Baking with Almond Flour: Unique Desserts
Baking Unique, Healthy Desserts with Almond Flour
We are all familiar with traditional desserts like cakes, pies, cookies, muffins, donuts, and more. But every now and again we come across unique desserts that can become all-time favorites. I know for me as I have slowly transitioned toward eating foods that are gluten free foods, low in carbs, and guilt-free, some of my favorite unique desserts are those that I never thought I could continue to enjoy.
I was so excited to write this blog and explore the possibilities of baking with almond flour and making gluten free desserts. Personally, these unique desserts are ones that I like to share with others, mostly because I don't want to eat them all by myself! As you explore them for yourself, know that we have done our best to include the healthiest options in the recipes so that you can feel better about enjoying them and sharing them with friends and family.
My top three unique desserts that test my will power are funnel cakes, cream puffs, and bread pudding. The Magic Cookie Bars were a fun discovery in writing this blog, and I now understand why they are called "magic." Since each of these are unique desserts in working with almond flour, the conversion ratios were slightly different. In the case of the Magic Cookie Bars, a complete replacement came from a creative space while baking with almond flour and making many delicious desserts.
Let's start our exploration with the Gluten Free Bread Pudding. Most bread puddings call for stale bread as a key ingredient, and we all know how bread is full of gluten, high in carbohydrates, and not always one of the healthiest options. Pair that with the sugars, and we can all agree there could be a considerable amount of guilt that comes with enjoying a traditional bread pudding. So in our recipe, we replaced the traditional bread with Almond Flour Bread. If you are making fresh Almond Flour Bread and do not have the time to allow it to become stale, we have a solution. Just place the Almond Flour Bread in the oven a second time and bake it until the bread crumbs become harder, which replicates the stale texture needed for bread pudding.
The conversion ratio of our Gluten Free Bread Pudding recipe exists in the Almond Flour Bread recipe itself. If you have not already done so, read our blog on Baking with Almond Flour - Breads and you will learn a ton about how to make great bread using almond flour versus traditional flours. This recipe for bread pudding is still not the healthiest since it still calls for sugar and evaporated milk, but I have some workarounds for you if you are interested.
You can make your own Evaporated Almond Milk by simply simmering down almond milk to reduce and concentrate the flavor and texture. It is reduced to about half the thickness of a heavy cream, and it substitutes beautifully. Anytime you see a recipe calling for sugar, some great sugar substitutes are agave, maple syrup, and honey. Of course, you will have to discover your favorite sugar substitute and play around with those conversions when making the bread. You can also consider a straight substitution of coconut sugar, which is a healthier choice.
My next all-time favorite unique dessert recipe is Funnel Cake. I remember when I was young and I would go to the fair or an amusement park with my family. I always begged for a funnel cake, and it was just as much a highlight of my experience as the rides and everything else. I never knew where else I could find a good funnel cake, so the good news was it wasn't something I could incorporate into my daily lifestyle. I was so excited to make this Funnel Cake recipe which uses healthier ingredient choices. Gluten free foods, especially when it comes to baking, sometimes needs to be combined with the right ingredients to emulate original recipes. If you have ever had a funnel cake, you know that there is a light airiness about them.
I knew that incorporating almond flour into this recipe would enhance the already fabulous taste, but I also knew that I would need to compensate to maintain the lightness of the Funnel Cakes since almond flour is denser than traditional flours. So I made sure to add other gluten free foods and flour alternative options to help keep the airiness. Also, we have added in a little xanthan gum to increase the elasticity and stickiness of the batter. I took out the milk and dairy and replaced it with Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk. I also replaced the vegetable oil with coconut oil. These three subtle modifications make this recipe for Gluten Free Funnel Cake much healthier than any funnel cake you may find at an amusement park. The combination of the variety of flours and xanthan gum keep the integrity of the texture and gorgeous cakey pastry finish.
My third all-time favorite unique dessert that in its traditional form is not considered a gluten free food is cream puffs. Coming from the Middle East, I was brought up enjoying so many different types of unique desserts and pastries with cream puffs being an all-time favorite that my aunt used to make. Every year for my birthday she would make cream puffs for me knowing that they would make me happy. As I have matured, I try to stay away from these types of unique desserts for health and vitality reasons. So I could not wait to figure out how to make Gluten Free Cream Puffs since they were another one of my all-time favorites as a kid.
Food not only makes our taste buds happy, but it can also stir up emotions anchored into our past childhood memories and fill our hearts and stomachs up at the same time. These cream puffs are one of those food items that do this for me personally. Just like funnel cakes, there is a light airiness about the outer shell of a cream puff that pairs wonderfully with the creamy, sweet center. In the recipe for the outer shell of the Gluten Free Cream Puffs we use Nature's Eats Almond Flour, but to keep it a gluten free food we also incorporate several other gluten free foods. The lightness of other alternative gluten free flours like tapioca flour and the gluten free flour options are combined with a variety of alternative flours to maintain the light airiness of the outer shell.
I decided to make two variations of this recipe so that vegans can also enjoy them. The Vegan Cream Puffs recipe is the healthiest option as we have substituted butter, eggs, and cream with alternative options. Its filling is made with coconut cream rather than heavy cream, and we also use an alternative to sugar incorporating maple syrup and agave into these gluten free foods.
Last but not least is the recipe discovered by tapping into creativity: Magic Cookie Bars. These are typically made using graham crackers on the bottom as the crust. Rather than using traditional graham crackers I simply use almond flour with some delightful flavoring and sweetness. The almond flour in this gluten free food recipe helps turn the traditional Magic Cookie Bars to a gluten free foods option. I was so happy to have picked this recipe adventure.
I can't even begin to tell you how tasty these are. I offered some to my roommate, and he immediately wanted to post about them on social media. With each bite he took of these Magic Cookie Bars, I could hear him make moaning noises. As you can imagine, it was a pretty proud moment for me. A grown man groaning over Magic Cookie Bars says a lot in my book. Although I was very proud of this recipe, I wanted to figure out how to make it the healthiest option.
The main ingredient that is the least healthful is the condensed milk. Every other ingredient is reasonably nutrient dense. So this inspired me to develop a recipe for Almond Condensed Milk which you can substitute in this recipe for those that are vegan or wanting a better option.