Daring Bakers: Canadian Whoopie Pies


The December Daring Bakers’ Challenge had us all cheering – the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose… What else is there to say but “Whoopie!”


This month’s challenge was perfect for answering the question of what to make for holiday desserts. For some reason I never got onto the whoopie pie bandwangon so I was glad to give these a try and see what my family thought. Since we were encouraged to play around with the flavor combination of cake and filling, I took my inspiration from a Secret Santa gift I received right as the challenge for the month was announced.

My Santa was from Canada, and she sent me (among other things) a can of Tim Horton’s English Toffee Cappuccino mix. As I was reading the sample recipe for chocolate whoopie pies I saw espresso powder as an ingredient and thought, hey, why not use the cappuccino mix instead? I also used the mix for half of the cocoa called for (only half as I didn’t want to overpower the pies for the non-coffee fans at dinner) and the end result was a nice mocha toffee coffee flavor that even Todd enjoyed.

For the filling I went with the usual marshmallow-cream filling, but I didn’t really want to use the standard vegetable shortening it called for, so I subbed coconut oil figuring it had the same texture with a much more pleasant flavor, too. On top of that, I added a generous pour of maple syrup to make it maple-marshmallow filling, in honor of the Canadian theme of the whoopie pies. Even if I never make whoopie pies again, the maple-marshmallow filling may be making future appearances in our home–it was just that tasty.

They made for very rich desserts, so some opted to split a pie among them so they could also sample some of the other desserts, too. Knowing that, I almost wish I’d made the mini-pies. Either mini or full-sized, I can see my little brother requesting these again!

Gluten-Free Toffee Coffee Whoopie Pies with Maple Marshmallow Creme Filling
Adapted from : King Arthur Flour
Servings: 8 large or 16 small whoopie pies


For the Whoopie Pies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon Tim Horton’s English Toffee Cappuccino Mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
1/4 cup Tim Horton’s English Toffee Cappuccino Mix
2 1/3 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend
3/4 tsp xanthum gum
1 cup milk


1) Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

2) In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, cappuccino mix, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla till smooth. Add the egg, again beating till smooth.

3) Add the cocoa and remaining cappuccino mix, stirring to combine.

4) Add the flour to the batter alternately with the milk, beating till smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat again briefly to soften and combine any chunky scrapings.

5) Drop the dough by the 1/4-cupful onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between the cakes; they’ll spread. A muffin scoop works well here.

6) Bake the cakes in a preheated moderate oven for 15 to 16 minutes, till they’re set and firm to the touch. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pans. While still lukewarm, use a spatula to separate them from the pan or parchment; then allow to cool completely.

For the Maple Marshmallow Creme Filling

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup confectioners’ sugar or glazing sugar
1-1/3 cups Marshmallow Fluff or marshmallow creme
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or more, to taste)


1) (To make the filling:) Beat together the shortening, confectioners’ sugar, and marshmallow until well combined.

2) Add the maple syrup, and beat until smooth. If the filling is too thin, add confectioners’ sugar until desired consistency is reached.


Pipe or spread a generous helping of filling onto the flat side of one pie and top with another.

Gluten-Free Fudge Cookies



This time, last year, I was just getting started down the Low-FODMAP road, trying to see how it might help (or not) my IBS. Considering it was the holidays, I was a little bummed about missing out on holiday goodies and picked up a copy of the Favorite Brand Name 3-in-1 Gluten-Free Cookbook at an overstock shop just to give some no-wheat baking a whirl.

That book has become far more useful than its $6.99 price tag suggested, and inside were these instant-hit cookies that none of my friends could tell were gluten-free–always a good sign when you’re substituting ingredients!

So when I signed up for the the 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I knew which cookies would be my best bet for swapping with my fellow gluten-free baking bloggers.


Gluten-Free Fudge Cookies


2 packages (12 oz each) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1/4 tsp salt



1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine 1 package chocolate chips and butter in large microwavable bowl. Microwave on High 30 seconds, stir. Repeat as necessary until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly.

3. Beat eggs and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until blended and frothy. Add sugar; beat until thick. Add chocolate mixture; beat until well blended. Add flour blend, cocoa, baking powder, xanthum gum and salt; beat until combined. Stir in remaining chocolate chips.

