Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Less Major Fail: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Garbanzo Bean Flour

What do garbanzo beans, carob, and Seinfeld all have in common? Chocolate chip cookies of course!

A few weeks ago my mom brought home garbanzo bean flour and I have been searching for a cookie recipe to use it in. My first experiment with garbanzo bean flour did not turn out well...it gave my carrot cookies (as seen in an earlier post) a bad aftertaste...awful. But I found a solution: Jessica Seinfeld's recipe for garbanzo chocolate chip cookies from her cookbook Deceptively Delicious. I haven't tried them, but rumor has it that they are delicious! (deceptively delicious, that is). If you want the recipe but don't want to buy the book, it is all over the Internet.

I did a little bit of substituting (as always). Her recipe actually calls for canned garbanzo beans, but I used the garbanzo bean flour instead, which gave it a peanuty taste. And I used steel cut oats (because that is all we had in the house) which aren't great for baking, but they still tasted yummy. And I ran out of chocolate chips so I used half chocolate chips and half carob chips (if you like carob, you can substitute all the chocolate chips for the carob chips. But with half and half, you can't really tell the difference between them). 

We also had vanilla agave nectar, which I used to supplement the vanilla extract and sugar.

So with  this new recipe in hand, I began to create my own recipe. I felt pretty confident about it, but I was still a little worried about using almond meal, knowing that it doesn't rise like normal flour. I thought using an extra egg would help but...well...the as the cookies spread, so did my disappointment.

Unfortunately these did not turn out as I had planned. Although they taste good, they are almost impossible to eat, and I've resorted to scooping them into a microwaveable bowl with a dollop of whipped cream. Spring Break is next week, so I will have more time to try this recipe again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who doesn't love whipped cream?!

If you haven't noticed by now, I put whipped cream on ALL my baked goods. Why, you ask? Well, for starters, we are always well stocked in the whipped cream department. And why not? It's a sweet refreshing sugar-free topping! (And I also haven't found a sugar-free frosting yet, so this is a great alternative)

But let me clarify...I'm talking about homemade whipped cream. In my opinion, it is so much better than store-bought. And unfortunately...some people don't even know how to make whipped cream! So let me be the one to educate you on this important matter. 

All you need is two simple ingredients:
  • Heavy Cream
  • Vanilla Extract
And the directions are even simplier!
  1. Pour heavy cream in electric mixer and get ready...get set...whip!!!
  2. Add vanilla extract to taste
For chocolate whipped topping, just add cocoa powder.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Homemade Granola with Coconut

Ok, I know that it looks like birdseed, but trust me! It's yummy. I adapted this recipe from the back of the Let's Do...Organic Coconut Flakes bag.

The birdseed look was due to the steel cut oats I used. Although it didn't affect the taste, I would definitely use a different type of oats next time.

The recipe called for 3/4 cup almonds, but since I already used almond flour, I decided to substitute it for nuts and dried fruit. I used a 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts, raisins, and chopped dried apricots.

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts and dried fruit
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1/3 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix almond flour, oats, coconut, cinnamon, dried fruit, and nuts.
  3. Mix agave, banana, and vanilla.
  4. Combine; pour evenly onto ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Bake 30 minutes; stir and bake another 30 minutes.

 Perfect on top of yogurt or ice cream :) Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Banana Nut Bread with Yogurt

I'm just going to be honest. This banana bread is delicious. Like, really delicious. And it's pretty much guilt-free. Enough said.

Banana Nut Bread (adapted from Food.com)

  • 1 1/3 cup rice flour (brown or white- see substitutions page)
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In medium bowl combine rice flour, almond meal, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In electric mixture, beat agave nectar and yogurt. Add egg whites, one at a time. Add milk.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture to agave and yogurt mixture. Slowly add mashed banana. Fold in walnuts.
  5. Spoon batter into greased pan (I used an 8x6x2-in pan). Bake for 50 minutes.
  6. Cool and top with whipped cream!

Enjoy :)

MAJOR FAIL: experimenting is not always as easy as it looks

Get the tissue box ready, I have a sad story for you...

