Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Blondies

(Sometimes when a blogger does a variation on a former recipe it seems almost like cheating to me…but…if you just stick an addendum onto the first-time-non-altered recipe, most people aren’t going to see it, right?  That must be why we do it.  It couldn’t be because we’ve been too busy/tired/burned out/bored/exhausted to create a new recipe, right?  Um-hmmm…that’s what I thought.)

Everyone was missing cookies.  I hadn’t had time to bake and it had been too hot to slave over an oven for a long time period anyway.  However, when the natives get restless for cookies, you know you’d better do something about it!

I thumbed through my pile of recipes (the ones awaiting hole-punching so that I can file them in my already-stuffed notebook…) and saw my Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  Mmmm…man, those sounded good!  And I actually had all of the ingredients available.  But I still wasn’t interested in standing in the kitchen for an extended period of time dropping cookies onto the cookie sheets.  (There is just something about hot weather that makes me lethargically lazy.)  I wondered if I could turn them into blondies?

I added a little more coconut oil and put parchment paper in the pan (although, you might not need that, but it makes clean-up a snap!)  They came out very nicely.  They are still a relatively tender, fragile cookie/brownie ~ it seems that gluten-free cookies are either fragilelike this, or tough as nails ~ but they taste so good, I didn’t mind.

You’ll notice this recipe has very little variation from the cookie recipe I mentioned above, except it’s easier!

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Blondies

  • 1/4 c. non-hydrogenated soy margarine, softened (1/2 stick), such as Earth Balance
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice or sugar
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no added water)
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk plain or vanilla soy)
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (more if you want them bursting at the seams)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 1 1/2 c. fine almond meal or almond flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand), breaking up any lumps
  • 3/4 c. coconut flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place parchment paper in a 9×13″ pan so that the edges stick up above the pan.

With a wooden spoon, in a large bowl, combine and beat margarine, coconut oil, cane juice, molasses, and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir in egg replacer powder.  Add a fourth of the non-dairy milk, or so, at a time, beating it in completely after each addition.  Keep whipping it until well incorporated.  It may look a little separated due to the extra liquid needed with the coconut flour.  (You can toss the milk in all at once, but it tends to cause separation and then you have to work harder to whip it together.)  Stir in chocolate chips, salt, and baking soda, mixing well.  Stir in almond and coconut flours until no dry spots remain.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, checking after 25 minutes to make sure your oven isn’t running too hot.

Place on cooling rack in the pan for 15 minutes or so, then lift the whole batch out (using the edges of the parchment paper sticking out of the pan) onto the rack to finish cooling and to make sure the paper doesn’t end up damp beneath the blondies.  After completely cooling, you can either transfer them back to the pan to cut them (esp. if you have one of those neat cake pans with plastic lids that can store the blondies – less dishes to wash!) or you can put them onto a cutting board to slice them into bars and store them in an airtight container.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

I love pudding.  Usually I make chocolate pudding though, because I’ve always been a bit timid to try to create a vegan vanilla pudding.  I was afraid it just wouldn’t meet expectations.  I’ve made the Mori-nu mixes and they are okay, but fairly expensive ~ and there is a hint of a tofu taste with the vanilla, in my opinion.  It was just easier to make chocolate.  Chocolate covers just about everything.

I have to admit, I was a Jello pudding fiend growing up.  When we gave up dairy for allergy’s sake I tried to make Jello pudding with soy milk.  What a disaster.  If I recall, I sat down and cried.  (I told you I was crazy about it.)  I didn’t think I’d ever get pudding again.  (This was before finding a chocolate recipe.)  I still have micro-pouts about the pistachio.  I am not sure I will ever be able to make that one happen, especially since the flavoring probably has more to do with chemicals and food coloring than the nuts.

