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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in Recipes: Desserts & Sweets (51)

Wednesday
Jun102009

Chewy Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies with Chocolate Coconut Glaze and Sea Salt (gluten free, vegan)

 

I love the combination of dark chocolate and sea salt.  B.T. McElrath, a local chocolatier, makes an amazing chocolate bar called the Salty Dog, a combination of dark chocolate, butter toffee, and sea salt. It is positively to die for.  Anyway, I've been having salty, chocolate fantasies lately.  I was struck with an urge to bake last night while working on chemistry homework, and decided to make some kind of salty, chocolaty confection to take to work with me today.  
I've been eyeing up the "Chewy Chocolate Drops" cookie recipe on the back of the Baker's unsweetened chocolate square box recently, and thought that would be the perfect starting point.  The general idea is good - a chewy, chocolaty, petite glazed cookie - but the ingredients were an impossibility (wheat flour, eggs, sugar, butter, Cool Whip....).   So, I took to work adapting and altering, adding and substituting, tweaking and taste testing, in between licking off beaters, spoons, and spatulas, and scraping out bowls.  I pulled out all the stops, blending a few different flours, and throwing in melted chocolate, raw cacao nibs, chia meal, coconut oil, agave nectar and stevia, fruit puree.  It was very experimental.  Anyway, I finally decided to stop tweaking and bake the darn things.  While my little gems were in oven, I whipped up a coconut cream and chocolate glaze that would make an incredible chocolate sauce on just about anything.
I had to sneak a couple of the finished cookies as a midnight snack, and was totally pleased.  Success! Then I put them on my favorite antique plate, a lovely relic from my dearly departed Great Grandma Sylvia, and put them in the fridge to chill, thinking that they would be even more delicious chilled - kind of like little truffles.  This morning, I tried a cold one.  Even better than the night before! Moist and chewy, boasting a deep, dark chocolate flavor, chunks of raw cacao nibs, a little sweetness, a hint of coconut, and a bite of sea salt.  The glaze had hardened once chilled, and provided a great contrast to the soft cookie.  Wow.  This cookie was seriously good. 
So, I proudly brought them into the photo studio and placed them at the reception desk, thinking they would be lovely little treats for people to enjoy with their morning cup of coffee.  The photo studio is full of foodies (and coffee addicts).  These people know good food (and good coffee).  So, I insisted on completely honest feedback.  I was positively ecstatic to hear that everyone LOVED them.  The entire batch of 3 dozen was nearly gone by noon, and a lone cookie remained after the lunch hour; no one ever wants to take the last one.
Here is some of the feedback:
  • "A little sweet, a little salty."
  • "Oooh, cold chocolate, the best."
  • "Exquisite!  You should open a bakery."
  • "The flavor of chocolate lingers after  you're done.  Delicious."  
  • "These are great, Kim.  You could bring these in anytime."
  • "Nicely done.  Not too sweet.  I don't like really sweet things; this is great."
  • "Is that sea salt?  Nice touch."
  • "The coconut is great."
  • "Oh, they're healthy cookies?  There's fruit in them?  Okay, I'll have one. [insert eating here] Oh, this is good."
  • "I had one this morning right away and needed another one.  I really like the salt with the chocolate."
  • "Gluten free?  Really?  Now you're talking my language."
  • "Gluten free chocolate coconut cookies?  Who baked these, you?  Oh, how cuuuuuute!"
  • "Okay, I'll have just one more, since they are gluten free and they are just sitting here....  Wow, these are really good.  Is this caribou or chocolate? [she meant carob - so cute] Chocolate? Yum." - my dear friend and and coworker Amy, as she reached for her fifth cookie
  • "Wow, these things totally filled me up for breakfast!  I need another one." - Amy, as she reached for her sixth cookie