So lately I've been pretty confident in my baking skills...dare I say overconfident. Silly me, I had this idea that I could invent, with no recipe book to lean on, my own recipe for sugar/flour free carrot cake with sugar free cream cheese frosting. And after my THIRD time trying to make these, I have finally realized that perhaps the world isn't ready for my original work. HOWEVER, I am a big fan of carrot cake, and with a little help from my friends at Food, I Love You, I am determined to make the perfect carrot cake AND the perfect sugar free cream cheese frosting.

My second try at making carrot cake muffins (the first aren't even worth mentioning) looked sooo good...and actually were ok...

it was the frosting that was bad. I think I've mentioned this before: NEVER try to substitute splenda (or any other sugar substitute) for powdered sugar...never ever. My poor cupcakes :(

 So I took a different approach to frosting and found a couple recipes that used sugar-free Jell-O pudding mix. Unfortunately, what I discovered is that Jello-O likes to hog the spotlight from all the other ingredients. It turned cream cheese frosting into vanilla Jell-O with the slightest hint of cream cheese. And for someone who doesn't like Jello-O pudding, this wasn't a good thing. (Although, now looking at this picture and seeing the "6 1/2 cup servings," I might've just used too much. Oopsies...)

And the cookies weren't too great either (yeah, I decided to switch to carrot cookies); I used rice flour and not enough sweetener which gave it a weird aftertaste.

Dont' worry, there is a point to this anecdote! As I keep trying to find a good cream cheese frosting recipe, I am going to work on making the perfect carrot cake cookie. Because...ta-da! New idea: carrot cake sandwich cookies with cream cheese center (isn't that a mouthful!)  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Experimenting with Brown Rice Flour (Agave Mango Cupcakes)

Today I had my first experience baking with brown rice flour, and I was pleasantly surprised. The benefit of using rice flour is that it is gluten free. It bakes just like flour so there are no confusing substitutions, and it has a good taste. I will be using it a lot more from now on! I think my mom picked this up for me, so I'm not quite sure where she got it, but I've seen this particular brand at Vons.

To test it, I decided to use a recipe I found for Honey Mango Cupcakes. Not your normal cupcakes, I know, but since we had mangoes in the house I decided to give it a try, and I'm really happy with how they turned out!

However, to keep them sugar free (and because of the fact that we didn't have any honey, but loads of agave), I used agave nectar instead.

 You only need 1 mango- half goes into the cupcake batter, and about a quarter of it is used for the icing. To puree it, I just threw mango slices into the Cuisninart and let it spin. Although tasting the cupcakes afterward, I think I would have left them in there for a shorter amount of time, so that there were mango chunks in the batter. But it doesn't really matter, they were still good :)
The recipe I used called for buttermilk, which I didn't have, so I substituted! (I know, big surprise). I used Kefir instead, which is basically like a liquid yogurt. I did a little research on it, too, and it actually has a lot of health benefits. I will put more information about it on my substitutions page. I think you can find it at almost any market, but the one I used was from Trader Joe's.

So are you finally ready for the recipe?? Here it is:
Agave Mango Cupcakes with "Icing" (adapted from The National Honey Board)

  • 2 cups Brown Rice Flour (white rice flour would work too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup Ripe Mango, pureed
  • Zest and juice of One Lime
  • 1/4 cup Kefir
  • 1/2 cup Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Agave Nectar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the mango puree, lime zest and juice, and kefir; set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Add agave nectar. Add eggs, one at a time.
  4. Slowly add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until just combined. With the mixer on low, add the mango mixture. Add the remaining dry ingredients.
  5. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Cool for about ten minutes and spread the icing evenly over the cupcakes. Makes 14 cupcakes.
Agave Mango "Icing"
I learned a very important lesson: NEVER use Splenda to make frosting. It does not substitute for powdered sugar; the frosting comes out more like pudding and has a bad aftertaste. So, I had to improvise and come up with my own topping. My experimenting turned out quite well, and it gives it that extra fruity flavor that the cupcakes are lacking.
  • 1/4 cup Mango, Pureed
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 packet Splenda
  • 1 tsp Agave Nectar
  1. Combine ingredients in mixing bowl.
  2. Use brush to spread the topping evenly over cupcakes.