FeaturesFeb/Mar 2009 Issue

How Sweet It Is!

Satisfy your chocolate cravings with these gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally sweetened treats

Paulette Philipot Photography

Here’s a collection of chocolaty treats with plenty of taste but no refined white sugar. The secret? They’re sweetened with all-natural maple syrup or honey.

These desserts also contain fruit and vegetables that provide texture, moisture and nutrients. Family and friends will never suspect the sweets they’re eating are allergy friendly. Nothing says "Celebrate!" like dessert, and no food represents romance like chocolate. Top off a special dinner party—or a quiet dinner for two—with one of these delicious confections.


Chocolate Zucchini Cake

MAKES ONE 9-INCH CAKE

Grated zucchini adds moisture and nutrients to this flavorful cake. It can be made with an egg substitute with good results. Top cake with chocolate frosting.

½ cup white rice flour
¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 pinch ground cloves, optional
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs*
½ cup honey
⅓ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening or coconut oil
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup milk of choice (vanilla-flavored rice, soy or almond) or fruit juice
1½ cups (5.3 ounces) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
Grated zest of 1 orange or 1 teaspoon dried orange zest
1¼ cups grated zucchini

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch cake pan.

2. Combine flours, tapioca starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Add eggs, honey, shortening and vanilla. Blend well. Set aside.

4. In a medium saucepan, heat milk to just under a boil. Pour it over chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.

5. Add chocolate and egg mixture to flour mixture. Add orange zest and stir well to form a smooth batter. Stir in grated zucchini.

6. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

7. Allow cake to cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. Turn cake onto a large plate and frost.

*TIP Can’t eat eggs? Mix 2½ tablespoons ground flaxseed with ½ cup warm apple juice or white grape juice. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes until thickened. Proceed with recipe.

Each serving contains 457 calories, 22g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 65g carbohydrate, 323mg sodium, 4g fiber, 6g protein.

Chocolate Frosting

ALMOST 2 CUPS

This simple recipe makes a delicious topping for cakes, brownies and cupcakes. For a sweeter frosting, use the honey. Refrigerate unused frosting in a covered container and use within three weeks.

¾ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable
    shortening
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a bowl with an electric mixer. Blend until smooth and creamy.

2. Spread over cooled cake or brownies, covering the top and sides.

Each serving contains 153 calories, 10g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 16g carbohydrate, 39mg sodium, 2g fiber, 1g protein.

Poached Pears with Raisins and Dried Apricots

SERVES 12

Serve these pears warm and unadorned or drizzle them with Karly’s Chocolate Sauce. Refrigerate leftovers and use within four days.

⅓ cup dried apricots*
⅓ cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅓ teaspoon dried ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
6 medium pears
zest of ½ orange or tangerine, coarsely
    grated, optional
1¼ cups water, divided
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder/ starch

1. Cut apricots into ½-inch pieces. Combine with raisins and spices in a 4-quart pot or shallow sauté pan.

2. Wash and peel pears. Cut each in half and core. Arrange halves, cut side down, over dried fruit. Add citrus zest, if desired, and 1 cup of water. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat without stirring. Reduce heat and simmer until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Dissolve arrowroot in ¼ cup cold water. Set aside.

4. With a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a platter, leaving dried fruit and juice in the pan. Add arrowroot mixture to the pan. Simmer and stir over medium-high heat until sauce thickens.

5. Spoon sauce over pears. Serve warm.

*TIP Turkish dried apricots, available in natural food stores and specialty markets, are sweetest. If you use conventional dried apricots, increase the amount of dried fruit to ½ cup each or replace the water with fruit juice.

Each pear half contains 77 calories, 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 21g carbohydrate, 2 mg sodium, 3g fiber, 1g protein.

Variation

For Poached Pears with Dried Cherries, replace all spices with 1½ teaspoons cinnamon. Replace dried apricots and raisins with ⅔ to 1 cup dried, unsweetened Bing cherries.


Dark Chocolate-Dipped Date Truffles

MAKES 24 TO 36

Dates stand in for dairy and sugar in these truffle-like treats. Create an assortment by rolling truffles in a variety of seeds or nuts, if tolerated. For a festive look, place them in colorful papers before plating.

