Friday, July 24, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Date Squares

I know these seem a bit old fashioned and aren't a terribly trendy dessert, but the fact that they appear in almost every coffee shop leads me to believe there must be someone else who likes them besides me. 

I like my date squares to have a solid top, rather than the crumbly one popular in many recipes. No doubt, less crust is better for you, but the stodginess of dates seems to almost call out for the equally stoic oat crust. If you'd prefer a lighter topping, just make a little less and sprinkle it willy-nilly across the top. 

Makes one 8 x 8 pan, or about 9 squares


1 1/2 cups chopped, pitted dates (I usually buy them pre-pitted and chop them with kitchen shears)
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups water or apple juice
1 tsp vanilla

1 cups gluten free oats
1 1/2 cups wheat free flour
3/4 tsp xantham gum
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 room temperature coconut oil
1/4 cup vegan margarine


Bring the water and lemon juice to a boil and and reduce to a simmer. Add the chopped dates and allow water to absorb, about ten minutes. Remove from heat. The dates should be a smooth paste. Add more juice/water and return to heat if needed. Add vanilla. 

In a bowl, add all of the ingredients finishing with the oil and margarine, and, using your fingers, turn into a crumble. Pat half of the crumble into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Spread the date mixture and then pat down the remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour until crust is golden brown. Cool on a rack and cut into squares. 

Store for up to a week in an airtight container. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Granola Cookies

These cookies were born out of the cupboards of the cottage. One rainy day, when I was in the mood to bake something, I decided to make cookies, only to realize we had no flour. I did find the ground up bits at the bottom of a bag of granola and substituted those instead. Those cookies were quite crunchy and not quite right, but inspired these little gems when I was back in the city. The recipe below is quite similar to a kitchen sink cookie, but a little crunchier because of the ground oats and granola. I like to eat them for breakfast, but they also make a nice afternoon snack. 

The amount of sugar you add is totally dependent on how sweet your granola is. So, if you aren't an incurable dough nibbler this will be the time to break with restraint and try it out. If you would prefer, try maple syrup instead of the brown sugar to up the granola-taste. 

Makes aprox. 30 cookies


1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup prune puree or apple sauce
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup gluten free granola, ground in a food processor
1 cup wheat-free flour
1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 cup gluten free oats, ground in food processor
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 egg equivalencies
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1 cup gluten free granola
1 cup  flaked dried coconut
1 cup dried cranberries


In a large bowl, mix together with a wooden spoon mix together the canola oil, prune puree, and margarine. Add the vanilla and molasses and then the ground up granola. Add the sugar, deciding how much you need. Add the ground oats and combine. Sift in the wheat-free flour, xantham gum, baking soda and powder and a pinch of salt if you'd like. Add the egg replacer as directed on the package, stirring gently. Lastly add the dried cranberries, oats, granola, and coconut. Drop by tablespoon onto a pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for about fifteen minute, rotating the pan half way through. 

Allow to cool on the pan for a moment and then cool completely on a cooling rack. 
Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Chocolate Coconut Bars or MAGIC BARS

When I was younger these bars were called Magic Bars. You made them in the pan you baked them in and took all of about ten minutes, due mainly to the fact that ninety percent of the ingredients were store bought, cupboard standards. While this is now impossible for me, I didn't want to sacrifice these goodies to the long list of "Things I Can't Eat" so I experimented and made a few changes and came up with a compromise between what I remember and what I can eat. While they are no longer magically simple, they are delicious and you can always just take photos on awkward angles, as I've done here, to make these feel a little more kooky. 

Recipe within a Recipe:
You'll need this to replace the sweetened condescended milk used in the original. 
In a bowl, combine 2/3 cup icing sugar, 1 cup powdered rice milk (or soy), 3 tbs. of vegan margarine, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and stir until all blended. Pop this in the fridge and leave it at least overnight. It will keep for about two weeks in the fridge, but this recipe uses all of it

Makes about 12 squares. 