This time, however, I just wanted vanilla pudding.  I decided to be brave and experiment.  I made a big batch ~ hey, if it came out well, I knew I’d have to share!  ;D  It was pretty tasty.  I do think that using your favorite non-dairy milk is key.  If you like the flavor of that milk, then you’ll like the flavor of your pudding.  I’ve recently gotten a new soymilk for hubby ~ the boys and I rotate between it, almond milk, and coconut milk with all of us having our favorites ~ and I’m not sure I am as fond of its flavor as I am of Silk’s vanilla…but all Silk isn’t organic anymore and this one was…and it was cheaper.  I think a better tasting soymilk would have made the pudding top notch.  Anyway…use what tastes good to you.  Your pudding will reflect that.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

  • 3/4 c. (12 T) packed cornstarch **see note below
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1 c. evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 1/2 tsp. uncut stevia (may use 1/2 c. more cane juice crystals)
  • scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. vanilla

Mix cornstarch with enough milk to measure about 2 c.  Set aside.  Thoroughly mix remaining milk, cane juice crystals, stevia, and salt in a large pot and heat until nearly boiling, stirring constantly just until the cane juice is dissolved.  Stir cornstarch mixture into the milk, stirring constantly until pudding begins to bubble and thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into serving bowl or individual bowls.  Place plastic wrap over the top, allowing it to touch the pudding, to keep a skin from forming.  Cool on rack for an hour or so.  Then chill completely in refrigerator.

Makes about 8 cups.

**A word about thickening with cornstarch….it can behave in a wacky way.  Sometimes it seems to thicken just right and other times it can leave things anywhere from runny to downright sliceable!  I think I’ve figured out that it comes down to how I measure it and how long I cook it.  You can have a lightly fluffed cornstarch tablespoonful, or you can have it packed into the measuring spoon.  Therefore, I have indicated a packed amount of cornstarch in this recipe.  Then you can be certain how I measured it.  I also have indicated that you need to bring the pudding back to a boil for proper thickening and no guesswork.  In this case, I used 3/4 c. (I know, it sounds like a lot of cornstarch doesn’t it?  But it’s really only 12 T ~ there does that sound better? ~ and it thickens a half gallon of milk.)  The resulting pudding was very thick ~ not quite stiff enough to have made a pudding pie with it, but almost.  In the picture, I used the back of a spoon to squish any stiffer portions into a more picturesque texture.   Next time, I’ll reduce the cornstarch to 2/3 c. for a softer texture.  Let me know how it works for you!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

I told you we had a lot of birthdays right about now!  This is a favorite cake in my family.  They often request it for special occasions.  This time I happened to make it with spelt flour, but King Arthur’s white whole wheat (or Trader Joe’s) works marvelously well, too.

In the beginning this recipe was a muffin recipe from a book called A-Z Muffins that I borrowed from a library.  It wasn’t vegan and it wasn’t particularly healthy, either, with loads of oil.  After I turned it into a vegan creation with more healthful ingredients, I made it as muffins, but decided that it made a wonderful dense cake instead.  (Quicker and less clean-up, don’t you know….Does anybody like washing muffin tins?)

{I’m still learning R’s camera and didn’t increase the shutter speed, making this a little blurry.  I also tried to capture an artful picture of a piece of cake on a plate, but the piece I put on there was somehow a little smushed and didn’t look pretty at all.  So, you get a shot from a piece still in the pan.  Realism…at it’s…finest?}

Usually, we don’t serve banana chocolate chip cake with frosting (only on birthdays) because it is just so moist and marvelous on its own.  Plus it has all those chocolate chips…mmmm.  You see, my family has learned a crazy habit ~ from me ~ of putting milk on the cake in a bowl and eating it that way.  (Didn’t you ever hear Bill Cosby’s comic routine about cake for breakfast?  Flour, eggs, milk…all healthy ingredients, right?  {or so I thought at the time}  Yes…yes, that is how it all began one morning when as a teenager I ran out of cereal and nobody was there to stop me from eating cake in my bowl instead.)  Thus, we don’t usually need the frosting.  My poor son-in-law just shakes his head and quietly eats his on a plate with a glass of soy milk beside it.  😀

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 4 c. white whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder, sieved to remove lumps
  • 2 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 7 medium-sized, very ripe bananas (with speckles…or turning brown, if you must)
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2/3 c. applesauce (or 1/2 c. melted coconut oil, or combo of the two)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Spray 9″x13″ pan with oil.

Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl.  Mash bananas with a pastry blender or potato masher in a medium-sized bowl.  Mix in the remaining wet ingredients with the banana.  Add banana mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together until there are no dry spots.  Scrape into prepared pan and smooth out batter.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (look out for chocolate chips!)  Cool on rack.  (I have never tried to turn this out of the pan to place on a platter.  I have only served it directly out of the pan.  I suggest parchment paper in the bottom if wish to remove it from the pan.  I also think 8″ round pans would work better for that purpose.)

My daughter, K, with her birthday cake.  Only 2 candles?!  What’s up with that?  😀

Vegan Ice Cream

Memorial Day ~ can you believe it?  Summer is upon us.  And the thought pops into your head unbidden….ice cream!!!  But can vegans have ice cream?  Of course they can ~ of the non-dairy variety!  Not only are there some marvelous ones available on the market these days, but recipes abound on the internet, too.

Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes I’ve found online use a teeny tiny ice cream maker ~ about 1-1 1/2 quart-sized.  Well, honey, let me tell you…that is not going to cut it with my family!  When all the kids lived at home we had 6 of us standing around the ice cream maker with bowls and spoons in hand waiting for it to hurry and finish.  And we didn’t want any 1/2 c. serving, either.  (Yes, I know…there may be a good reason I’m not a svelte vegan.  But if you saw my kids and hubby and how lean they are….well, it probably doesn’t have much to do with the ice cream.)  Even though this recipe will be for a 1/2 gallon/4 quart sized churn, my personal one is now a 6 quart!  😀  Any extras can be frozen in individual-serving-sized Tupperware for later.  (Note:  it must be thawed a while, as it comes out like a brick due to no weird additives or gums added to keep it from freezing solid.)  Depending on the churn you own/buy this can be made quickly, or take a bit longer.  If you like a soft-serve ice cream, you can churn this and open it immediately to eat it.  Follow your manufacturer’s user manual for proper churning and ice/salt ratio.  (Right now I’d love to get a new churn, because mine isn’t very efficient and leaves the center rather runny while the outer edges are frozen solid enough that the dasher won’t turn any more ~ it didn’t do this when I first bought it.  While my hubby doesn’t like to eat any fruited ice creams much to our chagrin, he does love ice cream the consistency of a milkshake.  So, he gets all the middle stuff and we scrape the outside edges for the rest of us!  I guess we’ll be forgiving then with his other ice cream foibles!  ;))

Because I can control the ingredients, this ice cream has fewer calories than the packaged store-bought variety.  I unscientifically figured out the approximate calories of a cup of vanilla (using the nutrition labels on the ingredients I put into it) and came up with about 143 calories.  This was using full sweetener (rather than substituting any stevia for part of it) and the tofu option.  Not too shabby if you can keep yourself down to 1-2 cups!  Most desserts are more caloric than this.

I am going to lay out my basic vanilla soy recipe for you ~ and I’ll give you other options for different flavors (the really fun part!), ways to substitute for allergies (to soy and nuts specifically**), and sweetener options.  There is a lot of leeway for adjustments in this particular ice cream.  It makes it very easy on you.

*Again, ice cream churns vary ~ so it would be a good thing if you have extra non-dairy milk on hand in case your church is actually bigger than it says it is.  My last 1/2-gallon Rival-brand churn made about 12 cups of ice cream measured out!

Vegan Ice Cream

  • 1/2 gallon non-dairy milk (soy, almond, coconut-not the canned+)
  • 1/2 c. raw cashews (can be more for a richer product – see tofu comment)
  • 1 pkg. Morinu tofu, drained (you may omit this and use a total of 1 c. cashews instead for a richer product.)
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetener (this can be sugar, evaporated cane juice crystals, honey, maple syrup, etc.  You can also substitute 1/2-1 tsp. pure stevia extract powder for 1/2-1 c. of the sweetener.  You may mix and match these sweeteners.  If you make a fruit ice cream, use a can of frozen juice concentrate in a matching flavor, or use white grape for a non-descript flavor to meld well with any fruit in place of the other sugars.  Because the fruit is so sweet, you don’t need the heavier sweeteners, although you could add a little bit of stevia or other choice to boost the sweetness if you have a sweet tooth.)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • vanilla to taste.