4 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate,
    coarsely chopped
⅔ cup dry-roasted, unsalted, shelled pumpkin
    seeds, powdered
⅔ cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut or add additional pumpkin seeds
1 pound gluten-free coconut date rolls*

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Melt chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat.

3. Arrange coconut and powdered pumpkin seeds in separate small bowls.

4. Cut date rolls in half. Roll each half into a ball.

5. Add 4 to 6 date balls to the melted chocolate. Using 2 spoons, turn the pieces in the chocolate one at a time to coat.

6. Transfer a chocolate-coated date ball to the bowl of coconut or pumpkin seed meal. Using 2 clean spoons, scoop coconut or seed meal over the ball, turning to coat. Place truffle on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining date pieces.

7. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. Transfer truffles to airtight containers and keep in the refrigerator or freezer.

*TIP Coconut date rolls are available at natural food stores or online. Read labels to ensure they're gluten free. To make your own, pulverize soft pitted dates in a food processor, adding warm water a tablespoon at a time to create a stiff cookie dough texture. Stir in ½ cup unsweetened coconut per half pound of pitted dates, if desired. Form into 1-ounce cylinders.

Each truffle contains 90 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 11g carbohydrate, 10mg sodium, 2g fiber, 2g protein.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding Parfait

SERVES 6 TO 8

This layered dairy-free pudding makes an impressive dessert or snack. For a sweeter taste, use baked winter squash instead of canned pumpkin.

2 tablespoons water, divided
4½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
    (two 7-gram envelopes)
2¼ cups milk of choice (rice, almond,
    unsweetened coconut milk), divided
2 cups canned pumpkin or baked, mashed
    winter squash
½ cup honey + 1-2 tablespoons, as
    desired
2 teaspoons pie spice*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
3 ounces semisweet chocolate,
    coarsely chopped

1. Place 1 tablespoon water each into two medium bowls. Slowly sprinkle 2¼ teaspoons gelatin (1 envelope) into each bowl, stirring to combine. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes to soften and thicken.

2. Bring 1 cup milk just to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour ½ cup milk into each bowl of gelatin and whisk to dissolve.

3. In a blender, combine remaining 1¼ cups milk, pumpkin, honey, pie spice, vanilla and salt. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape sides with a spatula. For a sweeter taste, add additional 1 to 2 tablespoons honey.

4. Divide pumpkin mixture in half. Mix each into bowl of dissolved gelatin, stirring well to combine. Set aside.

5. Melt chocolate in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring periodically. Add to one bowl of pumpkin purée, stirring to combine. Set aside.

6. Spread half the plain puree into the bottom of 6 to 8 individual parfait or wine glasses (or into the bottom of a 1½-quart bowl). Refrigerate, reserving remaining purée at room temperature.

7. When bottom layer begins to firm (½ to 1 hour in the refrigerator), spoon chocolate purée mixture over plain pumpkin layer. Refrigerate for another 30 to 60 minutes until fairly firm. Top with remaining pumpkin purée. Return glasses or bowl to refrigerator. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

*TIP No pie spice? Use ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon dried orange zest and ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves.

Each serving contains 187 calories, 4g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 37g carbohydrate, 102mg sodium, 3g fiber, 3g protein.

 

Chocolate-Dipped Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Macaroons

MAKES 30 to 32 MACAROONS

These egg-free macaroons are sweetened without sugar. They're quick and easy to make--and they're delicious! Drizzled with dark chocolate, they're a special romantic treat for Valentine's Day. For flavor variation, replace the vanilla extract with 1¼ teaspoons orange extract for Coconut Orange Macaroons.

1 cup unsweetenened coconut milk (not lite)
⅓ cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup potato starch
3 cups unsweetened medium or finely shredded coconut*
4 ounces semisweet chocolate**, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease a large cookie sheet and line with parchment.

2. In a medium bowl, blend coconut milk, honey and vanilla until well combined.

3. Add potato starch a little at a time, beating to combine. Fold in the coconut.

4. Drop batter by level tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet at least ½ inch apart. Using your fingers or the back of two soup spoons, press each mound of batter upward into a cone-like shape.

5. Bake in preheated oven on center rack until firm and lightly golden, about 20 to 24 minutes. Remove macaroons from cookie sheet by slipping a thin metal spatula under the edge of each cookie and carefully sawing back and forth. Refrigerate macaroons until very firm.

