Tag Archives: nut-free

Chunky Carob Cake – Ridiculously Allergy Friendly!

Chunky Carob Cake

There are few names I’d put on my “soul-mate” list.  Nina Simone.  William Shakespeare.  James McAvoy (did you SEE X-Men First Class?  Totally redeemed the franchise from Wolverine and washed the bad taste of Bridesmaids out of my mouth).

In all seriousness, while I am surrounded by so many loving, special people, I am particularly grateful for my dear friend Lyndsey – a soul-mate if there ever was one.  We met through my college boyfriend over a dozen years ago, and aside from the many things we naturally had in common, we shared a history of chronic illness.  There’s no way I could summarize our friendship – but let’s just say we’ve been an ear, a shoulder, a hug, the voice on the other end of the phone that won’t hang up… I don’t know where I’d be without this woman.

So on my quick days off I scooted my little blue car down to DC to visit her and her husband, two of my favorite people in the whole world!  

Lyndsey is still suffering greatly from her illness and deep digestive problems, and her diet completely eliminates grains, sugar, chocolate, fruit, any sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, certain meats and fishes, fried foods, certain vegetables and is pretty much devoid of any sweet indulgences. I lived like that for several years but never as long as she, and don’t know how she hasn’t gone ballistic on a grocery store or restaurant by now.

But carob! Oh, yes, Lyndsey can have carob!

So the other morning she showed me how to make her “Chunky Cake”.

This cake is chocolate-free, sugar-free, grain-free / flourless, oiless, nut-free, low-carb, high-fiber, low-glycemic.  Really.  It does have ghee (clarified butter) so it’s not dairy free completely, but you can easily substitute with coconut oil or a fat of your choice.

And it’s incredibly easy – all ingredients mixed in a bowl and poured in a pan!

I was amazed at how light and airy the carob cake came out, while still packing a delicious aroma.  I’m going to have some fun experimenting with the recipe at home, using coconut products, tucking the batter around almond butter, soaking vanilla beans in almond milk.  But for now, here’s the original recipe.  Enjoy!

Moist and light Chunky Carob cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1 cup carob powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup melted ghee
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°.  Heavily grease a pie plate or single cake pan.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (in no particular order) with a whisk until thoroughly combined.  The resulting batter should sort of glop a bit off the whisk and not run completely smooth.  Because of the goopy result of using flax, Lyndsey describes it as “falling like boogers”.  One of the thousands of reasons why I love her so much.
  • Pour into prepared plate and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or fork inserted comes out relatively smooth.

Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies

Lemon Poppy Cookies

This is another version of buttery shortbread cookies I’ve adapted from the Rosewater Lavender Shortbread that went over very well at an event last weekend.  I altered the recipe just a tiny bit – adding fresh lemon juice and poppy seeds and altering the amount of flour, as well as used arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, which I didn’t have in my apartment (SO nice to be baking in my kitchen again).

These cookies are incredibly easy and only require a few ingredients.  They’re delicate with a buttery crumb, a nice tang and a sweet finish.

Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 20 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line thick baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs and beat until combined.
  • Add lemon zest and juice, beat to combine.
  • Add starch, 2 cups of flour and poppy seeds.  Beat at medium speed until combined
  • Continue to add flour until the dough comes together into a ball and does not stick.
  • Place dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until cool.
  • On a well floured surface, work with the dough 1/4 a batch at a time, lightly kneading flour until smooth and not sticky.
  • Roll into 1/4 inch, cut with cutters and use a spatula to transfer to baking sheets.
  • Dust with sugar.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway, until just browned at edges.
  • Cool on racks completely before storing.

Makes 36 medium cookies.

Notes: This recipe can easily be made gluten free by substituting the flour and arrowroot with a gluten-free proportion of 1 cup white rice flour, 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup arrowroot, 2 Tbsp tapioca starch and 2 tsp xanthan gum.  This is the mix I have on hand for cookies, making enough for several recipes at once.

Rosewater Lavender Shortbread and an Opening Night

Shortbread laced with dried lavender and scented with rosewater

Tonight The Enchanted April opens at the Hampton Theatre Company out east in New York.  I’ve been between here and the city for almost a month now, juggling memorizing and rehearsing, squeezing time in with friends at home, and meandering through the kitchen of the lovely people I’m staying with.

One of the things I love about traveling to perform is that I get glimpses into the way people live and the vibe of different cities.  The director and producer I’m living with have a peaceful, beautiful house right on the bay, filled with plants and artwork from all over the world.  I take their dog Mia on morning walks past fields of flowers and houses with perfectly manicured laws and gardens.  From my attic suite (which makes me feel a little Louisa May Alcott as I write and draw) I can see water, and when I open the window the scent of flowers fills the rooms.

View from my window when I first got here, early Spring

Walking Mia on a misty morning

The show opens tonight, and aside from feeling extremely fulfilled from working with this character and this incredible cast – who have been so warm with welcoming me into their lives – I’m also pleased to be selling some cookies for the Hamptons crowd at the concessions.  While I couldn’t quite put a gluten-free, allergy-friendly cookie out there (both to limit costs and appeal to the appetite of this particular audience) I knew my contribution had to be something other than the basic chocolate chip cookie (which will still be there from their original source).

with Jessica Forsythe, Rosemary Klein and Diana Marbury (I'm second from the right)

The show is about four women who escape from their troubles in rainy London to a castle in Italy, where “in April it is simply a mass of flowers” as “bushels and bushels of wisteria” flank the terraces.  Eventually they all find their happy endings, their hearts warmed by the Italian sunshine, the “unusually fresh” sea air and facing their demons amongst the company of strangers who soon become friends (crazy how art parallels your life sometimes, no?)

