FeaturesDec/Jan 2015 Issue

Festive Baked Desserts: Gluten-Free Sweets

Traditional favorites fill your kitchen with the fragrance of Christmas.

I love the aromas of the holidays—the piney odor of the Christmas tree, the woodsy smell of the crackling fire, the crisp scent of cold evenings and, best of all, the bouquet of freshly baked goodies.

Amid the scent of warm spices, molasses and chocolate, I bake gluten-free holiday favorites as yummy as any I made before I gave up gluten. I incorporate whole grains wherever possible, adding just enough starch for superior texture. I choose buckwheat flour for earthiness, whole-grain sorghum flour for its delicateness, oat flour for natural sweetness, whole-grain corn flour for its semolina-like taste and ground almonds for richness.

My extended family gathers at our home for dinner on Christmas Eve and we complete the celebration with this rich gluten-free Chocolate-Peppermint Cake. It is a very chocolaty dessert topped with billows of whipped cream and garnished with shards of candy canes.

I like to serve Gingerbread Spice Cake with Sauteed Pears after decorating our tree. This ginger-infused cake is enhanced with plump slices of fall pears in a caramel sauce.

When my gal pals come over for our annual holiday party, we culminate the meal with this gluten-free Chocolate Fruitcake bursting with dried figs, dates and orange zest. Generous in both flavor and size, it’s big enough for second and third helpings.

I serve Ginger Molasses Cookies on cold days in front of the fire. I also keep plenty on hand, along with my other favorite—Cherry Spice Oatmeal Cookies—to finish off meals, greet guests and give away as gifts.

I love the tradition of holiday baking and am eager to share my favorite gluten-free creations with you. Enjoy the enticing aromas that fill your home while they bake!


Photo by Oksana Charla

Chocolate Peppermint Cake

SERVES 10 TO 12

An intensely flavored flourless chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy makes a glamorous ending to a holiday meal. Sprinkle the crushed peppermint candies over the cake shortly before serving as they soften from extended sitting on the whipped cream. This large cake will keep well in the fridge for several days and it can also be frozen. If made ahead and refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before serving. The eggs cannot be replaced in this recipe.

8 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter or dairy- free alternative, sliced
1 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoons pure peppermint extract
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
-Whipped Cream or Whipped Coconut Cream
-Shaved bittersweet chocolate, for garnish
cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies or candy canes

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Generously grease a 9- or 10-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper or wax paper and grease the paper.

2. In a double boiler or large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, combine chopped chocolate and butter. Stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Whisk in peppermint and vanilla extracts. Sift cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and whisk to blend.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place in preheated oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is crusty and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.

4. Set pan on rack and cool 10 minutes. Invert cake onto another rack, remove the paper and invert onto a platter, top side up. Cool completely.

5. Spread whipped cream over cake, mounding in the center. Shave chocolate over the center of the cake. Just before serving, sprinkle crushed peppermint candies in a band around the top outer edge.

Each serving contains 325 calories, 29g total fat, 17g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 160mg cholesterol, 42mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 9g sugars, 6g protein, 5 Est GL.
Whipped Cream

MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS

If dairy is tolerated, top cake with real whipped cream. For a dairy-free whipped topping, try Whipped Coconut Cream.

1 cups chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
teaspoon pure peppermint extract

1. In a large bowl, combine cream and sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.

2. Add vanilla and peppermint and beat until cream holds its shape.

Each tablespoon contains 15 calories, 1g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g sugars, 0g protein, 0 Est GL.
Whipped Coconut Cream

MAKES 1 TO 1 CUPS

This dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free whipped cream must be served very cold. Choose unsweetened coconut cream (Goya or Trader Joe’s) or full-fat canned coconut milk that separates when chilled; the coconut fat will rise to the top of the can and be very thick.

1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk
2-3 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

1. Refrigerate can of coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk overnight or longer. Place a medium-size mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for several hours.

2. Open the can and spoon out the solid coconut fat. This is the part you will whip. (If using coconut milk, set the remaining liquid aside for another use. It’s great for smoothies.)

3. Add sugar and whip with cold beaters until the cream fluffs. Do not over-whip since beaters will warm up and melt the fat. If mixture doesn’t fluff up, place it in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes and try again.

4. Keep whipped topping chilled until served. It will melt at room temperature.

Each tablespoon contains 13 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 0 Est GL.

TIP To crush peppermint candies, place them in their wrappers on a hard surface and lightly hit them a few times with a hammer.


