Pumpkin GF Brownies? You Bet!

We were lucky last week and had a visit from Bigg Sis and her crew.  They were headed north, so we crammed as much fun and visiting as we could into 36 hours and it was absolutely splendid!  So fun to be together, to cook together, and to celebrate our mother’s birthday together.  We all met at a lake nearby for a day of fun in the mostly sun.

The question of celebrating a birthday in a state park presents a quandary for the cook.  Mom is not a huge dessert fan, truth be told, and the tippiness of a cake while carting around beach gear and picnic lunches, towels and goggles for two developing swimmers was a little more than I could imagine carrying off well.  So I turned to the natural picnic choice for dessert (at least for my family), brownies.

I remembered a recipe from my pal Sarah, a brownie recipe that delighted my crew and made my tummy happy, happy, happy.  I knew it wouldn’t do for the gluten free members of our extended family, though, so it came time to tweak and do the usual “what I’ve actually got in my pantry” tango with the recipe. And here’s the final fabulous results.  We liked them so well we’ve made a second batch today.

Super Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies (GF,V) adapted from Sarah’s awesome Sweet Potato Fudgy Brownies

  • 1/4 c coconut oil, meltedIMG_9607
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 c rolled oats, blitzed in food processor or blender until flour-like
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 c coconut sugar (or more if you are used to sweeter treats)
  • 2/3 c canned pumpkin (Sarah used sweet potato puree and it’s stellar – I just wanted to try with what I had)
  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbs flax meal with 3 T water) or whatever kind of egg works for your tribe
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • a couple of handfuls of pecans and chocolate chips (because really, shouldn’t you?)

IMG_9588Set oven to 350.  Oil a square pan. Combine coconut oil and cocoa in large bowl. If you live where I live, you needn’t melt the coconut oil.  Northerly climes or those in winter, melt first. Stir until smooth.  Combine dry ingredients (except sugar) in small bowl. In yet another bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, flax egg, and vanilla and whisk until the sugar is not so granular. Add chocolate/oil combo.  Stir to combine. Add dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Add nuts/chips/whatever floats your brownie boat.  Give one last stir and transfer (you will not be pouring) into waiting pan.

IMG_9598Bake for 25 minutes (or so), until the top is dry, maybe even has a crack or two and it feels firm to the touch.  If you like em drier, leave em in longer. Let cool in the pan for a bit, sneak some crispy edges while nobody’s looking.  Delish. Super chocolate.  Super yum.

Walnut Crust Apple Pie – GF, DF

Although my whole wheat crusts were never beautiful to look at, they were tasty and I always loved the heartier texture of a whole wheat crust.  My husband requests an apple pie in lieu of cake for his birthday every year, and I was always happy to oblige.

Now that he has been told by his doctor to do away with gluten for awhile to address some health problems (although he is not celiac), what I am supposed to make for the poor man on his birthday?  I know – it’s all about me isn’t it?  😉

I have tried a number of gluten free crusts, but as with most gluten free baking, (IMHO), the inclusion of white flours and starches such as potato starch and tapioca flour run afoul of my desire to use whole grains whenever possible, and since they don’t taste very good anyway, I’ve not stuck been very persistent in my search for a solution.

Enter the walnut crust.  Yes, the humble, nutritious, crumbly, bumbly walnut.  I had a friend who used to call me walnut – so I’m allowed to humbly call them crumbly and bumbly. Continue reading

Concession Sweets

As many of you know, my twins started kindergarten this fall….. gack.  There’s an awful lot swirling around in my head about THAT very fact and rather than sit here and take it in, there’s a whole new world of work and school logistics to get to know.  We’re all feeling, while still reasonably enthusiastic, a little tired and beat up around here.  The kids are especially tired in part because their school day is so much longer than anything they’ve done before, and in part because the paltry amount of time they are given to consume lunch is not working out too well for ravenous boy and chatty girl.  Lunchboxes are coming home with a dent at best.  They do, of course, always manage to extract the small sweet that I’ve been including to cheer them up at the time that they say they miss me the most (awww, yes, it breaks my heart a little).  Because of these developments, after having a talk about the fact that veggies need to be eaten before sweets just like at home, I’ve doubled down on my efforts to find and make sweet bits that are much less…. well everything.  The delightful thing about severely restricting sweets is that your kids get a lot less picky about them and so this is one category of food where everyone, even my daughter, is consistently rapturous about my efforts, and let’s face it, that’s pretty good for the chef. 🙂

This week’s little sweetie scored 100% approval and was just about as easy a cookie as I’ve ever baked.  Why is it better than other cookies?  Less sugar, less fat, and I used buckwheat rather than regular flour (read about the benefits of buckwheat here) and so have a whole slew of health benefits over your average chocolate chipper.  Yes, that’s right, once again I will breach into the realm of the sacred and dismember a classic flavor expectation with a healthier chocolate chip cookie.  Nearly blasphemous.

We Heart Buckwheat Chippers inspired by Jordan’s Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 c buckwheat flour
  • 1.5 t baking soda
  • .5 t salt
  • 1/3 c canola oil (or whatever kind you like)
  • 1/3 c applesauce
  • 2/3 c maple syrup
  • 1 t vanilla
  • heaping .5 c semi-sweet chocolate chips ( I used minis to ensure choc in each bite and because, let’s face it, they’re cute)
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in smaller bowl.  Add wet to dry and stir.  The dough will be wetter and easier to mix than traditional chocolate chip cookie dough.  Don’t be alarmed.  The dough will also be considerably darker than you might expect.  Again, it will all be okay.  Add chips and nuts (and whatever else your tribe prefers in such things) and stir gently to distribute.  Plop onto parchment or greased baking sheets.  I confess to using an official cookie dough scoop for such things (my Christmas baking requirements justified this little gem), but use whatever method you usually use with drop cookies.  After filling the tray (I got 12-15 per tray), squash the tops a little as they will not spread the way higher fat cookies do.  Bake for 6-9 minutes.  Mine took 9, but my oven is wacky.  Judge doneness by touching the cookie gently.  When it feels like a cookie and not a squishy ball, they’re done.  Allow to cool on the pan briefly for cleaner liftoff.  Cool completely on wire rack, or I should say after you’ve eaten some while they’re warm because you simply must eat some while they’re warm, cool the rest on a wire rack.  Delish.