Tag Archives: Sugar Alternative

Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies – (GF, DF, Vegan)

download (1)Having a bit of a hazelnut fest here, made a batch of hazelnut milk yesterday and will be working on a gluten-free hazelnut biscotti recipe with the pulp later this week but for now you can have this chocolately, gooey, delicious little cookie recipe inspired by a Nuttella loving little guy I worked with this weekend. Who doesn’t love the combo of chocolate and hazelnuts and I LOVE chocolate, particularly really dark chocolate.   I always have 99% Unsweetened Calbert on hand and use it to make my own chocolates, in smoothies or whatever, but, for this recipe feel free to use any chocolate you love.  Choose a quality bar and simply chop it up, the darker to better for you but I think with all the other healthy ingredients in these cookies you can afford to have the chunks be a little not so healthy 😉

Oven 350 degrees
Baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Medium Bowl

1              tablespoon Ground Flax OR Ground Chia mixed with 3 tablespoons water
1/4         cup Coconut Oil
1/4         cup Hazelnut Butter
1/3         cup Coconut Sugar
1/3         cup Cane Sugar
2              teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Use a hand blender to mix well then add dry:
1.5          cups Gluten-free Oat Flour
3              tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/2         teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2         teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2         teaspoon Sea Salt
1-2          teaspoons Hazelnut, Almond or other non-dairy Milk
1/2         cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
1/2         cup Hazelnuts, lightly roasted, skins rubbed off and chopped
1/4         cup Raw Cacoa Pieces *optional

First mix together ground flax or chia (this is your egg replacer) and water and set aside for 5 minutes.  Then, add the rest of the wet ingredients and with a hand mixer, mix until smooth.

Add dry ingredients.  Mix again.  Add milk just to moisten up a bit if necessary. The dough is sticky, much like a peanut butter cookie.

Add chopped chocolate, roasted, skin removed, chopped hazelnuts and raw cacoa pieces if using and then use a wooden spoon to incorporate.

Divide into 12 batter balls, shape and slightly flatten with a spoon.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt then bake for 12-15 minutes.

Cool on a rack.wpid-20140302_082651.jpg

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Gluten-free Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cake

SONY DSCThis recipe is amazing.  I had never made a cheese cake before let alone attempted a goat cheese and gluten-free one and to be honest I was pretty nervous as botching it would mean wasting A LOT of pricey ingredients, not to mention I made it for my first try the night before a dinner party but since I am here posting it obviously it was a success!   I have had no issue in the past making traditional dairy recipes with coconut milk so I was confidently hopeful it would work here too and it did.  I made this one another time with goat yogurt and milk and it turned out great too! If using coconut milk I suggest full fat thick coconut milk and even draining off the separated liquid, you can find thickened coconut cream at some health food store which would work beautifully but it’s not necessary.  The only other detail worth mentioning is whether you decide to use a “water bath” or not.  I’ve now made this recipe both ways, the water bath method worked and the cake was very moist but the bake time was unbelievably lengthy, I honestly lost track but it was well over an hour and a half in my oven.  The cake turned out without a water bath too but it did crack.  Maybe do some further research yourself and decide which way you want to go. For the crust I bought one box of gluten-free Graham Crackers and one box of Mary’s Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps from Whole foods and combined at about a 2/3rds Graham to 1/3 Ginger Snap but honestly you can’t go wrong anyway here, use both or one or the other, doesn’t really matter.  My guests consisted of a man I planned to impress, a very dear friend and fellow health foodie, her partner, a cheese loving, health foodie skeptic and their young daughter who said “seriously I don’t even usually  like cheese cake but this one, with the pumpkin I love!”.  All thoroughly enjoyed this cake and they even took the left overs home with them.  I served it with a dollop of a vegan whipped topping mixed with cinnamon.  Seriously Delicious.