Place cashews in blender and add just enough non-dairy milk to blend nuts until very creamy and smooth.  You don’t want any graininess left from tiny cashew pieces.  Add other ingredients with enough milk to blend them.  Pour into a 1/2 gallon freezer container/churn.  Add extra milk until you reach the “fill to this mark” line.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

**For soy allergies, omit the tofu and increase cashews to 1 c. total; use almond or coconut milk.  For nut allergies, omit cashews and double tofu; use soy or coconut milk+.

+Newsflash!  You might not want to use coconut milk for this unless your ice cream maker is very cooperative in it’s freezing nature.  With my wonky freezer I tried using Silk vanilla coconut milk last night after I already had this typed up and ready to post.  I had to laugh ~ some of the coconut fat from the milk was separated from the chocolatey coconut mix and frozen to the side all by itself!  It was tasty, but it wasn’t what I was going for!

Variations:  (The fun part!)

  • Chocolate:  Add 6-8 T. cocoa powder and a bit of almond extract along with the vanilla.  Or you can just use chocolate non-dairy milk instead of vanilla or plain.
  • Strawberry:  Pour part of the blended mix into the ice cream freezer container if you have a small blender.  Use the remaining mix (or all of the mix if you have a large, strong blender) to blend 1-2 c. of fresh or frozen strawberries (if you use frozen, the ice cream will finish faster); pour into the freezer container.  Add more milk to the blender and whiz another 1-2 c. of berries.  You want a total of 3-4 c. of berries.  Almond extract is good here, too ~ just a little.  I find that juice concentrate can work fairly well with this variation, since the berries are sweet, too.
  • Maple Walnut:  Add 1/4-1/2 c. walnuts when you blend the cashews.  Increase salt to 3/8 tsp.  The sweetener should be at least half maple syrup and the other half whatever other sweetener you choose since maple syrup is pricey.  You may add a touch of maple extract with the vanilla if you wish.
  • Pina Colada:  Add 1 1/2 c. pineapple juice, 1 can coconut milk, and a dash of coconut extract to the blender.  Or you may blend up some canned pineapple, too, but that tends to leave a couple of harsh clumps of fibers that aren’t much fun to come across while you are eating.  Another option would be to serve chilled crushed pineapple and shredded coconut on each serving.
  • Mint Chocolate Chip:  In a dry blender, or food processor, briefly whiz 1 c. of chocolate chips until tinier pieces.  Add to the freezer container after the milk mixture.  Add 1/2-1 tsp. mint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil to the blender.
  • Chocolate Chip:  As above, only omit the mint extract/oil.
  • Orange Cream:  (This one I haven’t perfected, but I’ll give you the idea so you can play with it.)  Add orange juice concentrate to the vanilla recipe.  Sometimes it comes out very strong ~ be careful how much you add.
  • Cookies and Cream:  After vanilla ice cream is done churning, remove the dasher and add in crushed chocolate sandwich cookies.  Stir well.  Put lid on and allow to harden according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pumpkin:  (This is a strong pumpkin-flavored ice cream.  Decrease pumpkin for a milder version.)  Add a 15-oz can of pumpkin puree and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice to the blender.
  • Black Cherry:  Use 1 c. apple cherry juice concentrate and 1/2 c. of another sweetener and plenty of vanilla.  Slice/halve 2 c. frozen cherries (to make sure there are no pits) or pit fresh cherries.  Whiz half of them with the blender mixture until fine; pour into freezer container.  Chop remaining cherries with more milk in the blender until in small pieces.  Add to freezer container.
  • Chocolate Cherry:  Combine the chocolate ice cream version with the chopped cherries in the Black Cherry version.  Use full sweetener or the cocoa will be too bitter.
  • Coconut:  Add a can of lite coconut milk to replace some of the milk.  Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of each serving if desired.
  • Chocolate Coconut:  Make chocolate ice cream using Silk vanilla coconut milk for the non-dairy milk.+
  • Rocky Road:  Make chocolate ice cream.  When finished churning, remove the dasher and stir in 1 c. small chocolate chips (or chop regular ones in a dry blender/food processor) and 1/2 c. chopped nuts.