4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until cookies are firm. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.


These cookies are so delectable that it’s tough to eat just one. Seeing as multiple reaches into the cookie jar are inevitable, I like to use my smaller cookie scoop and end up with around 6 dozen cookies from the above recipe. At this size they’re great for giving and still let you keep some behind for yourself.

The cookies I received in return

The cookies I received in return

I received equally delicious cookies from my fellow swappers. The first tin I received was super-generous: three different cookie types (Pecan Macaroons, Molasses Crinkles, and Oatmeal Lace Cookies) from Amy of Minimally Invasive. Next I received the pretty red box tied up with twine and filled with S’mores Cookies from Sara B (who didn’t include a blog link–if I can find her in the recipe round-up to come, I’ll update this with her link). My final swap tin just enveloped me with peppermint the moment I opened it: Jackie from La Casa de Sweets‘ Peppermint Mocha Crinkles were light and airy and truly hard to resist. I wouldn’t want to name favorites, but I will say the last ones to arrive were the first to be finished.

If you’re planning and cookie-gifting this year, keep in mind that a lot of people are avoiding wheat or gluten these days. If you’d like to make sure that more people can enjoy them, consider giving the Gluten-Free Fudge Cookies a chance.


Tuesday Reviews-Day: Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking

Tuesday Revews-Day


You know the problem with most gluten-free cookbooks, at least those I’ve seen? Unless they are baking-specific, most of the books are made up of main dishes that have little-to-no need for gluten to begin with. Great for ideas, but a little light on gluten-free usefulness.

Which is why I was so happy to peruse the table of contents for my review copy of Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt and see that at least half of the book is baked goods. Because, let’s be honest, it’s the quick breads, desserts, and other bready treats that we’re most missing when we give up wheat or gluten. And it’s those same dishes we want to most share with our families at holidays and other special occasions but meet resistance with because of so many bad dishes that have come before.

Not that the dinner-style dishes are anything to ignore! We enjoyed several suppers from within its pages and I found the rundown of gluten-free flours and starches as well as the tips for traveling gluten-free as well as preventing cross-contamination in the home to be straightforward while avoiding being dull. It allows the reader to get up to speed and start cooking as fast as possible, and that’s definitely a good thing in my book! (pun totally intended)

Battered FIsh

Batter-Fried Fish (p.79)

Just because we watch what we eat, doesn’t mean a good old-fashioned indulgence isn’t called for from time to time. Such was the case with the Batter-Fried Fish for a fish and chips night. Among the different coatings we’ve tried over the last year this has been hands-down the best.

Grilled Mandarin Chicken Salad with Sweet and Sour Dressing

Grilled Mandarin Chicken Salad with Sweet-and-Sour Dressing (p.68)

A staple of American-style restaurants, Mandarin Chicken Salad is often fried. Everyday Gluten Free gives us a grilled version whose dressing more than makes up for the missing breading, even if you skip the Caramelized Almonds like we did.


Souvlaki (p.139)

Greek food is always a big hit in our house, so when I saw the Souvlaki recipe I knew it would end up on our table. The marinade is flavorful without being overpowering and the authors suggest serving it either over rice, as we did, or in corn tortillas. A little tzatziki sauce and you’d be good to go!

Scalloped Potatoes with a Twist

Scalloped Potatoes with a New Twist (p.123)

Going back to comfort food, scalloped potatoes can be a little ho-hum. This version uses stock instead of milk or cream and adds celery leaves for additional flavor. There was a slightly green tinge to the dish, but the flavor was outstanding.

Spinach Risotto

Spinach Risotto (p.125)

The only quibble I had with the Spinach Risotto was that it didn’t follow proper risotto technique. While I knew better, I followed their directions but needed to add more liquid slowly cooked in to achieve the correct al dente texture. The combination of carrots, spinach, and zucchini, though, was right-on, flavor-wise.

And for your holiday baking pleasure, give these decadent Triple-Threat Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies a try!

Triple-Threat Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking


Makes 5 dozen

1 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup whole bean flour*
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthum gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup shortening
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

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Triple the pleasure, triple the fun–but who’s counting calories? These fudgy morsels are worth every bite!