So my contribution is simple but fitting: a traditional English shortbread cookie, laced with rosewater and dried lavender.  I tried several variations – making a Scottish variety with my hands, then a batch in the food processor – until I landed on this one.  Simple ingredients, a little time and patience, and a beautiful, garden-scented result.

Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 20 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (I used Kerry Gold for the higher fat content)
  • 1 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs (plus egg whites for brushing)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 scant Tbsp dried lavender flowers
  • 3 scant Tbsp rosewater

Directions

  • With a hand mixer (or in a food processor) beat butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy, about two minutes.
  • Add eggs and blend to combine.
  • Add flour, cornstarch, lavender and rosewater and mix just until a dough ball forms.
  • Remove from mixer, separate into two balls and flatten into disks.  Wrap in plastic and put in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper and flour work surface.
  • If the dough is still too soft, knead in a little more flour.
  • Roll each disk into 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes (I made both 1 1/2 inch and 2 inch cookies with success, both with round and fluted cutters.)
  • Use a spatula to transfer to lined sheets, wash lightly with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on size), switching racks halfway through baking, until slightly golden at edges.

Notes: I made two sizes (one to sell and smaller ones with the extra dough).  Other than rolling the smaller size a bit thinner and baking for a shorter amount of time, they came out with equally beautiful results.  The pictures above are of the larger ones that I brushed with egg white before sanding with sugar.  The picture below shows the smaller cookies that weren’t brushed.  To keep with the traditional sheen of a shortbread, I think from now on I will not egg wash the cookies before baking.

Smaller version of Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

Gluten-Free Cutout Sugar Cookies

Cookies of my boyfriend's face! And gluten-free!

What’s better than flanking a birthday cake with cutout cookies of the birthday boy’s face?!? Nothing!  I had been worried that the cookies in reality didn’t match the brilliant ones in my head, but when my roommate walked into the kitchen and burst out laughing, I knew I had at least achieved the right effect.

This past weekend was insane: I managed to race back to Connecticut after my week of rehearsals to work in my family office, then flew to NYC and made some gluten-free cookies I’ll soon be supplying to a cafe, attended a beautiful dinner to cheers the 30 years of one of my oldest friends, ran down to cut the cake wrapped in the boyfriend’s face, danced my heart out in a club, ran down Avenue A in the rain at 4am and made it back to the Hamptons for our first run-through yesterday.  Yes, I dropped a few lines in this rehearsal.  But overall it was a very fulfilling weekend.

But, wait.  When did I make these cookies?!

A full week ago!

A few weeks ago I made Saveur’s Classic Sugar Cookies recipe, being able to cut and ice them easily for a Jesus Christ Superstar Benefit.  So I figured it was time to make them gluten-free for the festivities.  But I knew I wouldn’t be in my kitchen at all this week, being out of town in a show, and so would have to make them in one precious evening in my apartment last weekend.

They worked! Rather easily and with little alterations, I used Saveur’s recipe and piped them with royal icing.  Then they sat out overnight before being refrigerated for the week.  Yes, they were not as fresh as they might have been.  But after a soft thawing they were still firm and smooth.  Honestly, the hardest part was not sharing or posting these pictures until the celebration – they made me laugh all week!

To make the sugar cookies:  I used a very basic gluten-free blend that I make of 1 part quinoa flour, 1 part arrowroot starch and 2 parts white-rice flour.  For each multiplication I add 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch and 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.  So, for this recipe I blended 1 cup of arrowroot, 1 cup of quinoa flour, 2 cups of white rice flour, 4 tablespoons of tapioca and 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum in a container and then shook to combine.  In general I find this to be a great basic flour and keep it on hand.

I then used Saveur’s recipe to the last note, replacing equals parts of the white flour with this flour blend.

For notes and tips on making consistent, beautiful cookies with royal icing, check out my Cookies For Jesus Christ (Superstar) post.

Happy Birthday Cookies!

Insanely Healthy Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

Insanely yummy, healthy Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

Yesterday morning I awoke to Autumn, not Spring, dripping its way down my New York City windows.  It was chilly, much more so than I’d want for a May morning. And though I had very little time to get a bunch of stuff done before yet another commute east for rehearsal, I found myself craving something grainy and warm.

And luckily there’s always time for… muffins!I love making muffins because of how easy and versatile they are.  I obviously wasn’t going to go out to get any ingredients, and I didn’t have an apples or rotting bananas on hand.  So I scoured my pantry and found an old can of sweet potato puree left over from my waffle experimentation.

Voila!  Naturally gluten-free, these muffins are chock full of fiber with flax seed meal, have a little boost of protein with quinoa flour and contain no processed white sugar.  You can also easily make them dairy free (directions below).  They’re moist and dense, but not very sweet.  Because of this you can toast one up for breakfast or serve as a dinner “roll”.  If you need them sweeter, I suggest slathering with some jam or dunking in maple syrup or honey.  Butter is also delightful… mmmmmmm…

Yields 12 insanely delicious muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flax meal (not flax seeds)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot or potato starch
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree
  • 4 Tbsp butter or Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy or cow’s milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Line 12 muffin tins with liners or spray with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.
  • In a smaller bowl, mix eggs, sweet potato puree, maple syrup, butter and milk thoroughly until smooth.
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated and a bit lumpy.
  • Fill evenly into tins and smooth with a spoon.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until slightly browned on top.

Yields 12 muffins.

For nutritional info please go to this recipe on CookEatShare.

Yummy, moist and slightly sweet Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

Recipe is loosely based on one by Michelle at TasteAsYouGo.  Please support her blog!

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