Raised from Scratch

growing up outside the box: alternatives to processed food and television

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free) November 26, 2012

Do you have “secret” ingredients in your pantry? Flavors that test taste buds’ expertise and signal the brain to taste again, and again, and again to decipher the flavor? For you adventurous cookie lovers out there, I’m sharing one with you today.

Mesquite powder, explained by Essential Living Foods, where I purchase mine:

“Mesquite is a nourishing, gluten-free flour with a mild, molasses-and-caramel flavor that blends well into everything from smoothies to baking recipes. Mesquite is a hearty tree that survives in the driest climates and is traditionally thought to bring strength to those who consume it. Its powerful, nutrient dense seeds supply protein, fiber and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc plus the amino acid lysine. With a low-glycemic index of 25, this ancient superfood is perfect for adding sweetness without spiking blood sugar.”

The molasses-caramel flavor description is pretty darn accurate, though I also explain it as a light malted cocoa sometimes. It’s unique for sure. These are sturdy cookies, great for holiday tins or any other occasion where you need a cookie that can survive long trips with the postal service. When it comes to mesquite powder a little goes a long way and the flavor is enhanced after baking, so if you taste the cookie dough and wonder if one tablespoon will be enough, believe me, it’s perfect, and the flavor will come through once they bake, inevitably provoking a “What IS that flavor?” response from tasters.

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free)

Makes 36 cookies

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

¾ t. xanthan gum

1 T. mesquite powder

1 t. baking powder

2 T. + 1 t. poppy seeds

2 cups oat flour

½ cup sorghum flour

For chocolate centers:

2-3 oz dark chocolate (such as Scharffen Berger or Baker’s)

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer at medium speed to cream the butter, then add the maple syrup and mix 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolks, mix on low speed until combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

In a small bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350°F. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, form cookies and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 ½” apart. Cookies should be about 2 teaspoons in size.  Lightly coat your hands with a small amount of oat flour and gently roll each mound of dough in your hands to form a smooth ball.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon, coated with oat flour to avoid sticking, to make an indentation in the cookie dough before baking to later fill with chocolate. The indentation should be as deep as you can make it without pushing through the bottom of the cookie.

Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes, remove from oven and poke the center of the dough again (dough rises a bit during baking and you want to have enough space for chocolate). Return to oven and bake additional 2-4 minutes. Move cookies to cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before filling with chocolate.

To fill cookies: in a small heavy-bottomed pot, melt chopped chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, just until melted. Immediately remove from heat, pour or spoon chocolate into the center of each cookie. If you have extra chocolate it is great drizzled across the top as well.

Cool before storing in an air-tight container. Will keep at least one week at room temperature.

Originally inspired by “Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies” at 101 Cookbooks

 

Maple Pecan Cookies: Wheat vs. Gluten-free Oat October 16, 2012

This weekend I was baking for a small crowd coming to my house for a game of Settlers of Catan, and I wanted to make Maple Pecan Cookies to celebrate my favorite time of year. I already had a tried and true whole wheat recipe that I used a lot last year (before I went gluten-free), so I figured I’d make a batch of the wheat cookies, but also do a little experimenting to get a tasty gluten-free alternative. I made my own oat flour this time for a less refined consistency. To make your own oat flour, place gluten-free rolled oats in a food processor or blender and pulse 30-60 seconds. Here’s a helpful link to making your own flours at home.

The gluten-free oat cookies were a hit, just as tasty as the wheat version, despite the fact that I cut down on the sweetness and added a salba “egg” to help the cookie hold together without xanthan gum or real eggs. So you probably have two questions right now: What the heck is salba? and What exactly is a salba “egg”?

I didn’t know what Salba seeds were until a few months ago when my dad came to Chicago for a visit and brought me a whole bag of Salba seeds to start experimenting with (Thanks Dad – perfect gift!). Salba seeds are like white Chia seeds (that’s right, the same Chia used for “hair” on the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia pet popular in the 1980’s), which it turns out happen to be exceptionally nutritious. Salba seeds are grown under tight regulations in Peru to maintain a consistently high nutritional composition, whereas Chia seeds’ nutritional makeup are frequently diminished because they grow wild in large quantities throughout Mexico, and Central and South America, and are not subject to the same strict regulations. Don’t get me wrong though, both Chia and Salba seeds are very nutritious and, like flax seeds, super easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Read a more extensive comparison of Chia vs. Salba and all the nutritional benefits of both here.

Now to explain the Salba “egg”. At some point while browsing through blogs and recipe sites I read about a Chia egg, made by mixing 2-3 teaspoons chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and allowing the mixture to sit and congeal for about 10 minutes to use as an egg substitute. I’m all about this kind of health food magic, so I jotted the recipe down at the bottom of my notebook as a reminder to try it sometime. Even though my original whole wheat maple cookie recipe didn’t call for an egg, I know that gluten-free flours lead to cookies lacking in structure unless you add something gooey, like banana, or a gum (xanthan), or eggs. No reason to pass up a perfectly good opportunity to add lots of omega-3s, fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, iron and folate, so I tried the Salba egg structure in these cookies, and couldn’t be happier with the result!

