Christmas Cookie Round-up 2012

Haul out the holly! It’s time for a holly, jolly holiday!

(10 points to anyone who can guess which Broadway musical I am referencing)

399320_10100781761984562_1525207194_n165114_10100153568669002_2640237_n149192_10100115948080962_6154316_n

Yesterday, I invited a few friends over for a Christmas party. Being the over-achiever that I am, and not wanting to put anyone out with my dietary restrictions, I decided to make all the cookies myself. I heated up my little apartment with the stove going all day as I rolled and mixed and sprinkled powdered sugar & cinnamon. It was like Christmas exploded in my kitchen!32401_10101635107712882_1324212968_n

Confession: I have an almost compulsive need to completely clean the kitchen between baking each kind of cookie. I put all of the ingredients away, wash and dry the bowls and spoons and return them to their respective cupboards, and wipe down the counters. Then, I recenter myself, pull out the needed ingredients, and start on the next cookie. Some might call it obsessive. I prefer to think of it as organized.

63113_10100138918328402_2062718_n

Anywho… I went through my cookie recipe archives and pulled out a few of my favorites. The star of the evening? Definitely the Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies, which we discovered have about 5 other names, depending on which country you hail from. (ie Russian Tea Cookies, German Pfeffernussen…. the list goes on) Whatever you chose to call them, they are delicious!

I also found a recipe for homemade Cinnamon Ornaments. With only three ingredients, cinnamon, applesauce, and cloves, they are incredibly easy and make fun gifts for party attendees!

Now, strap on that apron, put on your Santa hat, and get baking!

(Hint: Click on the cookie name to see the recipe.)

Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies

dsc060702

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

dsc089411

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

dsc08834

Mint Chocolate Fudgie Babies

dsc060011

Cinnamon Ornaments

heart-ornaments

image source

Advertisements

Cacao Nib Meringues

Colorado is a notoriously difficult state for bakers.

cs-co102

image source

Recipes must be tweaked to include more liquid (or less flour, whichever you prefer), extra leavening agents, and increased oven temperatures. Baking in the high altitude and dry climate is enough to intimidate even the most seasoned of bakers, not to mention a gluten-free one, at that!

Before moving here from Florida, I did quite a bit of research on the changes that would need to be made to my recipes, and, thankfully, the transition hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I had imagined. In fact, Colorado has allowed me to bake something Florida would never have allowed, Meringues!!!!

Meringues are fluffy, pillows of whipped egg whites and sugar that require a rather dry climate in order to be baked. The inherent Florida humidity that wreaked havoc on my naturally curly hair would have also wreaked havoc on the meringues’ texture. Too much moisture in the air ruins any possibility of accomplishing the hollow, crumbly interior of a true meringue. Colorado, however, is practically Saharan in comparison, and the perfect climate for baking meringues.

My first attempt turned out to be a winner! I used the below recipe, courtesy of the incomparable Joy the Baker, substituting an ingredient or two here and there. Since I do not keep white sugar in the house, I used turbinado sugar, which gave my cookies a darker color than traditional meringues. The taste? Perfection!

Now separate those egg whites and “whip it! Whip it good!”

Cacao Nib Meringues

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

adapted from Joy the Baker – Vanilla Bean and Cacao Nib Meringues

577848_10101636234879032_818688822_n

Ingredients:

  • 3 large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 3 Tblsp Cacao Nibs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine turbinado sugar and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer, whip egg whites on medium speed until frothy.
  5. Add salt and cream of tartar and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until egg whites are at the soft peak stage. Egg whites will be very frothy with small bubbles.
  6. Slowly add the sugar/vanilla mixture to the egg whites, increase the mixer speed to high, and whip until stiff, glossy peaks form. Egg whites will be “spoonable”.
  7. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and gently fold in the cacao nibs.
  8. Spoon 2 heaping Tblsp of egg white mixture per cookie onto parchment lined baking sheet. Should equal about 12 cookies.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes until lightly browned and hollow sending when lightly flicked with a finger.
  10. Cool completely before removing from the parchment paper.

