Carob Orange Tapioca Pudding

Used to love vanilla tapioca pudding as a child. Hadn’t thought of it in years. You know the kind, with the nutmeg on top, all creamy with the little balls of tapioca. There was a restaurant in Derry, New Hampshire, when my husband and I lived there that still served it. Don’t know if they’ve survived the pandemic. So anyway, I wondered about other possible flavors for tapioca pudding and happened upon a recipe for orange and changed it up a bit, obviously replacing the whole milk and white sugar. Pretty easy to make, but not something you can walk away from!

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil:

1 cup water

Stir in:

1/4 cup small tapioca pearls

Reduce heat to medium low and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the water is gone and the tapioca pearls are swollen and translucent. Add to the pot:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons unsweetened carob chips

the tapioca pearls just cooked

Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (it will still be fairly loose), about 3-5 minutes. Stir in:

juice and zest from 1 orange

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Let cool slightly before spooning into individual serving bowls or glasses. Cover and chill. Makes four servings. It can be eaten warm but is much better after it’s sits overnight and firms up.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Who doesn’t like a good cupcake? And this one is great – light and fluffy, very unusual for a gluten-free cake. I didn’t have a regular size muffin pan so I simply put the cupcakes papers in a 9×12″ baking pan instead. They didn’t all come out perfectly round but they still tasted delicious! Partnered with the Carob Buttercream Frosting, they are wonderful.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake papers in 1 or 2 regular (12 hole) muffin tins. The recipe made 14 muffins when I made it, so depending on how full you fill the papers will determine exactly how many cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk:

3 tablespoons ground flax

3/4 cup agave nectar, coconut nectar, or date syrup

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/3 cup avocado or other light tasting oil

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

Set aside. In a large bowl, combine:

1 cup millet flour

1/3 cup chickpea flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/3 cup potato starch

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix to combine the dry ingredients. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and whisk again to combine. Don’t overmix or the cupcakes will get tough. Fill the cupcake papers 2/3 full of batter (or, if preferred, use 2 8″ cake pans lined with parchment paper and sprayed with a non-stick spray, dividing the batter equally between the 2 pans). Bake 20-25 minutes rotating the pan after 10-12 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. If making a cake, bake 30-35 minutes. Cool in the pan(s) for at least about a half hour before removing to a cooling rack. Frost with Carob Buttercream or your favorite frosting.

If a cake is made instead of the cupcakes, freeze the layers before frosting to reduce crumb.

Prune and Carob Squares

Here’s another bar that’s downright delicious! Not something to eat with fingers, there’s too much soft, gooey filling in them for that. Of course, if wanted, other dried fruit (like dates or figs) would work just as well as prunes and be equally tasty. And like the raspberry bars, refrigerating the baking dish overnight or even for several hours before cutting will help the crust firm up and make removing them from the dish easier.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9×9″ baking dish with parchment paper or spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Blend in a food processor:

1/3 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds (lightly roasted)*

1/4 cup date or coconut sugar

1 cup gluten-free organic old fashioned oats

1/3 cup millet flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Pulse until the oatmeal mixture resembles ground nuts or cornmeal. Add:

1/2 cup avocado oil or 1/2 cup melted vegan margarine, or melted coconut oil

Pulse until the mixture begins to form clumps. If the mixture is too dry and doesn’t clump add:

up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time

Remove from the food processor and add:

1/2 cup gluten-free organic old fashioned oats

1/4 cup hemp hulls (or if nuts are possible, ground nuts)

Stir to combine. Pour half the mix into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and press down to make a firm bottom. Reserve the other half for the top of the bars. In the food processor bowl blend:

1 16 ounce drained can of beans (whatever kind you like, I used chickpeas but any bean will work)

2 cups prune puree**

Blend until the beans are creamy so the softer the bean used, the less time and creamier this mixture will be. Add:

1/4 cup carob powder

1/3 cup date or coconut sugar (if using dates, this added sugar isn’t necessary)

1/8 sea salt

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

1 tablespoon lemon juice and zest from 1/2 lemon (optional)

Pulse until the mixture is combined. Scoop out and spread on the crust in the baking dish. Cover with the remaining oat mixture and bake 35-40 minutes until the top is browned. Remove and cool on a cooling rack until no heat is felt on the bottom of the baking dish. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before slicing.

