Gingerbread Cookies (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, vegan)

What’s better at the holidays than sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies?  Just the smell of gingerbread baking makes most of us think of Christmas.  This recipe uses a number of types of flours to get the right consistency for gingerbread but is fairly easy to put together.  I added a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger but it could have used substantially more so if you really like ginger, add 1-2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger.  And, depending on how thin you roll these, vary the baking times from 10-12 minutes for thinner cookies and  15-20 minutes for thicker cookies.  And the number it makes also depends on how thin you roll them; it can make as few as 15 for thicker cookies or as many as 24 for thinner cookies.

I’m working on a sugar-free and egg-free royal icing and hope to have that recipe ready for the blog soon.  

In a medium sized bowl combine:

  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot
  • 1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (more if you like them really gingery)
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Sift or stir to combine dry ingredients.  In a large bowl mix:

  • 1 cup shortening such as Spectrum
  • 1/2 cup date sugar
  • 1 teaspoon monk fruit powder

Beat on medium speed until well mixed.  Add:

  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (or coconut nectar or honey)
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

Mix on medium speed until combined.  Add dry ingredients in several batches (around 3/4 cup at a time) until all the flour is incorporated.  I actually put down the mixer when half the dry ingredients were added and mixed in the remainder with a large spoon.  Form into a round disk (or a rectangle) and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1/2 to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper (no non-stick spray needed).  Unwrap the plastic wrap and add a piece of parchment paper to the top.  Roll out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch depending on taste.  I prefer a very thin, crispy cookie so I rolled mine out rather thin.  Repeat until all the dough is used.  These cookies will not rise or expand while baking so they can be placed on the cookie sheets closely packed.  Decorate with unsweetened carob or chocolate chips if desired before baking.  

Bake 10-20 minutes depending on thickness; when the cookies are slightly firm and browned (hard to tell with the molasses), they are cooked; if you like yours crunchier, cook them a little longer.   Cool on cooling racks.  These can be frosted with carob buttercream or cream cheese frosting if desired (I enjoyed mine just plain).

Yule Log (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free, vegan)

One of my favorite desserts when I was younger was a rolled cake. That’s all a Yule Log is — a rolled cake that’s made to look like a tree log.  I remember when I first made them in the 1960s, we used almonds to make the bark; today, one just uses a fork or toothpick to make the frosting look like bark, much easier than lining up all those almonds slices!  I struggled a long time to develop a recipe for a sponge cake that doesn’t use any eggs but I finally came up with this one.  It makes a small roll so if you want something bigger, make the recipe twice (I don’t recommend doubling it, instead just make 2 batches).  This will serve 8 normal people (in my family my two brothers would have demolished it all by themselves!).  

Preheat oven to 400 degree.  Grease a small cookie sheet with sides.  Place a piece of parchment paper on top and grease the paper.

In a large mixing bowl add:

  • 3/4 cup aquafaba
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat on medium speed until peaks start to form and then increase speed to high.  Add, a few tablespoons at a time:

  • 2/3 cup date sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

When the sugar is completely combined, fold in by hand:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour

Again, add the flour slowly, a few tablespoons at a time.  Fold in gently just until combined.  If your merengue falls, add 1 teaspoon baking powder to the mixture. [You can go ahead and use it but it will make a tougher sponge.] Spread in the prepared pan – makes about a 6″x8″ cake.

Obviously, if you’re doubling the recipe, you’ll want to use a larger pan and it will spread to approximately 12″x16″.  Bake 10 minutes in preheated oven.  When done, turn out onto a CLEAN dish towel (doesn’t matter what fabric towel it is as long as it isn’t too thick and its clean).  Let sit for about 1 minute and then roll long side to long side including the towel.  Let cool completely before filling and frosting.

I used the Carob Buttercream frosting but any brown frosting would work including a Nut butter and cream cheese (or tahini and cream cheese) frosting.  