1. In a large bowl or plastic bag, combine sorghum flour, whole bean flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, xanthum gum, salt and cocoa. Mix well and set aside.

2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate, butter, shortening, water and coffee granules, uncovered, on Medium (50%) for 2 minutes. Stir until completely melted. Set aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar and brown sugar for 3 minutes, until smooth. Add vanilla and cooled melted chocolate mixture. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls 2 inches (5 cm) apart on prepared baking sheets. Let stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until set. Transfer to a cooling rack immediately.



Baking the Low-FODMAP Way


As someone who very much enjoys cookies, cakes and other confections (I was a pastry chef, after all) this whole no wheat thing really had me concerned–especially when so many gluten-free baked goods are gritty or crumbly or just plain miss the mark. And since we started the testing portion just after Thanksgiving, I wanted to make sure I could make desserts and sweets that family and coworkers would enjoy that were also safe for me.

It was, thankfully, a lot easier than I thought it would be, and it’s mainly due to a book I’ve mentioned before: the Favorite Brand Name Gluten-Free 3 Books in 1 put out by Publications International Ltd. As I mentioned before, I picked it up on the discount rack of Marshalls or TJ Maxx, so it might be tough to find in your regular store, but if you see it, it’s definitely worth picking up.

That said, here’s the two most important things I got from that book: replacement flour blends, one for quick breads and cooking making, and one for yeast breads.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend

1 cup White Rice Flour
1 cup Sorghum Flour
1 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
1 cup Arrowroot
1 cup Coconut Flour

Mix together and store in an air-tight container. Refrigerate if you bake infrequently.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend for Breads

1 cup Brown Rice Flour
1 cup Sorghum Flour
1 cup Tapioca Flour
1 cup Arrowroot
3/4 cup Millet Flour
1/3 cup Instant Mashed Potato Flakes

Mix together and store in an air-tight container. Refrigerate if you bake infrequently.

The original recipes list cornstarch but I use arrowroot because it’s easier for more people to digest and it dissolves and thickens faster, so I like to have it on hand anyway. You can use almond flour in place of coconut flour if you’re just looking for gluten-free, but almonds were recently found to be even higher in FODMAPs that originally thought, so really should be used sparingly. Same goes for bean flours–Bob’s Red Mill, for instance, has an all-purpose gluten-free baking mix but it’s primarily bean-based, which would make it high in FODMAPs, and not a good option for this particular lifestyle.

The thing about these flour blends and why they work is that each ingredient performs a certain function that wheat flour does on it’s own. The grains alone (rice, sorghum, millet) won’t really give you the same results without the addition of some sort of starch (tapioca, arrowroot, cornstarch) and even those two components together aren’t doing much in the way of protein (which the nut flours contribute). The other benefit to these blends is that no one ingredient takes center stage in either texture or flavor. So even though coconut flour tends to be very coconutty on it’s own, when it’s in the blend it’s not very noticeable, and when the baked goods are finished you can hardly tell it’s there at all (unless you’ve got sensitive taste buds, like me).

What about commercially available blends? So far the only gluten-free and Low-FODMAP flour blend I’ve been satisfied with is Gluten-Free Bisquik, and even then it tends to be a little more on the gritty side than I prefer. More times than not I use the blends above and have far better results than any of the mixes or pre-fab products I’ve tested.

collection of Bob's Red Mill products on a kitchen counter

Not all of these go into my flour blends, but many do!

Now, when I go to put together batches of these flours, it tends to look like a Bob’s Red Mill love-fest on the counter. Simply put, they are the best resource for these specialty flours and I’ve been known to hunt through 4 grocery stores to find all the components I need on any given shopping trip. That said, they are not the only resource for certain flours as I’ve recently discovered that our local Indian market carries bags of white rice and millet flours for a fraction of the cost of BRM. Granted, BRM takes every precaution to prevent cross-contamination of their flours and other products so if you’re concerned about that, stick to them. But if you’re less concerned about being strictly gluten-free (as gluten itself is not a FODMAP), then that might be an option for you. Plus, they carry powdered coconut milk, which is fabulous if you’re wanting a substitute for powdered milk that is lactose-free and isn’t heavy on the soy. (I’ve searched for a good powdered rice milk but all the ones I’ve found have FOS or other high-FODMAP additives.)

