Sugar Free Hermit Cookies – a delectable soft Christmas Cookie

beet dyed & spinach dyed icingWhen I was growing  up one of the things I loved about Christmas time was all the delectable baking my Mum would make. She’d spend weeks making all kinds of recipes, putting them in containers and freezing them for the season. She’d make things like Isch Tarlets, Venetians and Neopolitans. The names alone sounded exotic and there was more!  We often found ourselves with a plethora of leftover baking come January and well, I happily ate threw it.

 

Of course we had the more common Christmas baking such as whipped shortbread with cherries on top and gingerbread, but I always loved the unique ones. In fact my favorite Christmas cookie was always Hermit cookies. A spicy, soft fruit drop cookie made with a little dash of coffee. The flavors in this cookie are divine, as they mellow with age and become even more delicious as the days pass. The good news was that my sisters and Dad didn’t care for them, only Mum and me, so I basically got the entire batch to myself!

 

When I ventured out on my own I would make these for my family, hoping that no one else would like them. As luck would have it my husband did not, but turned out that my son did. So I shared, reluctantly.
sugar free Christmas recipesWhen we went dairy and sugar free back in 2010, I didn’t make these cookies for a while as I could never get around the mixed fruit that goes into the cookie. Mixed fruit is deep in a thick sugary syrup, and though I tried to find alternatives or even make my own fruit mix, I could not find a way around it. Update: I found a mixed fruit mix at the Bulk Barn that has no sugar in it! Hooray!
So this year I gave in. I really wanted these cookies! And I bought a container of mixed fruit to make these cookies. I modified the rest of the recipe for sugar free hermit cookies and resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted them I had to let this one thing go…for now.

 

I was so excited! As I was baking them I remembered all the unique flavors I love and the delectable cookie that would result at the end. I knew that my oldest would gobble them up, but these were new to the twins, so we would see if they liked them. The smells wafted through the kitchen and I couldn’t wait to try one!

 

Of course, they were excellent. Turning out perfectly. I was very pleased. And it turns out that Luke and Chloe do like them (taking after their mother), so I guess I have to share a little more 🙂

 

Sugar Free Hermit Cookies
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp saltIMG_6775
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 c. shortening
1 egg
1/4 c. cold coffee
1 – 250 g container mixed fruit
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. walnuts (I usually omit these because I don’t care for nuts in my cookies but original recipe calls for them)

 

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves onto wax paper. Beat shortening, coconut sugar, egg and coffee together until fluffy and light. Stir in flour mixture, blending well. Add mixed fruit and raisins (and nuts if using), mix well. Drop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375F for approximately 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Let cool on wire racks. Once cool store in airtight container. Flavors will mellow and voila you have a soft, fruity delicious cookie! Makes 3 dozen.


To Drink Gingerbread

IMG_4491I know Christmas is over. And New Year’s is done too. And this is really something more suited to the Christmas season. But I couldn’t resist posting this martini I created over the holidays. Yes I created it!

I was on a gingerbread kick over Christmas, looking for different ways to enjoy this delectable Christmas flavor. I had already discovered and tested gingerbread waffles, gingerbread muffins and of course gingerbread cookies (classic). Earlier this Fall I was delving into the martini world, trying some Halloween ones, pumpkin one, and a few others. I thought there must be a gingerbread one I can make.

So I hopped on Pinterest, my new favorite go to for recipes and looked it up. I found a number of recipes but most of them had Baileys in it and I wanted to avoid the dairy. There were some that were almost but not quite. So I decided to experiment, I took parts that I liked from different recipes and combined and adjusted them, creating my own version of the gingerbread martini. Dairy free, not quite sugar free, there’s just a teensy bit in it, I tried to get it completely sugar free but couldn’t quite do it (maybe down the road I’ll figure it out get it completely sugar free). Though honestly you would never know, this is a very sweet martini and extremely delicious.

Once I got all the components right and tried it, I phoned my Mum to share. She immediately wanted the recipe and went to try it herself. 20 minutes later she phoned back with one word, “Yum”.

Now I realize it is not the Christmas season when gingerbread is most popular but I could not sit on this delectable recipe for an entire year! Besides isn’t gingerbread good any time of year? Valentine’s? or Christmas in July.

Give it a try. If you like gingerbread you’ll love this. Enjoy!IMG_4493

Gingerbread Martini

1 1/2 ounces (3 tbsp.) vodka

1 ounce (2 tbsp.) gingerbread syrup*

1/2 ounce (1 tbsp.) Creme de cacao

1/2 ounce (1 tbsp.) unsweetened coconut milk (I used Silk unsweetened coconut milk)

Put all ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake to mix. Pour into martini glass. May adorn glass with mini gingerbread cookie if desired.

