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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

 

Do you ever get a sudden inexplicable craving for a particular dish or flavor? When I get stressed, I start craving pickles (the really crunchy dill kind) and salami–basically anything really strong in flavor. Often sauerkraut or kimchi will do in a bind. I also regularly crave almond flavor, and I’m not talking about the flavor you get from a handful of almonds. I’m talking about that super strong flavor you get from almond extract.

My mom used to make these delectable almond butter cookies using white flour, loads of butter and sugar and almond extract. They were flaky, sweet and super almondy, and while I haven’t attempted to recreate them gluten-free, I’m often nostalgic for that flavor.

I recently discovered some pears in my fruit bowl that had become very ripe, and since they were too ripe to slice into a salad, I thought why not bake them into an almond cake? Who doesn’t love the combination of pears and almonds? The added spices make this version more flavorful and a little more “sophisticated” in case you’re serving it to guests (or leaving it on a friend’s doorstep during the COVID-19 restrictions).

Like most of my recipes, this one is super easy to make. After all, who needs more challenge and stress in their lives right now? You can make this using any variety of pear, but I prefer to use Bartlett or Packam.

 

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I like this brand)

1 cup almond flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened or 1/2 cup mild-tasting olive oil

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

3 Tbsp nut milk

2 ripe pears, peeled, quartered and cored, and cut crosswise in 1/4-inch slices

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour a standard 8-inch cake pan or springform pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a larger bowl, beat the butter (if using) with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until its a smooth, even consistency. Beat in the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well. Add in the extracts and nut milk, and blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and fold in just until blended. Fold in the pear slices. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth the top using the back of a spoon or rubber spatula.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake has turned golden brown.

Allow the cake to cool completely and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Enjoy!

 

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Call me weird, but I have always preferred blondies over brownies. Don’t get me wrong… I love chocolate, but I like it in small doses, like one or two squares of a high-quality, dark chocolate bar. But something about blondies makes my mouth literally water, and traditional blondies share a lot in common (i.e., butter and sugar) with my favorite sweet flavor–butterscotch.

The blondies of my childhood were essentially white flour, butter and brown sugar (think obesity, type II diabetes, high triglycerides, etc.). So how can I indulge in eating my beloved blondies without putting on 10 pounds, causing my insulin levels to go haywire or just feeling badly for overindulging?

Enter almond-butter blondies. I make mine with very little sugar–which offsets a lot of guilt, and with almond butter and almond flour, so I feel I’m getting something good (i.e., a hefty serving of protein) out of my indulgence. In fact, I generally feel so justified in eating these, that I almost never stop at just one!

These are gluten-free, get a nice “crust” to them, yet retain plenty of gooey, chewy goodness on the inside. My kids are always trying to get me to add in extra chocolate chips or chunks, but it’s actually the non-chocolate part I’m really after. I hope you will give them a try, and tweak the recipe as you wish to fit your sweet and texture preferences.

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond butter

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup coconut sugar (to make Paleo) or 1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 scant cup almond flour

2 Tbsp tapioca starch

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 generous tsp sea salt

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, chunks or chopped pecans or walnuts

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper (so there’s no pan to clean up!).

In a small bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips, chunks or nuts) and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the almond butter and sugar until well blended and no lumps are left. Whisk in the vanilla and coconut oil, followed by the egg. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until blended, then fold in the chocolate chips, chunks or nuts.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and carefully smooth the surface using the spatula. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are just slightly brown. (It’s better to underbake slightly instead of overbake so the cookies retain some gooey/chewy quality!)

Allow to cool completely before cutting into 9 or 16 squares depending on whether you want to feel guilty for having more than one at a time.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Shortbread cookies hold a special place in my heart for many reasons. I have been eating them my whole life. They remind me of my parents–who are entering their twilight years, and who both love shortbread over all other cookies. I used to relish opening a new tin of Walkers assorted shortbread cookies, carefully selecting different shapes. And I like shortbread because I generally distrust sugar and love butter.