3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup wheat free flour
1/3 cup vegan margarine, melted
generous pinch of salt (optional)
splash of vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Vegan Condensed Milk recipe (above)
1 1/3 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coconut


In a large bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Add the melted margarine and vanilla, coating the dry mixture with a spoon or your hands to make a soft crumb. Press this mixture into a lined 9x9 pan that has been lined and well greased with oil. Bake this base layer in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until just done. Remove from oven and lower heat to 325 degrees. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the base and then pour your home-made sweetened condensed milk on top and spread it to the edges of the base layer. Sprinkle the shredded coconut and more chocolate chip (if you desire) over top of the pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, rotating half way through, so that the coconut is evenly toasted. 

Allow to cool before cutting into squares. These are great the first couple of days you make them but store in the fridge after day three. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vegan and Wheat Free Chocolate Cookies

These are the chocolate version of a chocolate chip cookie. They are great to make with kids and take very little time or special ingredients. While I'm still working out a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, these have become my standby. 

Any type of chocolate chip will do; and I tend to up the quality if I'm making these for guests. If you aren't allergic to nuts, they taste great with hazelnuts. Failing that, sandwiching two cookies around a tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread is a decadent treat perfect for a Tuesday afternoon. 

The espresso powder, if you choose to use it, has very little flavor on its own. Coffee is a wonderful accompaniment to chocolate and enhances its flavor. Used sparingly in baking it adds charming zip. 

Makes about 20 cookies


1 1/2 cups wheat free flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tbs water or 3 tbs brewed coffee (optional)
1 tbs vanilla 
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbs molasses
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup apple sauce or prune puree
1/2 cup oil
1 egg replacement
chocolate chips 


In your stand mixer, beat the sugars, molasses, oil, and apple sauce together. When this is combined, add coffee (if using) and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, xantham gum, and baking soda. Using a sieve, sift this mixture into the oil mixture and, on low speed, combine. Add the egg replacement and quickly beat in. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by generous tablespoon onto a parchment lined baking sheet, flattening the dough out a bit with a spoon and bake at 325 degrees for about 12 minutes. 

Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Though I didn't grow up on a farm per se, my aunt and uncle and grandfather live in a big old house with a mini farm garden in the back. When my family would visit, we would be enlisted to help. Mostly, this meant my sister and I sat crossed legged in between rows of strawberry plants and ate about twice as many as we consumed. Which always proved to be short sighted, because breakfast, lunch, and dinner always included strawberries as well. Fortunately, my aunt is quite handy with a freezer and a canner and would make pots and pots of jam for us to take home. One crop that I never had to harvest was zucchini. Like strawberries, zucchinis yield an enormous amount and my aunt's freezer was always full of grated, pre-measured bags to make zucchini cake. When I first became interested in baking, she would send me bags of the vegetable along with her recipe and I would make it for my room mates in college. 

I've since made several adjustments to the recipe, not only for my diet, but also because some ingredients are harder to find or less popular to use for other health reasons. I've also incorporated some ideas from Nigella Lawson's recipe for Quadruple Chocolate Loaf. 

Makes 1 9 x 9 cake.


2 1/4 cups wheat free flour
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 apple sauce
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp brewed coffee (optional)
2 egg replacement, mixed with water right before adding
1 cup chocolate chips mixed with 1 tsp cocoa powder
2 cups pureed zucchini
1/2 cup soy or rice milk mixed with 1 tbs rice vinegar


In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, soda, salt if using, and cocoa powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the oil, sugar, and apple sauce until well mixed. Add the coffee and vanilla extract and mix together. Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Blend. Add half of the milk mixture and combine. Repeat, alternating with the flour and milk, ending with the flour. Make the egg replacement and add to batter. After this is combined, add in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a 9 x 9 pan lined with tin foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, rotating half way through. 

After removing the cake, allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes and then, using the overlapping tin foil as a handle, allow to cool on a rack. If you would like to enjoy this as a snacking cake, you are done with maybe a smattering of chocolate chips half-meltingly strewn about. If, you'd prefer a more intensely chocolate experience, prick the cake all over and pour this glaze over:
1/2 cup coffee or water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder
Boil the three ingredients together for five minute and then pour over the cake. If you'd like, garnish with shaved chocolate. 