A springform pan (with removable side and bottom) is the most commonly used pan for making cheesecakes
Large Sheet Tin Foil  (if doing a water bath *see below)
Second Large Baking Pan

Graham Cracker Pie Crust:
1.5          cups gluten-free Graham Cracker/Ginger Snap Crumbs, finely ground
1              tablespoon Coconut Sugar
5              tablespoons melted unsalted Butter or Coconut Oil, melted
Cake:
1.5          lbs or 24 ounces of un-ripened soft Goat Cheese, room temp
3/4         cup Coconut Sugar
1/4         Raw Cane Sugar
1              cup/can Pumpkin Puree (make your own or store-bought), room temp
1              cup full fat Coconut Milk, cold  (or 3/4 cup Greek Goat Yogurt and 1/4 cup Goat’s Milk, also cold)
5              large Eggs, room temp
1              teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1              teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4         teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/2         teaspoon ground Ginger
1/4         teaspoon ground Clove
1/8         teaspoon ground All Spice
1/8         teaspoon ground Cardamom
1/2         teaspoon Sea Salt

For the Crust

Oven 325 degrees. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan twice with aluminum foil (preferably heavy-duty). Take care to pull the foil all the way up the sides so that water cannot seep in from the water bath. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan with coconut oil. Pulse the crackers (or crumbs) and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times to combine. Dump the moistened crumbs into the prepared pan and, using a measuring cup or glass, press into an even layer. Bake until fragrant and set, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling

Bring about 2 litres of water to a simmer in a kettle (this will be used for the water bath). In a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputter, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until thick, bronzed and shiny. Scrape the mixture into a large food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 1 minute.

With the motor running, add the cold coconut cream then the goat cheese (cut into chunks) and process for about 30 seconds, scraping the sides if necessary, or until smoothly incorporated.

Add the eggs and process for about 5 seconds or just until incorporated (do not over mix!).

Set the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour the batter into the cooled crust, and then pour enough boiling water into the large roasting pan to come about halfway up side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, about 1-1 1/2 hours. If it jiggles, it’s not done.

Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set on a wire rack. Use a paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil and set on a wire rack. Continue to cool at room temperature until barely warm, about 3-4 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

CHEESECAKE TIPS

1) A springform pan (with removable side and bottom) is the most commonly used pan for making cheesecakes.

2) Avoid over-beating the batter. Over-beating incorporates additional air and tends to cause cracking on the surface of the cheesecake.

3) For even marbling and the best distribution of added ingredients, such as chocolate chips or nuts, do not over-soften or over-beat the cream cheese.

4) Avoid over-baking: Cheesecake baking times are not always exact, due to variations in ovens. The cheesecake will continue to bake after it is removed from the oven. The center of the cheesecake should be just slightly moist when it is ready to be removed.

5) Upon removal from the oven, loosen the cake from the edge of the pan by running the tip of a knife or narrow spatula between the top edge of the cake and the side of the pan. This allows the cake to pull away freely from the pan as it cools.

6) Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack away from drafts.

7) After a cheesecake has cooled completely, gently loosen the entire side of the cheesecake from the pan with the tip of a knife while slowly releasing the springform pan clamp. Carefully remove the side of the pan.

8) Baked cheesecakes freeze well. Cool them completely and wrap them securely in heavy-duty foil or plastic wrap, but do not freeze cheesecakes with garnishes or toppings.

PREVENTING SURFACE CRACKS

The most common complaint is cracking that develops through the middle of the cheesecake during or after baking.

Bake the cheesecake in a water bath (instructions below) to keep the oven moisture high and the heat gentle.

Don’t overbake the cheesecake. When perfectly done, there will still be a two to three-inch wobbly spot in the middle of the cheesecake; the texture will smooth out as it cools.

Cheesecake will shrink as it cools. Generously greasing the sides of the baking pan before pouring in batter will allow the cake to pull away from the pan as it cools and shrinks instead of pulling apart from the middle.

