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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sugar free biscotti (vegan too!)

They say necessity is the mother of invention. A family member of mine has type II diabetes so I'm constantly trying to figure out how to make sugar-free desserts from the desserts I like which are never sugar-free! So I made my vegan cupcakes processed-sugar free by substituting two thirds of a cup of Splenda and a quarter cup of Agave syrup for the 1 cup of white sugar.  The recipe makes enough for 18 cupcakes, but I only have one cupcake pan which serves 12 so I always have leftover batter.   Hmm ... what to do with the left over batter?  Usually I just pour what's left into an 8 x 8 pan and bake it and eat it.   I had biscotti on the brain because I was reading Cookie Madness post Red Velvet Biscotti not too long ago. I figured if Anna could use a cake mix type batter and make biscotti, then I should at least try to do the same. They were excellent and I could not tell they were sugar-free!  Because of the oil they have a crispier texture, not hard and crunchy.  They won't crack your crowns! Also, because no eggs are involved they are just plain easy to make, cholesterol free, and it doesn't matter if the cake is under-done!!!!  
Here is what they looked like, but please don't judge their looks too harshly. They were an afterthought after all!  

1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I used lemon juice)
1 1/4 cups cashew milk or other nut milk (or regular milk if you are not vegan)
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup AP and one cup whole wheat pastry-next time I'd use all ap or add some regular whole wheat..they didn't stay together well enough with the pastry flour)
2/3 cup granulated splenda

2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup agave light syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon orange extract 

1 cup raisins
3/4 cup sliced almonds optional

Preheat oven to 350°
Coat a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick spray or line with nonstick foil.  Set-aside.

Put the one tablespoon of lemon juice into a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill with milk to make 1 and 1/4 cups. Let stand until curdled or about 10 minutes. 

Soak raisins in a hot liquid of your choice for about 10 minutes-then drain.  I use a combination of Capt. Morgan's rum and Triple Sec!   (You may want to drain into a mug to enjoy later!)
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl whisk together the nut milk lemon mixture, oil, and extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Mix in the sliced almonds and raisins. 

Pour batter into your 9 x 13 pan. (*Note:  For the cookies pictures here I poured the batter into the pan, did not spread it out, refrigerated it for 15 minutes, and then baked it.  It stayed higher in the middle and thinner towards the edges.)  Here's the tricky part: Bake for 15 minutes and check. When using Splenda baked items seem to get done quicker.  When a toothpick comes out clean they are done. Let the cake cool about an hour. This is a delicate cake so it will crumble if not cool.
Turn oven down to 300°
Slice the cake into biscotti size pieces, lay them on a cookie sheet so the cut edges are facing up and bake for 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven, turn them over, and bake for another 15 minutes. I ended up baking mine a little bit longer, but every oven is different.   Your diabetic friends will thank you for this!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poppyseed Onion salad dressing

Just a quick post about my FAVORITE salad dressing!  I had a strawberry chicken salad at a local restaurant called Crossroads Deli.  It came with their house poppy seed dressing.  It was love at first bite! When I arrived home I went on a quest to duplicate the dressing.  I succeeded.  I found a recipe in Portal to Good Cooking which tasted exactly like the Deli salad dressing on my first try!
As usual I did modify it just a little to suit my tastes.  It is sweet and savory at the same time.  Who would have thought onions and sugar would go well together?
This dressing goes well with a savory salad such as chicken over greens or with mandarin oranges and toasted pecans over greens.   It goes well with sliced strawberries in a garden salad also.   You must try it!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vinegar-I use cider vinegar or regular vinegar
1/2 of a medium onion quartered
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons dry mustard
1 cup salad oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a blender blend  the sugar, vinegar, onion, salt, and dry mustard until mixture is smooth.  At this point you can taste it to see if you need more onion.
Add salad oil. Only blend for 10 or 15 seconds-if you blend it much longer it will get too thick.   Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds and blend another 5 seconds or so. Refrigerate for an hour before using, but if you run out of time it will be fine to use this dressing right after blending is complete.