*Gingerbread Syrup

IMG_4497

Gingerbread Syrup

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. coconut sugar

4 tbsp. barley malt

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, mix together water, coconut sugar, barley malt, ginger and cinnamon. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves. Let syrup cool before using in drink. May be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Gingerbread Delights

IMG_4387You know I love flavors and that I tend to go a little crazy when I find one I love! Making everything possible out of it. Like pumpkin, I love pumpkin (and actually this fall inherited a lot of pumpkin) so was making muffins, pies, ice cream, etc. Experimenting with all different kinds of recipes.

My recent obsession is gingerbread. Always fabulous this time of year and something I really enjoy. I love ginger in general and am often making fresh ginger tea and drinking it daily. (Ginger also has a lot of health benefits, like aiding with colds and flu, as well as prevent and eliminating nausea).

IMG_4334But I had never really thought you could do much more with gingerbread than cookies. I had tunnel vision and could not see out of the box. Cookies are the only thing right? Then last month I discovered a recipe for gingerbread waffles. Of course I knew right away that we had to try it. They were fabulous! and everyone gobbled them up. Which got me to thinking there must be other variations of gingerbread something out there. So I started looking – I had so far, cookies, waffles… what about muffins? Gingerbread muffins would surely be delicious.

IMG_0750I did a quick Google search and a number of recipes popped up. I looked at a few, picked the one I liked the best and whipped them up yesterday! Ok I tried to whip them up, I had a bit of a baking travesty. I checked on my ingredients and thought I had everything I needed but as I went along I first discovered I was almost out of barley malt, then ginger, both I had just enough. Phew! Nope, didn’t have enough Earth Balance – shoot! So I mixed it all together and set it aside until after I could run to the store.

Once I had my final ingredient, I finished mixing them up and put them in the oven to bake. I was curious and of course so were the kids (they always want muffins!) They poofed up beautifully and smelled delicious. That lovely gingerbread smell wafting through the house afterschool…Yum!

They were finally done, and after waiting a few minutes for them to cool, we dove in. They were delicious, super moist with just a subtle gingerbread taste, not too overpowering. Now I prefer a little more of a gingerbread flavoring kick, so I am going to play with the spices in this recipe a little to amp up the flavor. Once I do that, I’ll report back to you 🙂 But since I have 36 muffins at the moment to enjoy I won’t be experimenting with that one for a little bit.

You can easily half the recipe if you want to, 36 muffins is a lot, or you can bake them all and freeze them for later (if you remember they are in the freezer, personally I often forget that they are there and end up baking new ones anyway).

I also think these muffins would be fabulous with some kind of icing, which I am also going to experiment with and get back to you. For some reason I am thinking a nice cream cheese option would work…

Now that you are drooling, anticipating that warm moist gingerbread muffin in your mouth, here is the recipe. Completely sugar free and dairy free, it will be a hit at your house too!

Gingerbread Muffins

3 eggsIMG_4385

1 c. barley malt

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. ginger

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 c. hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly grease muffin tins with Earth Balance. Spoon batter into muffin tin about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 36 muffinsIMG_4392

What is your favorite gingerbread recipe?


Something to add to your Christmas Brunch Gingerbread Waffles

IMG_4336I don’t know about you but I get a lot of newsletters. I like to try new things, so if I come across something I try it out and before I know it I have been automatically signed up for their newsletter (though I realize the new anti-spam laws are meant to prevent this).

From time to time I go through and weed out the ones I don’t really read or pay attention to and unsubscribe. Others I scan periodically looking for those little gems and remember why I signed up for it in the first place; then keep it in my inbox. Those gems are what keep me hooked, keep me reading the newsletters and staying on.

The ones that keep me hooked the most are the ones with yummy recipes that I discover and want to try, something I may not have thought of or come across otherwise. These are my favorite discoveries, some delectable dish just waiting to grace my plate and win my approval.

IMG_4329I found one of those gems earlier this week, when scanning the most recent Sobeys flyer. Luke and Chloe were with me, sitting on my lap, when I discovered these gingerbread waffles. I love gingerbread and I love waffles, so I was sure gingerbread waffles would definitley be a fabulous combination and treat. I ooed and awed and quickly clicked on the link, spreading my excitement to Luke and Chloe, as we waited in anticipation to see what was on the ingredient list. Looked easy enough, so we planned to try them.

It was so cute this morning as we came downstairs to make them for breakfast. Luke and Chloe got their chairs and wanted to help make them. Luke kept chatting away about trying them and we’ll see if they turn out and it was ok if they didn’t. Quite interesting chatter for a 4 year old. They were definitely excited.

IMG_4330Making all the appropriate adjustments (dairy and sugar), these waffles turned out fabulously! Perfectly golden brown, fluffy, with a subtle (not overwhelming) taste of gingerbread, they are not only delicious but very filling! After only having 2 waffles I was quite full.

