Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free*, and Sugar-Free

It’s been a bit of a quiet week on the baking front, so I just have a short post today. I thought it would be fun to go back and talk about a cake and cookies that I made a few weeks ago.

I’ve put an asterisk on the dairy-free part of this post, because I made this for someone who cannot have most milk products, but is able to consume butter. So the cake and cookies that I made are only half dairy-free, in that I did keep regular milk out of them, but I did use butter. For a truly dairy-free dessert, I would have to replace the butter with coconut oil or a good butter substitute.

In addition to the dairy constraint, I had to make a cake that was gluten-free, and also sugar-free. I already had some Truvia at home (my boyfriend is trying to cut down on sugar), so I had a good 1:1 sugar replacement on hand. I used a cake recipe that I’ve tried before, which combines sugar (swapped with Truvia this time), cocoa powder, eggs (a whole carton!), and butter. The cocoa powder acts somewhat as a replacement for flour, and the eggs provide lift in place of other leavening agents. I really like this gluten-free cake recipe, as it relies on only four ingredients, instead of having to deal with gluten-free flour replacements. As much as I like my gluten-free flour blend, it’s often difficult to fully eliminate the slight aftertaste or strange textures that can accompany gluten-free flours. It’s nice to have a recipe that eliminates them all together, and the batter looks surprisingly ‘normal’ for cake batter:

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This actually only made a single-layer 9″ cake (I was expecting it to rise up more, but the eggs didn’t provide quite as much lift as I’d imagined. A scaled-down version of this recipe seems to work quite well in a 6″ cake pan and gives me a tall little cake). This worked out alright, as there were other desserts available for the event, so a thin cake was ok. I topped with a ganache made with coconut milk, cocoa powder, and some Truvia. I found this a little difficult to work with, so I wasn’t able to get as smooth a finish as I normally would like on a cake. To jazz it up a little bit, I spread a little white food gel on my large offset spatula and dragged it across half the cake in a counter-clockwise sweep. I’ve seen this done with mirror glaze cakes before, and while I do enjoy the look here, it definitely benefits from a runnier icing.

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The second challenge was shortbread cookies. I didn’t have to replace the butter, so that was fairly easy, and I was able to again swap the sugar 1:1 with Truvia. Here I did have to work with a gluten-free flour, so I opted for a whipped shortbread so I could handle the dough less. Normally, I roll out my shortbread into a rectangle and cut it into roughly 1″ x 2″ pieces, but gluten-free flour can sometimes be a little more crumbly, so I opted instead to whip the butter and flour together and treat these more like drop cookies. Using two spoons, I dropped spoonfulls of dough onto my baking sheet, and pressed down on the cookies with a fork. I made 48 of these, and you can see I’ve labeled with a black Sprinkle & Dot label (I use red to indicate “normal” baked goods, and black for any baked goods with dietary concerns).

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I had a few cookies leftover, so I was able to try one for myself. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of the aftertaste of Truvia, so these weren’t exactly my cup of tea, but the initial taste and texture of the cookies was quite good! I’m not sure what other sugar replacement options are out there, but I wonder if they all come with an aftertaste. The initial taste was sweet and buttery and these cookies had a melt-in-your-mouth texture, but I wish I could find a replacement for sugar that doesn’t come with the aftertaste. It was the only sour note on an otherwise lovely cookie, but in the end I’m still quite happy that I was able to bake not only a chocolate cake, but also 4 dozen cookies without a hint of wheat or sugar.

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