Apple Cobbler (GF)

My friend Jillian and I have been avoiding gluten and refined sugar for 3 weeks now in an effort to get our eating habits back on track, and the goal was to make it to Halloween. I’ll say it’s been a pretty valiant effort, despite the beer (or two) I’ve had along the way, and the hot dog I saw Jillian eat at the 5k we organized…

This weekend, I was really craving apple cobbler, and this presented a challenge because traditional apple cobbler contains flour, butter, and at least one type of refined sugar. I have been searching for coconut sugar to use in paleo recipes and finally found some yesterday at Whole Foods. I thought apple cobbler would be the perfect chance to  experiment with my new ingredient, and turns out it perfectly enhanced the natural sweetness of the apples in this warm, gooey dessert! Lemon juice adds some balance to the sweetness and keeps the apples from browning as you make the crumb topping, and the warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg comes through really nicely in the finished product.

This recipe makes about 4 servings if you’re anything like Matt and I,  but you could probably stretch it to serve up to 6 people, especially if you’re serving it with ice cream or whipped cream. It  reheats so beautifully, I might venture to say it’s even better the next day!

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Apple Cobbler

Makes 4 servings

4 medium apples (Granny Smith or McIntosh work best)

Juice from 1/2 lemon

2 t cinnamon

3/4 t nutmeg

2 T coconut sugar

1 T arrowroot powder (or corn starch)

For the topping:

3/4 C old fashioned rolled oats

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

4 T butter of choice, melted (I use Earth Balance vegan butter)

1 T coconut sugar

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Method:

Preheat oven to 325° and grease 8×8 square pan.

Peel and thinly slice apples, adding to greased dish. Sprinkle lemon juice on top of apples and toss. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut sugar, and arrowroot powder and toss again.

In medium bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, melted butter, and coconut sugar and mix until it clumps together. Sprinkle evenly on top of apple mixture, and top with a few more teaspoons of whatever butter you’re using.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the apples are nice and soft and it’s bubbling around the edges. Your whole house should smell like Thanksgiving 🙂 Let cool for 15 minutes before serving warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped coconut cream. Enjoy!

 

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’ve learned to live without a lot of fun dairy-filled things since coming to terms with my lactose intolerance a couple years ago, but cheesecake was really hard to let go. I used to make a marbled pumpkin cheesecake every Thanksgiving as a pumpkin pie alternative, and it was always a hit. With all my freshly- made pumpkin puree in the freezer this year, it occurred to me that  a vegan alternative could work…

Now I know that putting the words “vegan” and “cheesecake” together are going to scare a lot of you, but after bringing these bars into work and to a potluck last week, I concluded that this vegan dessert is a dairy-free success! I have officially converted numerous non-believers into vegan pumpkin cheesecake fans and it’s all thanks to Minimalist Baker for inspiring me to try a cashew-based batter.

This recipe is no-bake, but does require some time on the front end to properly soak your cashews before blending them to make your “cheesecake” batter. Keeping this in mind, be sure to allow for an hour of inactive time before you get started!

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Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Makes ~ 16 squares

For the crust:

1 C pitted medjool dates

1 1/2 C pecans

1/4 t sea salt

For the filling:

1 1/2 C raw unsalted cashews (I use pieces because they’re much cheaper!)

About 3 C boiling water

3/4 C pure maple syrup

1/2 C pumpkin puree

1/3 C full fat coconut milk

1/4 C lemon juice

2 t vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t cardamom

1 t pumpkin pie spice

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Method:

In a medium bowl, soak cashews in boiling water for about an hour. Once soaked, drain cashews and set aside.

Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper (one long sheet overlapping another so you have an “X.” This will make removing the cheesecake super easy once it’s set!

Add dates, pecans, and salt to food processor and pulse until dates break down and crust begins to stick together, forming a ball. Spray your fingers with nonstick spray and press crust into bottom of lined pan, setting in the freezer while you make filling.

Add soaked cashews to food processor and blend until smooth, adding coconut milk as needed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the pumpkin. Mix until filing is smooth, scraping sides to incorporate all ingredients.

Spoon half of filling mixture onto crust and put back into freezer. Add pumpkin puree to the other half of the filling, and pulse until combined. Spoon carefully on top of white filling, gently spreading to create an even top layer. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top, and lightly drag a toothpick or butter knife in a swirling motion.

Place in freezer for about 2 hours or until set. Remove from pan by lifting parchment paper and use chef’s knife to slice into 12-16 pieces. Keep these stored in the freezer, wrapped with plastic wrap. They should keep up to a month, but I promise they won’t last that long!

