Gluten-Free Pecan Banana Drop Cookies

I tend to daydream about food, recipes, desserts, pretty much anything edible and how and when I can create and recreate them. On Friday I envisioned a “weekend in-kitchen creating session” that included pies, cakes,bacon jam, preserves, all kinds of things.  Then reality set in and I realized that I have a life, family and responsibilities, as well as the need to sleep as well as a limited food budget.  So I ended up only making one thing, these Gluten-Free Pecan Banana Drop Cookies.

It all started when one of my friends shared a recipe with me on a Facebook post when I posted about needing to bake something to use my ripe bananas.   I decided to modify the original recipe for a couple of reasons.  1.  I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand. And 2. I benefit from a low gluten, better yet, a gluten-free diet.  I have, in recent past, tried a Paleo diet and a Gluten Free diet with great success.  It is hard for me to stay true to either diet but my body definitely let’s me know when I have gone overboard with sugar and wheat and other things my body doesn’t really like but my taste buds adore.

This is my inspiration recipe:

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  THANKS GRET BARKER!!!!

I do plan to make the original recipe in the near future.  But for now I really like this gluten-free version I came up with.  I replaced the flour with a Gluten-free baking mix, substituted for the shortening, since I did not have any, and I added brown sugar.  Here is my version.  I hope you like it!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 1/4 cup of a Gluten-Free Baking mix (I used Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix, pictured below)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I put my pecans in my Nutribullet so they were VERY finely ground.  My family tends to not care for things with nuts so with this one they don’t realize they are eating them)

Optional topping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

The cinnamon sugar on top before baking is optional only because I forgot to sprinkle on one batch and I think I actually like that batch the best.

Directions:

In your mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer:

  • Cream sugars and butter together until light and fluffy
  • add vanilla
  • add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each

In a separate bowl:

  • Combine baking mix, baking powder, salt, and baking soda
  • Add to creamed mixture
  • Stir in nuts
  • Chill dough for 30 minutes.
  • Drop spoonfuls 2 inches apart on to cookie sheet.  (I use Silpat non-stick baking mats.  If you don’t have that then either grease your cookie sheet or use parchment paper).
  • Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over cookies
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes

Since I knew I was not going to bake all of the cookie dough today I did not chill the dough in the bowl.  Instead I spread the dough out onto waxed paper in a shape of a log and wrapped it prior to chilling.  When I was ready to bake I simple slice the amount of cookies I wanted to bake then re-wrapped the dough.  I also double wrapped in plastic wrap to store a few days in the refrigerator or I can also pop it into the freezer for linger storage.

I believe the reason why I preferred the batch that I forgot the cinnamon sugar topping is because a gluten-free baking mix gives a slightly different texture than white flour.  The cinnamon sugar added to the slightly grainy texture that these kind of mixes can have.  But both versions came out delicious!

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Homemade Cookies for when you can’t get Girl Scout Trefoils and Samoas

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It is Girl Scout Cookie Season.  I love seeing the young girls work their business in front of local establishments.  Most years I buy several boxes, usually from a co-worker or friend’s child.  This year I decided not to buy any because I have thoroughly been enjoying my baking from scratch adventures and wanted to try to make some on my own.  Two of my family’s favorites are Trefoils and Samoas.  I knew Trefoils were a type of shortbread but always wondered what was different about them.  My shortbread cookies never really tasted quite like those…

until now 🙂

Now, I really don’t have a need to purchase Girl Scout Cookies ever again unless I am purposely supporting a particular Girl Scout or I have a craving and have no access to a kitchen.

I can’t take credit for the recipes I used.  I got them from Instrucatables.com  Both recipes are simple, delicious and truly taste like the real thing.  And least with these you are a little more confident of what your ingredients are, especially if there are allergy concerns.  The cookies were so good I had to keep my family away to make sure I could pick out the picture-worthy cookies.  I think they ate the best looking ones before I could get to them.

So, first, the shortbread cookies.  My go-to shortbread cookie recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookie cookbooks: 20140303_192849[1]

I have had this book since about 2003 or so, and I love it.  This is usually where I find many of my base cookies and ideas for creative change-ups.  The shortbread cookie in this book uses 3 sticks of butter, a cup of powdered sugar, 3 cups of flour and some vanilla extract.  Whenever I make these I usually add something to it.  I have made orange-cranberry, chocolate-dipped and pecan.  The added pecan makes them taste like Pecan Sandies.