*To roast seeds or nuts, heat oven to 350 degree, place seeds on a dry baking sheet and roast until you smell them, usually not more than a few minutes.

**To make prune puree (or puree with any dried fruit), place the fruit in a saucepan large enough to hold the fruit and enough water to cover it. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15-30 minutes depending on how much fruit used. When the fruit begins to dissolve into the water when stirred, it’s sufficiently cooked. Turn up the heat and boil, uncovered, several minutes to reduce the liquid until, when stirred, very little liquid is visible. If a smooth puree is needed, use an immersion blender. For this recipe, that’s not needed since the mixture will be going into the food processor.

Upside Down Cake with Fruit

One of my mother’s favorite cakes was pineapple upside down cake. Since I can’t eat pineapple anymore, I used a different fruit for my upside down cake – pears. Turned out quite delicious and moist since pears are full of liquid which drained pineapple doesn’t have. Any fruit can be used for this cake and can be arranged decoratively – I just tossed mine in the bottom of the spring form pan but feel free to make one that’s prettier.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk:

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup aquafaba

Let sit while you get the baking pan ready. Using a 10″ spring form pan, or if authenticity is desired, a cast iron Dutch oven, spray the bottom with non-stick spray and add a round to fit of parchment paper. In a small sauce pan melt:

1/4 cup vegan margarine

Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle with:

1/2 cup fine date sugar (the courser sugar doesn’t work as well here – you could use the date syrup squeeze bottle to squeeze 1/2 cup of syrup over the melted margarine instead)

Peel (if desired) 2 large pears, 2-3 apples. Also could use 1 1/2 cups mixed berries or pineapple rings. I also shaved a fresh piece of ginger and grated about 2 teaspoons on top of the pears. Cinnamon or allspice could also be sprinkled over the fruit in the pan.

Arrange the fruit on top of this mixture and set aside. In a medium bowl mix:

1 1/4 cups all purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup fine cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum

In the smaller bowl, add to the flax gel:

3/4 cup date sugar

1 cup dairy free milk mixed with 1 teaspoon vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk until well mixed and then add to the flour mixture and either mix with a hand mixer or a spoon until combined. Do not over mix. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before pouring over the fruit (or pour over the fruit and let sit). Bake for 30-40 minutes and then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake another 10-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan at least 15 minutes before removing from pan onto plate. Remove parchment paper.

Quick and Easy Orange Spice Coffee Cake (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free, nut-free, vegan)

It’s difficult to find recipes for desserts that are delicious along with being allergy free. Here’s a light, delicious cake that’s quick to mix and bake. Takes longer to get all the ingredients together than to make. And nobody will believe you that it is gluten-free or egg-free, never mind that there’s no refined cane sugar in it. I used a “Honey Bee Glaze” topping but it would also work well with the standard coffee cake streusel topping. The honey bee glaze made a gooey sticky cake best served hot while the caramel like goo is still pliant. And would work well with any kind of non-dairy frozen vanilla or orange “cream”.

I’m allergic to nuts so I used hemp hulls in the topping but any nut if you can have them would work, sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds would even work well.

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Generously grease an 8×8″ baking dish. Here’s what you’ll need for the cake:

In a 2-cup bowl mix together:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon aquafaba powder and 2 tablespoons water

Let sit several minutes while you,

Mix in a medium mixing bowl:

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

2/3 cup date sugar

1/2 teaspoon guar gum

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice (feel free to substitute the cinnamon and allspice for whatever spices your family likes such as nutmeg, mace, ginger, or cloves)

Mix until combined.

Now back to the smaller bowl add:

1/2 cup oil (I used avocado oil because of its light flavor but any oil would work)

1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt (my 5.5 ounce container was exactly a 1/2 cup)

1/3 cup agave nectar

1/3 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons grated rind (rind from one large orange)

1 tablespoon vinegar

3/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries, currents, etc. (Optional)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Don’t worry if there are dry spots but you don’t want too many. The batter is like a biscuit or scone batter when combined.

Spread the batter in the greased pan and top with Honey Bee Glaze or coffee cake streusel (the cinnamon mixture used in the Easy Cinnamon Swirl Bread would work here, just double the recipe). Bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Here’s the recipe for Honey Bee Glaze adapted from the Joy of Cooking.

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup honey or date syrup

1/2 cup crushed nuts, seeds, or hemp hulls

Pour over coffee cake batter before baking.

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).