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Friday, December 19, 2014


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I have been doing my holiday baking.  I tend to make the same favorite cookies every year and then try a new recipe.  This year, for my vegetarian friends and family, I wanted to make a GF Mallomar that had homemade marshmallow cream without animal gelatin.  
     I used the traditional whipped egg white base, but replaced animal gelatin (Knox unflavored) with a kosher unflavored gelatin (Gefen Jell Dessert).  The only kosher gelatin I could find in a store near me was really unflavored jello which is meant to make a large bowl of jello not to help things gel.  This kosher gelatin is made from a seaweed, carageenan, and includes sugar and other ingredients.  Some kosher gelatin is made from fish so be sure to real the labels if using it for a vegetarian.  I was not sure how much to use to replace the plain gelatin.  I reasoned that one Tbs. may not have enough of the gelling ingredient because of the other fillers, so I decided to use 2 Tbs. of the kosher jello and one tsp. of xanthan gum.  It worked like a charm.  The marshmallow whipped up much faster than regular gelatin.  The texture was great, soft, fluffy and smooth.  When set the marshmallow had a nice spring to it. 
     The Mallomars came out wonderful.  I piped out little marshmallows with the extra cream.  Then, after setting for several hours, I coated them with confectioner’s sugar so they would not stick to each other.  These will be perfect in hot cocoa or just for eating plain.  


  1. First make a recipe for Gluten Free Graham Crackers.
  2. Then make the recipe for Vegetarian Marshamallow Cream below.
Enough for 2 dozen cookies.


1/4 cup
1/4 cup
Corn Syrup or Golden Syrup
3/4 cup
Sugar (I used the evaporated cane juice crystals.)
2 Tbs.
Unflavored Kosher “Jello”
1 tsp.
Xanthan Gum
2 Large      
Egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp.
Vanilla Extract

  1. Line baking sheets with wax paper and place the cookies out on the baking sheets.  It is necessary to have everything set up to pipe out the marshmallow cream quickly, as soon as you finish beating it.  The marshmallow will set as it cools and become impossible to pipe out.
  2. In a small or medium saucepan combine the water, sugar and corn or golden syrup.
  3. Bring to a boil and continue stirring and heating the mixture until it reaches the temperature of 235 degrees or the ‘soft-ball stage’.  Use a candy thermometer or an instant read thermometer to check the temperature.   
  4. When the mixture is nearing the 235 degrees temperature mix the kosher ‘jello’ and xanthan gum together in a small bowl.  Add the 2 Tbs. of water and mix well.  Allow to sit.
  5. When the hot sugar mixture reaches 235 degrees remove the pan from the heat and place into the sink.  Add the ‘jello’ and xanthan gum mixture to the hot sugar mixture and stir.  Set aside.
  6. Beat the egg whites to the soft peak stage in a stand mixer or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer.
  7. Add the hot sugar and ‘jello’ mixture to the whipped eggs and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  This will happen much faster than with regular marshmallows so keep an eye on the mixer.
    Vegetarian Marshmallow Cream beaten until stiff peaks formed.
  8. Transfer the marshmallow cream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round or star tip.  You will probably have to refill the bag at least once to use all the cream.
  9. Pipe out mounds of the marshmallow onto each cookie.  I made “kiss” shaped mounds with a star tip.
    Marshmallow cream piped onto cookies.
  10. Leave the marshmallow topped cookies to set at room temperature for at least 2 hours.  Avoid touching the marshmallow as it will stick to you and anything in its path.
  11. Left over cream can be piped out into kiss shapes on wax paper that has been dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  When these set, dust the tops with confectioners sugar so that they will not stick to each other and store in the fridge in a baggie or container.  These are great in hot cocoa or just plain.  You can even dip some in the left over chocolate after dipping the cookies.
    Marshmallow cream piped out onto waxed paper dusted with confectioner's sugar.

C) After the marshmallow has set, dip the cookies in chocolate as per the directions on the GF Mallomar page.  Enjoy!
Cookies dipped into chocolate on waxed paper waiting for the chocolate to set.

Monday, December 8, 2014


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

      At this time of year I like to bake lots of different things, for serving guests, giving as gifts and eating!  Baking cookies is a long standing tradition at our house.  When my son was very young he would help cut out and decorate cookies, now I am on my own.  
     I have begun to bake cookies and plan for Christmas dinner.  When I was gathering my recipes I realized that I have already posted many of my favorites.  
     Here is a roundup of my holiday recipes.  I hope you try some and enjoy the holidays!