Spice Cake with Parsnips (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, refined sugar free, vegan)

My mother always made a spice cake for my sister’s birthday.  It was her favorite and she would have loved this one.  Its light and moist texture will make even the pickiest cake eater happy.  Topped with a spiced cream cheese frosting, its a delight.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  You’ll need:

  • 9×13 baking dish, lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 cup cooked and pureed parsnips (steam the parsnips until tender; blend in food processor with a little water, up to 1/4 cup, to make puree; you’ll need approximately 1 pound of parsnips to make a cup of puree)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice or nutmeg (I don’t like nutmeg so I usually use allspice but if you do like nutmeg, feel free to use it instead of the allspice)
  • 1/2 cup date sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lucuma
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax combined with 1/3 cup hot water, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts (or if you can eat them, chopped walnuts)

Before beginning anything else, combine the ground flax and hot water so that it can stand for about 5 minutes and cool for later use.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk to aerate and set aside.  Combine the parsnips, oil, date sugar, lucuma, vanilla, baking powder and flax gel and beat to combine with a hand or stand mixer.  Add to the dry ingredients along with the milk and club soda and beat until well combined.  

Spoon into the prepared baking dish.  Mixture is quite thick so needs to be spread evenly in the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove and let cool on the counter for an hour before frosting.

To make the frosting, combine:

  • 1/4 cup of vegan margarine
  • 10 ounces of non-dairy cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon monk fruit powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice

Using a hand mixer, beat until smooth and ingredients well combined.  Frost the cake and top with hemp hearts or chopped nuts.  

Carob Buttercream Frosting (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, egg-free, vegan)

One of the most difficult parts of making a cake or cookies that need frosting is making a frosting without confectioners sugar.  Here’s the perfect answer!  So smooth and creamy as well as delicious.  You can, of course, substitute chocolate if desired.

In a medium sized bowl mix:

  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree (I used canned)
  • 1/2 cup date sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, agave or coconut nectar, OR 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder OR 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup carob powder OR cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup tahini or, if you can use it, nut or seed butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening such as Spectrum OR solid coconut oil OR vegan margarine or butter

Using a hand mixer, blend until smooth and well blended.

Carob or Chocolate Cheesecake (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, sugar-free, vegan)

I’ve been making a dairy-free and gluten-free cheesecake for years; the issue has always been how to get rid of the eggs that are essential to setting the cheesecake since its so similar to custard.  I think I’ve finally found the answer – a combination of aquafaba and xanthan gum in the mix.  This one turned out very rich and decadent, smooth and creamy with a soft, crumbly carob or chocolate crust.  The recipe makes 4 small cheesecakes or 1 8″ cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crust:  In a food processor or bowl with hand mixer combine:

  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine such as Earth Balance
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons aquafaba
  • 1/2 cup date or coconut sugar

Process or mix until well blended.  Add:

  • 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup carob or  cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of sea salt

Mix or process until combined.  Batter will be very thick and sandy.  Press into the bottom of an 8″ springform pan or 4 individual springform pans.

Cheesecake:  Melt over a double boiler:

  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • 5 ounces unsweetened carob chips or 100% chocolate (unsweetened baking chocolate)

Set aside once melted and let cool slightly. Mix in a medium bowl:

  • 3/4 pound softened non-dairy cream cheese

Beat until smooth.  Gradually beat in chocolate mixture.  Add:

  • 1/2 cup thick non-dairy milk such as hemp or soy
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until smooth.  Add while mixing:

  • 1 cup date or coconut sugar, 1/4 cup at a time

Be sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl as you mix in the ingredients.  Add:

  • 2 tablespoons carob or cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Mix until combined.  Set aside.  Beat in a separate bowl (with clean beaters):

  • 6 tablespoons aquafaba
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold into the carob mixture.  Pour into springform pan(s). Bake in middle of oven for 30 minutes (for one 8″) or 20 minutes (for 4 small).  Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes (for one 8″) or 20 minutes (for 4 small), or until there is just a slight jiggle in the middle of the cheesecakes.  Turn off oven and crack open the door and leave the cheesecakes in the oven to cool for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and let sit on the counter for another 30 minutes.  Remove side(s) of springform pan(s).  Put in the refrigerator and cool until totally cold (about 4 hours).  Remove bottoms of springform pan(s).