The kids loved them of course and were also quite happy with how they turned out. We even broke out the Christmas dishes to enjoy them! Now I have another fantastic waffle recipe to add to my repertoire of delectable waffles (plain, chocolate, orange) and new options for breakfasts and brunches, especially Christmas morning breakfast. Who wouldn’t love to have gingerbread for breakfast on Christmas?

I would like to try this recipe using coconut milk instead of almond milk (though really the almond milk version turned out very well), just to see what the difference is and if we like it even more. You never know til you try! So next time I make them we’ll give it a go.

In the meantime, enjoy these yummy dairy free, sugar free, gingerbread waffles, topped with pure maple syrup they are sure to be a hit this holiday season!

Gingerbread Waffles

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flourIMG_4334

1c. all purpose flour

2 tbsp. coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 c. almond milk

3 eggs

1/4 c. barley malt

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread, melted

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices).

In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk, eggs, barley malt and melted Earth Balance. Add barley malt mixture to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Fill a greased waffle iron with approx. 1/2 cup (125 mL) of batter per waffle. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 min. per waffle. Repeat until all batter is used. Serve with Pure Maple Syrup.

Makes approximately 12 waffles

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Gingerbread Cookies – A Holiday Favorite (& sugar free!)

sugar free gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread is a favorite and common Christmas recipe in most households during the holiday season. It’s fun to make, fun to decorate and of course delicious!

When we went sugar free I was unsure how to make sugar free gingerbread cookies, as it seemed silly to make and decorate them, then not eat them. I had found a website with sugar free recipes that offered an alternative but when I tried it though it was edible, it was not the same and I decided that I would not make it again. Matthew though really liked them, which I thought was interesting.

This past summer, I started using barley malt and coconut sugar more. Barley malt is a great substitute for molasses and coconut sugar for brown sugar. I made a delicious baked bean recipe when we went camping using the barley malt in place of the molasses, oh it was yummy!

Once I discovered these substitutions and that they worked well, I took a look at my original gingerbread recipe and realized that I now had the appropriate substitutions to adjust this recipe. I was very excited!

So I tried it out last week for the first time. I got out all my Christmas cookie cutters, which I have many, big and small and all different shapes. The kids love to use the cookie cutters and enjoy making the shapes. We made Santas, reindeer, angels and bells. Hollies and wreaths, snowmen and tin soldiers. Luke and Chloe were very excited and once we had them in the oven, asked to have the oven light on so they could see the cookies.

They did not eat much for lunch that day as they were waiting for cookies! (but I also used it an incentive to finish their lunch 🙂 They gobbled them up and of course wanted more, but after a few I said we would wait until later, as I actually had to bake the rest.

In adjusting the recipe I found that I would increase the spices a little, so though I have posted the recipe with the spice amounts as is, I would recommend increasing the ginger and maybe the cinnamon by 1/4 tsp. each, but it depends on your personal preference. I like my gingerbread cookies to be a bit more gingery than they turned out, though they were still very good.

We did not ice them this time around as we enjoyed them straight from the oven, but you could ice them with the recipe that I have included below. It is a basic sugar free icing recipe, which you can color using food coloring if you like. (Though food coloring is not good for us due to all the processing and effects it has on our body. You can buy natural food coloring in the store, I have seen it at Community Natural Foods here in Calgary, but you can also make your own. My sister has been experimenting with beets, spinach and other foods to color her icing for her cookies. More on that coming…)

Sugar Free Gingerbread Cookies

2 1/2 c. flour

sugar free gingerbread cookies1/2 c. shortening

1/2 c. coconut sugar

1/2 c. barley malt

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. hot water

1 tsp. vinegar

Sift flour, measure, resift. Cream shortening, blend in coconut sugar and add barley malt and beaten egg. Beat well. Mix spices with baking soda and blend until smooth with hot water and vinegar. Stir into creamed mixture. Add flour and mix.

Roll out dough on a well floured surface to 1/4″ thick. Dough may be quite sticky. Use cookie cutters to make desired shapes. Put on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes.

Cookies may be iced after fully cooled.

Simple Buttercream Icing 

1 c. Powdered Sugar Replacement (see recipe below)

1/2 c. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

1/2 c. Rice Milk or Almond Milk

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth. Proportions can be adjusted to make icing thicker or thinner as desired. Add food coloring if desired, ice cookies.

Sugar Free Powdered Sugar (replacement for regular icing sugar)

1 cup nonfat dry milk (for dairy free use powdered coconut milk)

1 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup Krisda Stevia for baking

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whip until blended and powdered. Store in an airtight container.

This replacement can be used in any recipe calling for icing sugar.