Cheesecakes have a tendency to crack, but they don’t have to. This favorite American dessert can have a cracked surface for a number of reasons. One cause is air trapped inside the batter – a result of over-mixing. Once in the oven, the air bubble expands and wants to escape from the cake. As it finds its way out of the top of the cake, it creates a crack or crevice in the cake’s surface. Another cause of a cracked surface is a drastic temperature change.

How to avoid cracks then? Be sure to mix your cheesecake batter well, eliminating all possible lumps in the cream cheese BEFORE you add the eggs. It is the eggs that will hold air in the batter, so add them last, and mix as little as possible once they are in the mix.

Also, be sure to cook your cheesecake gently. Use a water bath – wrap the bottom of your springform pan in aluminum foil and place it in a larger pan with water in it, just halfway up the outside of the springform pan. This will allow the cheesecake to cook more slowly and evenly.

Finally, cook your cheesecake slowly – at 325º F. After about 45 minutes, turn your oven off and leave the cheesecake inside the turned off oven for another hour. Cool at room temperature with a plate or cookie sheet inverted over the cheesecake to slow the cooling. Only then can you refrigerate the cake, which you will need to do for another 6 hours at least.

If after all this, you still have a crack, make a topping or a sauce for your cheesecake, and tell all your guests that you intentionally made a special crack in the top of the cake to hold more sauce!

ready-to-bake-in-water-bath” Water Bath ” For Baking Cheesecakes

A “water bath” is a method that will help keep your cheesecake from cracking while baking.

Instructions For Water Bath

First, take heavy aluminum foil, and wrap it around sides and bottom of your springform pan or cheesecake pan with removable bottom. This prevents leakage while baking your cheesecake.

Place your springform pan or cheesecake pan (filled with cheesecake batter and crust) into a larger deep baking pan* that it will fit into easily.

*Note: The larger pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth.

Place in pre-heated oven. With a kettle filled with very hot water, pour water into the larger pan about halfway up, or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Bake cheesecake as directed. When cheesecake is done, remove springform pan or cheesecake pan (if using) from “water bath” in oven. Carefully remove larger pan with water in it from oven. It will be very hot. Discard water when it has cooled.

Remove aluminim foil from sides and bottom of pan after your cheescake has cooled completely in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to release sides of springform pan, or remove cheesecake from a cheesecake pan with removable bottom (if using) and cheescake has cooled in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight; this is the best time to remove aluminum foil.

Pumpkin Pie – Gluten-free/Dairy-free

2013-10-10 19.37.40

This Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie making had an extra element of enjoyment and pride for me as I was able to grow my own pumpkins!  The best variety for pie purees are the little Sugar or Cinderella pumpkins, I managed to yield just three little ones this crop which turned out to be just enough for the pies and cheesecake I made.    This is my gluten-free, dairy-free, healthier version of the traditional that is tried and tested many times over.  Side by side most people even chose my version over a store bought traditional.  Love it.

2013-10-09 16.16.00Roasted Pumpkin:
1              Sugar/ Cinderella Pumpkin
2              tablespoons Olive Oil
Pinch     Sea Salt

Gluten-free Pie Shell

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
3/4         cup Coconut Sugar
2              teaspoons ground Cinnamon
1/4         teaspoon ground Allspice
1/4         teaspoon ground Cloves
1/4         teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/4         teaspoon ground Cardamom
1/2         teaspoon Lemon Zest
1              teaspoon Sea Salt
1              tablespoon Tapioca Starch
1 1/2      cups Roasted Pumpkin Puree
1              teaspoon Vanilla extract
3              large Eggs, beaten
1              cup Coconut Milk

To Make Roasted Pumpkin:

Oven to 350 degrees. Carefully cut the pumpkin into wedges; cut off the stem. Scoop out the seeds and pulp (save the seeds for toasting).

Rub the pumpkin wedges with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Bake on a cookie sheet on the center rack until tender, about an hour. A knife should easily pierce through the pumpkin wedge.

Scoop flesh from the skins and puree in a food processor.