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Swiss Butter Cream Frosting (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, refined cane sugar-free, vegan)

This is a fairly easy cake to make if you have a hand mixer.  Using the coconut sugar makes it look a little funky since coconut sugar is brown, it certainly can’t be called a “yellow” cake which is what one would think a vanilla cake should be.  However, I tried it out on four different people and they all said it was vvvveeerrrryyyy tasty!  Its versatile as well — the batter can be used as a bundt cake, layer cake, sheet cake, cupcakes, or as the base for a coffee cake.  In fact, that’s what tasters said it tasted more like, coffeecake, than a yellow cake.  Unfortunately, I’m allergic to coconut so I couldn’t taste it myself although it smelled REALLY good.  I’ll be trying this again with different sweeteners to see how it works so stay tuned.  It would also be very delicious with the strawberry cream cheese frosting already posted on my blog.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour whatever baking pan used (I only had the jumbo cupcake pans and those were really too big for these cupcakes so if you want to make cupcakes, I would suggest using smaller tins).

With an electric mixer in a large bowl, combine:

  • 2 cups coconut sugar (or date sugar)
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Mix until blended (the coconut sugar will stay granular at this point.  Add:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose Gluten-free flour blend (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk

Mix until blended and then add:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose Gluten-free flour
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup club soda

Again, mix until well blended.  I had to use a scraper to keep the batter from climbing the mixer blades.  Pour into prepared pan(s).  It will make three 8″ or 9″ cake layers, a 10×14″ sheet cake, 10-12 jumbo cupcakes, or a bundt cake.  Baking times will differ depending on what pan you choose to use.  My jumbo cupcakes took 30 minutes; a bundt cake will probably take 50-60 minutes.  Layers I would think would take around 20 minutes.  I used the toothpick into the center of the cake to be sure it was done and I could see it was pulling away from the sides of the baking pan.  Cool in pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  This is a very moist cake so I suggest that you don’t put these cupcakes into a plastic bag (I made that mistake and they all stuck together the next day when I went to frost them).

Chocolate Swiss Butter Cream Frosting

Combine in a small pan:

  • 1 1/2 cups date sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (or a couple of dashes)

Using a candy thermometer, heat mixture to soft ball stage (220 degrees).  Stir frequently. Date sugar doesn’t dissolve like regular white cane sugar so expect it to take quite awhile to get to 220 degrees (like a half hour; I actually gave up after about 20 minutes when it finally reached 200 degrees and my frosting turned out a little softer than it should). While the sugar syrup is cooking, beat:

  • 1/4 cup aquafaba
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat at medium speed until stiff peaks form and then continue beating for another 3-5 minutes at high speed.  Slowly add the sugar mixture and beat on high for another 3-5 minutes.  Add:

  • 2 ounces melted baking chocolate OR 2 tablespoons carob powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon olive oil

When well combined, slowly add in small pieces:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegan margarine (the amount depends on how buttery and fluffy you want the frosting; I use Earth Balance Soy Free)

Continue beating until the margarine is well combined (you can tell from the picture that I didn’t quite achieve this task and that was mainly because I forgot it in the original beating so adding it later using a whisk and you can see how well that worked!).

Tahini and Jelly Brownie Sundae (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, nut-free, vegan)

Some of you who follow my blog might remember the fudge brownies a few weeks ago that I overcooked.  I froze them for future use and today got one out and since I didn’t have any hemp cream to make a hemp cream sundae, asked myself what else I could put on it to make it moister and decadent.  I always have tahini on hand (its my peanut butter since I’m allergic to nuts) and I have a pint of my strawberry jam in the frig so I decided to heat up the brownie (15 seconds in the microwave or 5 minutes in a toaster oven) and then top it with a dollop of the tahini (which melted slightly from the heat of the brownie) and then a dollop of the strawberry jam.  Delicious!  Very satisfying because it was fudgy rich, moist, and the jam added more sweetness and just the perfect amount of gooey with the tahini.

Chickpea Brownies (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

These are probably the best brownies I’ve ever eaten.  Fudge brownies are good but difficult to master when you’re making gluten-free and egg-free brownies.  These are always moist unless you really overcook them as well as rich and oh so decadent while they are still so good for you!  Unbelievably good.  Instead of using a baking pan, I put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet, spray it with my olive oil spray and spread the batter on it.  It makes a thinner brownie that bakes faster and I’m less likely to overcook it.

