It’s that time of year when crazy holiday baking ensues. I have friends all over the country posting photos on how they set up to wage the battle of flour and sugar. Having worked in professional kitchens during the holidays, I haven’t been able to give in to this frenzy in the past. This blog is decidedly void of any posts that tell you how to measure, mix, and wrap up sugary treats for friends and family. I could, however, explain to you how to make stuffing for five hundred hungry holiday partiers.
This is my first holiday season in years that I’m not chained to a restaurant stove and oven pumping out stuffing, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry dishes. The last several years were spent in high end restaurants making the plates pretty and food that was ridiculously rich and creamy. I’m not spending three days slicing, dicing, trimming and sprucing (you haven’t lived until you face five pounds of herbs de provence that need mincing. That means this year I have more luxury time. Thoughts turn to how to create gluten free AND vegan baked goods – a skill I have yet to conquer.
Yes, yes I know. Others have achieved this simple feat. I have no excuse. I’ve read the recipes, I know the substitutes. I certainly know the process. As a chef it’s a downright shame that I haven’t yet mastered this method of cooking.
I grew up baking through the holidays. Between my grandmother and aunts, I didn’t really have a choice. I spent time in the kitchens mixing and mashing, patting out pie crusts, and. usually to my mother’s horror, covered head-to-toe in flour. My Aunt Mary Alice always made batches of rich, crunchy peanut brittle. It was a thing she did. I waited expectantly every year for that beautifully wrapped box with her card on it. I could hardly stand the wait for a taste of this confectionery. One year I even got to help her make it. That was big. She didn’t usually let us in the kitchen to help make this special treat.
As a chef who has converted to vegan and gluten free cooking I have managed to perfect one or two baked goods. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin cake. I don’t know why everything seems easier with pumpkin, but it does. I love the plucky puree. I cooked some off a few weeks ago. It’s chilling in the freezer ready to be used over the next several months. And, as I’ve done in the past, this year I am making several batches of these cookies that the spouse loves to devour.
I’m hoping to branch out and try other recipes and methods to make more treats. As I journey along this baking path, I’ll share what I learn. I will admit to “cheating.” I’ll be reading recipes, borrowing, and tweaking until I put that Kitchen Shaman magic on what I make. I will be posting photos. So keep an eye on both Instagram and Facebook for the different stages of my baking experiences. And enjoy all the treats of this Season.
- ½ cup Earth Balance margarine
- 1/3 cup sugar-vegan (any evaporative cane sugar works)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (I use Florida Crystals, they are evaporative cane sugar)
- 2 flax “eggs” (see the notes below)
- 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup gluten free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- ½ cup (or more) chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a stand mixer or food processor beat the margarine and sugar until creamy. Add in the pumpkin spice, vanilla, and flax “eggs.”
- Combine all the dry ingredients: xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, and gluten free flour.
- Mix the wet with the dry.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Drop onto a cookie sheet using a tablespoon. Flatten each cookie with the back side of the spoon.
- Bake 18 minutes, or until lightly brown. This cookie will be pretty soft. The outside will have slight crunch.
- Serve with your choice of milk or chai spiced tea.
- Flax "eggs" are an egg substitute made from flax. 1 tablespoon flax equals one egg.
- How to make a flax "egg": Combine 1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons water, let sit for 10 minutes. The flax will turn gelatinous. Incorporate it into your baked goods just like you would eggs.