Chocolate cookie and coconut ice cream sandwiches

Coconut and chocolate ice cream sandwich

Adapted from Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s Ice Cream Sandwich Chocolate Wafer Cookies and Vegan Coconut Ice Cream by Cate Alexandra on She Knows

A while back I got an ice cream maker because although Swedish Glace is delicious, the choice of flavours is a bit boring after a while.  I wanted to be able to make versions of all the Häagen-Daz and Ben & Jerry’s flavours I used to love but without the lactose.  Swirls, chunks, sprinkles and sauces – I want them all!  But we’re starting with the basics.  Here is a plain coconut ice cream, unsurprisingly made from coconut milk, with a bit of sugar and a bit of cornstarch.  It is creamy and delicious.  And, although I had my gluten-free ice cream cones on order (I’ve got to draw the line somewhere on homemade, and since I don’t like waffle cones I can’t imagine how I might recreate a rice paper one at home), I knew I needed something to hold my ice cream.  A bowl, you say?  Too easy!!  Plus I wanted something portable that C and I didn’t have to sit still to eat.  After some searching I decided on the ice cream sandwich cookies from Gluten Free on a Shoestring.  I was convinced by Nicole’s description of the perfect ice cream cookie not shattering on the first bite.  Sold!  I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly to remove the xanthan gum, and I make only half the amount as I’ve not got that many mouths to feed.  A quick mention of cocoa powder – in the USA they distinguish between ‘Dutch Process’ and ‘natural’ cocoa powders and we don’t do that in the UK.  The way to tell here what you are buying is to look at the ingredients to see if an alkalising agent has been added.  If yes, then it is Dutch Process, if not then it is natural.  I use Green & Black’s cocoa powder which is Dutch Process.  If you have an ice cream maker with a built in refrigeration unit (fancy!) then you don’t need to plan ahead, but with mine you chill the bowl before use and it’s got to be really cold or the ice cream won’t form and you’ll just have coconut soup.  Also you’re making a kind of custard with the ingredients which also needs chilling down before you try to make the ice cream.  So this recipe actually takes two days to make unless you have a posh ice cream maker, which is worth bearing in mind.  The cookies can be made on the day but I’ve found they keep quite well so you could make them advance.  The ice cream is vegan by the way, but the cookies have an egg and butter and so are not.

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Gingerbread cake cookies

Gingerbread cake cookies

Adapted from The Go Lightly Gourmet’s Vegan Ginger Cookies

Is it a cake?  Is it a cookie?  Is it a bread?  Hell, this recipe doesn’t know what it is!  These little treats are too dense to be a cake, too puffy to be a cookie and too fluffy to be a bread.  I guess the best way for you to know what they are is to make them.  Answers on a postcard!  What I like about them is how they are reminiscent of the gingerbread men I used to get from the bakers when I was a child.  They are not quite as sturdy on the outer edge as I remember, but the inside is the same fluffy texture I’ve been craving.  Fashioning this super soft dough into a man shape feels like an impossible dream.  But I feel happy to have found this recipe as I’ve tested quite a few gingerbreads and none have cut it until now.  See chocolate-covered gingerbread bites if you don’t believe me!  It did need some help in the gluten-free department and I know there are other recipes out there that suggest just subbing out a gluten-free flour mix, that you buy ready mixed, would work fine.  But I liked the look of this one and I’ve added a few tweaks to make it work.  I hope this transports you back to a childhood memory as it did for me.

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Date oatmeal cookies

Date and oat cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart Oatmeal-Date Cookies

If I tell you something about how I live, will you promise not to judge me?  No, no this isn’t more ‘I hate x vegetable’ weirdness (although lettuce, raw onion and raw tomato are just WRONG people).  This is about making time for a cup of tea.  So, there are little things I do that supposedly make my life easier.  First, I could drive to a local village and pick up my gluten-free flours BUT… I hate the shop’s car park (it’s pokey) and it’s not near anything else.  I can’t go there on the way to, or from, another thing so it feels inefficient.  I can, however, sit at home enjoying a nice cup of tea while I order my flours from a fine internet establishment and have them delivered direct to my door.  Now that seems like acceptable multi-tasking!  I also buy a vegetable box that is delivered weekly.  Initially I did this because I had a 9-5 job, no car, and I was much more likely to cook a meal from scratch if I didn’t have to go the supermarket on the way home to buy ingredients before slaving away in the kitchen.  I still get a vegetable box but I also take C to the store because she loves it.  Identifying things on shelves from the list is super fun, if you’re nearly 3, and we scan our own shopping and bag it as we go round.  She loves holding the ‘bipper’.  The fact though is that it is easier to have something coming to the house every week without me doing too much thinking about it.  We regularly fail to do any shopping because other things just get in the way!  In my next life I promise to be more organised…  Anyway, the plus is that I can also update my weekly order while enjoying a nice cup of tea!  However, there is a teeny, tiny flaw in all this tea drinking and that’s sometimes I forget.  I have lists, sure I do, but you have to remember to write on the list or it’s not much use.  And you know how toddlers are, I get a regular order of things she’s really into, and then suddenly she’s not and it takes me a while to realise.  Thus, the great date glut of April 2013 is caused entirely by me not noticing that C has pretty much gone off dates and yet they come in my weekly order regardless and now we have four bags.  Luckily I love dates, and cookies, and C isn’t really off dates when they are in cookies, so there you are.  Lovely with a nice cup of tea.  Now what else was supposed to go on that flour order???