Some of the ingredients are a little wacky; not every pantry will be stocked with amaranth flour, chia seed, or creamed coconut, for example.  While the buckwheat helps add to the rich flavor of the cookie and I think is necessary, you could try substituting some other GF (or even regular flour for you gluten-eaters) for the amaranth and/or rice flour - but I can't guarantee results, since each flour behaves differently.  The chia meal helps to bind it all together and adds a moist, chewy quality.  Buy chia seeds pre-ground, or buy seeds whole and grind yourself in a coffee grinder or blender (the more economical choice).  A container of whole chia seeds is a little pricy, but it lasts a really long time, and is worth the investment.  You could try substituting ground flax, but flax doesn't retain quite as much moisture as chia, and I'm not sure how it would behave.  The creamed coconut is a must-have, so head out and pick some up; I really like Let's Do Organic Creamed Coconut.  It has a great flavor and is awesome to add to sauces, frostings, and smoothies.  Plus, it is easy to find at Whole Foods and the local co-ops (check out the baking section), and isn't too expensive (about $2.50 for a 7 oz box).  I am thinking of ordering some on Amazon - you can get a 6 pack for $9.33!
These cookies are a hit. So, make a batch, and share with friends.  Enjoy!
CHEWY CHOCOLATE BUCKWHEAT COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE COCONUT GLAZE AND SEA SALT (gluten free, vegan)
yield: about 3 dozen
Dough:
1/2 c + 2 T buckwheat flour
1/4 c + 2 T amaranth flour
1/4 c white rice flour
3 T chia meal (use pre-ground chia, or grind whole seeds yourself in a blender or coffee grinder)
3/4 c water
1/3 c fruit puree (I used peach puree)
2 T coconut oil (or other light tasting oil)
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 T agave nectar
1/2 tsp SweetLeaf stevia sweetener 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 T coarsely ground raw cocao nibs (optional)
Glaze:
1/4 block creamed coconut
1 square baking chocolate
Sprinkle:
sea salt
finely shredded coconut (optional)
BAKE THE COOKIES >>>
  1. Sift together flours and chia meal in a large bowl, and mix with warm water.  Let sit for for at least an hour at room temperature so flours and chia absorb liquid and dough becomes thick.
  2. In a microwave or double boiler, melt together coconut oil and chopped up chocolate squares.  If microwaving, check every 30 seconds or so so it doesn't burn - it will melt in 1-2 minutes .  Stir together until chocolate pieces are totally smooth, then add fruit puree, agave nectar, stevia, and vanilla, and mix with a hand mixer until well blended. 
  3. Break up dough a bit, then add chocolate mixture, and mix until nearly smooth.  Add baking powder and cocao nibs, and mix until smooth.
  4. Place in refrigerator (or freezer!) until mixture becomes more firm and easy to spoon.
  5. Preheat oven to 350*, and line baking sheets with parchment or grease with coconut oil
  6. Spoon dough onto baking sheets; each cookie should be about 1"x1", about 1 T of dough.  Bake for about 12-13 minutes.  Remove from oven, transfer to baking sheet, and let cool completely. 
MAKE THE GLAZE >>>
  1. To prepare frosting, melt together 1 square of baking chocolate with creamed coconut.  Stir until well mixed, adding a little agave nectar to taste.  NOTE: Packaged coconut cream tends to separate - the coconut solids settle and the coconut oil rises to the top.  You want to have a mix of both for the recipe, so cut the solids into quarters and the oil into quarters, and take one section from each.  Easy! 
  2. Place in refrigerator until glaze has become more firm, but still spreadable. 
FROST AND FINISH >>>
  1. Once cookies are completely cool, and glaze is firm and spreadable, frost each cookie.  NOTE: The cookies must be completely cool, or the frosting WILL melt!  
  2. Sprinkle frosted cookies with coarsely ground sea salt.  For an extra touch, add a sprinkle of finely shredded coconut, if desired.
  3. Serve immediately, or chill for maximum yumminess.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

 

