Vegan chocolate protein bliss balls

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Not long ago some acquaintances were raving about some protein bars that happen to come from Sweden. I will eventually get around to experimenting with making some approximation of those… but in the interim, doing my customary recipe research, I found a recipe for vegan chocolate protein ‘bliss balls’. I’m always looking for vegan stuff to try as well as gluten-free options (and this can be gluten-free too as long as your oats and protein powder of choice are GF). I’m not big on “protein bars” or snacks or what have you, but I know they are popular with many, so here’s my first foray into this world. Very easy, requiring no baking at all – just a bunch of ingredients thrown into a food processor and a tiny bit of mess when you roll them.

Vegan chocolate protein bliss balls (recipe)

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup oats
46-50 grams vegan chocolate protein powder
1/3 cup packed, pitted and chopped dates
about 1/4 cup almond milk (or water)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
About 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired

Throw everything into a food processor. Blend until you have a thick, smooth paste that you can easily roll into balls. You can then roll this in some coating (I used unsweetened cocoa powder). Store in the fridge. I think I made about 24 from this recipe.

I really can’t tell you what these taste like – I have never tried them and I am a bit too disgusted by dates to even put one of these in my mouth to find out if it’s edible, so I will have to rely on others to give me a verdict.

Cuckoo for coconut: Naturally gluten-free baking choices

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I had an ambitious baking plan recently (don’t I always?), and – for once – I was ready, armed with plenty of time and all the needed ingredients. Then southern Sweden was hit by an unusually powerful windstorm, which knocked my power out two days in a row. While the outage only lasted a few hours, it robbed me of my motivation… ambition out the window.

I still managed to bake quite a lot, but not everything that was on my list – and the gluten-free baking options suffered most. I had very much hoped I could make my standard gluten-free paleo brownies (which I did) but also venture into the world of more adventurous gluten-free cookie options. At least in my first round of baking, I did not succeed, and the brownies were the only thing that got made.

On the second round, I still had some lingering hope for gluten-free experimentation, but the only thing I managed to do was make some very basic, simple coconut macaroons. It was a new recipe for me, which I grabbed from Food.com – apparently Ina Garten’s recipe. The final product turned out well, but I actually had to add a lot more coconut than the recipe asks for. I’d suggest adding the amount listed in the recipe and see if you get the right consistency for a “dough” that can hold its form and bake into a cookie but that is not too “wet” from the condensed milk.

Give it a shot.

Coconut macaroons
14 ounces of coconut (4.27 cups or 397 grams)
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 extra large egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine coconut, condensed milk and vanilla in one bowl and set aside.

Whip egg whites and salt on high until medium-firm peaks form.

Carefully fold eggs into the coconut mixture.

Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto baking sheets covered in baking paper.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden.

Getting on the gluten-free merry-go-round: Gluten-free brownies and coconut chocolate bites

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We never really think about our blind spots until we are confronted by them. We believe we are thinking holistically but are blinded by our own limitations and experiences.

I think I know a lot about music but then there are blind spots – whole genres I don’t care about. Or just periods in time when I did not pay attention. S. mentioned a one-hit wonder “Would I Lie to You?” by Charles & Eddie. I had never heard of it, but it was apparently a big hit at the time.

My blind spot in that time period was my relentless race through university and almost academic focus on listening to Russian and Eastern European folk music, meaning that while I did listen to other things, I was not listening to the radio, was not listening to new things unless introduced to me by friends.

Not a big deal but these small details are a bit like doors opening onto whole blind spot areas. And one such blind spot is gluten-free fun.

I have never thought a lot about baking gluten-free goods, but then a gluten-free person became a part of my team at work. It created a whole new set of considerations. I have been experimenting ever since. So far I only have about two recipes that are foolproof.

One is coconut macaroon and dark chocolate bites, which is naturally gluten-free. Clearly there are better results when something that was always gluten-free without adaptations is made. It is not just for gluten-free lifestyles/diets but is just made this way. No flours of any time. Just coconut, egg, chocolate and cream.

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coconut macaroon chocolate ganache tarts

coconut macaroon chocolate ganache tarts

The gluten-free brownies (and also paleo) are getting better each time I make them – or at least their consistency is. The latest was a little bit more moist than previous attempts. It uses coconut flour and maple syrup and a lot of eggs so should be similar to a normal brownie. It’s not quite the same but at least gluten-free folks can get some kind of sweet chocolaty treat to gobble up like everyone else can.

I have a gluten-free Kahlua cheesecake bite recipe I want to try – so next time around that will be on the menu.

Experimental gluten-free brownies

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My gluten-free baking efforts are a bit hit or miss, but it does not stop me from trying. Up today – gluten-free brownies made with coconut flour. I am skeptical but I guess on Tuesday when I feed these to people, I will find out for sure.

Gluten-free, paleo brownies

Gluten-free, paleo brownies

Here’s what to do for your own gluten-free coconut flour brownies:
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 300F/150C; grease a small square glass baking dish.
  2. Mix together all ingredients. I beat the eggs a bit first, added the butter and vanilla and then added the other ingredients and ended up with a thick, paste-like batter
  3. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  4. Cool for 30 minutes before cutting or removing from the pan. Cut, serve (or store for up to a few days in an airtight container).

Coconut macaroon shells with dark chocolate ganache filling

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coconut macaroon chocolate ganache tarts

coconut macaroon chocolate ganache tarts

Yes, a whole new experiment. Gluten-free and probably delicious if you like coconut and/or dark chocolate. I tried to make some gluten-free carrot cookies the other night – no dice. Horrible disaster.

But these – they look and seem (although I don’t know about taste) lovely.

You can make them yourself – not difficult!

Coconut macaroon shell recipe
1 1/2 cup coconut
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Combine ingredients. Mix and press into mini muffin pans that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 175C for 18 minutes until the edges of the shells are golden brown (but the inside is not!). Let the shells sit for five minutes when removed from the oven. Remove from the pan while still warm. Let them cool completely.

gluten-free coconut macaroon shells

gluten-free coconut macaroon shells

Dark chocolate ganache filling
8 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Heat cream to a simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute to soften. Whisk until completely smooth and thick. Fill cooled coconut cups with the ganache and refrigerate.

coconut macaroon chocolate ganache tarts

coconut macaroon chocolate ganache tarts

Gluten-free carrot sandwich cookie: FAIL

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I have a great recipe for carrot sandwich cookies. People love them.

Because a colleague in my team at work eats gluten-free, I attempted to adapt these by substituting the flour with almond flour. I am not sure whether that was just not “flour-like” enough or, quite possibly, the carrot was just too wet – I tried to dry the grated carrot, but it produced what seemed like liters of carrot juice… and that may well have been the culprit. Or a disastrous mix of both!

The consistency of the dough/batter was right – that is, it was the same as when I have made these with regular wheat flour. But that means very little in the big scheme. These still just *did*not*work*. No two ways about it.

Auspicious beginnings for failed gluten-free carrot cookies

Auspicious beginnings for failed gluten-free carrot cookies

And my state of mind otherwise, with a mini-marathon bake and little private life worries… another week.

Built my world around certain things you say,
I think of nothing else at the close of day
except for maybe how I ended up this way
another drink before you go…