TIP To shave chocolate, hold a large piece of chocolate over the cake and run a vegetable peeler along it, letting the shavings fall on the cake. For pretty curls, warm the chocolate in your hands for a minute before shaving.


Photo by Alicia Woodward

Gingerbread Spice Cake with Caramel Pears

SERVES 10

Caramel pears enhance this spice cake, making it the perfect ending to a holiday meal. The eggs can be replaced in this recipe; see instructions below.

Cake

1 cups + 2 tablespoons almond meal or gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
cup sorghum flour or buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
cup unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, room temperature
cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground allspice
teaspoon ground cloves
teaspoon coarse kosher salt
teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
-Confectioners’ sugar, optional
-Whipped Cream or Whipped Coconut Cream

Caramel Pears

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative
6 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch slices
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
teaspoon (rounded) ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and grease the parchment.

2. Combine almond meal, sorghum flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Place butter in a stand mixer. Beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until light. Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Mix in ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

3. Wash and dry the mixer bowl thoroughly. Place egg whites in the bowl. Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until whites hold their shape. Slowly add 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until soft peaks form.

4. Stir almond meal mixture into butter-spice mixture, using a rubber spatula. Fold in a third of the egg whites to lighten.Then gently fold in the remaining whites, just until incorporated. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

5. Place cake in preheated oven and bake until top browns, cake feels springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Cut around the pan sides with a small, sharp knife to loosen the cake. Let cool completely in the pan.

6. If the edges of the cake are higher than the center, gently press down on the edges to even. Remove the pan sides. Transfer the cake to a platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

7. To make Caramel Pears, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pears and cook until warmed through, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until melted and syrup thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.

8. Cut gingerbread into wedges and transfer to plates. Spoon pears over wedges and top with a dollop of Whipped Cream. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 513 calories, 24g total fat, 14g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 143mg cholesterol, 126mg sodium, 73g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 42g sugars, 5g protein, 38 Est GL.

For Egg-Free Gingerbread Spice Cake, omit 4 eggs. Add 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder to dry ingredients in step 2. Omit the cream of tartar and 6 tablespoons granulated sugar. Add the salt to the dry ingredients.Combine 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot unsweetened applesauce. Let cool. Add this mixture to replace egg yolks in step 2.


Photo by Oksana Charla

Gluten-Free Cherry Spice Oatmeal Cookies

MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN

This chewy cookie is chockablock with crystallized ginger, dried tart cherries and spices. For variation, substitute any dried fruit for the sour cherries or fold some chocolate chips into the batter. The cookies stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days and freeze up to a month. The eggs can be replaced in this recipe; see instructions below.

1 cup sorghum flour
cup gluten-free oat flour
cup tapioca starch/flour or potato starch (not potato flour)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon coarse kosher salt
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground cardamom
teaspoon ground allspice
cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, room temperature
1 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup chopped dried sour cherries
cup minced crystallized ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine sorghum flour, oat flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and allspice in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend.

3. Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until blended.

4. Add oats, cherries and ginger and mix until incorporated. Let batter stand 10 minutes.

5. Roll dough between dampened hands into 1-inch balls and place on prepared sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.

6. For chewy cookies, bake until golden and still slightly soft in the center, about 12 minutes. For crisp cookies, bake until golden and just firm in the center, about 14 minutes. Let cookies cool on pans on wire racks 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Each cookie contains 140 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 22mg cholesterol, 78mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 11g sugars, 2g protein, 15 Est GL.

For Egg-Free Cherry Spice Oatmeal Cookies, omit 2 eggs. Combine 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot unsweetened applesauce. Let cool. Use this mixture to replace 2 eggs in step 3.


Date-Orange-Fig Chocolate Fruitcake

MAKES 1 LARGE BUNDT CAKE & 1 SMALL LOAF

Your house will smell like Christmas while this large holiday cake bakes. It’s packed with dates, figs, dried cranberries, crystallized ginger and chunks of dark chocolate. Use the recipe as inspiration, substituting your favorite dried fruit and nuts or seeds. This cake is great served with a big dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. The eggs can be replaced in this recipe; see instructions below.

2 cups chopped walnuts, unsalted sunflower seeds or unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 cups chopped pitted Medjool dates
cup dried cranberries or chopped dried pears
cup chopped dried Mission or
Calimyrna figs (moist figs work best)
cup chopped crystalized ginger
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup chocolate chips
1 cups sorghum flour
cup potato starch (not potato flour)
cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or dairy-free butter alternative, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
cup granulated sugar
-Finely grated zest from 2 oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup milk of choice
cup brandy, rum or sherry, optional

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 12-cup Bundt pan and an 8x4-inch (4 cup) loaf pan with foil, pressing foil into the indentations in the Bundt pan. Brush foil with melted butter.

