Eating free from – that is without eggs, dairy or gluten – is not easy. Don’t let supermarkets fool you with their never-ending range of free from products; half of them are at the very best only gluten free or dairy free and some are difficult to say what exactly they are free form (sugar maybe? corn? anything healthy?). I’ve always been a crazy baker, but ever since I changed my diet, I had to learn to substitute so much stuff, that I have to go through entire baking days (including baking my own bread – who’d know finding a bread I can actually eat while staying even remotely tasty would be so difficult that I’d have to make my own!). But why should all this crazy baking go in vain? Here it is then; a little something I have prepared for you, a roundup of free from cookies’ recipes I have found online.
I pin a lot of recipes. Some of them I get rid of right after I test them, some of them I have never even gotten around to trying; there is just SO MUCH STUFF I can pin that looks delicious and is, in fact, truly free from. But what I found most frustrating is recipes’ roundups. You see, I assumed that if someone was recommending a particular recipe for me, (s)he would have tested it first. But no. There were so many things I found on Pinterest and other blogs that claimed they can give me the best recipes online, all delicious and definitely working, that turned out to be absolutely abysmal. It made me lose all the faith I had in recipe roundups. I mean it.
This will not be one of those posts, I promise. I can be really bad at writing my own recipes, but I do know a thing or two about baking. And since you have no grounds to trust just my words, well, I have pics too! Indeed, Let’s try is meant to be a series in which I actually attempt baking, cooking, crafting, all of the stuff that inspires me while browsing Pinterest, and tell you how it went. After all, we already established that reality differs from online baking, didn’t we?
Get, set, bake?
Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies by Erin (Texanerin)
Who doesn’t like a good chocolate chip cookie? You may be on a strictly vegan diet but passing on these is always a tough… cookie to bite? They are just so irresistible – sweet but not too sweet, quite filling and, maybe not dentist friendly, but absolutely delicious!
When I first saw this recipe by Erin I just knew I had to try them. Not only were they chocolate chip cookies, no, they had walnuts in them and since I’ve started using those in all my cake bases, I grew pretty addicted to their taste. I am not one to count calories, I am afraid. The photos Erin took were so inviting too – with the melted chocolate dripping out of the cookie itself, I just couldn’t resist it.
My enthusiasm dropped a bit once I saw oats on the ingredients list – I like oats and I do eat them almost every morning (sometimes when I have a bit more time I go for a buckwheat muesli – if you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out), but when it comes to baking with oats, I do find them quite overbearing. I wouldn’t recommend baking oat flour based dumplings, let me put it that way. But I was already hooked, so oats or no oats, I had to try.
By far my favourite part of making these was forming the little dough balls. This was just so therapeutic. I love the feel of batter at the best of times, but once I had my hands nicely covered in flour, the unbaked goodness was even more touchable than usual! Maybe that was just me unused to actually forming anything like that – I haven’t made anything ball shaped since I was a little girl helping my mum in the kitchen, you know, my cookie cutter addiction solves that one for me. But if you ever feel stressed and unhappy, I highly recommend this unwinding method. Trust me.
There are two sins I need to confess. Firstly, I have not used oat flour as I do not have any and on the rainy day I chose to bake these I didn’t feel like going out and getting some. I don’t like oat flour anyway. I used the oats, of course, but replaced the flour with a buckwheat one. The second sin I committed was to leave the cookies in for 14 minutes rather than 10 – which is considerably longer, but my oven is a bit unhappy with baking stuff and likes uneven bakes, so I have to rotate them and move them around and so it just takes longer.
And the effect? Well, let me just tell you that the batch I took with myself to work survived until somewhere around the second cup of tea (and I drink LOTS of tea). They were simply amazing. The best part was, of course, that they were oat cookies but I could barely feel any oats in them. I know, that was probably because of my aversion to oat flour, but you know what? It worked for me.
I never thought about putting walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies, but they do go with them quite nicely and do not cause the entire bake to go too dry. It is still a crumbly affair, but for a free from bake the cookies keep a very good shape. And let me tell you – those little fellas are a great pleasure to look at.
Thank you, Erin, for the wonderful recipe! I am sure I will be back for more. And if you think this recipe is something just for you or are curious about what else can be done with healthier baking, check out Erin’s blog, Texanerin!
No-bake cookies by Jessica (Jay’s baking me crazy)
The more recipes and reviews I write, the more I realize that the list of things I do not like is quite a long one. I am trying to convince myself that this would be the case for lots of people too; I just tend to interact with things I am prejudiced against more often than others. Good for me, right, trying stuff regardless of my internal judgement? I guess. But I have another thing to confess:
I hate peanut butter.
I am sure people who love peanut butter are actually right and peanut butter is some sort of eternal goodness, but I just could never stand it. It smells great, but the taste… Ok, I don’t think I have had it for many years. Maybe my taste changed. This is irrelevant now anyway as I am not allowed to eat peanuts in any form. All I wanted to say is: I haven’t tried Jessica’s cookies at all, but I really really wanted to make them so as usual I employed my boyfriend as a test subject.
