coconut manna , and Tropical Traditions calls it coconut cream concentrate. Lexie of Lexie’s Kitchen made some from scratch. I have used several of these brands with success, and have even made my own. Any of those will work just fine in this recipe.

 

Grain-Free, Dairy-Free “Ding Dongs”

Who here remembers Ding Dongs? Those delicious little chocolate cakes with a creamy white marshmallow-y center, coated in a thin shell of chocolate were one of the only Hostess treats I enjoyed. Twinkies? Nah, I’ll pass. Cupcakes? Meh. But Ding Dongs? I was definitely game. I wasn’t much for cake as a child (I know, what was wrong with me?), but I could go for one of these treats.

Of course, even before I went gluten-free, it’d been years upon years since I’d had one. And now, with Hostess in bankruptcy, there currently aren’t Ding Dongs to be found. Not that I would want to eat one today anyway – they’re full of gluten, dairy, tons of sugar, and processed chemicals. That’s not really my thing. I’d much rather just grab a square of dark chocolate and call it a day.

But a few weeks ago, the idea of making my own Ding Dongs popped into my head. While I’m typically a fan of speedy, simple desserts (cookies are my forte), I decided this just simply must happen in my kitchen.

And so it did.

I started out playing with the cake recipe. Not having a fresh memory of a Ding Dong in my head, I did the best I could, remembering a somewhat dense (but not so much that it could be confused with a brownie) cake with as much chocolate in it as you could possibly add. I opted for coconut flour, as I’ve loved it in other cake and cupcake recipes. Coconut flour is tricky – it soaks up so much more moisture at first than other flours – but once you get used to it, it can provide a tight, tender crumb in a cake. It worked perfectly, and my cake was tasty and held together when cut perfectly.

In a real Ding Dong, I honestly have no idea what is in the filling they use. It’s freakishly white and likely has multiple chemicals that allow it to stay marshmallow-y forever. My filling was a version of a 7-minute frosting – simply egg whites, maple syrup, and vanilla. Now, this means that it won’t stay marshmallow-y for all eternity, but it’s good. Darn good, if I do say so myself.

The exterior coating couldn’t be simpler - I merely melted chocolate and brushed it over. It worked perfectly. Who needs weird waxy stuff when you’ve got good ol’ chocolate?

Now, because these cakes are lacking in preservatives and chemicals, they won’t last forever. They’re best served the same day they are made, as it seems the marshmallow center gets absorbed a little into the cake over time. But chances are, you won’t have to worry about that, as they’re quite the perfect treat, and won’t last long around a crowd of teenagers, kids, or nostalgic adults. But if for some reason you actually do have some left over, they’ll still taste delicious.

Print Recipe

Grain-Free, Dairy-Free “Ding Dongs”

For the chocolate cake:

5 large eggs

¼ c coconut oil, melted

1 ½ oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

1 T brewed coffee

1/3 c maple syrup

1 t vanilla extract

¼ c + 2 T coconut flour

¼ c cacao powder (I used a raw cacao powder, you can use regular cocoa powder, as long as it isn’t dutched)

¼ t salt

½ t baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside; grease the parchment paper.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the coconut oil, chocolate, coffee, maple syrup, and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, cacao powder, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, beating on medium speed, until well blended.

Scrape the batter into the cake pan and spread out evenly with a spatula.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, use an offset spatula to go around the edges of the cake and release it from the pan.

(This can be done one day ahead – just wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.)

For the fluffy white filling:

½ c maple syrup (or agave nectar – I haven’t tried honey, but I have a feeling it would work)

¼ c water

2 egg whites, room temperature

1 t vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, bring maple syrup and water to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3-4 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees F.

Meanwhile, beat eggs in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until foamy. With the mixer still beating the eggs at high speed, slowly pour in the hot syrup along the side of the bowl. Continue to beat on high for 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add in vanilla and continue to beat for another minute.

For the chocolate ganache:

Melt 6 oz bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler (or in a large bowl set over a smaller pot of simmering water).

 

To make the cakes:

To assemble the cakes, cut the cakes using a small round cutter – I used one about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. (You can save the scraps for snacking or for cake balls.)