I also like that I don’t mind giving my children a shortbread cookie as a sweet treat since they’re relatively low in sugar (emphasis on “relatively”), yet my kids still see it as a cookie, a treat. They also enjoy helping me make the cookies, which can be whipped up in 30 minutes. Well, full disclosure here, it is currently so hot in Brazil, that by the time I incorporate the butter with the dry ingredients, it has melted so much that I have to chill my dough before rolling, cutting and baking it. But in most parts of the world, shortbread cookies can be made quickly and easily with so few ingredients.

Perhaps the best part about shortbread is that you can add just about anything you want to the dough. Here, the recipe is with fresh-grated lemon zest, but you can add chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, grated orange zest, ginger, lavender, or chopped nuts and dried fruit as seen in my holiday recipe for pistachio cranberry shortbread.

 

Ingredients

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature or slightly cooler

1/3 cup sugar (also good using just 1/4 cup)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

zest of one lemon (finely grated)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (140 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour, I like this brand 

1/3 cup almond flour

 

Preparation

In a medium-size bowl, or food processor, combine the butter and sugar until evenly incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Whisk together the flours and salt in a small bowl and add to the butter mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle that’s approximately 3/8-inch in thickness. Cut into bars roughly 1.5 inches by 3 inches or use cookie cutters to cut into different shapes. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack or munching. These cookies keep for several days if you store them in a airtight container after they’re completely cooled.

Enjoy!

 

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Why not publish a post of a dessert fit for Valentine’s Day, the day after Valentine’s Day? That’s exactly how my life has been going as of late. I’ve been so swamped at work, and with raising the children, that I haven’t found time to post. But the great news is, I’m posting this dessert which is absolutely delicious, nearly guilt-free, and super easy to make. You don’t even need to turn on the oven. You just need a few ingredients, a refrigerator and a little time to allow everything to work its magic. And although I think raspberries and chocolate are perfect partners, you could easily use other fruit as a substitute.

If you use raspberry preserves made without refined sugar, this recipe would also qualify as Paleo. However, I like to use Bonne Mamam Raspberry Preserve because the raspberry flavor is really intense and I like a bit more sweetness.

(Recipe modified from Bakerita’s Paleo Vegan Raspberry Chocolate No-bake tart.)

 

Crust Ingredients

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup pecans, very finely chopped (I use the mini-processor)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

 

Filling

3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk

5-6 oz  bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I use Green & Black’s Organic 70% bar)

¼ cup raspberry spread (use 100% pure fruit if you have it, otherwise use a low-sugar raspberry preserve

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch salt

2 cups fresh raspberries

 

Directions

Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with coconut oil. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust and stir together until fully incorporated. Press evenly into the prepared tart pan and set aside.

Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until it’s just about to boil. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate and let stand 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in raspberry preserves, vanilla extract and salt. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. (The filling mixture should be “runny” enough that it evenly fills the tart shell.)

Place tart in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour.

Garnish the top with raspberries, and return to the refrigerator for 1-2 hours until completely set.

Slice and serve.

Store leftovers–if there are any(!), in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

 

 

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I’ve been trying to keep my mother’s tradition of making “Star Cookies” every holiday season. If you didn’t see that post and/or haven’t made those cookies, check it out here.

But this year I wanted to make something different and equally festive, so I started recipe testing pistachio cranberry shortbread cookies. Like with most of my favorite recipes, these are easy to prepare, simple and relatively low-sugar–especially for a dessert!

 

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup cane sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp finely grated fresh orange zest

1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

3 tbsp coarse ground sugar, such as turbinado

 

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Blend in the vanilla extract and orange zest. Blend in the flour mixture one-third at a time until fully incorporated. Fold in the chopped cranberries and pistachios. Scrape the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Carefully form it into a roll with flat ends. Note: You can put a little extra flour on the palms of your hands if the dough wants to stick to your hands. Wrap up the paper and place in the refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours.