Sunday
May242009

Raspberry Rhubarb Coconut Bars (gluten free, dairy free, egg free, sugar free)


While waiting in the lobby at my acupuncturist's office, curled up in a chair with the most recent copy of Eating Well, I saw a recipe for for Raspberry Bars. They looked delicious - a pecan shortbread crust, topped with raspberry filling a swirl of sweetened cream cheese. I thought I could make a version sans dairy, gluten, nuts, and sugar. It seemed easy enough - a simple crust of GF flours, a naturally sweet fruit filling, and some thickened coconut milk to substitute cream cheese. I've been milling over this idea for almost two weeks. So, when I decided to go home for the Memorial Day weekend, I had the perfect opportunity to try my recipe out: the Pre-Memorial Day backyard family get-together meal! These bars were the dessert to our delicious dinner of mesquite-smoked grilled chicken, creamy collard jicama slaw, and roasted vegetables.

Ooooh, and were these bars ever tasty - they passed the test with my grandparents and my parents. Instead of using all raspberries, I decided to throw some rhubarb in the mix, making use of my parents' legendary rhubarb plants that grow in the backyard. Rhubarb was a regular spring and summer baking ingredient in my family. Back in my gluten and sugar eating days, I made every variation of rhubarb dessert you could ever imagine. Bars, cakes, cookies, pies, sauces, jams, relishes, the list goes on. Anyway, I love the tart flavor. And it combines so well with the sweetness of berries - I couldn't resist adding it in! The coconut swirl was tasty and creamy, and added a nice, pretty marbled look. And the crust was delicious - dense, rich, and just a little sweet. I think the recipe for the crust would make a great shortbread cookie all on its own!


Baking notes:
This is a very low sugar recipe. Both rhubarb and raspberries are very low sugar fruits. To sweeten, I used a combination of stevia and agave nectar - the entire recipe only uses 1 1/2 T of agave.

To set the raspberry rhubarb filling (and the coconut cream), I did use gelatin, as the original recipe called for. I'd like to try a version using agar agar instead, but this time around opted to keep in the gelatin, because it was easy and I'm not vegan. I used one small packet of regular Knox gelatin for the whole recipe - 2 tsp for the fruit filling, and the remaining gelatin the packet for the coconut cream swirl.

I think I may have made enough changes to make this recipe 'mine' at this point - but thanks to Eating Well for providing such great inspiration!

RASPBERRY RHUBARB COCONUT BARS (gluten free, dairy free, egg free, sugar free)

