Cook’s Corner: The Perfect Desserts

Cookie recipes for any social occasion

Last month we featured a multitude of recipes that are great for your holiday parties. This month, we wanted to give you some great dessert options for any festivity you run into! Because desserts are abundant and basically unavoidable, you’ll want to perhaps prepare and bring your own desserts that are healthier than the standard fare and just as enjoyable. Try the pumpkin bread if you want to go gluten-free or perhaps the sleigh track cookies if you have a sweet tooth.

Don’t forget, you can find other great seasonal recipes at naturalsolutionsmag.com under the tab Food+Recipes. If you have a recipe you’d like to share with us, please send the recipe and an image over to editor@naturalsolutionsmag.com. If we choose your recipe, you will receive a $25 Whole Foods gift card.

 

Sugar Cookies

MAKES: 40 COOKIES

1 cup nondairy solid shortening (preferably Earth Balance)

1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 egg

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 medium or large lemon

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour or flour of choice with xanthan gum in the mix

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 18x13- inch half sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Alternatively, use a medium bowl and a handheld mixer. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until light and lemon colored. Add the lemon juice and the vanilla extract and beat to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture in three batches, beating after each addition until smooth. If using a handheld mixer, you may need to scrape down the beaters and use a large spoon for the last batch, as the dough will be thick. Add the lemon zest and, using a silicone spatula, stir to mix evenly. Let the dough rest for five minutes. Drop by rounded tablespoons, or with a leveled 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, two inches apart on the prepared pans. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on the top of each cookie. The cookies will be mounded but will flatten slightly as they bake. Bake one pan at a time for 16 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown and cooked through. Remove the pan from the oven. Let the cookies rest on the pan for two minutes. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container with waxed paper or parchment paper between the layers for up to five days, or freeze in small batches with waxed paper or parchment paper between the layers for up to 30 days. Source: Cooking for Your Gluten- Free Teen by Carlyn Berghoff, Sarah Berghoff McClure, Dr. Suzanne P. Nelson, and Nancy Ross Ryan

 

Bob’s Red Mill Bakery Gingersnap Cookies

MAKES: 48 COOKIES

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups white sugar, plus some for rolling

1/2 cup molasses

2 eggs

4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

In medium bowl, cream butter, sugar, molasses, and eggs. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients; stir into butter mixture. Refrigerate for several hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out dough and shape into half-inch balls. Roll into granulated sugar. Arrange at least three inches apart on a baking sheet (they spread while baking). Bake for five to eight minutes. (Baking less time will give you a chewy cookie; baking more will make them crisp.) Cool on wire racks. If desired, sprinkle with more granulated sugar. Source: bobsredmill.com

 

Sleigh Track Cookies

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups Domata Recipe Ready Flour

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (5 to 6 ounce package) dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped

1 (8 ounce) bag milk chocolate toffee bits

DRIZZLE:

2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet or bittersweet baking chocolate, melted

1 1/2 ounce (about 1 block) vanilla-flavored candy coating (almond bark), melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar in large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg and almond extract; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Beat until well mixed. Stir in cherries and milk chocolate toffee bits. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool five minutes on cookie sheets; remove to wire cooling rack. Cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate and candy coating. Source: domataflour.wordpress.com

 

Peanut-Free Chocolate SoyNut Butter Bars

2 tablespoons margarine, melted

3/4 cup I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup crushed graham crackers

2 - 4 tablespoons apple juice

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Combine margarine and I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter in food processor. Add sugar and graham crackers, drizzling in enough apple juice (one tablespoon at a time) to make the dough stick together, but not enough to make it wet. Press dough into an 8x8 saucepan. Chill for 20 minutes. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave. Pour and spread over dough. Chill for 20 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy! Source: soynutbutter.com

 

Pumpkin Bread With Crumble Nut Topping

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/3 cups Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

TOPPING (OPTIONAL):

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup nuts (sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans)

Beat together butter, sugar, egg, and pumpkin. Add remaining bread ingredients and mix together. Pour into a greased loaf pan (8x4). Mix nut topping ingredients and smooth evenly over batter to the edges. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or when toothpick inserted comes out almost clean. Source: pamelasproducts.com

 

Smores Truffles

MAKES: 16 TRUFFLES

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) Enjoy Life Foods Mini Chocolate Chips

¼ cup Spectrum butter flavored shortening

¼ cup water

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

6 Enjoy Life Foods Vanilla Honey Graham Cookies, crushed

Place the chocolate chips, shortening, and water in a medium glass bowl. Set bowl over a pot with simmering water and gently stir until melted. Pour into a glass 8x8 baking dish and let cool about 30 minutes on the counter. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. Lay a piece of parchment on the counter. Remove chilled chocolate mixture from refrigerator. Using a small ball scooper, scoop approximately 16 balls of the chocolate, placing it on the parchment paper. One by one, roll gently between your hands to form a ball, and continue until all the chocolate has been rolled. Coat half the rolled truffles in the graham cracker crumbs, and the other half in the cocoa. Refrigerate until serving. Source: Enjoy Life Foods’ chef/owner of Drizzle Kitchen, Kendra Peterson

 

Heath Bar Cookies

2 ¼ cups (9 ounces) Better Batter Gluten-Free Flour

¼ cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

12 ounces Heath bar pieces, very finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put all ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on high until uniform. Alternately mix by hand until smooth. Chill for about an hour, then roll into balls the size of a walnut—about 1½ inches. Place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, then transfer on the paper to a rack and let cool completely. Peel from paper and serve. Source: Naomi Poe, betterbatter.org

 

Pecan Praline Candy

1 cup pecan halves

1/3 cup Eden Organic Barley Malt Syrup

1/8 teaspoon Eden Shoyu Soy Sauce

Lightly oil a platter or cookie sheet with a few drops of Eden Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In a small skillet, roast the pecan halves, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add the barley malt and shoyu to the skillet. On medium heat, simmer the pecans and malt for five minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will bubble as it reaches the “candy” stage. A candy thermometer can be used or test by dropping a small strand of heated malt into a glass of cold water. When the drop immediately hardens, the candy is ready. Quickly drop candy, about five pecans per piece, onto the platter or cookie sheet. Allow to cool 30 minutes before serving. Source: Eden Foods

 

Almond Butter Cookies

MAKES: 36 COOKIES

Cooking spray

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, or regular whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup smooth, unsalted almond butter

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

36 raw whole almonds (a heaping 1/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. In a large bowl whisk together the flours, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, almond butter, and sugars until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, bending well. Shape the dough into 3/4-inch balls, and place on the baking sheets. Place an almond in center of each cookie and press down lightly. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Source: The Almond Board of California