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Almond cookies

Almond cookies

Adapted from Easy Almond Cookies by Jo Dickson on allrecipes.co.uk

So who couldn’t do with losing a few pounds every now and then?  I have to say I’m not much of a ‘dieter’ – I don’t have the patience or inclination (if I’m really honest!) to count things – but I’m happy to get on board with the friends that it works for.  I won’t be the girl stuffing down a giant cupcake while everyone else nibbles a cracker!  Last week I had a stab at making some ‘1 point cookies’, and by that I mean WeightWatchers points.  Unfortunately they were truly dreadful.  One friend said she liked them although I still maintain she was just being nice.  Why anyone would want to eat one of them, let alone treat themselves to more I have no idea.  The birds quite liked them though!  So, we had a discussion and I’ve agreed not to bring anything worth more than 4 points.  Knowing that the treat will be worth that my friends can plan accordingly.  And because a 4 point cookie will taste delicious it really will be a treat, even if they have just one.  So, today’s cookies are worth 4 WeightWatchers ProPoints or PointsPlus according to the online calculators I used (one to work out the nutritional value of the recipe, and one to calculate the points for that).  Please note I haven’t been using officially branded websites and thus I cannot be completely sure of their accuracy.  So if you know otherwise please let me know and I’ll update the post.  Otherwise enjoy your crumbly on the outside, soft on the inside, almond cookies because they really are delicious.

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Triple chocolate cookies

Triple chocolate chip cookies

Inspired by Local Milk’s salted spicy double chocolate chili cookies

Are you bored with chocolate yet given that Easter was about 5 minutes ago?  I don’t think I ever could be, but maybe that’s just me.  I actually saw a version of these cookies on Spabettie’s site and immediately I was reminded of the triple chocolate cookies I used to get from Mille’s cookies.  Yum, yum.  I have been working on a flour mix that makes a chewy cookie.  I don’t always want a cakey cookie.  I don’t always want a crisp cookie.  Many of the gluten-free recipes I see just don’t make the kind I used to love when I ate wheat.  So I’d been playing around with some peanut butter dough (recipe in progress) and it turned out really good, so I used the same flour mix to make a chocolate cookie.  On day one these cookies are slightly crisp on the outside, and chewier on the inside.  Day two they are soft and chewy throughout.  None made it to day three!  I’ve also got half a batch of dough in the freezer (this recipe makes quite a lot so you could try making half if you wish) and I’ll update the recipe if that works out well.  In the meantime, if you are sick of just eating chocolate here’s a good way to use up any leftover Easter eggs.  I find chocolate drops never melt the way I want, plus I love the occasional discovery of a HUGE chunk of chocolate in a cookie, which you just don’t get using chocolate drops.  So get chopping with those leftover eggs and they’ll be gone in no time.

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Easter nests (chocolate cornflake treats)

Easter nests (chocolate cornflake treats)

Here is the obligatory Easter recipe.  I’ve gone old school with chocolate cornflake nests with eggs.  I’m particularly pleased with myself because not only are these gluten-free, they are also vegan, which means all my friends can enjoy them (oh yeah baby)!  Also, even a two year-old can help with this – obviously not the melting the ingredients bit, but stirring, paper case filling and ‘egg’ placement are all completely within the grasp of a toddler.  As is the mixture, which means quite a lot might not make it into the paper cups, but no worries.  As this is ‘no cook’ and egg-free there is nothing in here to worry about.  And those ‘eggs’, well I couldn’t be more excited about those.  Obviously milk chocolate is off-limits, so Cadbury’s mini eggs (the usual choice I would say) aren’t going to cut it.  I looked into jelly beans.  Jelly Belly do a natural range (which are apparently “buffed with beeswax” which might put off some vegans, but they do not have any animal-based ingredients) but the cost!   Wow.  That’s all I can say.  Wow.  So I did a little test with Jelly Tots – friend to the gluten-free AND the vegan (no gelatine as they use starch, but they appear on the Nestlé list of safe products for those avoiding gluten so I suspect it is corn derived).  If you squish the Jelly Tot, between thumb and forefinger just a little bit, it bulges out and looks like an iddy, biddy, little egg.  I give you nests AND eggs people.  Happy Easter!

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Sunbutter cookies with marshmallow fluff

Sunbutter cookies with marshmallow fluff

Firstly, that old caveat – I never promised you a clean-living blog…  I did really want to like sunbutter which, if you didn’t know, is butter made from sunflower seeds like peanut butter is made of peanuts.  Whereas I do love the love nut butters: peanut, almond, hazelnut, etc. and I’m a big fan of tahini, which is just sesame seed butter in all but name, I’m just not feeling it with sunbutter.  I like sunflower seeds well enough, but the butter has a background flavour I just don’t care for.  It’s a bit, oh I don’t know, grassy…  And when all the nut butters are so delicious I actually crave them, why would I choose something I don’t like so much?  C, however, thinks sunbutter is marvellous and is happy eating it straight off a spoon.  I’m not convinced though she can make it all the way through a jar by herself without some assistance from my good self.  She is only two after all.  I tell you what I do like, and that’s marshmallow fluff.  I do realise it’s made out of sugar, sugar, and more sugar and you probably shouldn’t make fluffernutters every day for breakfast but did I mention that it is gluten-free??  So, here is my theory.  Yes it isn’t very good for you in vast quantities but if you sandwich it between two cookies made of the good stuff every once in a while why not enjoy it occasionally?

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