Tag Archives: agave

Recipe: Christmassy Almond Butter Cookies (vegan and gluten free and almost healthy)

Ah, December.  No matter what I do, it seems to get away from me, and this year, more than ever.  I wound up doing most of my Christmas Baking last weekend – all day on Sunday, in fact – and only got my Christmas letters written and posted this morning.  Oops.  But since I am now officially On Holiday, I can actually start writing down the recipes I bookmarked in my head to put on this blog before Christmas.  So long as I’m quick about it…

This recipe was one I made last week.  I have what I would like to call an annual tradition, though in fact I don’t manage it nearly often enough, of baking up a storm a bit before Christmas and then going around to all the departments on Levels 1 and 2 (the professional services departments), delivering goodies and thanks to all and sundry.  And writing this, I’ve just realised that I never did get to Engineering.  Drat.  I dropped by twice and they weren’t there.  But that’s still a bad miss. 

DSCN0239

Anyway, I tend to try to make things that are large on output and low on effort, which is to say, lots of shortbread and mince pies and ginger biscuits.  But I also like to make sure there are some things in the mix which are vegan and gluten-free, and others that are nut free (so far, fortunately, I have not acquired any individual colleagues with more than two of these three requirements).  This year, the shortbread was egg and nut free, so my gluten-free and vegan biscuits were my chocolate tahini ones, and these little bites.

These almond butter biscuits are just barely sweet.  They really only have three main ingredients, after which you can flavour them according to your liking.  The quinoa flour and almond butter make them high in protein, and the agave nectar makes them fairly low in glycaemic index.  But they do, I think, want that little bit of glacé or dried fruit, or something sweet, to take them out of the health food category and into a more festive arena…

DSCN0288

Your Shopping List

150 g almond butter, unsweetened
100 g quinoa flour2-3 tbsp agave nectar
glacé cherries or glacé ginger or jam, or see variations for more suggestions

Now what will you do with it?

Pre-heat the oven to 165°C, and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine the almond butter and quinoa flour in a bowl.  Add two tablespoons of agave nectar and mix in.  Taste for sweetness, and check the texture – you will find that it is extremely crumbly at this stage, so you will probably want to add another tablespoon of water or another tablespoon of agave nectar, according to taste.  Basically, you do want a relatively crumbly dough, but it needs to be something you can form into a little ball and make a thumbprint in it.

Do so, making the biscuits fairly small – if you make a circle of your thumb and first finger, that’s the size of the ball you want.

Press half a glacé cherry, or a sliver of glacé ginger, or a little dollop of jam into the thumbprint in each biscuit.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and firm.

Serve to your deserving colleagues!

DSCN0237

Variations

I have so many ideas!  Firstly, if you were someone who liked peanut butter, I’ve seen an amazing looking honey and cinnamon peanut butter at the shops.  Now, I think peanuts are basically demonic, and honey isn’t very vegan, but if this is your idea of fun, I suspect it would be a great substitute for the almond butter.  You may need a little more or less quinoa flour to get the texture right, so fiddle around and see.  Macadamia butter or pistachio butter would also work.

You could roll these little biscuits in cinnamon sugar instead of doing the thumbprint thing – teeny, tiny almond snickerdoodles.  Or you could put a whole dried cherry in the middle of an almond ball (surprise!).  Or both at once!  Dried apricots would be nice, too, but you wouldn’t fit a whole one.

You could also choose a different flour, but bear in mind that this would affect the texture of the dough.

Allergy-wise, this is obviously useless if you are allergic to nuts, but it’s good for the gluten-free and the vegans, and if you swap out the agave nectar for maple syrup – which would be delightful, by the way, I just didn’t have any that day – you would be doing OK fructose-wise, I think.  And, as mentioned, they are not too bad in the glycaemic index department.  Quite a handy recipe to have in one’s repertoire, I think.

DSCN0292

Recipe: Not-tella Quinoa Slice

dessertRemember the recipe which was not at all what Scott asked for?  Well, hopefully, this one actually will be more useful, though I’m not sure it entirely fills the brief.  Especially once you have it for dessert with spiced cherries, ice-cream and fancy nougat…

Technically, one could say that this recipe is based on one of my favourite cakes from Wayfaring Chocolate, but since I veganised it and then changed all the proportions and half of the flavours, I very much doubt Hannah would recognise it in its current state.

I’ve kept this slice pretty plain – it has a rather nutty, wholemeal texture to go with its Nutella taste – but there is a fair bit you could do with it to liven it up.

Oh, and Scott?  Still no Nuttella.  Sorry.  But I’m not going to the trouble of sweetening something with agave and then adding a spread that is mostly composed of sugar.  That would just be silly…

Your Shopping List

75 g quinoa, raw, or 150 g cooked
150 g hazelnut meal
30 g cocoa, as dark as you can find
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Continue reading

Recipe: Amaranth and Not-ella Truffles

ballsThis recipe is the fault of my friend Scott, which seems a little unfair, since it actually isn’t the recipe he asked for, and in fact probably isn’t going to do him  much good at all!  Sorry, Scott – the quinoa one will happen later in the week.  He requested a recipe for a high-protein snack that used cooked quinoa and Nutella and was sweetened with agave nectar.

I had every intention of doing this, but currently my oven is full of a cake that will take 4 hours to cook, and my ideas involving cooked quinoa all necessitate baking, so that the snack ends up crispy rather than soggy.  And I wanted to try something *now*.  Also, I had this popped amaranth sitting around, waiting to be used.  And then there was the fact that I don’t actually like Nutella, and that if one is wanting a snack sweetened with agave nectar, it’s a bit silly to include Nutella, which is full of sugar…

And it all went downhill from there, really.  But in a good way, because these little snacks taste gorgeous, and look incredibly cute, all black-brown with little white dots of amaranth through them.  Try them and see…

Your Shopping List

120 g hazelnuts
30 ml cocoa
30 ml agave nectar
30 ml almond butter (can you tell I had this 30 ml measure just sitting there, looking convenient?  So many recipes develop proportions based on what’s clean and nearby at the time…)
3 dates
1 cup popped amaranth

Continue reading