If you think of any other variation ideas, please let me know!  Happy churning!  😀

Coconut Milkshake

Here is a simple way to get a vegan milkshake without the expensive containers of vegan ice cream getting involved.

Coconut Milkshake (and variations)

  • 1 frozen peeled banana, broken into pieces
  • Silk vanilla coconut milk
  • a sprinkle of pure powdered stevia extract

Place the banana and stevia in a blender.  Add just enough coconut milk to allow the blender to work properly.  This will depend on the strength of your blender, honestly.  That is why there is no measurement given for the milk.  Add extra coconut milk to determine how thick or thin you prefer your shake.  Pour into a glass and serve.

Variations:

  • Use almond or soy vanilla flavored milk in place of the coconut.  Add 1-2 T. of peanut butter and a sprinkle of stevia.  You could also add a spoonful of cocoa powder and a little more sweetener ~ or just use chocolate milk!
  • Use a plain flavored milk and add a drop or two of peppermint oil or extract.  If you want it to be green, add a few baby spinach leaves.
  • Toss in some blueberries.
  • Add some frozen pineapple chunks for a pina colada shake

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

This rice pudding is reminiscent of the old-fashioned custard rice pudding I grew up eating (minus the raisins that I always picked out ~ why did Daddy like those?)  Mama used her mother’s thin, age-darkened recipe written in a spidery hand, which, instead of giving an oven temperature, called for a “slow oven” ~ because grandma had used a wood stove! It has always been my standard against which to measure all other rice puddings.

No wonder I was so unhappy with the rice pudding recipes I found when we became vegan.  Who wanted sweetened rice in a puddle of non-dairy milk?  Where was the pudding?  Where was the custard?  Was it even possible to get that without dairy ingredients and eggs?

This is a combination of several internet recipes from a few years ago.  It has the wonderful custard that so many sadly lacked.  It is not low fat, but it is exactly what I was aiming to replicate.

And if you must add raisins to duplicate your childhood memory, then *sigh* I guess that’s allowable.  🙂  Grandma’s recipe says to add 1 c. raisins.

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

  • 6 c. cooked brown rice (I have used as little as 4 c., but 5-6 c. is much better) *
  • 4 c. Silk vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 package Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no liquid added)
  • 4 T. Earth-Balance non-hydrogenated stick “butter” (1/2 stick), softened
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder (or 1/2 c. more evap. cane juice)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Whiz in blender all ingredients except rice and cinnamon.  (If you don’t have a 56-oz. blender, then leave 2 c. of soymilk out and mix it with the blended mixture before adding rice in the next step.)  Stir blender mixture in with rice in a 3-4 qt. dish (a 9″x13″ cake pan is 3 qt.)  Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.  Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350°.

The top will split and crinkle as it cools just like grandma’s recipe! May be served warm, but I like it best cold.

*Note:  My cooked rice in this batch was a bit firm and somewhat dry to start the recipe.  It absorbed more of the “custard” than usual.  It was still very good, but since my favorite part happens to be the custard….I, therefore, recommend brown rice that is soft and moist, or use only 5 cups.

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake

Finding a tasty vegan cheesecake can be hard to do.  Finding a tasty vegan cheesecake that doesn’t contain a bunch of processed products can be even harder.  With a search engine, I went seeking.  I ended up narrowing my search to just images, because if the picture didn’t look appetizing, I wasn’t bothering to read the recipe.  If the pictured cheesecake was thin or runny, I kept going.  If it looked like a stereo-typical vegan dessert (you’ve seen those, haven’t you ~ the ones people wrinkle up their noses at during potlucks and keep going?) then I didn’t click on the picture to see the rest of the info.