6. Melt chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat. Remove from heat. One at a time, spoon chocolate over the top of each macaroon. Place each chocolate-coated macaroon on a parchment-lined tray. Repeat with remaining macaroons. Refrigerate until set.

7. When cool, layer macaroons on parchment paper in a tightly covered container. Store in refrigerator until eaten.

Each macaroon contains 80 calories, 4g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 10g carbohydrate, 21mg sodium, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

*TIP Look for sulfite-free unsweetened flaked coconut in natural food stores or online. If you purchase coconut flakes, shred them by pulsing them in a food processor to a medium powder. Fluff with a fork and measure out what you need.

**TIP Allergy-friendly chocolate chips are available from Enjoy Life Foods.

Recipe by Rachel Albert-Matesz.


Double-Chocolate Brownies

MAKES 16 BROWNIES

These flavorful brownies are delicious on their own or topped with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or dairy-free frozen dessert.

½ cup packed soft, pitted dates
Warm water
⅓ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable
    shortening, like Spectrum, or virgin-
    pressed coconut oil
3 ounces semisweet chocolate,
    coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon instant coffee flakes or espresso powder, optional
⅓ cup honey
⅓ cup sweet brown rice flour or sorghum flour or combination
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or potato starch
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Place dates in a bowl. Add warm water to cover dates by an inch. Let soak for 2 hours. Drain dates and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8-inch springform pan, an 8-inch square pan or a 9-inch round pan. Line with oiled parchment paper, if desired.

3. Combine vegetable shortening or coconut oil, chocolate and optional coffee flakes in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir occasionally with a whisk until smooth. When almost melted, add honey. Stir and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, arrowroot, cocoa powder, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt until well combined.

5. Combine dates, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor, processing until smooth and creamy. Add melted chocolate mixture and blend.

6. Add dry ingredients. Mix until well combined. Do not over-mix. Batter will be stiffer than conventional brownie batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth top with a damp spatula.

7. Bake in preheated oven on center rack until edges begin to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 to 24 minutes. Do not over-bake. The center may seem unset but will firm up as it cools. Place pan on a rack to cool.

8. When cool, run a knife around pan edges. Invert brownies and turn onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares. Store covered for up to a week. Top with Chocolate Frosting or Karly's Chocolate Sauce, if desired.

Each brownie contains 208 calories, 15g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 34mg cholesterol, 18g carbohydrate, 64mg sodium, 2g fiber, 2g protein.

*TIP Can’t eat eggs? Replace eggs in this recipe with ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce; increase baking powder to 2 teaspoons. Or visit Substitution Solutions.


Saucy!

Don’t hesitate to hit the sauce. Drizzle chocolate or cherry toppings over sliced fruit, ice cream or dairy-free frozen dessert.

Karly’s Chocolate Sauce

MAKES 2 CUPS

This sauce remains pourable right from the refrigerator, where it will keep for months. To thin before serving, run warm water over the container.

1 cup pure maple syrup*
⅓ - ½ cup canola oil, almond oil or avocado oil
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
⅛ - ¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract, optional

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth.

*TIP For a sweeter sauce, replace half or all the maple syrup with an equal amount of honey.

Each serving contains: 121 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 15g carbohydrate, 21mg sodium, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

Cherry Sauce

MAKES 3½ CUPS

Stir this sauce into plain yogurt or non-dairy yogurt substitute. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 4 months.

9 cups frozen sweet cherries*, thawed
¼-½ cup honey or
⅛ - ¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
¼ cup cool water
1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice

1. Combine cherries, honey and salt in a heavy 4-quart pot. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Remove lid and stir for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until fruit breaks down and mixture thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently.

2. Remove from heat. Process very carefully in small batches in food processor until mostly smooth (leave some chunks). Return mixture to pot.

3. Dissolve arrowroot in ¼ cup water. Add to cherry mixture, along with lemon juice, and blend. For a sweeter taste, add more honey.

4. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring periodically. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cool before serving.

*TIP Look for frozen cherries in supermarkets and natural food stores. You can also make this sauce using 8 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 3 pounds).

Each serving contains: 88 calories, 0g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 23g carbohydrate, 19mg sodium, 2g fiber, 1g protein.

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