2. Combine walnuts, dates, cranberries, figs, ginger and chopped chocolate in a large bowl and mix to blend.

3. In another large bowl, combine sorghum flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, xanthan gum, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and whisk to blend.

4. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in orange zest and vanilla. Add egg yolks and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add milk and beat to blend. Mix in about half the nut and fruit mixture. Transfer batter to another large bowl.

5. Wash and dry the mixer bowl thoroughly. Add egg whites and beat with the whisk attachment until stiff but not dry. Fold about a third of the whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whites. Gently fold in remaining nut and fruit mixture.

6. Spoon enough batter into prepared Bundt pan to come about 1 inch from the top. Spoon remaining batter into prepared loaf pan.

7. Place pans in preheated oven and bake until the cakes are brown, firm to the touch and a small, sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire racks and cool in their pans 1 hour. Turn cakes from their pans onto wire racks. Remove foil and cool completely.

8. If desired, wrap cakes with cheesecloth or clean, thin kitchen towels. Sprinkle the cloth with brandy, 3 tablespoons for the Bundt cake, 1 tablespoon for the loaf. Wrap in foil and then in a plastic bag and let stand at room temperature up to 3 days, refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month.

24 servings. Each serving contains 336 calories, 18g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 74mg cholesterol, 187mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 29g sugars, 5g protein, 25 Est GL.

For Egg-Free Chocolate Fruitcake,omit 6 eggs. Make calcium water per package instructions on Pomona’s Universal Pectin. (See Shopping List, page 62.) Mix 3 teaspoons pectin powder with 2 to 3 tablespoons calcium water to make a smooth paste. In a saucepan, combine this paste with 1 cup milk (in the recipe). Heat on low, stirring until mixture resembles a smooth pudding. Use this to replace eggs and milk in step 4. Ignore the egg white instructions in step 5. Add dried fruit to the batter and proceed with the recipe. Once the cake is baked and cooled, refrigerate it for 2 hours or overnight to firm. Serve at room temperature.

TIP Walnuts can be replaced with sunflower seeds or additional dried fruit. Sunflower seeds will turn green after a few days, a natural process that doesn’t affect taste.


Photo by MShev/shutterstock

Ginger Molasses Cookies

MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN

Bake a big batch of these soft, spicy cookies to have on hand for dessert and afternoon treats. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month. The egg can be replaced in this recipe; see instructions below.

1 cup sorghum flour
cup gluten-free oat flour
cup whole-grain corn flour (not cornmeal)
cup potato starch (not potato flour)
cup brown rice flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
cup unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, room temperature
cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided
1 large egg
cup canola oil
cup molasses
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling, optional

1. Combine sorghum flour, oat flour, corn flour, potato starch, brown rice flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend.

2. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light. Add cup brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Then beat in remaining cup brown sugar. Mix in oil, molasses, orange zest and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms. Then beat an additional minute. Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Spoon dough by tablespoons onto prepared sheets, spacing 2-inches apart. Using a small rubber spatula dipped in water, shape mounds into even rounds. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired.

5. Place one pan in preheated oven and bake until cookies are fragrant, cracked on top and feel set, about 10 to 12 minutes. For a cookie that’s crisp on the outside and soft inside, bake a little longer. Cool cookies on the pan 5 minutes. Then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Shape and bake the remaining dough.

Each cookie contains 114 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 9mg cholesterol, 103mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 8g sugars, 1g protein, 10 Est GL.

For Egg-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies, omit 1 egg. Reduce oil by 2 tablespoons.

Combine 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons hot unsweetened applesauce. Let cool. Use this mixture to replace the egg in step 2.

Contributing chef Kristine Kidd (kristinekidd.com) is former food editor of Bon Appetit magazine and author of Weeknight Gluten Free and Gluten-Free Baking (Williams-Sonoma).

Comments (1)

Such great recipes especially the Chocolate Peppermint Cake. Thanks for sharing such wonderful ideas with us. I can try them at this Christmas or thanksgiving. A friend of mine recommended me a website www.loveandquiches.com whose products are similar and even we can order custom designed cakes and desserts. Still thanks for the information.

Posted by: JeanettePWeatherford | July 2, 2016 7:37 AM    Report this comment

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