I finally found this one.  The picture was mouthwatering!  My stomach growled over it ~ and it didn’t have any funny ingredients.  I printed it out for trial.  However, the mix in the blender was SUPER sour (I always taste new recipes as I go to ensure success.)  I had to add extra stuff just to make it not pucker my whole face!  (I chatted online with the recipe creator who said that was what she was trying to make, because she loves tart things.  So, if that is your taste preference, check out her version.)  Even after extra thickening and sweetening, it had to be partially frozen to be thick enough to slice.  It was certainly edible (and nobody turned down a second piece, except my fussiest eater who only ate 1 bite and surrendered his first piece to ME!), but it wasn’t exactly what I was going for.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you?  At least you do if you’ve been reading my blog for very long.  Time for revamping into my own thing!  (I did shamelessly use Kier’s version of the crust ~ thank you…it was too good and didn’t need any changing.)

Now, this was more like it! (Tell me if this makes your mouth water when you see it.  Please…no licking the computer screen.)

Granted, this makes a HUGE cheesecake, so you might want to only make this when company is coming over.  But then again, have you ever wished for less decadent dessert leftovers for later?  Me, either.  I do suggest cutting this into 16 pieces at least.  We cut it into 12 and it was almost too much ~ too rich even for our family of sweet tooths.  (Although, nobody left a morsel behind on their plates…they just held their very full stomachs and laid around the living room like so many inert statues for a while afterwards.)

If you wish to make a smaller version, you can cut the crust in half and the filling into a third, but it won’t come out as thick as pictured above.  It will fit nicely into a 10″ pie plate then.

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake  ~ 9” x 13”

 Crust ~

  • 2 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. almonds
  • 20 pitted dates
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Filling ~

  • 3 cans of Thai organic coconut milk – full fat, thoroughly chilled ***
  • juice of 3 small lemons (about 8-9 T.)
  • 3/4 c. honey or other liquid sweetener
  • 3 c. raw cashews (may be soaked 4-8 hours)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Topping ~

  • 2 12-oz packages of frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or other sweetener

In food processor, whiz nuts until finely chopped.  Add dates, vanilla, and salt and pulse until well mixed.  This can be a time-consuming process.  If your food processor isn’t very big or isn’t very efficient, try doing half of the recipe at a time.

Press the nut-date mixture on the bottom and up the sides of a 9” x 13” glass pan.  To see if there are any thin places, hold the pan up, tipped toward a window.  Press mixture toward any places that need more coverage.  Set aside.

Carefully spoon out the thickened coconut cream from the top of the cans of chilled coconut milk and place in a high powered blender.  Reserve the liquid for other uses, such as smoothies.  (If you do not have a strong or a big enough blender – 56 oz. – blend in two batches.)  Place remaining filling ingredients into blender in order listed so that the coconut cream turns into a liquid to help blend up the cashews.  Blend until smooth with no tiny pieces of cashew remaining.  Pour into prepared crust, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours.

Pour thawed berries into a glass bowl and sprinkle cane juice crystals over the top.  Mix until the crystals dissolve, breaking up the berries into a saucy topping.  Chill.

Cut and serve the cheesecake, spooning the raspberry sauce over the top of each piece as desired.  Or you may top the whole cheesecake with the berries and serve.

***Addendum:  I made this yet again, because we love it so much.  I used some less expensive, but still organic coconut milk.  It failed!  Well, it wasn’t a total failure, but close enough.  It was grainy, too moist, and not as flavorful.  I most highly recommend Thai organic canned coconut milk for the proper results.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Celiac disease seems to be on the upswing.  All of a sudden, you have friends or family who can’t eat wheat and other grains.  What do you feed them?  Panic ensues.  The packaged gluten-free items can be tasteless or hockey pucks – and expensive.  Plus, how good for you are those starches that they use to replace the flour?