Store this yummy treat for up to 5 days wrapped in foil or plastic wrap. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

Before I began my "everything free" allergic life, I wasn't really one for nuts. Passed around the table at a party or mixed in with other foods, I  would take a sample, but I've always been more of a sweet than a salty girl. 

Now that I have taken so many other things out of my life, I have reacquainted myself with nuts. They make the base of so many vegan recipes, at first it was more about necessity than choice. Now, while I still won't say I'm a complete convert, I keep several types of nut butters in my fridge. 

These cookies were developed after I tried to make the recipe on the back of the Kraft PB jar. Not having my own copy of the recipe, I relied on a friend who forgot to mention one of the three ingredients - eggs, and my first try was a failure. Fortunately, I only baked one batch and was able to salvage the remaining dough. These cookies are soft and not too crumbly. 

I often make these with chocolate chips as well; just add in a cup or so at the end. 

Makes about 24 cookies


1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and a little bit cool
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tbs corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg replacement
2 cups wheat free flour blend
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
4 tbs soy or rice milk


In a mixer, blend coconut oil, peanut butter, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Sift in the flour, xantham gum, baking soda, and a pinch of salt if you would like. Mix this in on a low speed. Add your egg replacement and soy milk to combine. Place the dough in the bowl in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove dough from freezer and shape 1 heaping tbs into a ball. Place on your greased cookie sheet and flatten the ball with a spatula. Then make the characteristic fork marks, so as to avoid confusion. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes and allow to cool on a rack. 

Keep in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Caramelized Banana Muffins

The idea for this recipe came from when I served a brunch that included waffles with caramelized bananas. The original recipe calls for all sorts of things I can't eat, but it smelled so delicious, I decided to try to make it wheat and dairy free. In the spirit of innovation I decided to use the bananas instead of regular smushed brown ones in a muffin recipe recently and the result are these little goodies. 

I like them as is, but you could add a frosting to make these cupcakes quite easily. Chocolate chips or nuts would also be yummy, as would dried banana chips. 

Don't be nervous about making the caramel. This recipe is very cavalier and if you mess is it up terribly, all that's been waisted is a bit of sugar. Proper caramel making is quite a science, but these are so casual it hardly matters, just be careful not to burn yourself. 

Makes about 15 muffins (an awkward amount, I know)


5 bananas, sliced
1 sugar
4 tbs vegan margarine
1 tsp vanilla + 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 canola oil
1 tbs prune puree
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
replacement for 1 egg or 1 egg
2 cups wheat free flour (or mixture of 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup gluten free oats)
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup soy milk with generous squish of lemon juice


Place white sugar in a sauce pan set over medium high heat. When edges of sugar begin to brown, swoosh the pan about until all the sugar is brown and dissolved. You may need the assistance of a wooden spoon. When the sugar is amber colored, about six minutes, add vegan margarine and stir until combined over low heat. Add 1 tsp of vanilla and the sliced bananas. Remove from heat and allow to sit at room temperature. 

In another bowl, mix the canola oil, remaining vanilla, brown sugar (if using) and prune puree. Add 2/3 cooled banana mixture. Smooth the very soft bananas against the side of the bowl until it resembles a chunky puree. Place a sifter over the wet ingredients and sift in the flour, xantham gum, baking soda, powder and a pinch of salt if you like. Stir this together until barely combined. Add the egg, vanilla, and soy milk and stir gently. Add the remaining caramelized bananas and swirl in, leaving the bananas slices whole this time. In a lined muffin tray, fill the tins 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. It is a bit tricky to tell if these are done, because they are so moist, but I doubt anyone will complain if they are a bit underdone, so I'd pull them out early rather than allow them to firm up with too much time in the oven. If you are suspicious that the speck of banana on your toothpick might actually represent a glob of uncooked batter, pat your finger on the top and if it springs back, you should be good to go.