Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Easy Eggless Fruitcake Slice and Bake Shortbread Cookies - with Gluten-Free and Vegan option

Christmas baking will never be the same in my household.  Now that I have food allergies/sensitivities, I include gluten-free and vegan baking into my repertoire.  So far, I have had very good luck choosing recipes to try. 

Here is the gluten-free and vegan version of a classic:  slice and bake shortbread cookies.  I came across this recipe for Eggless Tutti Fruitti CookiesI didn't have "Tutti Fruitti" mix but it's the same as chopped glace fruit used in fruitcakes.  I even added yellow and dark raisins into the mix.  For those that are not keen on glace fruit, you can use dried chopped fruit such as raisins, apricots, dried cranberries, dried cherries or dates.  The possibilities are endless!  

Eggs are an important binder used in gluten-free baking but alas, there are people who cannot use eggs.  Since this recipe is already eggless, I know that the dough would hold.  

The replacements used in gluten-free and vegan baking differ with respect to mouthfeel, texture, taste and presentation.  It is a precious treat for those who can enjoy something equivalent to a classic recipe.   

My tip for gluten-free and vegan baking:  replace the wheat flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour in vegan recipes.  The recipes are already egg-less and dairy-free!  I simply peruse the vast number of vegan (dairy-free and egg-free) recipes and replace the wheat flour with an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.  

I am in the middle of experimenting with a box of King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour Mix.  I bought in on sale during my trip to Hawaii.  Basically, it is a mix of white and brown rice flours with tapioca and potato starch.  You can easily find recipes online to mix your own favourite gluten-free flour. It doesn't have a I like Sarah's Gluten-Free Flour Blend recipe

After freezing the dough logs overnight (optional), the dough was a little crumbly when I sliced it for baking.  Luckily, I was still able to press the dough together into each cookie with success!  Next time, I may add a bit of vanilla and almond extract, as my classic fruitcake recipe has amaretto in it.  In addition, I have made this recipe with all-purpose wheat flour and butter with no complaints.  

Easy Eggless Fruitcake Slice and Bake Shortbread Cookies - Gluten-Free & Vegan option
makes about 2 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour, gluten-free* or wheat
*1/4 tsp xanthan gum if your gluten-free flour blend does not have a stabilizer/binder
1/3 cup softened butter or vegan butter/margarine 
1/2 cup icing/powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup Deluxe holiday mix, glace red & green cherries or a mixture of your favourite dried fruit bits (e.g. yellow/dark raisins, apricot, prunes, dried dates, dried cherries or dried cranberries)  
1 to 2 Tbsp water or milk (Use only as needed.  I used water.  For gluten-free flour, I only needed a splash to get the dough to bind.  For all-purpose flour, I needed the full 2Tbsp water) 

Beat softened butter with icing/powdered sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour and fruit mix.

Add enough milk/water to form a soft dough.  Shape into log,  wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper and freeze for 40 minutes to firm up.  (I have found that freezing the dough is not necessary, but if your dough is very soft, freezing it would help make the dough easier to slice.)

Slice logs into about 1/4" thick slices.  If the dough crumbles, press the dough into each cookie.  Bake about 10-12 minutes in preheated oven 350F.  

- Adapted from Sharmis Passion's:  Eggless Fruit Cookies/Tutti Fruitti Cookies

Fruitcake cookies made with Deluxe Holiday Mix, all-purpose wheat flour and butter.  
I am pretty amazed how versatile and forgiving this recipe is with the substitutions made!  I have a few days left before Christmas to get things in order.  I'm trying not to stress.  I just do my best and trust that somehow everything will fall into place. 

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reduced Sugar Cranberry Butter Tart Squares

It has been so long since my last post!  I was extremely busy in October and November and didn't have time to blog.  Also, we just got back from my brother's dream beach wedding in Hawaii last week.  Trying to adjust from Honolulu's +30C to 100 Mile House's -30C weather was quite a shock now that we are back home!  

Luckily, it's -2C and I'm finally starting to get into the Christmas baking season!

With a few basic ingredients, I wanted to make something fast, easy and buttery but not too sweet.   The cranberry butter tart squares were inspired by this reduced sugar butter tart squares recipe.  Butter tart squares are a great addition to any Christmas cookie platter.  

I used dried cranberries when I didn't have enough raisins.  Hubby said that they were the best butter tart squares I have ever made!  The tanginess of the dried cranberries made the squares less sweet.  Substituting with alternate ingredients can create something even better!  

This recipe has eggs, butter and gluten.  I plan to create a gluten-free and vegan equivalent of this recipe later on so I can eat them too!  

Reduced Sugar Cranberry Butter Tart Squares
makes 1- 9"x13" pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
cup butter

1/4 cup butter, melted
4 eggs,  lightly beaten
2 cups light brown sugar (I used only 1 1/4 cup!)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 pinches salt
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries (instead of 2 cups raisins)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I omitted)
optional:  powdered/icing/confectioner's sugar

In bowl, combine flour with sugar; with pastry blender, cut in butter until crumbly. Press into 9x13-inch pan; bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 15 minutes.

Topping: In bowl, mix together butter and eggs; blend in sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla and salt. Stir in raisins and pecans; pour over base.

Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Let cool on rack. (Make-ahead: Wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days or overwrap in heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.) Cut into squares.

Optional:  dust with powdered icing sugar right before serving for prettier presentation. 

- Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine: July 2009


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