There’s one other thing you need in order to successfully bake gluten-free and/or Low-FODMAP: Xanthum or Guar Gum. Gums get a certain amount of smack talked about them, but they are the best way to prevent the crumbly, mealy texture so common in wheat-free baked goods. Xanthum gum is usually made from corn while guar gum comes from a bean. Both are used in such small amounts that neither are likely to impact digestion to any large degree, but use whichever you feel most comfortable with. I use xanthum gum because I had it on hand from a previous ice cream experiment (it’s commonly found on low-fat or fat-free dairy products to improve texture, though too much will make the end product more slippery than anything else).

The general rule I follow when working with a new recipe or substituting the above flour blends is this:

  • For Yeast Breads or Pizza Dough use 1 tsp of Xanthum Gum per cup of replacement flour
  • For Cakes, Muffins, and other Quick Breads use 1/2 tsp of Xanthum Gum per cup of replacement flour
  • For Cookies or Bars use up to 1/2 tsp of Xanthum Gum per cup of flour

I didn’t write down where I found that but it’s come in handy as I’ve converted old recipes to my new lifestyle. Xanthum gum is also the only ingredient I keep in the freezer to preserve it as it’s one of the more expensive ingredients and gets used up so slowly.

Did I succeed that first Christmas in making delectable goodies for friends and family? Yes. So much so that most didn’t realized they were eating anything out of the ordinary. I’ve continued to bake with these flour blends, and use them in stove-top preparations like roux and gravies, for the last half a year and my friends routinely comment that if the commercial products came out like mine, no one would mind going gluten-free (or whatever) when necessary.

Confection with confidence!

AlcoHOLidays | Girl Scout Cookie Week | Coconut Dream



Oh, yes, it’s that time again. If you haven’t been accosted coming out of your local supermarket I’m sure someone on your friend’s list has posted, shared, or otherwise reminded you that, indeed, it is Cookie Time once again.

According to my sources, the official Girl Scout Cookie Week is March 10-16, 2013.

What started out as a single-troop bake sale (I’m sorry, service project) of sugar cookies, in 1917, has continued unabated (except during WWII when they had to sell calendars, instead, due to the scarcity of ingredients) into the high point of the cookie-loving population.

Of course, not everyone always loves the mighty Girl Scout cookie. I seem to recall a dust-up in recent years over their use of palm oil (it’s lack of sustainability and the fact that it destroys orangutan habitats), and then there’s the whole question of whether it’s good for a service group to sell cookies to a nation that is largely overweight. According to their website, though, they’ve embraced a more sustainable practice around palm oil.

Still, the Girl Scout Cookie has many more fans than detractors, and everyone has their favorites. While Thin Mints are undoubtedly the best value for the sheer number of cookies you get, my favorite was always the Samoas (aka Caramel deLites), even if you did only get 16 cookies in a box. And don’t get me started on how quickly a quart of Edy’s Samoas ice cream would be gone.

That was in the good ‘ol days, though. Before I had to give up things like wheat and certain sugars and, yeah, all that stuff. Sure, I could still eat them if I was willing to risk the consequences, but I also admit that they stopped being as good as I remembered several years ago and haven’t bought any for at least 2 years.

But what I can do is try to recreate that delicious flavor in cocktail form, and that might actually be even better in the long run!

Coconut Dream

1 1/2 oz Coconut Water
1 oz Coconut Rum
1 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz Tuaca
1/4 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake or stir until well-mixed and chilled, whichever way you choose. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (you can drizzle it with chocolate syrup if you want the extra oomph) and sip content in the idea that you can have this year round–no need to stockpile those green boxes.

Usually I’d shake a cocktail like this, one with a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients, but I have a staggering head cold right now and the idea of shaking anything is just not high on my list. Stirring worked out fine, so I suppose we could consider the shaken version Samoa-style, and stirred the Caramel deLite-style. Either way it’ll be delicious. While plenty of similar recipes use coconut milk, I opted for coconut water as it gives flavor without too much bulk. And I bet this would be fabulous blended with a couple scoops of ice cream.

Whether you enjoy your cookies baked or in cocktail form…