 

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the roll out of the refrigerator and unwrap. Brush the outside (not ends) of the roll with the egg yolk, and sprinkle generously with the coarse sugar. Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/4-1/3-inch slices. Place on the parchment-lined sheet approximately 1/2-inch apart. Bake 15-18 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are starting to golden. Let cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days.

Enjoy!

 

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I’ve been promising–at least on Instagram, to share the gluten-free version of my Winemakers Cake (see original recipe here). It’s all I’ve been making lately because it’s super easy and fast to prepare, looks nice when serving to guests, and I especially love that it’s gluten- and dairy-free since I avoid both most of the time. In fact, I like the gluten-free version so much that I’ve been favoring it over the original recipe on most occasions. The crumb seems a bit more delicate even though the gluten-free version doesn’t rise as much as the original recipe.

My local grocer keeps stocking Thomson grapes, too, which is the preferred grape for this cake, and it really feels like an “Indian Summer” dessert–lightly sweet, not too rich or heavy and using the fruit of the season.

If you haven’t already tried this recipe, please do. I know you will love it–especially how easy it is.

 

Ingredients

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup evaporated cane juice

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk or good-quality almond milk

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour*

1/2 cup almond flour

1 tbsp coconut flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp almond extract

10 oz (about 1-1/2 cups) small, purple grapes**

Confectioners sugar for garnish (optional)

*I like to use Bob’s Red Mill “1 to 1 All-Purpose Gluten-free flour.”

**Thomson or Thomcord grapes work the best because they’re small and jammy in flavor. I’m sure this cake would taste delicious with other varieties, but I would avoid using the more common green or red grapes.

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow in color, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, non-dairy milk, vanilla and almond extracts, and mix until blended.

In a medium-size bowl, mix the flours, baking powder and salt until thoroughly blended. Add the lemon zest, and toss to coat. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until blended. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquids.

Stir 1 cup of the grapes into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top using a spatula or back of a spoon.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes before sprinkling the remaining grapes over the top of the cake. Bake for an additional 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, and the cake has a nice light golden color.

Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the sides before releasing the removing the side of the springform pan. Serve at room temperature with a dusting of confectioners sugar. You can store the cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

 

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“Blondies”–along with really good shortbread and perfectly-cooked snickerdoodles, continue to top my list of favorite cookies. I’ve always loved “blondies” more than “brownies.” I can’t say what it is except that I like my chocolate in small doses and brownies just seem like too much of a good thing. I also like how blondies offer a subtle butterscotchy-maple flavor–something that hints of a more decadent dessert, such as sticky toffee pudding.

I’ve been tinkering around with this recipe for a few weeks, and I finally like where it is. First, these cookies can be made in about 30 minutes with less than 10 minutes of actual work time involved! Second, the top is a little crunchy while the inside is fairly gooey/chewy. They’re not super low sugar like many of my desserts, but they have substantially less sugar than many of their counterparts.

These blondies are also loaded with protein, and they’re gluten-, egg- and dairy-free to boot.

Ingredients

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp almond butter or other nut butter (I like to use half almond, half cashew)

1/4 cup non dairy milk, such as almond or coconut

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup gluten-free flour (I use 1/2 cup all-purpose plus some arrowroot and cassava flours)

Scant 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup raw pecans, finely chopped

1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (I like this brand)

1 tsp coconut oil

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Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix the almond butter, non dairy milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until well combined and smooth.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined.

Fold in the chopped pecans. Drop the very thick stiff batter into the pan. Using a spatula, press the batter down to even it out in the pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is be set. While the blondies are baking, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. When the blondies are out of the oven, drizzle the melted chocolate mixture over the pan. Let the blondies cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Makes 9 cookies approximately 2 inches by 2 inches.

Enjoy!

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