Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies - finally successful

My quest for a delicious gluten-free, vegan chocolate chip cookies has been somewhat labored. I'm sure my husband, at one point, was wondering where all these ingredients were going and why I always needed more chocolate chips.

You wouldn't know it from my previous blog posts (because I'm too prideful to post my disasters to the whole world) but I have learned some umpteen different ways to make gross, flat, oily vegan, gluten-free cookies. One batch my husband asked me straight faced "Is there sand in these?" Sigh and single tear. 
A few posts ago, I made Cinnamon Quill's Vegan, Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls and they were amazing (see my earlier post) so I went back to the well to see if I could be inspired by her cookie recipe.

So I present to you the first gluten free, vegan chocolate chip cookie that I did not throw away (hehe - fellow gluten free bakers will commiserate with me on that one).

1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch    
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (or almond extract)
3/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
A few pinches of course sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add oil, maple syrup, and vanilla (or almond), mixing by hand. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts and let the cookie dough rest for about 10 minutes to allow all the flours to soak up the oil and wet ingredients (don't skip this part). Save the sea salt for after the cookies are out of the oven.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls (as a dietitian I do recommend using a smaller scoop so you can portion your cookies) onto the parchment paper. Bake for about 10 minutes–cookies will look a little gooey but they'll finish cooking while they are cooling. Let cool on sheet for about 5 minutes. This is when I top each cookie with a few granules of sea salt. I then even proceeded to put them in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then you can transfer them to a cooling rack. If you try to pick them up before they are cool they will fold over and crumble.

Store in airtight container in a cool place. We keep ours in the freezer or fridge. Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies, depending on how big you scoop your cookies.

*I recommend for people who are initially trying to reduce their gluten intake but may not necessarily be celiac or gluten intolerant to use 1/4 cup flour (unbleached, non-bromated) instead of the brown rice flour. It allows them to start practicing with gluten free flours without being too discouraged with the different texture that sometimes comes with gluten-free baked goods.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kalachandjis - Amazing Vegetarian Food in Dallas

Last Saturday Mike took me on another Saturdate (read about my other Saturdate). We've been wanting to try Kalachandjis Restaurant and Palace for some time but living in North Dallas and making the trip downtown requires a little bit of motivation. 
Clockwise from the top right: Dal soup, Mustard Greens, Cinnamon Raisin bread,
Pumpkin Curry, steamed veggies and brown rice. Tamarind tea at the top.
We made the 20+ mile drive downtown to find the streets lined with cars. We had to drive around the block a couple of times to find a spot to park. Immediately you see the palace, in the middle of a quaint neighborhood, dwarfing all the houses on the street.

We weren't quite sure where to even find the entrance but luckily a group of people were walking in before us and so we discretely followed them. I didn't realize they also held services here. So I was quite taken aback when the first sign I saw said to leave my shoes in the shoe room. What? I'm not taking my shoes off at a restaurant! Luckily a kind patron guided us down another hallway where we were met with a wonderfully long line of people serving up such delicious smelling food.

Everyone around us was dressed so beautifully in traditional garb that we looked like shmucks in our jeans and flip flops; no one but us really seemed to mind. We grabbed our trays and I struck up a conversation with the gentleman in front of me. I asked him how this worked and which foods were not to be missed. Basically, Kalachandji's is a buffet where you can choose soup, salad and a drink or the hot buffet. Mike and I saw so many new and wonderful foods on the hot buffet that it was a no-brainer decision. The gentleman then turned to me and said "Get. The. Cinnamon. Bread!"

We filled our trays, as you can see in the picture. We started with a vibrant soup which I believe was called Dal (please correct me if I'm wrong), brown rice, seasoned steamed veggies, pumpkin curry (soooo good), bitter greens (I thnk they were mustard) and the Pièce de résistance the homemade cinnamon raisin bread (I ate three slices!). The food was so fresh. Each bite was a wonderful surprise to my tastebuds - so many flavors and spices that I'm not used to.

You also can't miss the tamarind tea. It is this sweet drink that tastes like tea and lemonade mixed together. Dessert was this amazing sweet rice and a unique type of pineapple cake. I actually mixed the two and it was so good.

As if the food wasn't enough to entice us to come back, the restaurant setting is a hidden gem in Dallas. The middle of the restaurant opens up to the sky. We sat next to a peaceful fountain and shady tree in the middle of the courtyard. We were lucky to go on a really nice day (blue skies and mid 70's). We can't wait to go back at night. Take a look at the home page of Kalachandji's and you'll see their little twinkly lights and warm lanterns ... sigh. I can't wait!

More tamarind tea and ... I forgot to mention they had vegetarian lasagna. You can
see it right above my glass on Mike's plate.

If you've been to Kalachandji's what has been your favorite food?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vegan Cookie Dough Truffles

When my sister and I were growing up we would joke that if we had one wish, we'd wish for a box of assorted chocolates so big that we'd have to eat our way to the edge. To this day, I still love assorted chocolates and February 15th is the hardest day of the year. Why February 15th? Because that's when all the assorted chocolates are 75% off!
So this year, as a vegan I'm a little limited in which chocolates I choose to eat. So when I found Chef Chloe's Vegan Cookie Dough Truffles, it immediately went to the top of my "to make" list. Here it is! Chole's recipe. Thanks Chloe for absolute deliciousness. Enjoy.

1/2 cup Earth Balance
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I plan to try this recipe again with GF flour)
1/3 cup dairy free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life)
12 ounces dairy free chocolate chips

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
Using a mixer , beat margarine, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and water until combined. Add flour and beat until incorporated. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls with the palms of your hands. Place on prepared baking sheets. Freeze for 15 minutes. 

Melt the remaining 12 ounces chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Let cool to room temperature. Remove one tray of cookie dough balls from the freezer. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate and remove using two forks. Place the coated balls back onto the baking sheet and transfer to the refrigerator. Repeat with the second tray of cookie dough balls. Chill until the chocolate is set, about 20 minutes. Store in refrigerator until serving. 

Just a note: I put the truffles on a wire rack but that was a bad idea. They broke a lot when I was pulling them off. My mouth didn't mind but it did make them look a little less pretty.

Please note that this is not my recipe and all "oooh's", "aahhh"s" and "mmmm's" go to Chef Chloe.