Almond Crescent Cookies 
Delicate, easy to make and good. 

Chocolate & Vanilla Thumbprint Cookies 

Make these with caramel or jam.  Yum.

Eggnog Flan &
Traditional Flan 
Traditional or Eggnog, both are delicious.
This old fashioned recipe creates a soft creamy light custard.

Eggnog Eclairs 
Crisp shells and amazing cream fillings.
Enjoy as eggnog or vanilla cream eclairs.

Gingerbread Biscotti Cookies 
A holiday twist on a popular cookie.
Sugar, spice and everything nice.

Heavenly Chocolate Brownie Cookies 
Like bite sized brownies!

Lots of work, but worth it.

Marzipan Candy (vegan) 
A recipe with out egg whites so good for vegans
or those with egg allergies.

Mint Chocolate Brownies  
Combines two of my favorite things:
Brownies & Creamy Mint Frosting.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes 
Chocolate cake and mint cream filling.
Can also be filled with vanilla cream.

Mint Chocolate Roll Cake 
A family favorite.  Moist cake with a
light mint filling and mint glaze.

Mint Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies 
Pretty and delicious.
A bit more work than most cookies.

Orange Cookies 
Delightful orange flavor!
Can dip half in chocolate for a
pretty presentation.

Pecan Caramel Bars 
So delicious.  The caramel is
surprisingly easy to make.

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies 
If you love peanut butter you have to make these!

Rich Roll Cookies 
Rich butter cookies.
Takes time to make the shapes.

Russian Tea Cakes 
Melt in your mouth buttery and nutty.

Scottish Shortbread 
If you like shortbread, you will love these.

Eggnog Biscuits 
A unique and delicious twist on biscuits.

Pumpkin Biscuits 
Flavorful, gently spiced and sweet.

Puerto Rican Pasteles Vegan
Traditional food for a Puerto Rican Christmas meal.
A bit of work.  Faster and easier if you can get some help.
This is a vegetarian recipe using tofu.
 Usually the filling is made of pork.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I have been using this recipe for many years.  It makes an elegant and unique vegetarian main dish for a holiday meal.  This lasagna is delicious and satisfying yet much lighter than a traditional cheese laden one.  A great crowd pleaser,  there is never a drop left at pot lucks or holiday meals.  
     Originally a wheat recipe from a magazine, at our house it has changed over the years into a GF, vegan and soy free version.  I use GF lasagna noodles instead of wheat ones;  I use rice flour and corn starch to thicken the sauce instead of all purpose flour; and to make it dairy free I use a dairy free milk such as almond or rice milk and dairy free parmesian cheese.  At our house, our soy free person is able to eat dairy, so I make the lasagna GF and Dairy Free to accommodate the GF and vegan eaters and leave out the parmesian cheese from the sauce.  Then the grated cheese is served on the side.  I serve real parmesian cheese for the dairy full and soy free folks and vegan but soy full parmesian cheese for the dairy free or vegan ones.  If your soy free person is also dairy free just leave out the parmesian cheese all together, it still tastes great.  I can’t really tell the difference between the dairy free or dairy full versions, both are yummy.


1 package/12 GF Lasagna Noodles
1 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 1/2 lbs. Swiss Chard or Baby Spinach
to taste Salt and Pepper
5 cloves Garlic thinly sliced or crushed
3 lbs. Butternut Squash

2 Tbs. Butter or Oil (for Vegan or Dairy Free use oil)
3 Tbs. Corn Starch (or potato starch or arrowroot or tapioca starch)
2 Tbs. Brown Rice Flour
1/2 tsp. Himlayan Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Ground Thyme
1/4 tsp. Granulated or Powdered Garlic
1/2 tsp. Granulated or Powdered Onion
4 cups Milk (for Dairy Free or Vegan use non-dairy milk such as almond or rice)
1/4 cup Grated Parmesian Cheese (for Dairy Free or Vegan use dairy free parmesian cheese such as GoVeggie brand)
Optional, can serve on the side or omit all together
2 Tbs. Grated Parmesian Cheese for topping the lasagna (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 450℉.  Grease a 9”x13” lasagna pan with oil, set aside.
  2. Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds.  Place the squash, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet and add 1/4-inch of water to the pan. Bake 30-45 minutes until tender and easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven and allow to cool down.  When cool enough to handle, scrape out the cooked squash from the skin, dispose of the skin.  Place the squash in a bowl and mash with a fork until there are no large lumps.
    Cooked butternut squash,  mashed.
  3. Lower the oven temperature to 375℉.
  4. Cook the lasagna noodles by boiling them in salted water to which the Tbs. of olive oil has been added. You want the noodles firm as they will get softer after being baked with the other ingredients layered inside.  I usually cook them 5 minutes less than the directions on the package and check them at that point.  They should be firm and just cooked but not crunchy.  Do not let them cook too long and get mushy or the lasagna texture will be off.  When cooked, drain the noodles and spread them out on parchment paper so that they do not stick to each other.
    This is my favorite brand of pasta.
    It is just like regular pasta in taste and texture.