In your food process add:

  • 1 drained 12 ounce can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup tahini (or you can use any nut butter if you can have nuts)
  • 1/2 cup protein powder
  • 8-12 pitted dates OR 1 teaspoon monk fruit powder OR 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup carob powder (or cocoa if you can have it)
  • 1 cup of cold water, after adding 3/4 cup, add a little at a time (1 tablespoon) until you have a smooth, mashed potato like consistency — if you use the honey, you’ll have to use less water

Process until smooth and then process for a couple more minutes.  I’ve found that even when I think all the garbanzo beans are processed, there are still some larger pieces in the mix; and if the garbanzo beans are reduced, the dates may still have some large pieces.  So keep processing it even when you think its done for at least 2 more minutes.  During these last couple of minutes add:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hulls
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax

Spread your batter in your prepared pan; either cookie sheet or large 9×12″ baking dish.  I like to sprinkle carob chips on top but that’s optional.  Bake 20-25 minutes if you’re using a cookie sheet and 35-40 minutes for a baking dish.  Cool before cutting.

Fudgy Brownies (dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, egg-free, sugar-free)

I am a brownie lover; its the only baked good where I’ll actually eat the batter as well as the baked goods.  The only technical thing with brownies is not overcooking them and this is the one thing you really have to watch out for with gluten-free brownies.  I baked mine 22 minutes and they were dry instead of fudgy.  Still very rich and decadent but I’ll probably make hemp cream sundaes out of them instead of eating them plain.  So watch the clock closely when you make these.

Grease an 8×8″ baking dish.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size bowl mix:

  • 3/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon monk fruit powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba

When they are well mixed, add:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 3/4 cup carob powder (you can use cocoa if you want)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup protein powder
  • 3/4 cup club soda

Beat just until mixed; don’t overbeat.  You can also add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and some hemp hulls (or nuts if you can have them).  Batter will be very thick.  Spread evenly in your baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with some crumbs but not raw batter.  Cool and cut into 9-12 pieces.

Tahini Cheesecake with Chewy Brownie Crust

What a wonderful combination!  Who can resist a rich, decadent, chewy fudge brownie topped with a nutty creamy cheesecake.  This is not one of my quick, easy desserts; it takes some doing but not a great deal of skill, other than folding the brownie dry ingredients into the meringue.  Well worth the trouble.

First make the brownies.  Heat oven to 350 degrees; grease 8×8″ pan.  In a medium size bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 cup aquafaba (bean water)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Whip the aquafaba and cream of tartar to stiff peaks and then continue whipping for several more minutes.  Slowly beat in the monk fruit powder and then the date sugar and continue beating for 2-3 more minutes.

  • 3/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder
  • 1/3 cup date sugar

Sift:

  • 3/4 cup carob powder (or cocoa if you can use it)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt

Pour into the meringue.  Add on top of the dry ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons hemp milk (or soy or rice milk) [If you use almond butter in the cheesecake, you could use almond milk here]
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Using a folding mix technique (using a spatula, bring the meringue from the bottom middle out to the edge in a sweeping motion; turn the bowl 1/4 of the bowl and repeat until the mixture is well mixed) mix the dry and wet ingredients into the meringue.  It will deflate somewhat.  Pour into the baking dish and spread out in an even layer.  Bake 12-15 minutes, remove from oven and top with the cheesecake mixture.

For the cheesecake mixture, combine in your food processor:

  • 12 ounces non-dairy cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup tahini (or nut butter if you can have one)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (or 1 teaspoon monk fruit powder, or 1/2 cup date sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

Blend until smooth.  Pour over brownie in an even layer.  Return to oven and bake an additional 25-40 minutes depending on your oven.  If you have some sugar free chocolate or carob chips, you can sprinkle them on top of the cheesecake mixture before baking.  Turn off oven and open door and let cool for a half hour before removing from the oven.  Cool on draft-free counter for an hour before placing in the refrigerator.  This will keep the cheesecake layer from splitting.  Serve ice-cold, if you can keep your family from eating them sooner!

*Aquafaba is the liquid you drain from a can of beans and usually discard.  It is a great substitute for eggs.  Usually used is garbanzo bean liquid.