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Monday, December 16, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     First of all, this recipe comes with a warning...this is a highly addictive substance that once consumed is just about impossible to stop until there is nothing left.  It is a bit on the sweet side, and you do reach your sugar saturation point quickly.  This sugar rush is all there is to buffer you from eating it all at one sitting (unless you happen to have extra strong will power). 
     Pecan Caramel Bars are a Southern recipe.  Pecans are abundant in the south so many recipes from that area contain these nuts.  The rich butter flavor of the caramel and shortbread are wonderful with the buttery nuttiness of the toasted pecans.  I’m sure you can replace the pecans with walnuts or chopped almonds in this recipe; let me know how it turns out if you try this, I, myself, will be sticking with the pecans.
     This is the first time I ever made caramel sauce from scratch.  It is quite surprising how easy it is.  The results are OMG good.  No more bottled sauce for me.  Now I am even confident enough to try homemade caramel candy.
     I was browsing around the Internet looking at various recipes for bar cookies.  I liked how these looked with the whole pecans so I used the recipe from the One Lovely Life blog.  Of course, as usual, I converted it to gluten free.  The shortbread ingredients were very similar to my Scottish Shortbread recipe, so I decided to use my recipe for the crust replacing the regular sugar with brown sugar.  I followed the caramel sauce as it was written.  No need to change that a bit.  I have an “everything is better with chocolate” attitude, so I put chocolate on half of the cookies.  These are delicious either way.  I have to say that I prefer the un-chocolate ones, since you can taste the buttery caramel better.

Makes 24 1X2-inch bars.


1/2 cup/1 stick Unsalted Butter - room temperature
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
3/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum


5 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbs. Cream or Half-and-half or Milk
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 cup Pecans - toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare an 8x8-inch square pan by lining it with parchment paper that covers the bottom and goes up two of the sides.  Leave some extra  paper on the sides so that you can grab the paper and lift the cookies out of the pan.
  2. In a small bowl mix the flours, salt and xanthan gum.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer beat the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. Knead the dough for about a minute.
  6. Place the dough in the pan and press it evenly on the bottom of the pan.  Prick holes across the bottom with a fork.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly brown on the edges.  Remove from the oven.  Keep the oven on.
    Shortbread crust all baked.
    Note the extra parchment paper on the sides
    so that you can grab it and lift the cookies out of the pan.
  8. Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. 
  9. While the nuts toast and the shortbread cools for a little while, make the caramel sauce.
  10. In a medium saucepan add the butter, sugar, honey, cream and sea salt.
    Caramel sauce heating up on the stove.
  11. Over medium heat, stir frequently until the mixture comes to a boil.
    Caramel sauce boiling.
    It is frothy with large bubbles.
  12. Boil for 3 minutes.  The mixture will be frothy with large bubbles.  Remove from the heat.
  13. Add the vanilla and toasted pecans.  I left the nuts whole, you can rough chop them if you prefer.  Stir.
  14. Pour the caramel sauce over the shortbread.  Spread the nuts and caramel sauce out as evenly as you can.
    Caramel sauce with pecans
    spread out as evenly as possible over the shortbread crust.
  15. Return the pan to the oven and bake about 10-12 minutes until the edges are bubbly.  Remove from the oven.
    Shortbread covered with caramel sauce after baking.
  16. If you want to use chocolate, sprinkle 2/3 cup of chocolate chips over the top. 
    Half with chocolate chips.
    Wait a few minutes until the chocolate softens and then spread out evenly over the top with a knife. 
    After the chocolate softened from the heat
    it was spread out with a knife.
    I covered half with chocolate and use 1/3 cup of chips for this.
  17. Leave in the pan to cool.  After it cools for at least 20 minutes, cut into pieces of the desired size.
    Cooled pieces spread out on the parchment paper.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I had some ricotta cheese left over from making gluten free lasagna so I decided to make some Ricotta Cheese Cookies.  These are soft cake-like lemon scented cookies that you can eat with or without lemon glaze.   The glaze is very tasty, but it does make for a sweeter cookie, so I glazed half of the cookies and left the rest plain. 
     I do not remember where I originally got this recipe.  I used to make them with regular flour and now that I do not eat regular flour I converted the recipe into a gluten free version.  
     These Italian cookies can be made with different flavors.  Many people use orange zest and juice in place of lemon and some will add chocolate chips. Some people use only the vanilla extract (& no lemon or orange zest), others use only anise or almond extracts. Recipes also vary with the amount of ricotta cheese that is added.  You can go wild and vary the recipe to your liking.

Makes 40 cookies


1 cup Sugar
1 stick Unsalted Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 large Egg
1 large Yolk
Zest 1 Lemon (divided in half - reserve half for the glaze)
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice - freshly squeezed.
1 cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup Chickpea Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
8 oz. Ricotta Cheese

(Enough to cover half the cookies double if you want to glaze all the cookies)