    Water salted and boiling with oil added.
  5. In a large pan, over medium heat, sauté the thinly sliced or crushed garlic in the Tbs. of olive oil for about 30 seconds.  Do not let it burn or cook too much as it will be bitter.  Add the chopped Swiss chard or whole baby spinach leaves and 1/4 cup of water.  Stir and cover.  Cook until wilted and tender about 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
    Sautéing garlic slices.

    Baby spinach almost all cooked.
  6. To make the sauce:  Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan and add the corn starch and brown rice flours.  Stir with a whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with the whisk until smooth.  Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, garlic and onion and mix in well.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils and thickens.  If using, add the parmesian cheese and stir.  Remove from the heat.
    Adding flours to heated oil or butter.

    Cooking the flour mixture while stirring constantly.

    Sauce all cooked.
  7. To assemble the lasagna:  Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the oiled lasagna pan.  Arrange 4 noodles over the sauce, overlapping to fit.  Place all of the cooked Swiss chard or spinach (liquid drained) on top of the noodles.  Spread out evenly.  Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on top of the greens.  Top with 1 cup of sauce.  Spread all of the butternut squash evenly over this layer of noodles and sauce.  Top with the remaining 4 lasagna noodles.  Then spread the rest of the sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with 2 Tbs. parmesian cheese, if using.  If the lasagna noodles break up a bit while cooking, don’t worry.  Save the 4 best ones for the top layer.  Use the broken ones for the bottom layers, no one will ever know.  Patch the pieces of noodles as best you can to completely cover each layer. 
    ½ cup of sauce on bottom of pan.

    First layer of noodles.
    Some have broken and are patched to cover the pan. 
    Spinach layered over noodles and sauce.

    Squash spread over second layer of noodles.

    Lasagna after all the layers are complete with
     the last layer of noodles and the rest of the sauce on top.
  8. Cover with foil and bake at 375℉ for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Allow the lasagna to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
    Baked lasagna.

    Lasagna after being cut into.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     The dairy full version of this pie was so amazing that I wanted to serve it for Thanksgiving.  My son is vegan so I decided to make both a dairy free and a dairy full version.  I made mini pies since they are much easier to serve.
     “How did it come out?”, you ask.  Really great!  There is very little difference in taste or texture between the dairy free and the dairy full versions.  I did have to adjust the recipe because the dairy free cream cheese was very tart.  My daughter-in-law can not eat soy or gluten and Daiya is the only dairy free brand that is also soy free.  Please read the recipe carefully so that you can adjust it if you use different brands of ingredients.
     I have been busy cooking all day, but I am pushing to get this post up today so that you too can enjoy this on Thursday.
     Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Makes one 9-inch pie or 15 mini pies

2 Tbs. Earth Balance Soy Free Margarine or other soy free GF, DF or Vegan Margarine - melted 
OR use vegetable oil such as canola or olive
2 Tbs. Shortening that is GF & Soy Free & DF or Vegan such as Spectrum organic on hydrogenated shortening - melted
OR use vegetable oil such as canola or olive
2 cups / about 8 oz. GF & DF or Vegan & Soy Free Chocolate Cookies  - finely crushed or ground in the food processor.
I used one (6.3 oz.) box of Enjoy Life brand crisp Double Chocolate Chip cookies since they are GF and Soy free and contain no eggs or dairy.
3 Tbs. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