Sweet Cinnamon Banana Nut Bread

Guess who is going to visit GF Guy tomorrow?

…. THIS KID!!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven’t seen him in over two months! …Too long, if you ask either of us. I have been bustling about all weekend doing laundry, packing, and baking GF Guy’s favorite treat, banana bread.

I have developed countless versions of my mom’s classic recipe, rarely making the same one twice. Today’s version features a new product by Earth Balance, makers of my favorite non-dairy buttery spread. Earth Balance recently released two Organic Culinary Spreads, Sweet Cinnamon and Roasted Garlic & Herbs.

image source

Both are delish, and transform any dish they are added to. I have used the Roasted Garlic & Herbs Spread to saute’ vegetables, make homemade GF/DF garlic bread, pan-fry tofu, and countless other recipes. The Sweet Cinnamon, I had only spread on toast. Well, with today’s recipe, I have discovered a whole new world of uses for this spread! I can’t wait to keep exploring it’s many uses.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the Earth Balance Sweet Cinnamon Spread. You can substitute any butter or butter substitute. However, if you are able to find the Culinary Spreads in your local grocery store, I highly recommend you give them a try!

Sweet Cinnamon Banana Nut Bread

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 over-ripe Bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance Organic Sweet Cinnamon Culinary Spread
  • 2 Tblsp Unsweetened Original Almond-Coconut Milk
  • 2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, sorghum flour, & tapioca flour. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together one cup of the flour mixture, the sugar, xanthum gum, baking powder, baking soda, & salt.
  4. Add the mashed banana, Earth Balance Sweet Cinnamon Culinary Spread, & almond-coconut milk.
  5. Beat on low speed until just blended, & then on high speed for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs & the remaining flour and beat until blended.
  7. Fold in the chopped walnuts by hand.
  8. Pour the batter into a greased 8x4x2 loaf pan. (or 3 mini-loaf pans)
  9. Bake in your preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, until done. (35-40 minutes for mini-loaves)
  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before turning onto a cooling rack.
  11. Cool completely before slicing.

Vegan Carrot Bundt Cake

I arrived home from weeks of travel to discover a family-sized bag of baby carrots languishing away in the back of my refrigerator.

There was absolutely no way I would be able to eat all the carrots before they met an untimely demise. (The tragedy!) I follow a very strict “no vegetable left behind” program in my kitchen. There was no way I was going to let these poor, innocent baby carrots go to waste. The time had come for a cake. Not being a fan of overly sweet desserts, I shied away from the typical carrot cake progression in favor of an ice-less bundt cake. Just the right amount of sweetness, for my taste, but feel free to top with a powdered sugar glaze is that is more your cup of tea.

Vegan Carrot Bundt Cake

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 3/4 cup Chestnut Flour (1/2 cup for high altitude baking)
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • 1 Tblsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1 cup Turbinado Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Organic, Non-GMO Canola Oil
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread, melted
  • 3 Tblsp Flax Seed Meal combined with 9 Tblsp Warm Water, let stand 10 minutes before using (= 3 large eggs)
  • 1 2/3 cup Unsweetened, Light Coconut Milk
  • 3 cups Grated Carrots

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (375 for high altitude baking)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, cloves, sugars, oils, flax eggs, and coconut milk until smooth.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.
  5. Gently fold in the grated carrots until evenly incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt cake pan.
  7. Smooth the batter with a spatula and place in 350 degree oven.
  8. Bake 45-55 minutes, until done.
  9. Cool 10 minutes in the pan before turning onto a cooling rack.
  10. Cool completely before serving.

Maple Pumpkin Cornbread

So…. I made a new recipe. It looked and tasted delicious. It tasted so delicious, in fact, that GF Guy and I ate it all before I got around to taking a picture…. (insert hashtag #foodbloggerproblems)

image source

I debated posting the recipe or not, since there is no picture. In the end, I decided to risk it and use a stock photo (giving proper credit, or course). Hopefully you will all forgive the oversight once you taste it.