Shortbreads are “traditionally made from one part white sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour (by weight).” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortbread). Shortbread does not contain eggs like many other cookie recipes.  “The large amount of butter is what makes shortbread short: the term short, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly, like shortcrust pastry should be. It is the reason why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening.”(http://britishfoodhistory.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/shortbread/ )

So what makes the Trefoil shortbread so different?  There is not as much butter, uses regular granulated sugar, less flour and added leaveners (baking powder and salt) along with a little milk.  Those changes make the taste and texture of the Trefoil Shortbread Cookie so yummy…and addictive :-).  This recipe is really easy.  My only advice is to make sure your dough is really cold.  The dough gets very soft and is then difficult to use cookie cutters with.  In between batches I would re-wrap the dough and stick it in the freezer until I was ready to roll out and cut more.

Trefoil Shortbread Cookies: (This is the base for the Samoas!) Adapted from: http://www.instructables.com/id/Trefoils-Shortbread-Recipe/

  • 1 cup  butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Cream the butter and sugar until it is if light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Slowly as this to the butter and sugar mixture then add milk and vanilla.  Separate into two batches and wrap in plastic warp and refrigerate until firm.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  On a floured surface roll out dough to about 1/4″ thickness and cut with cookie cutters of your choice   Don’t worry too much about having too much flour added to the dough during this step.  This dough can handle the extra flour.  Use silicone liners or parchment on your cookie sheets and bake cookies for about 10 minutes.  Be sure to cool pans in between batches.  Cool cookies on  a wire rack.

Now you are ready to make the Samoas!

Samoa Cookie: Adapted from: http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Samoas-Recipe/

First make the about shortbread cookie.  For this batch I used my Linzer cookie cutter set to get the traditional Samoa cookie shape.

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For the topping, you’ll need:

  • 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (for some reason I could not find unsweetened in the regular baking aisle.  I found it in the health food and organic section-the section I prefer to shop in anyway)
  • 15-oz soft caramels (I thought about making my own caramel but decided against it this time around).
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 8 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet)

On a baking sheet toast the coconut at 350 for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool.

Place caramels, milk and salt in a microwaveable bowl.  Microwave in 1 minute intervals, stirring in between until melted.  I needed 3 minutes. Next, stir toasty coconut into the gooey caramel mixture.  Next, spread the mixture onto the cookies.  Depending on how quickly you work, you may need to rewarm the caramel mixture.  But don’t rush or you risk breaking a few cookies.

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Next, chop your chocolate and place in a microwaveable bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring until nice and smooth.  Lay out wax paper or parchment.  Dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate and place on paper.  Using a piping bag or just a spoon, pipe or drizzle chocolate on to the cookies.  Let them rest until chocolate sets, if you can resist, that is.

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ENJOY!

I was hoping to add more to this blog post to tell of my Pot Pie and waffle-cake and waffle-brownie creations from this weekend but it is getting late so I will save those for another day. Bake, Gobble and Run! (Too much snow and ice for running today.  I will get in some posts about running when ever this winter weather goes away!)

OH! I TOTALLY FORGOT TO ADD: For a special treat, crumble the Samoas up into some ice cream and add a little extra caramel sauce and mix. SO YUMMY!

Oh, another update:  The third cookie  that is on the top right in that picture is the shortbread plus chopped pecans- also very yummy!

Chocolate Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cream OR Vanilla Orange Cupcake with Mandarin Orange Buttercream

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I dream in Buttercream 🙂

Seriously.  Many of my dreams have food of some sort and quite often it is buttercream and/or dessert related.  Since I had baked on my snow day (when I was supposed to be doing schoolwork.  This back to school thing is going to take some getting used to to.  The paper I wrote yesterday was the first since 1997!)  Sorry, got sidetracked.  Back to the topic.  So since I had baked on my snow day I had not planned on baking this weekend but I forgot that I had in-laws coming to town and they were going to stop by.  We went and chatted with them yesterday and my sister-in-law kept giving hints about the desserts she has seen me post.  I knew they were planning to stop by our place Sunday afternoon so I decided I would have time to whip something up but I was not quite sure what I wanted to make.  When I woke up this morning I was dreaming of mandarin oranges and buttercream.  I had never had that combination before but I was sure there were recipes out there incorporating oranges and buttercream.  I was correct, i found several so I had a starting point.

