GF/CF Quinoa Date Nut Cookies (vegan)

Oatmeal cookie makeover. 
Annie has been asking me to create a GF/CF substitute for her childhood favorite, oatmeal cookies. We made a lot of cookies when my kids were growing up. I used to have three little helpers in the kitchen when I baked, eager to get their hands in the dough to roll it into balls and sneak little samples. Three sets of cookie monster eyes would check the cookies a hundred times as they baked, turning on the oven light over and over, peering in to see the magic. They took turns with the important job of moving the cookies from the baking sheet to the cooling rack, wielding the spatula (which minutes before was a light saber) like pros. Those were the days of butter, milk, and wheat. And oatmeal. Annie now can't have any of it.

Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but because of cross-contamination issues in both the farming and processing of oats, they are not considered gluten-free. Some companies market gluten-free oats but we don't want to take any chances, so we avoid them completely. Using my tried and true recipe for oatmeal cookies, quinoa flakes were substituted for the oats, GF flours for the wheat flour, organic shortening for the butter, and hemp milk for the dairy milk. I decided that as long as I was at it, I would eliminate the eggs as well. Eggs provide leavening, some fat, and some liquid. So, I left out the egg and just added more leavening, more liquid, and more fat. Now they are vegan. The cookies had to have some interesting textures and flavors, so dates and walnuts were added. 

Success, both in flavor and texture. This one's a keeper. 
GF/CF Quinoa Date Nut Cookies (vegan)

Forget oatmeal cookies. Forever.

1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup potato starch
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup organic shortening (I like Spectrum)
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
2 tbsp hemp milk (or other non-dairy  milk)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tsp GF vanilla

1 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350º. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the first seven dry ingredients. Whisk to combine thoroughly, set aside. 

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugars with shortening, cream with a hand mixer. Add milk, oil, and vanilla, beat on low speed until creamy. Add the flour mixture in two stages, mixing to combine. By hand, stir in quinoa flakes, dates and walnuts. 
3. Roll the dough into one-inch balls, and place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Press the dough balls slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to turn color around the edges. The center will look doughy in the cracks, but they will continue to bake as they cool. 
3. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for five minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. The cookies will stay fresh (covered) for a day. If they are around longer than a day, they should be stored well wrapped in the freezer.

Makes 20 - 24 cookies.

Tip: To avoid a whole sheet of too-flat or too-round cookies, bake two test cookies first so that you will know exactly how far to press the dough.


Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate pudding, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You are gluten-free. You are dairy and casein-free. You are sugar-free. You are egg and soy-free. You are guilt-free.

This pudding is practically health food. Minimally processed dark chocolate has a very high amount of flavonoids, a compound found in plants that help repair the plant from environmental damages. By eating dark chocolate, we are protecting ourselves from our own environmental toxins. The flavonoids also increase blood flow, which can help reduce high blood pressure. The coconut milk is no slouch either. Most of the fat in coconut milk is the kind that our bodies use for energy, not the kind that is stored for fat. It is also a good source of calcium.

This recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking's recipe for Chocolate Pudding. The sugar called for in the original recipe has been replaced with agave nectar, and the half-and-half replaced with unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage. The result is just as rich and creamy as the original version. 

Chocolate pudding, why do I love thee? Because you are a cool, creamy, velvety version of a rich dark chocolate truffle. Without the guilt.

CF Dark Chocolate Pudding
from giddyupglutenfree, 2010 

Adapted from Joy of Cooking
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup pure organic cacao powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup warm water
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, unsweetened
1 1/2 tsp GF vanilla extract

3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage

In a small saucepan, stir together the agave nectar, cocoa powder and salt. Gradually stir in the warm water, making a smooth paste. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until it is melted. Stir in the coconut milk.

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup coconut milk until it is a smooth paste. Thoroughly stir it into the chocolate mixture. Cook, whisking constantly over medium heat until the mixture is thick and just begins to boil. (The thicker and hotter it gets, the more briskly it should be stirred.) Remove from heat and add vanilla. 