This cornbread recipe could almost be called a corn-cake. Sweet and airy, this moist cake tastes like a fall version of Boston Market’s cornbread, only gluten-free and dairy-free! I ate some with pumpkin chili and another piece for dessert topped with a little pumpkin puree!

Maple Pumpkin Cornbread

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

image source

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Water (2/3 cup if baking at a high altitude)
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 cup Cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/4 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Xanthum Gum

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. (375 degrees F if baking at a high altitude)
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, water, and pumpkin puree until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Pour batter into an oiled 8×8 baking pan.
  5. Bake 35-45 minutes, until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely before serving.

Mexican Chocolate Cake

…..I baked with real sugar…..

image source

*gasp*

I know! Shocking isn’t it?

Personally, I am not a huge sugar fan. My go-to sweeteners are honey, maple syrup, or stevia.  However, I fully acknowlege that I live in a world that loves sugar. So, when cooking for others, I will occaisionally use real sugar. That is what I did for this recipe, and it is darn good, too! 🙂

As a thank you for my friend who took me on a date to see Jersey Boys, I made this delicious chocolate cake. He is an unabashed choco-holic, who also happens to be lactose-intolerant. Ouch, right?

There was no time to stage a proper photo shoot of the cake. We were in a hurry to get to the theater. But, trust me, this is light, moist, and not even the least bit “gluten-free tasting”. The 2 secret ingredients are Coffee Extract and decadant Taza Chocolate.

 I think I may have created my new favorite cake recipe!

Mexican Chocolate Cake

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Organic Eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, softened
  • 1 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Coffee Extract
  • 1 1/4 cups Unsweetened Original Almond Milk (1 1/2 cups if baking at a high altitude)
  • 1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2.7 ounces Taza Cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (375 degrees F if baking at a high altitude)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, coffee extract, Earth Balance, and almond milk until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthum, gum, and salt.
  4. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chopped Taza Chocolate.
  6. Pour batter into an 8×8 square baking pan lightly greased with Earth Balance.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes, until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely before cutting.
  9. Top with a light dusting of powdered sugar to serve.

This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesday and Gluten Free Wednesday.

Protein Cake for One

It was a cereal for dinner kind of night, and all those carbs left me craving some protein for dessert.

Instead of my usual mug cake, I opted to try my hand at a vegan protein cake.

My first attempt was an utter failure and met its demise down the garbage disposal. Attempt number two fared much better. It wasn’t the prettiest dessert, but I was okay with that. Topped with a little pumpkin puree, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Protein Cake for One

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Sorghum Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Vega One Natural Protein Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 10 drops Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia
  • 5 Tbsp Unsweetened Original Almond Milk

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl or mug.
  2. Stir until smooth.
  3. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

Bourbon Vanilla Fig Cake

I have a recipe to share with you today…

But first, confession time….

I am feeling a little blue. After two glorious weeks with my husband and puppy, I had to drive them to the airport to head back out on tour. Sigh…. I decided to adopt this quote by Marilyn Monroe as my mantra for the day:

I am so thankful for the wonderful two weeks GF Guy and I did have together. So many people don’t even get that. So, in an effort to keep my chin up, I devoted the rest of the day to doing low key things I enjoy. I vaccumed and scrubbed our new apartment, baked a cake, and watched too many episodes of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix.

First things first, who wants a mini-tour of our new apartment?

I didn’t rush around making the place look like a magazine before I took these pictures. Just embrace the crooked tea towels and water glass on the coffee table. 😉

Here is my kitchen where all the magic happens. Notice the sweet 18-bottle built in wine rack over the refrigerator!

Next we have scenes from my living room.

I have a meeting with an upholsterer on Friday to have the green chair and sofa recovered. They don’t exactly match my design aesthetic, but are excellent quality Ethan Allen pieces that were given to us by my parents. It just makes sense to recover them, versus replacing them.

This is my favorite wall

And lastly, the bedroom

A work in progress, but we love it!