Using a small knife or an apple corer, turn the cut cakes over, and cut out the center three-quarters of the way through and remove the small cut out. Set it aside.

Fill each cake with your fluffy frosting. Replace the cut out. Repeat with remaining cakes. (You’ll probably have leftover fluffy frosting. I won’t tell if you eat it.)

Then, once your ganache is melted and ready to go, use a brush and brush it over the bottoms of the cakes. Place these cakes in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to harden the chocolate. Then turn over the cakes, and brush with chocolate on the tops and sides. Place back in the fridge or freezer to harden the rest of the chocolate.

Serve. Refrigerate if storing any leftovers.

I managed to get 11 ding dongs out of this recipe – you might manage 12 if you are better at cutting out the cakes than I!

Do you have old favorites that you’ve converted to gluten-free? Share them at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

 

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake Balls

Well, just in case you didn’t manage to finish all of that spicy gingerbread cake that I shared the other day, I have a solution. In fact, this might be such a tasty solution, you might hide away half of that cake just for this purpose. Or heck, even make a whole cake. I won’t judge.

Not when there are cake balls at hand.

These may look fancy and complicated, but I assure you, they’re not. And of course, while in this instance, I used gingerbread cake, you could simply apply this process using any cake you choose. Same goes with the frosting used in the cake balls – I used some of The Spunky Coconut’s chocolate date frosting I had left over (Did you know it freezes well? I often freeze leftover frosting, for you never know when you need just a little!) from another cake I made a few weeks ago, but you could use any frosting you desire. These cake balls are all about taking advantage of what you’ve got, and making the most of it.

In this instance, I think the combination of gingerbread and chocolate definitely added up to more than the sum of its parts (which were darn tasty to begin with!). Before these cake balls came to be, I’d never combined chocolate and gingerbread. Now, I think I’m going to forever combine the two. What a dream combination. These cake balls aren’t overly sweet, and not too rich, but they’re decadent enough to satisfy. Of course, after taking these to my office to share around, I’ve had some confess to me they’ve had several. Hearing this from regular gluten and dairy-eaters, this is music to my ears.

Print Recipe

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake Balls (gluten-free, dairy-free)

½ of a baked gingerbread cake

½ t ground cinnamon (optional, but helps to boost that “gingerbread” flavor once the chocolate mixes in)

½ t ground ginger (optional, but helps to boost that “gingerbread” flavor once the chocolate mixes in)

¾ c your favorite gluten-free chocolate frosting (I used The Spunky Coconut’s Chocolate Date Frosting)

About 5 oz dairy-free bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Sprinkles or candied ginger for decorating (optional)

 

In a large bowl, crumble the cake with your fingers. Add the cinnamon and ginger and mix in. Add the frosting and stir into the cake crumbles until everything is smooth and comes together well.

With your hands, roll the cake balls into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. You can do so by placing a double boiler (or as I do, place a metal bowl over a small saucepan with about 2 inches of water) to simmer over medium-low heat, and place all but about an ounce of the chopped chocolate into the bowl. Melt the chocolate, stirring. Finally, add the remaining chopped chocolate and stir until melted completely. Reduce heat to the lowest setting.

Remove the cake balls from the freezer, and one by one, dip into the chocolate, rolling to coat completely. Place back on the baking sheet, and top with candied ginger or sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. Repeat with the rest of the cake balls.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. They should stay firm out of the fridge, but the chocolate may go a touch soft if you have the heater cranked in your house.

Makes about 2 ½ dozen.

Chocolate Almond Fig Biscotti

Years ago (in the pre-gluten-free days), I didn’t get biscotti. Why would anyone want what amounted to, in my mind, a stale cookie? Fast forward to present day, where I love a crunchy, not-too-sweet treat to accompany a cup of coffee or tea, especially if it’s studded with dried fruit and nuts. I suppose over time, one’s tastes can change! But now, since I no longer eat gluten or dairy, biscotti are a rare occurrence.

So I made my own.