Pour the pudding into serving dishes, and press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming as it cools. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then dive into a deep, dark, satiny lovin' spoonful.
Makes four servings.


GF/CF Cherry Chocolate Scones

A handful of dried cherries every day is a very good thing. When compared to other fruit, cherries contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants. Among the other health benefits - cherries reduce risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain kinds of cancers, ease the pain of arthritis and gout, and help to prevent memory loss and delay the aging process. Cherries also contain melatonin, and they have anti-inflammatory properties. So you should eat a handful every day. 

I know what is in your other hand. Dark chocolate. That's a good thing too. With all of its health benefits, we should all have dark chocolate every day, the higher the percentage of cacao the better.

Cherries and dark chocolate are frequent companions. Almonds are a trusty sidekick. Combine all these healthy flavors into a pillow soft scone to have with your morning tea.

GF/CF Cherry Chocolate Scones
from: giddyupglutenfree

3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup almond flour (finely ground)
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tsp xanthan gum
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks,* cold, cut into chunks
3/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk (unsweetened)**
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp GF vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp coconut milk
1/8 tsp GF almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°

1. In a bowl combine flours, starches, baking powder, xanthan gum,
salt, sugar. Whisk until combined, then sift into another bowl. Add soy margarine and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resemble coarse meal.  
2. In a small bowl whisk milk, vinegar, vanilla and egg to blend. Add to flour mixture along with dried cherries and chopped chocolate. Stir with a fork just until evenly moistened. Don’t over-mix.
3. Scrape dough onto a (GF) floured surface - dough will be sticky. With lightly floured hands, work it into a 7-inch square. Cut dough into four equal squares, then cut each of those squares in half diagonally to get 8 triangles. (These make big scones. If you want smaller scones, cut each of the eight triangles in half to make 16 triangles.) Arrange triangles 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

4. Bake scones until tops are just starting to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes on baking sheet. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, coconut milk and almond extract. Drizzle over warm scones.

* If you can’t have soy products, use organic vegetable shortening instead of the Earth Balance sticks.

** use any non-dairy milk (unflavored and unsweetened) if you don't want to use coconut milk


GF/CF Rolled Sugar Cookies

Sweet art for your sweetheart.

What is more sweet than a decorated sugar cookie. They dress up for holidays, transforming into seasonal comfort food. The simple cookie becomes a palette for artistic expression. Each cookie can become a collage of icing, sprinkles, candy bits, whatever your heart desires.

When I started baking gluten-free, this is one cookie that had to be mastered. It is such a classic. Creating the GF/CF recipe from my wheat/dairy recipe was just a matter of balancing the fat with the gluten-free flour blend. All other measurements remained the same. I experimented a little, and came up with this recipe that is indistinguishable from the wheat flour and dairy version. The taste is the same. The texture is the same. Heavenly.
GF/CF Rolled Sugar Cookies
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2010
Sweet, comforting, classic. 

3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (one stick)
1/2 cup Spectrum organic shortening
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350º.

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the seven dry ingredients (sorghum flour - salt). Whisk the mixture until well combined, set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine buttery stick with shortening, then cream in the sugar with a hand mixer. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add the sifted flour mixture to the sugar mixture in three stages, stirring well to combine.

3. Divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap, chill for at least two hours.

4. Place chilled dough disc between two pieces of waxed paper, roll out to 3/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes, and carefully lift from waxed paper onto parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Cookie Icing
2 cups organic powdered sugar
2 tbsp So Delicious Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
1/4 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
dash salt

Stir ingredients until smooth. If the icing seems too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. If it seems to thick, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Add a few drops of food coloring, if desired. Spoon icing onto cooled cookie, spread with back of spoon to about 1/4 inch from edge. It's ok if the icing travels over the edge of the cookie. It adds to the handmade charm.

I like to separate the icing into three bowls, leaving one white and adding color to the other two. Each cookie gets a plop of each color, then I swirl the colors to  make each cookie a little piece of sweet art.

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