Whenever I bake I have this strange habit of needing to make multiple things.  This is something my husband and I have in common.  Whenever he grills he has to grill 3-4 different kinds of meat items.  It can never be just one thing.  I used to think that was strange until I realized I do the same thing with my baking.  I think it is because I am always afraid at least one item will be a flop so I want to have a backup.  Also, when I am baking for others I want to make sure I have something that will please everyone’s tastes.  So for today I decided on three things:

1.  Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cream Filling and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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2. Vanilla Cupcakes with Apricot-Orange Filling and Mandarin Orange Buttercream Frosting

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3. Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Although none of the desserts came out perfectly, none were complete flops either.  My raspberry filling was originally intended to be a  fluffy swiss meringue buttercream that could be used for filling and decorating.  I don’t think I whipped the egg whites long enough and then did not incorporate the butter properly to make a smooth fluffy buttercream.   I probably added the raspberry puree too soon as well and so it came out as a thin-ish raspberry cream instead of a fluffy buttercream.  It tasted good so it I decided it could still be used for the filling but not for decorating.

The cupcakes came out good.  A basic vanilla cupcake.  For the filling I decided to just use Apricot Orange Preserves I found at the grocery store.  I originally was going to get an orange marmalade and cook it down a bit.  I decided not to cook it down and to use it as is.  It is not bad but I think I may change it next time I make these.  The orange buttercream is pretty good but I was just a little heavy handed with the Orange extract.  Next time I will either reduce the amount or eliminate it all together since I used juice from the mandarin orange cups.  Or I can just use orange juice.  We were out of orange juice so the juice from the fruit cups came in handy.

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My cookies are good.  The reason I feel these are not perfect is because of the substitution that used that I used quite often for the flavor but it makes the cookies look funny.  I prefer to use dark brown sugar in my cookie recipe but when I only have light brown sugar I will added a drizzle of molasses if I have that on hand.  It gives the cookie a more substantial flavor than just light brown sugar.  So today I needed to make that substitution.  The molasses causes the texture of the cookies to look funny and the edges spread out more than I would like.

With Molasses:

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Without Molasses:

Clasiic Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipes are posted below.  I would love to get your feedback.  Let me know what you think!!!

Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cup Flour** 2 cups sugar** 3/4 cup unsweetened coco powder** 2 teaspoons baking soda** 1 teaspoon baking powder** 1 teaspoon salt** 1 cup buttermilk** 1/2 cup oil** 2 eggs** 1 tsp vanilla** 1 cup of hot strong coffee

Combine dry ingredients,  then add liquids (except coffee).  mix until incorporated then add coffee.  Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (depending on the size pan(s) used).

Chocolate Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter(room temperature)** 3/4 cup unsweetened coco powder** 2 cups powdered sugar** pinch of salt** 2 tablespoons heavy cream(or more for a thinner consistency)

Cream butter. add coc, sugar and salt. whip until fluffy and then add heavy cream.  If you want the frosting thinner to spread more easily added more cream a little at a time.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

2 egg whites (or use Meringue powder using directions on canister to make egg whites)** 1/2 cup of sugar** 10 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (room temperature)** 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract** pinch of salt** 1/4 cup of raspberry strained puree( I put 6 ounces of raspberries in my NutriBullet then strained them.

20140216_130828 Combine egg whites and sugar then simmer over a double boiler whisking unto sugar is dissolved and reaches 160 degrees.   Then in stand mixer with whisk attachment whisk to stiff peaks. Let cool about 10 minutes.  With paddle attachment add butter 2 tablespoons at a time incorprating after each addition.  then add salt and  raspberry puree.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups Flour** 1 teaspoon baking powder** 1/2 teaspoon salt** 1 stick of unsalted butter(melted)** 1 cup sugar** 3 eggs** vanilla extract**3/4 cup buttermilk

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt.  In mixer bowl add butter sugar eggs butter milk vanilla and flour .  Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes

Orange Buttercream

2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)** 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar** 1 teaspoon salt** 2 tablespoons milk + 2 teaspoons** 3 teaspoons orange extract ( I recommend less)** 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon juice from oranges

Cream butter. add salt. add 1/2 of sugar, incorporate.  Add rest of sugar, extracts and juice.  mix several minutes until fluffy.