To Make Pumpkin Pie:

Oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together spices, salt, zest and starch.  Beat the eggs in a small bowl then add to cool pumpkin puree with vanilla and coconut milk, then mix all together until well combined.

Pour filling into pie crust.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until filling is firm and set or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Note that the pumpkin pie will come out of the oven all puffed up (from the leavening of the eggs), and will deflate as it cools.

Aside

Here they are!!!  Very proud of these treats, I have made them several times trying to get this recipe right.  As my goal is to make healthier recipes, I used goats milk and butter instead of dairy, all organic ingredients, … Continue reading

Kyla’s Healthy Holiday Baking 2012

IMG_9345Each year I like to made a little treat box or container of my baking for friends and family. This year I only added two new recipes and altered or played with a few goodies from last year.  As I mentioned before I recently discovered coconut sugar and have been experimenting with it with great results.

Coconut sugar, derived from the flowers of the coconut tree, is an organic, sustainable natural sweetener that shows promising results for people who suffer from chronic illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, gallstones, cancer, heart disease, obesity or simply want to reduce sugar intake. This sugar has a low glycemic index (approximately 35) and is also a nutrient powerhouse, filled with lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut sugar is minimally processed, unbleached and contains no preservatives.  Sounds good to me!

IMG_9316So the recipes I altered are the Almond Butter Cookies ,  Gluten Free Short Bread and Raw Vegan Rum Balls, all worked great subbing in the Coconut Sugar.  For the short bread this year I rolled the dough out and cut small but thick rounds and with half pressed a dried cranberry on top and the other half a sprinkle of coconut sugar.  These were a definite hit!

The other two recipes I put together are below.  Also look for my two other Holiday experiments: Coconut Milk Bailey’s Irish Cream and Home-Made Healthy Clamato Juice.  Click here for Holiday Baking 2011.

IMG_9314

Dark Chocolate, Cranberry, Pistachio and Tangerine Zest

Baking sheet, flipped over and covered with tin foil or parchment paper
1               pound Dark Chocolate, chopped
1/8          cup Raw Cacao Pieces
2/3         cup Raw or Shelled Roasted Pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3         cup Juice Sweetened Cranberries, coarsely chopped dried
1              large firm Tangerine, zested with a citrus zester (can use an orange here too)
Coarse ground sea salt

In a double boiler melt chocolate over simmering water, stirring frequently – this is standard chocolate melting procedure, I fortunately have a “warming zone” on my glass top oven and can slowly melt chocolate in a pyrex bowl.  There are few methods to melt chocolate, I suggest Googling it. Just be careful not to burn your chocolate, melting it on the stop in a pot will likely burn it!

Once your chocolate is melted, pour onto tin foil or parchment paper -lined pan and spread with a rubber spatula until it is about ¼ inch thick.

Sprinkle with zest first, then with pistachios and cherries and finished with cracked sea salt.

Allow toppings to settle a bit before transferring to your refrigerate to harden hardened.  Once hardened, break into pieces and serve.  Can be stored in the fridge or freezer.

IMG_9319Flour-less Pistachios Sugar Cookies

Oven 325 degrees
Two parchment paper lined baking sheets
Food processor
2              cups Raw or Roasted Pistachios
1              cup Coconut Sugar
2              large Egg Whites
1              teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2              drops Green Food Coloring   *Optional
¼            cup coarse chopped Pistachios and/or Dried Juice Sweetened Cranberries

Grind pistachios in your food processor until a paste. Add coconut sugar and grind some more.  Add remaining ingredients and process until you have a thick and sticky batter.