1 cup Confectioners sugar (Sift the sugar first and then measure it out.)
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
Zest Lemon - use the other half of the zest reserved from making the cookies
2-3 tsp. Milk, water or lemon juice (I used coconut milk)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare baking sheets by lining them with a silpat pad or parchment paper.
  2. With a mixer or by hand cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat in well.
    The eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and zest combined with the creamed butter and sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl add the flours, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt and mix well.  Add the flour mixture all at once to the butter and egg mixture.  Mix until well combined.
    Flour and butter egg mixtures combined.
    Ricotta cheese ready to be blended into the dough.
  5. Add the ricotta cheese and mix well.
    Completed dough after the ricotta cheese was mixed in.
  6. With a scoop that measures 1 1/2-inches across or with a tablespoon, scoop out dough and place onto the prepared baking sheets.  These cookies spread out a lot, so be sure to leave 3-4 inches between the mounds of dough.
    Dough scooped out onto the prepared baking sheet.
    The dough was a little too close and the cookies almost ran together.
    I only put 12 scoops of dough on the next pan.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.  The time will vary according to your oven, so it would be wise to check the cookies after 12 minutes to see if they are done yet or still need more time.
    Baked cookies.
    Note that the dough could have been a bit further apart.
  8. Cool on racks.
  9. To prepare glaze: mix the sugar, 1 Tbs. lemon juice and zest with a small whisk or fork.  Add additional juice, water or milk, 1 tsp. at a time until all the glaze is smooth and slightly runny.
    Dipping the top of a cookie into the glaze.
  10. Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze, or brush the tops with it.  I set a rack in a baking pan and then placed the glazed cookies on the rack to set.  The excess glaze will drip off through the rack and be caught in the baking pan.
    Glazed cookies drying on a rack.
    Note that the excess glaze has dripped onto the pan below the rack.
  11. The glaze will take about 2 hours to set.  Once set you can store the cookies between sheets of wax paper in a tin.  If the container is too airtight the glaze will soften and get runny so plastic tubs will not work well.  The unglazed cookies can be stored in airtight containers.
    Unglazed cookie on left and glazed cookie on right.
    They are both delicious.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     Now that Thanksgiving is over it is time to transition from pumpkin and spice to gingerbread and chocolate mint recipes.  I was in the mood for cookies, which is a bit unusual for me, I always want cake.  I did not want to tackle gingerbread houses quite yet as I am still a bit worn out from all the Thanksgiving baking and cooking. Gingerbread Biscotti were just the thing...simple to make with a delicious spiced flavor.  The whole house smells wonderful with these baking. 
     I used my Macadamia and Chocolate Chip Biscotti recipe as the base.  I replaced the macadamia nuts with sliced toasted almonds, and added dried cranberries, molasses, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. The batter was a bit too runny with the molasses, so I added extra flour as well.  As some people (I won’t name names) do not ‘like chocolate’ (with the exception of just about every chocolate dessert I ever made) I baked half the biscotti without chocolate chips.  
     This gingerbread cookie is delightfully scrumptious and crisp, but not too hard.  Biscotti are twice-baked cookies that you can dunk in coffee, tea, hot cocoa, milk or whatever hot or cold beverage you choose.  I prefer a subtler spice flavor in foods.  If you like really strong, knock you socks off spices just amp up the amount of spices to your taste.  You can also add some black pepper if you like spicy gingerbread. 



1 cup Sorghum Flour
1 1/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Chickpea Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
1 cup
Sliced and Toasted Almonds (You can use chopped walnuts or pecans or hazelnuts also.)
1/2 cup (optional) Dried Cranberries or Currants or Raisins (To plump them up: soak the cranberries, or raisins or currants in a small bowl of hot water for 15 minutes.  Drain and pat dry before adding them to the other dry ingredients.)
1/2 to 1 cup (optional) Chocolate Chips (For Dairy Free or Vegan use Dairy Free or Vegan Chips)


2 large Eggs  (For Vegan: In a small bowl add 1/2 cup water, 2 Tbs. Corn Starch, 2 tsp. oil, 1/8 tsp. xanthan gum & 1 tsp. baking powder. Whisk together well before adding to the rest of the wet ingredients.)
1/2 cup Sugar (I used evaporated cane juice crystals.)
1/3 cup Olive Oil (or melted butter or margarine)
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Orange Zest (the zest from 1 orange)
1/4 cup Molasses (Unsulphured Blackstrap)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silpat pad or parchment  paper.
  2. Add all the flours, spices, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt to a large bowl.  Stir  until well mixed.  Add the nuts, cranberries (or currants or raisins) & chocolate chips,  if using and stir well.  Set aside.
    Wet ingredients on left and dry ingredients on right.
  3. Add all the wet ingredients together and mix well.  
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in all at once.
    Wet ingredients poured into the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir until well mixed.
    Batter all mixed.  Very thick and sticky.
  6. Spoon out the batter to form two logs.  Each should be about 2 inches wide and almost as long as the baking sheet.  The batter will spread out so leave plenty of space between the logs and the pan edges.   Also, try to make each log high to allow for the spreading out during baking.
    Batter formed into two logs on a silpat lined baking sheet.
    The top and sides were smoothed with wet hands.
  7. Use wet hands to smooth out the tops and sides of the logs and to help form high logs. 
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the pan half way through baking.  The center of each log should be firm and not soft and mushy when done.
  9. Allow the logs to cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Hot logs will crumble easily when cut.  Cooled logs will stay together well when sliced. 
    Cooled logs ready to be sliced.
    The log in the back has chocolate chips.
  10. Cut each log into slices about 1 inch thick.  For cleaner cuts, I use a serrated knife to gently saw through the top crust and then firmly push the knife straight down to finish each cut (if you use a sawing motion the whole time the cookie crumbles too much). 
    Cooled logs being sliced.
  11. Place the sliced cookies, cut side down, back onto the baking sheet.  Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Turn the cookies over half way through the baking time to get more even baking and browning. 
    GF Gingerbread Biscotti after the second baking.
  12. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container or a wax paper lined tin.  
  13. They will keep fresh for at least two weeks, if there are any left.