One of the unexpected perks that I’ve received from blogging has been the community it has created. I really didn’t know what to expect when I started out 6 1/2 years ago, but over the years my life, and recipes, have crossed paths with so many people, it’s amazing. I’ve gotten to interact with many of you guys through the comments, emails, or chatting on Facebook – and also with other gluten free bloggers. I don’t see blogging as a competition (unfortunately, some bloggers do), and so when I see something by another blogger that catches my eye, or that I think you’ll like, I will gladly share it with you (this is usually through Facebook and Pinterest). And when this blogger is not only amazing at making recipes that are gluten free, but also egg and dairy free – I am blown away. Such is the case with Ms. Cara Reed. Cara authors the blog Fork and Beans. When you have asked me questions about substituting dairy or eggs in a recipe, I will often refer you to her site. She has been able to recreate pretty much anything in a gluten free, vegan form. She is also the author of a new cookbook, Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking: Delicious, Gluten-, Egg- and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweets, which was just published in August 2014 by Page Street Publishing, Co.
When Cara asked if I would like to review her cookbook, after seeing what this gal can do, I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to take a closer look at the recipes in her book, and share my thoughts with you guys. If you don’t already follow Cara’s blog, Fork and Beans, you should, I think you’d enjoy it.
I decided to make the Hot Cocoa Snickerdoodles. My family loves Snickerdoodles, so I knew that they’d love this chocolatey version that Cara created.
- 1 1/4 cups (206 g) Cara's All-Purpose Blend (see Notes)
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (22 g) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons (56 g) vegan butter (I used regular unsalted butter)
- 4 Tablespoons (56 g) non-hydrogenated shortening
- 1 Tablespoon (7 g) flaxseed meal plus 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) water, thickened for 5 minutes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (88 g) nondairy chocolate chips
- 2 Tablespoons (26 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- With an electric mixer, beat together the vegan butter, shortening, and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and flaxseed soaked in water until fully combined. Stir in vanilla extract. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter mix until just combined. Fold in the nondairy chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix together the 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon for rolling in a small, shallow dish. For each cookie, roll into a ball with your hands (a heaping tablespoon's worth), roll them in the cinnamon and sugar and place on the baking sheet. Gently flatten with the back of a fork. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Cara's All-Purpose Blend:
3 cups (480 g) superfine brown rice flour
3 cups (538 gr) superfine sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups (288 gr) potato starch, not flour
1 1/2 cups (288 gr) arrowroot starch
With a spoon, scoop the flours into a measuring cup. Level with a knife and throw everything together into a gallon-sized baggie, seal tightly and shake vigorously until well combined. Keep stored in an airtight container.
My thoughts on the book:
This book is really gorgeous. I actually want my next book to be like this book. It is the perfect size, it has a lot of colour images, is soft cover, but it LAYS FLAT. So many books need to be held open to use them, and this one just nicely lays flat. I love that. The selection of recipes is great too – Cara doesn’t shy away from trying the hard things. The book is divided into chapters like Childhood Favorites – Cookies, Bars & Brownies – Donuts, Muffins,Scones & Biscuits – Cupcakes & Cakes – Breads & Pastries – Sauces, Toppings & Frostings. Even if you can’t have gluten, eggs or dairy, Cara has developed recipes that will not have you feeling deprived at all. The one and only drawback that I see to this book, is that it uses flour blends. I prefer my recipes to have individual flours and starches listed, so that I don’t feel like I have to make a flour blend for each cookbook I own. But, Cara does includes information on all the different gluten free flours, and gives you tips on making your own personalized flour blend as well. I decided to make a third of the flour blend recipe, which gives me enough to make a few recipes, but doesn’t tie up all my flours into one blend. Worked quite well.
I have always referred people to Fork and Beans when they are looking for egg or dairy substitutions, and Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking: Delicious, Gluten-, Egg- and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweets is an extension of the blog – if you require gluten free and vegan recipes, definitely add this cookbook to your bookshelf. Even if you don’t need the vegan part, it is easy to use these recipes using regular dairy (butter, cream cheese, etc).
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