For a small, bite sized cookie use a teaspoon and drop onto your prepared cookies sheet.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little sugar and chopped pistachios or a cranberry and gently press.  I like to do half and half.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden on the edges.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack before eating or storing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Coconut Milk Bailey Irish Cream

Coconut Milk Bailey Irish Cream

Homemade-BaileysI love Bailey’s during the holidays and I always indulge a glass on ice in the evening or a generous splash in a coffee Christmas morning but boy do I pay for it, the combination of cream, sugar and alcohol really make my stomach hurt.  So, this year I made my own!  I made it a few different ways to suit different restrictions and see what works,  personally I am ok with goat’s milk and like that it lends a bit of that dairy like flavour but you can also make this recipe totally vegan using just coconut milk or half coconut milk, half unsweetened almond milk.   If you Google homemade bailey’s recipes they are all  pretty much the same although some have egg and some don’t,  I tried my recipe with and without and although I think I like it better with the eggs, it works nicely without (just not quite and thick) so, suit yourself!  Most at home recipes call for almond extract, I took this out because I found the coconut and almond together yield a less Bailey’s like taste.  I will also include a recipe to make your own chocolate sauce, it’s easy and much healthier then store-bought.

Coconut Milk Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 – 1 ½  cups Irish Whiskey
1 ½        cups Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk *recipe below
1              cup Goats Milk or Almond Milk (if you want full vegan sub in one cup of light coconut milk here)
3              Eggs (can omit)
2              tablespoons Chocolate Syrup *recipe below
2              teaspoons Instant Espresso (or brew your own double shot)
1              teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Couple pinches of sea salt

In a blender or food processor, mix eggs until frothy.  Add all other ingredients except Whiskey and blend for a few minutes or until thick and frothy. Add Whiskey to taste and pulse a few times to mix well.  Store in the fridge for up to a month!

Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk

2              cans Full Fat Coconut Milk
½            cup Coconut Sugar
1              teaspoon Vanilla
Pinch of sea salt

First you need to make your own Condensed Coconut Milk and Chocolate Syrup.  2 cans of coconut milk into a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer on low for approximately 10 minutes;  you want to see it reduce by about 1/3 here.  Then, add ½ a cup of coconut sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract  and a pinch of sea salt then continue simmering until total volume is reduced by almost half.  You want it thick!  Strain and set aside to cool.

Chocolate Sauce

½           cup Dark Cocoa Powder
1             cup Water
1 1/2     cup Coconut Sugar
½           teaspoon Vanilla
Pinch of sea salt

Combine cocoa and water in a small pot and bring to a boil, add sugar, vanilla and sea salt then simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Done!  I pour mine into a jar and store it in the fridge for all kinds of uses.  If you want a thicker sauce simply continue to simmer on medium/low to desired reduction.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries and Dark Chocolate– Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free (Vegan)

Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries and Dark Chocolate– Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free (Vegan)

20101215-cookie-swap-oatmeal-610A lovely fellow health foodie and friend gave me some organic pumpkin from her father’s garden this week, so, I made my Pumpkin Scones (which worked egg free by the way) and these tasty little gems.  I used coconut sugar which I have been experimenting with with great results and food processor made oat flour and ground flax.  The flax acts like an egg replacer and stabilizer for this quite healthy cookie.  The recipe is vegan up until the chocolate chips, if you wish the recipe to be vegan just omit the chocolate or use a vegan chocolate chip of some sort.  These cookies are good with or without nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

350 degrees
Hand mixer
Large Bowl
3              cups Oat Flour
1               cup Rolled Oats
¾            teaspoon Baking Soda
¾            teaspoon Sea Salt
4              teaspoons Cinnamon
1               teaspoon ground Ginger
½            teaspoon ground Nutmeg
¼            cup Pumpkin Seeds
½            cup Apple Juice Sweetened Dried Cranberries
½            cup Dark Chocolate Chips (Vegan if you like)
Medium bowl
1              cup softened Virgin Coconut Oil (or unsalted butter)
1 ½        cups Coconut Sugar
¼            cup ground Flax Seeds
1              cup Pumpkin Puree
1              tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Combine dry in a large bowl.  Combine wet in a medium bowl and blend using a hand mixer.  Combine wet and dry and let sit for 15 minutes.

Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges.  Allow to cool before serving.  Makes two dozen.