The response to some of my previously posted gluten free cookie recipes has been absolutely overwhelming. It's eye-opening how many of you are searching for wheat-free, sugar-free, fat-free, vegan, or just generally healthier versions of old favorites. The number of commercially available gluten free flour varieties and cake mixes has dramatically grown over the last few years. You'll probably find a section dedicated to gluten free products in the aisles of your local supermarkets. Specialty markets like Whole Foods, Fresh and Easy, Trader Joe's, Sprouts (most of them in Southern California) and health food stores are usually very well assorted and carry not only gluten free ingredients, but also prepared foods. You'll find hamburger buns, waffles, cakes, a variety of different breads, and other baked goods in the frozen section; cookies, crackers, pasta, soup, and plenty more in the gluten free aisle. Some tastier than others, but all pretty expensive. A box of Betty Crocker gluten free cake mix is priced anywhere from $5.00 - $7.00. Online sources such as vitacost.cost.com, udisglutenfree.com, bobsredmill.com, and amazon.com tend to be much more competitive and most offer coupons and free shipping.
You may be better off experimenting with ingredients you already have in your pantry or searching for dessert recipes that are naturally wheat free. Cocoa powder, almond meal, polenta, shredded coconut, and beans all make great substitutions for flour. Yes, you heard right, beans! Garbanzo beans work really well, but as I found out this weekend, so do kidney beans. Puree a can of drained beans in the food processor and you'll end up with a smooth paste, which not only replaces flour, but also any added fat in your cake batter. The use of beaten egg whites results in a fluffy, light, almost sponge cake like texture.
I wanted to make lemon cake, but then the dark red color of the beans threw me off and I had to change plans. Can't make a red lemon cake, I thought and turned the recipe into chocolate coconut bites. Gluten free baking is very much about trial and error. Some recipes will turn out fantastic, while others will barely be edible. Even though it can be frustrating at times, don't give up and keep experimenting.
1 14 ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/4 cup coconut, shredded, sweetened
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 egg whites. at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 12 inch baking pan.
Using a food processor or immersion blender puree beans until very smooth. Keep scraping down the sides of your mixing bowl. Make sure the texture of the bean paste is fine and that there are no lumps. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
With mixer beat 1/2 cup of sugar and egg yolks for about 3-4 minutes or until light and creamy.
Add bean mixture, baking powder, cocoa powder, coconut, and almond meal to egg mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined.
Beat egg whites with remaining 1/2 cup sugar until stiff. By hand gently fold beaten egg whites into batter. Do not overmix, as you want the tiny air bubbles in the egg whites to expand during baking and create a light texture and delicate crumb.
Spread into prepared pan and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and turn out onto wire rack. When cooled completely, cut into small squares and dust with confectioners' sugar.