These are a perfect holiday treat either for yourself, family, or friends. Make some as an evening dessert, a breakfast treat, or wrap them up and give them as edible gifts. They’re gluten, dairy, and egg-free, and are sweetened slightly with honey (which could be substituted with agave nectar to make them vegan), making them friendly for just about anyone’s diet. The combination of chocolate, almonds, and dried figs is indulgent without being overly rich. And while I’m not usually a fan of dipping any cookie, I must say, these are quite satisfying dipped into a cup of coffee.

I might just have to have another.

Print Recipe

Chocolate Almond Fig Biscotti (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, vegan-adaptable)

1 1/4 c blanched almond flour

1 T + 1 t unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutched)

2 t tapioca starch

1/4 t salt

1/4 t baking soda

5 T honey (for vegan, use agave nectar)

3 T chopped almonds (I used roasted Marcona almonds, but any will do)

3 T chopped dried figs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond flour, cocoa powder, tapioca starch, salt and baking soda. Pulse to combine. Add the honey and pulse again until the dough comes together in a ball. Remove the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you’ll be using this as your workstation as well as the baking sheet), and press the dough together with your hands (kind of like kneading dough, but not nearly as strenous!). Add the almonds and figs and mix in with your hands too. The dough should be barely moist enough to come together. If it is too moist, add a bit of tapioca starch. If too dry, add a sprinkle of water.

Once the almonds and figs are mixed in, pat the dough together on the baking sheet into a log about 2 1/2 inches wide and 10-12 inches long. Place in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. Lower the oven to 300 degrees.

Once cooled, slice the dough with a serrated knife into pieces about 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal. Separate out the biscotti onto the baking sheet and bake again for 10-12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely before serving.

Makes about 10-12 biscotti.

Want more gluten-free holiday cookie ideas? Join us this Wednesday, December 5, 2012, at 8PM EST for a Live Chat at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community! We will be swapping gluten-free holiday cookie recipes!

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

 

Quinoa Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Pecan Glaze

I know it’s been pumpkin-mania around the internet. We can’t help ourselves. After all, who can resist that creamy goodness, especially when it’s only in season for a few months out of the year? Personally, I love to put it into anything and everything right now. I’ve snuck pumpkin into enchilada fillings, chili, soup, shepherd’s pie, and even cookies. But why stop there? After all, as far as I’m concerned, the months of October and November were made just so we could eat pumpkin.

And not just pumpkin. Other winter squashes are just as welcome. Butternut, acorn, kabocha, delicata, turban…I could just keep on going. I love them all, and this time of year, I hoard them, buying way more than I need, and squirreling them away in my pantry. They all get used, of course, in due time. With the latest squash roasting, I decided to use the puree for a new breakfast treat – donuts.

Because if there’s one thing that can top pumpkins this time of year, it’s donuts. Pumpkin donuts.

These are on the healthier side, however, as they’re baked, gluten and dairy-free, and are made with quinoa flour, which is packed with fiber and protein. But don’t let all those “healthy” things make you think they’re not delicious. With warming fall spices, the pumpkin, and the maple syrup glaze, they certainly score points in the “yum” department.

Print Recipe

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze and Pecans

For the donuts:

1 c pumpkin puree

¼ c melted coconut oil

½ c maple syrup

2 eggs

2 t vanilla extract

¼ t vanilla stevia extract

¼ t apple cider vinegar

1 c quinoa flour

½ c tapioca starch

1 t guar gum

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

2 ½ t cinnamon

¼ t nutmeg

¼ t cloves

¼ t allspice

1/8 t salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease donut pans and set aside.

In a stand mixer or food processor combine pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, egg, apple cider vinegar and stevia. Beat or process until smooth and fully combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients . Add to wet ingredients and beat or process until batter is nice and smooth.

Spoon batter into donut pans. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and remove the donuts from the pan and set on a cooling rack.

While the donuts are baking, make the glaze:

2 T maple syrup

¼ t cinnamon

½ c organic powdered sugar

1-2 T almond milk

Whisk together in a small bowl until a thick glaze is formed.

Chop about ½ cup pecans and set aside.

While still warm, dip each donut halfway into the glaze, and then sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Place on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath to catch drips.

Makes 9 donuts.