Whether you are going gluten-free out of necessity or by choice, you deserve to enjoy your holiday meal as much as the next gal. And, oh yes, that includes dessert! The need for gluten-free choices in more than 12% of households means many of us are trying to adapt favourite family recipes for special meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
What is Gluten and Where Is It Found?
Gluten is the general name for a group of proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale and oats. (Oats are okay if they are specially grown and processed to avoid cross contamination with other grains.) Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the end product a chewy texture.
Numerous products are made with gluten-containing grains, including many baked goods, as well as cereals, pasta, crackers, soups, salad dressings, sauces, marinades, snack foods, candy, flavoured coffees and teas, nutritional supplements and medications.
How Can I Avoid Gluten and Still Enjoy Dessert?
Fortunately, food manufacturers are well aware of the increasing need for gluten-free options. Your holiday baking does not have to suffer! In fact, the desserts I'm going to share with you are both gluten-free and vegan. As a vegetarian for almost two decades, I know what it's like to feel left out at the dinner table and I believe you should have tasty offerings for each and every guest.
McCormick Canada has launched several certified gluten-free products to help you with your holiday cooking and baking. You know McCormick as the largest maker of spices, seasonings and flavours in the country - its popular Club House brand is now the 54th largest brand in Canada.
Club House's new line of gluten-free baking products carries the Canadian Celiac Association's Gluten-Free Certification Program trademark, so you can be certain that the products are safe for your family. Learn more about the program here.
Vegan Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies
I recently made brownies using Club House's all natural, gluten-free, Kosher-certified potato starch. You can also use the potato starch in sauces, gravies, soups, breads, puddings and cakes. Potato starch mixes well in cold water, cooks quickly and smoothly and turns transparent after heating. For thickening, use one teaspoon potato starch for every tablespoon of wheat flour.
I adapted the gluten-free brownie recipe on the packaging to be vegan by using margarine and replacing the eggs with egg replacer powder. On the spectrum of fudgey to cake-like, these brownies are solidly in the fudgey category. Right where I like them! They have a little bit of a crunchy layer on top, with a soft, chocolatey middle. And do not fear - there is no "gluten-free aftertaste!"
At the time I was making them, I was fasting to get blood work done later in the day. My timing could have been better. The amazingly rich, chocolate aroma filling the kitchen was tempting indeed.
Vegan Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies: The Recipe
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Keywords: bake vegan gluten-free
Ingredients (16 2-inch brownies)
- 2 squares (2 oz/60 g) unsweetened chocolate
- 1/3 cup vegan margarine
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp egg replacer powder mixed with 4 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp Club House pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Club House potato starch
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
In a medium saucepan, melt margarine and chocolate squares over low heat. Remove from heat; stir in sugar and let stand 5 minutes.
Beat in egg replacer mixture and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
In a medium bowl, stir together potato starch, baking powder, salt and nuts. Add to chocolate mixture and mix until smooth.
Pour into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips if desired.
Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool, then chill. Cut into squares. Store in refrigerator.
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Vegan Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies
Next up on my baking list was shortbread cookies using Club House's gluten-free rice flour. All natural and Kosher-certified, this rice flour is excellent for thickening sauces, gravies and cream pies. It heats well and doesn't tend to separate. It can be used to prevent the separation of frozen gravies and sauces when they are reheated. As a thickener, use two teaspoons rice flour for each tablespoon of wheat flour called for in the recipe.
Once again, I "veganized" the gluten-free recipe on the package by simply using vegan margarine instead of butter. Shortbread is one of those things you have to be prepared to work on a little bit. The dough can be crumbly. But this recipe doesn't make a huge amount, so I found it very manageable. I used rather large cookie cutters, which resulted in eight precious cookies. They later became six precious cookies when I dropped two off the cookie sheet while placing it in the fridge prior to baking!
I sprinkled extra sugar on top of the cookies before baking for added sweetness. These shortbread cookies are lovely served with a cup of tea. As with the brownies, there is no "gluten-free aftertaste."
Vegan Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies: The Recipe
Cook Time: 14 to 16 minutes
Keywords: bake vegan gluten-free cookie
Ingredients (20 2-inch cookies)
- 1 cup Club House rice flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/2 cup margarine, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp Club House pure vanilla extract
- more sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together rice flour and xanthan gum in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, cream together margarine and sugar until light and fluffy using a spatula or wooden spoon. Mix in vanilla. Stir in Flour mixture and knead lightly with your hands until dough is smooth.
Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Pat with your hands if needed.
Cut with cookie cutters, placing cookies on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle some sugar on top of each cookie if desired. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until slightly golden. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack. Let cool thoroughly before storing in tins.
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More Gluten-Free Holiday Recipes
Find more inspiring, gluten-free holiday recipes, like Glazed Carrots and Tomato Zucchini Saute at ClubHouse.ca. Club House also has gluten-free gravy mixes to help make your holiday cooking easier - and who doesn't want that?
Will you have gluten-free options on the menu this Thanksgiving?
*This post is sponsored by Club House. All opinions are my own.
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