I hope you’ll pick up a small bag of Salba or Chia if you come across them in a health food store and try this recipe out for yourself. The cookies are outrageously good, and something you can feel happy about sharing with your family and friends this fall…even the tikes.

More helpful links to recipes using Chia/Salba seed egg substitute:

Andrea Drugay – How to make Chia Egg Replacer

Real Food, Allergy Free

Gluten-free Maple Pecan Oat Cookies

Salba/chia “egg” recipe:

Mix 2 teaspoons Salba with 3 Tablespoons water and allow to sit and congeal at least 10 minutes.

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup maple syrup

½ t. vanilla extract

1 salba or chia egg (recipe above)

1 cup homemade oat flour

¼ t. baking powder

¼ t. sea salt

Pecan halves to place on top of cookie dough

Preheat oven to 375. Make salba/chia egg in a small bowl and allow to sit 10 minutes while assembling and mixing other ingredients. In medium bowl, use a hand mixer to cream butter, maple syrup and vanilla 30 seconds on medium speed. Add salba egg substitute, and mix until you have a smooth consistency (no visible large clumps of butter). Add oat flour, baking powder and salt and mix briefly.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, use about 2 teaspoons of batter to form each cookie. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1” apart and top with pecan halves.

Bake 12-15 minutes. Makes 14 cookies.

Maple Pecan Wheat Cookies

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup white whole wheat flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. sea salt

Pecan halves to place on top of cookie dough

Preheat oven to 375. Using a hand mixer, cream butter, maple syrup and vanilla. Add flours, baking powder and salt and mix well. Using a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop, or two spoons, form round cookies and place 1 1/2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet (these cookies spread a little). Top with pecan halves, pressing slightly into the cookie dough.
Bake 12-13 minutes or until cookies turn a light golden brown. These are delicate when warm so allow to cool on baking sheet 3-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Makes 35 cookies.

 

Two Recipes Spreading Gluten-Free Biscuit Bliss September 2, 2012

Surprisingly, there aren’t too many things I’ve missed since giving up gluten six months ago, with biscuits and scones being the two main exceptions. With some modifications I could probably turn these into scones fairly easily, but the following two recipes definitely fall into the biscuit category, and they’re so tasty I’ve been making a new batch every time we run out. It has become one of my bread substitutes because I don’t care for most GF breads available in grocery stores due to the high starch content. In case you’re not familiar with gluten-free breads, most call for large amounts of tapioca/rice/corn starch, which are nearly void of nutrition (potato starch seems to be the exception as it still contains many vitamins and minerals). True, some starch is typically required in gluten-free baking if you’re hoping to see a resemblance to wheat goods, but by changing our expectations, and the expectations of our taste-buds through more adventurous eating, we can easily incorporate a great number of gluten-free flours that are packed with nutrition and flavor. Teff flour is a prime example, with large amounts of manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, in addition to many B vitamins (nutritional bar graphs are available at traditional-foods.com), it’s a grain worth incorporating in your diet.

Rosemary Teff Biscuits (gluten-free)

1/2 cup teff flour

1  1/2 cups oat flour

1 T. baking powder

½ t. xanthan gum

1 t. fine sea salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

¼ t. crushed rosemary

1 T. natural cane sugar

1 T. chia or salba seeds (optional)

1 T. golden flax seeds (optional)

1/3 cup cold unsalted butter (5 1/3 T.), cubed

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400°.

Whisk all dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in cold butter with hands or pastry cutter until butter pieces are no larger than pea size. Add cold milk and stir with spatula.

Portion with cookie scoop, or large spoon, and place on ungreased baking stone or baking sheet; bake until lightly golden brown, 10-13 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Makes 18 medium biscuits.

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I’ve made a biscuit fan out of my daughter this week for sure. Yesterday she ate five Teff Amaranth Biscuits after dinner, lifted her shirt to make her belly talk to me and said “Mmmm I’m full and happy”. Amaranth flour is very high in protein, iron and fiber, and contributes a unique earthy malt flavor that I really like paired with other less dominating flours, such as oat. A drizzle of honey makes these pretty darn addictive.

Teff Amaranth Biscuits (gluten-free)

½ cup Teff flour

½ cup Amaranth flour

1 cup oat flour

1 T. baking powder

¾ t. xanthan gum

4 t. natural cane sugar

1 t. sea salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 1/3 T.), cubed

1 cup + 3 T. milk

1-2 t. turbinado sugar, optional, for topping

Preheat oven to 400°.

Whisk all dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in cold butter with hands or pastry cutter until butter pieces are no larger than pea size. Add cold milk and stir with spatula.

Portion with cookie scoop, or large spoon, and place on ungreased baking stone or baking sheet; bake until lightly golden brown, 10-13 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Makes 18 medium biscuits.