I swear I bake way more things that I cannot eat than things I can. I am just so curious about new methods of making things, I never actually think about the fact that this potential food will just go to waste. It was exactly the same this time – I saw a recipe that let me make COOKIES in a SAUCEPAN and I just had to try it. Cookies in a saucepan! Have you ever heard of a better idea?
I probably should have been worried about these since all the cookies from a microwave I have ever made or witnessed being made have turned out to be an absolute disaster. But no. Cookies in a saucepan were bound to be a grand success and I was really excited to try them out.
Let me tell you – the smell was overwhelming. So delicious I almost regretted my peanut intolerance. The coconut oil I usual use is always very good, as it is the only thing I fry stuff on and it does have a great impact on the dishes taste, so the entire kitchen was filled with a mixture of the strong smell of coconut, peanuts and vanilla. Even thinking about it makes me hungry.
And here it is where everything went wrong. I am 99% sure it was not the recipes fault – if I followed it directly, I probably would have ended up with the prettiest little things, very similar to the gorgeous photos Jessica took. But no. I got distracted and left my pan for literally a minute and…
Well, let me tell you, these cookies were not pretty.
Although I was delayed by only a very short period of time (the neighbour’s cat went out for a walk and I ran to the window to watch him run past – he is a wonderful Maine Coon that inevitably lives on my Instagram account), the mixture managed to cool down quite significantly and was very difficult to form into anything really. But let me stress it once more – that was not the recipe’s fault. It was just my dumb blondeness.
Still I have been assured over and over again that they were delicious. Hideous looking, but full of amazing taste. It was really hard photographing them for you not only because they had absolutely no good side to expose, but also because their half-life seemed to be around 10 minutes. Yes, it took my boyfriend 10 minutes to eat half of them. I was very glad that I took these pics the same day as after I came home from work the day after, they were all gone.
On my boyfriend’s behalf I must say: thank you, Jessica, these cookies made his day. If any of you are interested in paleo bakes, check out Jessica’s blog, Jay’s baking me crazy for more surprising recipes (and countless cookies, really; I have a few already lined up for further tests)!
Easy vegan Oreos by Natalie (Feasting on fruit)
Ok, I accept the existence of free from cookies in the oaty form. I am quite good at making free from gingerbread as well, even if I say so myself. But Oreos? They seem way too creamy and just… cakey to work as a free from recipe, right?
Natalie’s Oreos attracted my attention not only because I am a sucker for chocolate (ok, I am a sucker for chocolate), but also because they are oil free. I have nothing against baking with oil, don’t get me wrong, I do it all the time as without eggs and gluten it is kind of tough to bind ingredients together. I was just curious what will take its place. Especially that the ingredients list was on the short side, which is also unusual for free from baking.
And all the magic came in the form of maple syrup. I already told you that I feel ambivalent about oat flour and that peanut butter makes me shiver – but maple syrup? Maple syrup is delicious! Please, give me more. And in fact I did have to give myself some more – just a tiny bit as I felt the mix wasn’t sticky enough without it.
The preparation of these lovelies came in two parts – baking was only the beginning. Beating coconut cream for the filling presented a bit of a challenge, as the cream I got wasn’t as dense as I hoped, even though I kept it in the fridge for hours. Maybe the freezer next time? My kitchen appliances are really not on my side, are they?
The recipe itself contains low fat options as well – I’ve never needed to cut on fats, if anything I do actually need to gain some weight, but it is a nice touch. Cream, coconut or milk based, is a pretty heavy thing. I would also suggest that if you are not so keen on coconut flavour in everything, you could add some flavouring to the filling itself, but remember the more liquids you add to your cream, the less stiff it will get, which probably means more sugar will be needed too.
The most impressive thing about my badly beaten cream was that it actually allowed me to put the Oreos on their side, as they turned out to be quite a resilient structure. I love it. Free from baking (free from cookies are no exceptions) is often all about crumbling, and not sticking, and being dense, and in general not that structurally pleasant. But these Oreos are a great example of a solid bake. Fantastic to roll around the table too, if you are still five years old in your mind.
And the taste won’t disappoint you – if you’re an Oreos’ fan (and who isn’t), you’ll find them just like the originals. So chocolatey! Did I say already I am a sucker for chocolate? I think I did.
Thank you, Natalie, for this fantastic cookie adventure. It made me feel like a kid, first filling the cookies, and then eating them in the least adult way possible. If you’d like to explore more vegan baking, check out Natalie’s blog, Feasting on fruit!
If you know about any great free from recipes or any baking adventures you’d like to share with me, please leave a comment down below. Similarly, if you have any technical questions about these bakes or any other baking-related stuff, I am more than happy to try to help!
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