And now on to the food! A few weeks ago, I received a package in the mail from my favorite Fairy Blog-Mother with some gorgeous Golden Figs.

I fully intended to use them to make Fig Newtons. Then, I tasted them. HOLY GOODNESS!!!!! I will never look at a dried fig the same way! These figs literally screamed flavor and elegance. My grand plans for fig newtons suddenly seemed unworthy of these golden pillows of glory.

A new plan emerged and a lesson was learned. ALWAYS taste your ingredients. You never know what they may inspire. In my case, they inspired a delicious, fluffy cake laced with Bourbon Vanilla and lightly sweetened with golden, organic honey. I hope this recipe inspires you!

Bourbon Vanilla Fig Cake

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups Gluten-Free, Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats (or quinoa flakes)
  • 1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups Unsweetened, Original Almond Milk (1 1/2 cups if at a high altitude)
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, softened
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 6 Golden Figs, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (375 if at a high altitude)
  2. Prepare dairy-free buttermilk substitute by combining Almond Milk and Lemon Juice and letting sit for 10 minutes, until slightly curdled in appearance.
  3. Process rolled oats in a food processor until in achieves a course, flour-like consistency.
  4. Add sorghum flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthum gum to the food processor and pulse until combined.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond “buttermilk”, vanilla, honey, Earth Balance, and cinnamon until well combined.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined.
  7. Gently fold in the chopped figs.
  8. Pour batter into a lightly greased 8×8 square baking dish.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely before cutting.

This post is linke to Allergy Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Wednesdays!

Strawberry Honey Mug Cake

Let them eat cake!

No, it’s not my birthday, and I’m not having a party. Though, I did “have a ball” this weekend….

Saturday night was the annual 1940’s WWII Era Ball in Boulder, CO.

There were 2,500 people there dressed in their finest 1940’s attire, dancing late into the night to live swing music complete with a Frank Sinatra impersonator. We posed for photos with vintage cars and airplanes, and took in a big screen showing of Casablanca.

It was magical! Even better, it was to raise funds for wounded veterans. A good time for a good cause? Count me in! Plus I got to play dress up!

But I digress…. back to the cake. I love having a portion controlled sweet treat after dinner on the weekends. It makes them special! The mug cake, as you may have noticed, has become my dessert of choice. It doesn’t dirty many dishes, takes less than 5 minutes to make, and doesn’t leave pesky leftovers lying around to go stale while I’m traveling. Normally, I go for a chocolate version, but I ran out of cocoa powder and was forced to try something new. Boy am I glad I did! I can’t wait to try this with blueberries!

Strawberry Honey Mug Cake

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Strawberries, chopped

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mug until smooth.
  2. Microwave for 90 seconds.
  3. Top with a dusting of cinnamon and additional sliced strawberries, frosting, glaze, or whatever you fancy!

Avocado Chai Tea Cake

I turned a catastrophe into cake!

Friday during my lunch break is when I normally do my grocery shopping for the weekend. It gives me a chance to get out of the office and stretch my legs. This week, I ran up to a Super Target where they had perfectly ripe avocados on sale! I couldn’t believe my luck! That is until I got home and discovered one of the avocados had been thrown in the bottom of my bag and unceremoniously squashed…..

Not wanting to waste a perfectly good avocado, I set about creating a new baked good. Don’t ask me where this idea came from. Heavens if I know! It just occurred to me that the fat in the avocado could be a good replacement for butter or oil in a recipe. Then it occurred to me that Chai tea would be an fantastsically flavorful liquid component and the rest is history. I decided to freeze the leftovers so i will have decadant, spice-laden treats for weeks to come!

Avocado Chai Tea Cake

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe Avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 large Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup strongly brewed Chai Tea, cooled
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground Cloves
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Xanthum Gum

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the wet ingredients and the spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 square pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until done.
  6. Cool completely before cutting.

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker and to Allergy Free Wednesdays at Tessa the Domestic Diva.