As I researched cookies online, I found that there are a lot of recipes that I wouldn’t even want to try to gather the strange ingredients to make.  Who wants xanthan gum in a cookie…and what IS it?  After a few “unorthodox” recipes (read: not the gluten-free industry standards) were perused, I decided that I was probably better off to quit reading and start cooking.  Those “unorthodox” cooks had used some healthy ingredients in their baking and the pictures looked tasty!  Modifying my already-modified vegan recipes was obviously the place to start.

There’s another thing ~ if you have been vegan for long, you know it can be sticky enough bringing vegan cookies to a school, church, or family function, but gluten-free vegan cookies?  Oh, my.  Now nobody will touch them, right?  Relax.  These actually taste pretty good!  My teen boys, J & R, gave them a thumbs-up.  In fact, J even liked them better than my usual ones because he likes a softer cookie.  (Which means if you put a little sign on them “gluten-free vegan cookies,” it virtually guarantees nobody will eat them, and you get to take them home.  Win!)  (Addendum ~ that actually didn’t work at a party we attended.  There were only crumbs left.)

I started with the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I posted yesterday and cut it in half.  (Just in case my plan didn’t work and they flopped!)  It was a good thing that I did.  By the time I got to the last pan, the dough had begun to change a bit and become drier.  Therefore, I do not recommend doubling this recipe. The next time I make them, I might drizzle in some more non-dairy milk toward the end and see if that changes anything.  (If you try it, let me know how they come out.)  The picture shows the story of the order of baking from top to bottom ~ it’s readily apparent that things changed.  (I used 17″ cookie sheets and had 3 sets go into the oven.)

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/4 c. non-hydrogenated soy margarine, softened (1/2 stick), such as Earth Balance
  • 2 T. melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice or sugar
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no added water)
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk plain or vanilla soy)
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (more if you want them bursting at the seams)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda, sieved to remove lumps
  • 1 1/2 c. fine almond meal or almond flour (I used Trader Joe’s brand), breaking up any lumps
  • 3/4 c. coconut flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheets.  This step is non-negotiable.  Without it, I cannot be responsible for how awful your cookies look.

With a wooden spoon, in a large bowl, combine and beat margarine, coconut oil, cane juice, molasses, and vanilla.  Thoroughly stir in egg replacer powder.  Add a fourth of the non-dairy milk, or so, at a time, beating it in completely after each addition.  Keep whipping it until well incorporated.  It may look a little separated due to the extra liquid needed with the coconut flour.  (You can toss the milk in all at once, but it tends to cause separation and then you have to work harder to whip it together.)  Stir in chocolate chips, salt, and baking soda, mixing well.  Stir in almond and coconut flours until no dry spots remain.

Drop by teaspoon onto parchment-covered cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Carefully remove to cookie racks to cool.  I found the last cookies will be more fragile than the first ones.

Variation:  Make into blondies/bars here

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve had coconut cream on my mind a lot lately.  It started with another blogger’s recipe for vegan cheesecake that wasn’t quite what I was looking for and had more the texture of a cream pie.  Or maybe it started when my BFF told me about Tropical Traditions’ coconut products – and then I won a quart jar of their virgin coconut oil.  However it began, next Katie over at www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com posted a vegan whipped cream recipe using coconut cream.  (All of her pictures make my stomach growl.)  Well, I just about couldn’t stand it any more!  I had to find a coconut cream pie recipe by search engine.  I spent a good chunk of time looking…and wasn’t satisfied.  None of the pictures looked like what my imagination was projecting and some of the ingredients were pretty bland and used cornstarch to obtain a thick product.

So, I gave up.  Well, sorta.  I gave up the computer search and went to the kitchen to play.  I had enough ideas of what not to do and some ideas of what I wanted to do – at least enough for a trial run.  It was more of a trial runny.  If I froze it, it was too hard to slice.  If left in the refrigerator, it was more like a soft pudding and wouldn’t slice well that way, either.  Don’t get me wrong – it tasted good and we ate every last crumb!  🙂  But I knew I wasn’t done.

The second one I made for the weekend when I knew my daughter and son-in-law would be over to help eat it, so I doubled the recipe into a 9″x13″ pan.  This time it worked!  Everybody really wished there had been more of it.

