Maple-Sunbutter Cookies {gluten-free, nut-free, vegan}

Maple-Sunbutter Cookies {gluten-free,vegan}

I had a recent taste-bud epiphany.  Desperate for a snack, and having already raided my cupboards only to find stale tortilla chips, I settled upon the sad slice of cinnamon-raisin bread languishing away in the back of the freezer.

It became toast.  Because toasting improves everything.  I topped it with a few smears of sunflower seed butter.  Then, because this wasn’t interesting enough, I added a generous drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Strangely, the combination was good.  The flavors pushed all those savory-salty-sweet buttons like a good peanut butter cookie. Thus the idea for this recipe was born.

Winter Daybreak

MAPLE-SUNBUTTER COOKIES
I’ve tried this recipe with all sorts of gluten free flours, oils, and, at times, I have even veered from my original plan by substituting other sweeteners.  However, maple syrup was my muse, and I just kept coming back to her.

The choice of oil seemed to make less of a difference.  I give a couple of options below.  If you opt for coconut oil, be sure it is melted.  Like butter, it solidifies at cooler temps and will seize up into little chunks when it meets a cold substance (like refrigerated maple syrup!).

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used grade A, but I bet grade B would be even better)
3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (melted), olive oil, or organic canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry mix to the wet mix and stir until evenly moistened.  Allow the dough to rest a minute or two.
  • Using a tablespoon, drop the dough onto the cookie sheet and give each mound a gentle press to barely flatten into disks.
  • Bake 9-11 minutes, depending on your cookie personality: soft vs crumbly.

Yield: About 1 dozen

Raspberry-Oat Bars {gluten-free}

We’ve been enjoying these raspberry oat bars a lot the last few months. They helped get us through Winter’s dearth of fresh fruit. They are arguably the perfect balance between health food and decadent dessert, with a not-too-rich pecan shortbread base that doubles as a streusel topping and a thick layer of raspberry preserves in between.

GLUTEN-FREE RASPBERRY OAT BARS
Adapted from Karen Demasco’s The Craft of Baking *

The first time I made these bars, the cookie base came out a little thicker than I prefer.  So, I’ve since scaled the dough portion of the recipe back by a quarter, which also creates a slightly higher ratio of preserves to dough. Just the way I like it.

Also, my first batch was a little salty.  I read later that Demasco uses a particular brand of kosher salt in her baking.  So, if using table salt or sea salt, it is necessary to decrease the salt by close to half, which I’ve noted below.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (for vegans: Spectrum organic shortening or Earth Balance margarine)
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour (for GF: 1/3 C. sorghum flour, 1/3 C. + 1 Tbl. brown rice flour, 3 Tbl. potato starch and 3 Tbl. tapioca flour, 1/8 tsp. xanthan gum)
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (for GF: use gluten-free oats)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup good quality raspberry preserves **

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil an 8 inch square, metal baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Melt butter in saucepan or glass bowl in microwave.
  • Toast pecans on baking sheet in oven 5 minutes, cool.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour, xanthan gum, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and baking soda.  Stir in the gluten-free oats and chopped pecans. Pour in the melted butter and mix until well combined.
  • Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom the oiled pan, until firmly and evenly packed.
  • Spread the raspberry preserves over the dough (an offset spatula like pictured above is perfect for this step). Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of dough evenly over the preserves.
  • Bake until golden brown about 40 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • For easier cutting, transfer the cooled pan to the freezer for 20 minutes to harden. Remove bars from freezer, then from pan and cut into 2″ squares.

** I made these once with Smucker’s strawberry jam and the results were very disappointing.  The jam layer turned a funny brown color and became very wet.  I suspect it was either the high fructose corn syrup in Smucker’s, or the fact that I substituted strawberry for raspberry, but either way, from now on I’ll stick to a true, high quality raspberry preserve WITHOUT high fructose corn syrup.  You tend to get what you pay for with a pricier preserve.

Strawberry Buckwheat Thumbprint Cookies {gluten-free, vegan}

Buckwheat, despite containing the word “wheat”, is actually gluten-free.  It is native to Asia and the key ingredient in soba noodles and sundry other prepartions like French galletes, and Russian blinis. This psuedo-grain is often referred to Kasha here in the states. It imparts a subtle woodsy flavor to baked goods that I absolutely love.  Another feature to note is that buckwheat is related to rhubarb…which got me thinking, if rhubarb and strawberries are such a dynamic duo, wouldn’t buckwheat and strawberries make a great pair, too?

The verdict?  The little ruby colored gems did not disappoint.

STRAWBERRY-BUCKWHEAT THUMBPRINT COOKIES
The buckwheat shortbread would make lovely cookies on their own. The addition of strawberry jam just makes them extra special. Do use good jam; in an effort to finish up random ingredients in our fridge, I went with a weird low-sugar jelly for half the cookies and then some Knott’s Berry Farm jam on the other half. The cookies with Knott’s jam were far tastier!

This recipe makes about 1 dozen cookies using a round tablespoon measure for the dough. I used a round 1/2 teaspoon to make the even sized craters for the filling or you can use your thumb, hence “thumbprints”. Also, my filling shrank some while cooking. So, I simply heated a little more fruit spread in the microwave for 30 seconds and re-filled the craters before the cookies cooled completely. This worked well and the filling set perfectly.

Dry Ingredients:

1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour*
2 tablespoons white or brown rice flour, or more sorghum flour
2 tablespoons potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot starch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:

7 tablespoons Spectrum organic shortening (or 4 tablespoons coconut oil)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients
  2. Using a stand mixer beat the wet ingredients until just combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until a dough just comes together.
  4. Measure out tablespoons of dough and gently roll into balls. Arrange 1 1/2″ apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using your thumb or a round 1/2 teaspoon create indentions in the center or each dough ball. Fill each indention with jam. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake 15 – 20 minutes until edges of cookies just begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, refilling any craters with additional jam if necessary.

* If you’re not gluten free, simply replace all the gluten free flours except the buckwheat with about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.

Chocolate Chip Cookies {gluten-free, vegan}

Doesn’t that cookie look sad? All alone, no friends left. Depressing really. I was feeling empathetic, so I ate it for breakfast. It was the honorable thing to do.

Seriously, though, these were an outstanding batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. They’re vegan, too, not that anyone noticed. I really am beaming with self-satisfaction right now.

My husband said, “Wow, they look like real cookies!” That could be taken any number of ways. I took it as a compliment, which was of course his intention.

GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
These are an exemplary cookie even without the usual suspects (glutinous flour, butter and eggs), best fresh from the oven, when the middles are still warm and soft and the edges crisp. Enjoy them immediately.

I recommend increasing the salt in the dough to a 1/4 teaspoon OR keep it at an 1/8 teaspoon and sprinkle the raw cookie tops with a little coarse salt.

One last note, see those cracks in the surface? They are very important. As important as the cracks in a brownie’s crust. I’m not sure why or how, but they just are.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon tapioca flour/starch
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon teff flour (or sorghum flour or rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add:
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I chopped up a bar of 70% cocoa)
coarse sea salt or Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart, gently flattening into a thick, round disk. Sprinkle the cookie tops with a few grains of coarse salt. Bake 7-9 minutes, just until brown.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Makes about 1 dozen cookies.