Tip** Let them sit out at room temp about 30 mins before serving so they’re not totally frozen

Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Brownies (GF & Nut-free)

It’s been a couple days, but I’m back and I am putting another squash to use! I decided to bake my prettiest pumpkin first; the Musquee de Provence. I cut the pumpkin into eighths, removing the seeds and saving them for later, and brushed each slice with olive oil and a little salt. I baked them on a lined cookie sheet for about an hour at 400°, and pureed in the blender once cooled. I stored the puree in quart-sized ziploc bags in the freezer, and knew I wouldn’t have it frozen for long! Making pumpkin puree when you have extra time is the way to go, because it freezes well and you can keep it for a rainy day…or for when you really need some brownies.

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I love the idea of pumpkin in brownies because it adds great texture, makes them a littttle bit healthier, and keeps them super moist. You don’t even really taste the pumpkin in these, so it’s a sneaky way to convert all the pumpkin haters. These turned out wonderfully fudgy, and kept well in the refrigerator for a few days, when I decided it was finally time to bring the rest into work and share them before I finished the batch by myself.

These brownies do not contain any kind of flour, and are nut-free unless you decide to throw some walnuts or pecans in! They can be made perfectly dairy-free if you use dairy-free chocolate chips, however I used my go-to Trader Joe’s chocolate chunks both in the brownies, and on top. They are amazingly decadent and you don’t have to feel guilty because you’re getting all those squash-related benefits I spelled out in my Cooking with Squash post!

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Pumpkin Brownies

Makes about 12 brownies

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

1 C pumpkin puree

1/2 C pure maple syrup

1/4 C honey

1/4 C melted coconut oil

2 t vanilla extract

1 C cocoa powder

1 t baking soda

Pinch salt

1/3 C chocolate chips + 1/2 C additional for serving

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and line 8×8 glass pan with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg and egg yolk, adding pumpkin puree, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Last, add 1/3 C chocolate chips and combine. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until set in middle.

While brownies are still hot, pour remaining 1/2 C of chocolate chips on top and let melt. Carefully spread with butter knife until all surface area is covered with melty chocolate perfection. Can be topped with nuts, sea salt, enjoyed in brownie sundae form…the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Growing up, my sisters and I were lucky to have a number of fun babysitters to choose from when our parents wanted a night out, but Amanda was the best of the best. She would show up with a bag full of prizes and I don’t recall ever having to do anything to win them… She always looked as excited to see us as we were to see her, and as the years went on, she became our close friend.

Amanda would claim she knew nothing about baking, but that can’t be true because I’m convinced she’s now better at making and decorating cakes than I’ll ever be. I know those skills were always somewhere hidden in there with all her other strengths- tucked next to her amazing listening skills, compassion, and knowledge of where to buy lava lamps.

When we get together, we reminisce about cooking dinner when she’d babysit. She tells me that once we would finish dinner, I’d pull a chair up to the stove in our tiny kitchen and proclaim I was making chocolate pudding for dessert. She recalls that watching a six-year-old use the stove made her uneasy at first, but she quickly realized this was the norm.

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Why chocolate pudding? It was our go-to dessert. My mom always kept boxes of Jell-O Cook N Serve chocolate pudding stocked in the baking cabinet, and like any other family in the 90’s (before everyone discovered their lactose intolerance), we always had 2% milk in the fridge.

I still love chocolate pudding, but can’t stomach dairy anymore. My solution? Vegan chocolate pudding that I SWEAR is even better than what I remember. But that could just be my terrible memory…? This recipe swaps dairy out for coconut milk, and like most of my other recipes, doesn’t need any refined sugar. This dessert turns out so creamy and chocolate-y that you won’t even notice the dairy is missing. Top it with just about anything and enjoy!

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Vegan Chocolate Pudding

14 oz can coconut milk (both full fat and low fat work)

4 T cocoa powder

3 T corn starch

1/2 t salt

1/4 C pure maple syrup or honey

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

Method:

Heat half of the coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat. In separate bowl, combine other half of coconut milk, cocoa powder, and corn starch, whisking until incorporated. Once coconut milk in saucepan is heated and coming to a low boil, reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in chocolate mixture.  Add salt and maple syrup or honey. Whisk continuously until pudding returns to a boil and thickens (sticking to the side of a spoon). Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Tip** if you do not care about the pudding being perfectly vegan, mix 1/4 C chopped chocolate or chocolate chips into finished pudding for extra chocolate-y goodness

Top with toasted coconut, bananas, berries, nuts, etc. Store leftovers in fridge with layer of plastic wrap touching the top of the pudding- this will prevent “skin” on the top!