Two Wheat-Free/Gluten Free Cookie Recipes, Revisited and Revised

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One of the things I hope to do from time to time on this blog is to share with you revisions I make to recipes when I attempt them again. Every time I recreate an old recipe, my hope is that I can find a way to make it better than ever. I originally posted a recipe for wheat and gluten-free raspberry gems in December 2010. The version I’m offering today contains walnuts rather than almonds and sunflower seeds, and additionally, I’ve slightly increased the amount of flour, vanilla and cinnamon, and adjusted the baking time and temperature. I first posted a recipe for wheat and gluten-free coconut-peanut macaroons in March of 2011, but last week I made these cookies again, with some revisions.  I’m convinced that the gluten-free versions of both these cookies taste as good, if not better, than the more conventional one. After the jump, you’ll find my updated recipes for both these cookies.  Let me know how you like them.

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Photos: Top--Wheat and gluten-free raspberry gems. Above--Wheat and gluten-free peanut-coconut macaroons.

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Wheat-Free/Gluten-Free Baking: The Secret of These Rich, Dense Brownies? Sweet Potatoes

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Most of us agree that brownies are a delicious treat, but can they actually be good for you? Since “good for you” is a relative term, I’d guess that compared to a platter of steamed kale, even these brownies don’t rank too high.  But compared to conventional brownies, these are down right sin free. I’ve learned that most people prefer their brownies rich and dense, rather than light and cake-y, so that’s what I’ve aimed for. Sweet potato puree makes these brownies nutritionally rich and keeps them moist, but balancing the natural bitterness of unsweetened chocolate requires a good bit of maple syrup, so serve in small portions. As an experiment, I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all-purpose baking flour which contains garbanzo, tapioca, sorghum and fava flours as well as potato starch, but in the future, I think I’d use a combination of half brown rice flour and half quinoa flour. While I enjoy this sort of challenge, it may be a bit of a fool’s errand: people highly concerned with nutrition may think these brownies too decadent, while lovers of traditional brownies will likely find this recipe too spartan. Oh well. If this project intrigues you, make this recipe and let us know what you think. Recipe after the jump.

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Wheat Free/Gluten-Free Baking: Walnut-Apricot Muffins For Breakfast Or Anytime

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You know that something has gone mainstream when The New York Times begins writing about it. Yesterday, the Times reported that gluten-free baked items have gotten good enough that you might want to eat them even if you don’t need to. “Gluten-free baked goods have become tastier as demand for them has risen, ” Melissa Clark writes. “More Americans — about 6 percent of the population, according to the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland — have found that gluten, in wheat, barley and rye, causes health problems. What had been a niche market has become mainstream.” All in all, it’s an informative article with half a dozen recipes and a slide show with links to many more.

Because it sounds like something I’d want to eat, a recipe for apricot-walnut muffins caught my eye. Based on one by Shauna James Ahern who blogs as The Gluten Free Girl, it looks good, but shares a problem I find with many similar recipes: it contains ingredients I try to avoid, like sugar and milk. My response was, of course, to go into the kitchen and see if I couldn’t come up with a recipe that is not only gluten-free, but also free of dairy and refined sugar as well. After the jump, you’ll see my recipe. It may not be the final answer, but I’m satisfied with it for now.  I used quinoa flour as the base, and added flax seeds for nutrition and texture. You can substitute flours and other ingredients, of course, but if you are serious about gluten-free baking, you’ll want to take a look at Ms Ahern’s blog, which is full of good information. For now, why not whip up some gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free muffins?

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These Coconut Date Bars Will Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, Naturally

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It seems to me that dates, coconut and rolled oats just plain go together. These not-too-sweet bars will satisfy your sweet tooth, and leave you  feeling that you’ve eaten something nutritionally sound. Even in vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, that combination can be hard to come by. If you want to make these bars gluten free, substitute quinoa flakes for the rolled oats and brown rice flour for the whole wheat pastry flour. It’s a simple recipe–if you try it, let me know how you like it. Recipe after the jump… Continue reading

Trail Mix Cookies: Two Recipes, One Gluten Free, One Not

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Trail Mix Cookies, (left), Gluten Free Trail Mix Cookies, (right).

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I’d always assumed that trail mix was a creation of the back-to-nature hippie movement in the 1960’s.  Apparently though, it goes back a little bit further than that, as Jack Kerouac mentions it in his classic 1958 novel, The Dharma Bums. Whatever its origin, trail mix gets its name because it’s a light weight, easy to store, nutritious food to take along while hiking or camping. And wouldn’t it be even easier to eat if it came in cookie form?  Now, it does.  Seeds, nuts, dried fruit, cereal–everything you want in a trail mix can be packed into a cookie. I’ve also come up with a version which replaces rolled oats and wheat flour with quinoa flakes and brown rice flour, making it gluten free. Friends who came around for tea gave the gluten free version a hearty thumbs up–in fact it they wouldn’t have noticed the difference if I hadn’t told them. Both regular and gluten free recipes are after the jump…

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Wheat Free/Gluten Free Baking: Coconut-Chocolate Chip Cookies

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It used to be that nearly all cookie recipes called for wheat flour as the ingredient which kind of held everything together. While that’s often still the case,  now we have not only a variety  of flours such as millet, corn, soy, rice and quinoa to choose from, but also a growing number of people sensitive to wheat and gluten. So, in the last year or two I’ve been experimenting with wheat and gluten-free baking.  I’m learning how to substitute other flours and still achieve a slightly different, but still excellent result.  As I experiment, I’m sharing these recipes with you if they turn out reasonably well (total disasters I will keep to myself!). I’m learning as I go, so consider these recipes provisional, and check back for updates when I find ways to improve them. Today’s cookie, a coconut chocolate chip, won’t win any beauty contests, but I think it tastes pretty darn good, though serious chocolate lovers may want to add more chips. So,  consider this recipe provisional too–I hope to return to it and make it better as my knowledge of gluten-free baking develops (click here for more of my wheat and gluten free recipes). Full recipe after the jump… Continue reading

Latin Flavors: Wheat and Gluten Free Peanut Macaroons

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On the theory that you can never have too many cookie recipes, here’s another, which happens to be wheat and gluten free. I was inspired to make these cookies by a menu I put together with a Latin American theme. The cultivation of peanuts, you might be surprised to learn, began seven or eight thousand years ago in Paraguay or Bolivia, and when the Spanish arrived in Mexico  in the 1500’s, they found them for sale in the marketplaces of what is now Mexico City. Moist in the middle, slightly crunchy on the outside, if you love the taste of peanuts combined with coconut, I think you’ll like this cookie (my recipe for coconut macaroons is here). See my peanut macaroon recipe after the jump… Continue reading