If you have friends who are gluten sensitive/intolerant, this dessert recipe is for you.  There is no grain used in the whole batch – not even the crust (unless you used flour-covered date pieces.)

This recipe is for a 9″ deep-dish pie pan.  You will have a little of the filling leftover than won’t fit that you can put in a bowl for pudding.  It might work to fill 2 smaller pie crusts, but the crust recipe would have to be adjusted – probably 1 1/2 times.

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

 Crust:

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 c. raw almonds
  • 15 pitted soft dates (or 1 c. date pieces, may be oat flour-covered)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil (this is optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/16 tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 1 can chilled coconut milk (chilled at least 8 hours)
  • 1 c. raw cashews (may soak 4-8 hours before using)
  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morinu tofu
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered stevia extract (or 1/4-1/2 c. more sweetener)
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, coconut, and almonds until tiny pieces. Add the remaining crust ingredients, pulsing and processing until the dates are completely incorporated and you can press some together and it sticks well.  Press this into a 10″ deep dish pie pan.  Be patient – it takes a little bit to get it evenly distributed.  Also, if you are using a glass pie plate, you can hold it up and look through the bottom to see if there are thin spots.

Open the chilled can of coconut milk carefully.  Scrape out the hardened coconut cream into a high-powered blender.  Add 2 T. of the thin liquid from the can of coconut milk.  (Save the rest of the liquid for making smoothies.)  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until there are no grainy pieces of cashew left on a spatula dipped into the cream.  Pour into the crust.  Chill for 4-8 hours.

Molasses Cookies

I’m going to add a fun recipe today.  Not only because everybody needs some fun in their dietary life, but because I already have a picture taken of these cookies!  (It seems one of my children shared an illness with me and cooking something new to photograph for a post is just a little out of my comfort zone today.)

Molasses cookies are a favorite for my husband and a couple of my sons.  It was vital that I find a way to make a vegan version, even if I’m not fond of molasses cookies.  (I suppose that keeps me from eating many.  I may be on to something here….)  I pulled out my Land O’ Lakes Cookie Collection a few years ago and set to work.  Fortunately, they were already lower in fat than most of the other recipes in their book (but hey, what do you expect – they are selling butter!)  It didn’t take too much tweaking to come up with a solid recipe.  These make a dark, thin cookie with plenty of flavor, and if you like a super crispy cookie, bake them the longer time listed.

There are some important things you should know, just in case you like to tinker with recipes like I do.  (I can’t seem to leave new ones alone – sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes it spells disaster!)

~The original recipe called for “light” molasses, but I’ve never seen such a thing.  I thought I could make it lighter another way.  Nope.  #1 – Don’t substitute honey for any of the molasses.

~  Most of my low-fat cookies need one single “magic” ingredient to come off the cookie sheet easily.  However, these won’t spread well or brown correctly if you use it with these.  #2 – Don’t use parchment paper on the cookie sheets.

~ If you are in a hurry, do not make these cookies!  #3 – Do NOT skip the refrigeration step.  You will fail at rolling the balls out and just have to lick cookie schtick off of your palms instead.  Now, if your goal is to just eat cookie dough – well, that’s up to you!  🙂

~ If you like really large molasses cookies you will need to make a change.  #4 – For larger cookies, place them plenty far apart.  These babies spread like crazy!

Molasses Cookies

  • 1 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) Earth’s Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, softened (these contain no trans fats)
  • 1/2 c. unsulfured molasses
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour* or w.w. pastry flour (*This is spring wheat flour that is sweeter and whiter that typical whole wheat flour.  I use King Arthur’s or Trader Joe’s brands.)
  • sugar for rolling

In a large bowl, combine evaporated cane juice crystals, “butter,” and molasses until smooth.  Stir in egg replacer powder.  A couple of tablespoons at a time, stir in the non-dairy milk.  This keeps the batter from separating.  Add baking soda and seasonings, beating to mix well.  Next stir in the flour.  Cover and refrigerate until firm – at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350°.  Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls.  (This seems small, but they spread way out.)  Roll in sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch.  Remove immediately.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.