Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lower-Fat Chocolate Chip Vanilla Blondies

I am a die-hard brownie fan. You can ask my cousin Erin how safe a pan of brownies is if I'm within a 50-foot radius of it. (The answer is: not safe. Not safe at all.)

But there is something about vanilla that I adore as well, and the allure of these blondies is pretty much on par with that of a pan full of straight chocolate. These are essentially like chocolate chip cookie bars, just bursting a bit more at the seams with vanilla flavor.  I substituted applesauce for some of the fat (although these are not even close to being fat-free) and the results were pretty excellent - still a moist crumb, but it held together very nicely and didn't fall apart.  These are a great treat for "mixed company" (that is, gluten-eating and gluten-free folks alike) -- if they even make it out of your kitchen.

Lower-Fat Chocolate Chip Vanilla Blondies (Adapted from the Allergen-free Baker's Handbook)
Makes one 9x13 pan

4 tbsp. Spectrum Shortening
4 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
4 tbsp. applesauce
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (or more!) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Cream the shortening, butter, and applesauce together with an electric mixer.  Add in the sugar and continue to cream until well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and mix in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Add 1/3 at a time to the wet ingredients using the electric mixer.

Stir in the chocolate chips and then spread evenly into the pan. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes or just until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean. If anything, you want to underbake these instead of leaving them in for too long, so definitely keep an eye on them after 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Cut into pieces and either serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days on the counter.  If you are storing them for longer, keep refrigerated or frozen until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chai Latte Cashew Cookies for the Ratio Rally

Cookies are woven into our culture. Images of chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven at grandma's house. The classic Tollhouse recipe. The cookie jar. The cookie monster. Girl Scouts sell them. Web browsers have them. They're everywhere, when you think about it.

And with good reason.  Friends, it's because cookies rock.  And that's why I'm so excited that this month's Ratio Rally recipe is for cookies! This is what you've been waiting for. For years, you've been tethered to your classic Tollhouse recipe. But now - now you can create delicious, chewy, buttery cookies (and as many or as few as you want) using a simple ratio.

I thought long and hard about what kind of cookie I wanted to create. There are such endless possibilities. Should I go classic chocolate chip? German hazelnut jam thumbprint? Peanut butter with chocolate? Pumpkin? Sugar? My mind was spinning (and my stomach was growling).

Then I noticed a forgotten little package of cardamom in my spice cabinet that I had never gotten around to using before. And I knew what I was going to make.

Chai Lattes. In cookie form.

There are a few different possible ratios for cookies. I originally tried the 1-2-3 ratio, but those ended up being cakier than I preferred. So I went for a ratio closer to the 1-1-1 ratio (1 part each of butter, sugar, and flour) and they came out much more like traditional cookies. Buttery, soft, and with a nice texture. And delicious. These really did taste like little chai lattes - I brought them into work and they got great reviews! And cookies are a piece of cake (ha) to throw together, so they'll be making your house smell wonderful before you know it.

Many thanks to Caroline of The G Spot Revolution for hosting this month's Ratio Rally for cookies!  See below my recipe for a list of all the other fantastic cookie ideas the other Ratio Rally members came up with.

And get ready for a chai latte - just not the kind you're used to.

Chai Latte Cashew Cookies
Makes 24 - 36 cookies

1.5 oz butter
1 oz brown sugar
1 oz white sugar
1/2 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
.75 oz brown rice flour
.75 oz sorghum flour
.5 oz potato starch
1/8 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped cashews

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla and beat together. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix together. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until combined. Add the chopped cashews.

Drop by teaspoonful onto the lined cookie sheet (no greasing necessary). Bake for 7-9 minutes, or just until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and leave on hot cookie sheet for another 2 -4 minutes or until firm enough to move to a cooling rack. When completely cooled, remove to an airtight container.

Take a look at the fabulous recipes the other Ratio Rally folks came up with!

Amanda | Gluten Free Maui | Simple Shortbread
Amie Valpone | The Healthy Apple | Grapefruit Sugar Cookies
Brooke | B & the boy! | Candy Cane Shortbread
Caleigh | Gluten Free[k] | Mulled Spice Cookies
Caneel | Mama Me Gluten Free | Cardamom Date Cookies
charissa | zest bakery | Coconut Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Caroline | The G-Spot | Double Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies
Erin | The Sensitive Epicure | Spritz Cookies with Jam
gretchen | kumquat | Classic Sugar Cookies
Irvin | Eat the Love | Apple Brown Butter Bay Leaf Spice Cookies
Jean | Gluten Free Doctor Recipes | Reindeer Cookies
Jenn | Jenn Cuisine | Basler Brunsli
Jonathan| The Canary Files | Vegan Salted Oatmeal Cherry Cookies
Karen | Cooking Gluten Free! | Mexican Wedding Cakes
Lisa from Gluten Free Canteen | Molasses Rum Raisin Cookies
Mary Fran | frannycakes | Pinwheel Cookies
Meaghan | The Wicked Good Vegan | Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Meredith | Gluten Free Betty | Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Morri | Meals With Morri| Stevia Sweetened & Grain-Free Thumbprint Cookies with Apricot Preserves
Pete & Kelli | No Gluten, No Problem| Belgian Speculaas Cookies
Rachel | The Crispy Cook | Melomakarona
Silvana Nardone | Silvana's Kitchen | Old-School Italian Jam-Filled Hazelnut Cookies
T.R. | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | Cinnamon Lemon Cookies
Tara | A Baking Life | Walnut Shortbread