8 oz. DF or Vegan Soy Free Cream Cheese - at room temperature 
I used Daiya brand since it has no soy and is vegan, DF and GF.
If soy is not a problem just use any brand of vegan or dairy free cream cheese.
1 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
I used Organic unsalted peanut butter with peanuts as the ONLY ingredient.
1 recipe Dairy Free Condensed Milk (recipe below)
4 tsp.  Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Sugar (I had to add this because the Daiya cream cheese was quite tart and the condensed milk was less sweet than a traditional condensed milk.  Taste the peanut butter mixture before folding in the whipped cream.  Add the sugar if needed for your taste.  Adjust the amount if necessary.  You may prefer to use more or less or no sugar at all at this point.)
1 recipe Coconut Whipped Cream (recipe below)

3 cups Non Dairy Milk - I used Almond milk.  You can use coconut or hemp or whatever you like.
1/2 cup Sugar - I used evaporated cane juice crystal.  For vegan be sure to use a vegetarian sugar.

1 can/ 14 oz. Full fat Coconut Cream - kept cold in the fridge overnight. I used Trader Joe’s brand and used the whole can.  
If you use coconut milk (full fat) you will need 2 cans that are kept in the fridge overnight.  Drain off the liquid (and save for another use) and use only the solid part of the coconut in the cans. 

1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 Tbs. Confectioner’s or Powdered Sugar


  1. First make the Dairy Free Condensed Milk.
  2. In a saucepan with a heavy bottom add the milk and sugar and stir.  
    Almond milk and sugar in a heavy bottom pan.
  3. Cook over a medium low flame.  It can take 2 hours to reduce the milk to about 1 cup.
    Mixture simmering on low medium heat.

    After cooking down to 1 cup.
    It took about 2 hours.

    Measuring the diary free condensed milk.
  4. Allow the milk to cool off and then pour into a glass jar and place in the fridge to cool completely.  You can make this ahead.  The condensed milk will keep for several days in the fridge.
    Dairy free condensed milk in a jar.

    What it looks like after sitting in the fridge for several hours.
  5. Next make the crust. 
  6. Grind the cookies into crumbs in the food processor.  Add the crumbs to a large bowl and mix in the xanthan gum and sugar.  Set aside. 
    Ground up cookie crumbs.
  7. Melt the margarine and shortening.  Add the melted margarine & shortening (or oil, if using) to the crumb mixture.  Mix well.
    Melted margarine and shortening.

    Crumb mixture and margarine mixture well combined.
  8. To make one large pie put the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan.  Press the crumbs as evenly as you can along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Set aside.  To make Mini Pies use paper liners in a muffin pan.  I scooped out the crumbs using a scoop that measured 1 1/2-inches.  Then I pressed the crumbs along the bottom and slightly up the side. Set aside.
    Crumbs scooped into paper liners in a muffin pan.
    Some of the crumbs have been pressed into to bottom
     and slightly up the side of the  liners.
  9. Next make the filling.
  10. With a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth. 
    Whipped dairy free cream cheese
  11. Add the peanut butter, lemon juice, condensed milk and vanilla.  Stir or beat until smooth.  I tried to use the electric hand mixer, but the batter was too thick and climbed up the beaters, so I used a silicone spatula to mix it.  There will probably be no problem mixing it if using a stand mixer.
    Peanut butter mixture.
  12. In a separate bowl add the cold firm part of the coconut milk or the entire can of coconut cream, xanthan gum and confectioner’s sugar.  Whip with a hand mixer until thick.  Add the whipped cream to the bowl with the peanut butter mixture.
    Coconut whipped cream added to the peanut butter mixture in the bowl.
  13. Add 1/4 of the coconut whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and stir or mix until smooth.
  14. Next fold in the rest whipped coconut cream using a silicone spatula.
    Beginning to fold the coconut whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture.

    The pie filling after the coconut whipped cream is completely folded in.
  15. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust if making a large pie or scoop out portions into the prepared muffin tins if making mini pies.  Smooth out the top of the pie or mini pies.  Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    Scooping the filling into the prepared muffin pan.
    Some of the tops are smoothed out.
  16. You can make this pie ahead and freeze the whole pie or mini pies well wrapped.  For mini pies first freeze them in the muffin pan so that they keep their shape.  When the mini pies are firm place them in containers or baggies and return them to the freezer. Thaw in the fridge the morning of the day you plan to serve the pie.  Left over slices can be frozen and thawed as needed.
    Mini pie after several hours of chilling.
  17. For a fancy presentation you can drizzle melted chocolate over the pie or mini pies.