yield: 1 8"x8" pan
Crust
1/4 c brown rice flour
1/4 c white rice flour
1/4 c amaranth flour
1 T arrowroot starch
1/2 c finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp salt
3 T cold coconut oil, cut into small pieces
4 T ice water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/16 tsp stevia
Raspberry Rhubarb Filling
2 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 T water
2 c fresh raspberries, divided
1 c rhubarb, finely sliced (can substitute additional 1 c raspberries if desired)
1 T agave nectar
1/16 tsp stevia
Coconut Cream Swirl (makes more than you need)
scant 1/2 tsp gelatin dissolved in 2 T rice milk
3 T arrowroot dissolved in 2 T rice milk
1 c regular coconut milk
2 T rice milk
1/2 T agave
1/2 tsp vanilla
To prepare crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 400* F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with coconut oil.
  2. Whisk together flours in a medium bowl.
  3. Place flour, shredded coconut, salt, and stevia in food processor, and pulse a few times to mix. Add coconut oil one piece at a time until incorporated; mixture will be grainy. Add ice water and vanilla and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Transfer to the prepared pan. Press evenly and firmly into the pan to form a bottom crust.
  4. Bake the crust until is set and just starts to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and let crust cool completely on a wire rack.
To prepare raspberry rhubarb filling:
  1. Wash raspberries, and wash and slice rhubarb.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin or agar powder over 2 T water in a small bowl. Let stand, stirring once or twice, while you prepare the rest of the filling.
  3. Reserve 16 raspberries for garnish. Puree the remaining raspberries, rhubarb, agave, and stevia in a food processor/blender until totally smooth.
  4. Transfer raspberry rhubarb mixture to a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Stir in gelatin and cook, until gelatin is melted, about 1 minute.
  5. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Pour the raspberry mixture into another medium bowl and set it in the large bowl of ice water. Refrigerate mixture, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatular, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of loose jam and is beginning to set around the edges, about 45 minutes to an hour.
To prepare Coconut Cream:
  1. Dissolve gelatin in 2 T rice milk for a few minutes. In another small bowl, whisk together 3 T arrowroot and 2 T of rice milk, until smooth.
  2. Place coconut milk, vanilla, and agave nectar in saucepan and bring to a bubble over medium heat. Add gelatin and cook for about 1 minute. Then add arrowroot and stir; mixture will thicken immediately. Whisk briskly and remove from heat.
  3. Pour coconut mixture into bowl, and place in the fridge. Chill until thickened, about 30-45 minutes, vigorously whisking often. This mixture will have a gelatinous, kind of goopy texture - just whisk it, it will get better after it chills!
Assemble and chill:
  1. Once thickened, remove raspberry mixture from fridge and stir. Spread the thickened raspberry filling evenly over the crust.
  2. Vigorously whisk the coconut cream. Dollop the mixture over the filling, adding as much or as little as you'd like. There will be leftover cream! I blended my leftovers with some frozen blackberries and made tasty berry cream to eat with scones I'm going to bake tomorrow morning with all that rhubarb...
  3. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the fillings to create a swirled or marbled effect. Then, nestle the reserved berries into the filling, evenly spacing them so each bar will be topped with a berry when cut. Refrigerate until completely set, about 3 hours.
  4. Remove pan from fridge, and slice with a sharp knife into 16 2"x2" squares. Serve!


 

Sunday
May172009

Three-Bite Sunflower Cookies (gluten free, vegan, sugar free)

While my new apartment is perfect for so many reasons, it is lacking one thing: garden space.  So, my friend Amy is letting me use some of the garden space in her backyard.  Since it was the perfect day to garden - sunny, lightly breezy, and about 65* -  I  dedicated the afternoon to preparing the soil and planting.  There is nothing more grounding than working the earth with your hands, feeling the soil between your toes, and nurturing the promise of a summer harvest.  I planted all sorts of things: butternut, delicata, and buttercup squashes, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, beets, kale, swiss chard, peas, and a variety of lovely herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, savory, thyme, tarragon, and lemon balm).  I can't wait for my garden to grow! 
Anyway, tilling the soil, fertilizing, planting, and putting up a fence to protect the plants from Pickle, Amy's crazy Boxer,  worked up a serious appetite.  By the time I got home, I was ready to gnaw my dirt-covered clean hand off.  After a lovely and satisfying dinner of salmon, steamed parsnips and broccoli, and seared brussels sprouts (leftovers from my pickled brussels sprout project), I wanted something a little sweet.  A cookie.  Yes, I wanted a cookie.  So, I whipped these up.  
Oooh, and yummy, yummy, yummy, these petite three-bite cookies satisfied my sweet tooth.  Why "three-bite"?  Because they can be gobbled up in one, two, three little bites.  Perfect.  That means you can eat a few, and it equals one normal cookie, right?  
Studded with sunflower seeds and chopped up chocolate chunks, and sweetened with stevia, they have a bit of crunch and are just sweet enough.  I used SweetLeaf sweetener; it is a mixture of stevia and inulin.  If using pure powdered stevia, use a little less than my recipe calls for.   My chocolate "chips" are an experimental homemade mixture of ground raw cacao nibs and agave nectar; feel free to substitute any kind of carob chip, chocolate chip, or chopped up carob/chocolate product of your choice.   For moisture and binding ability, I used a little Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) and pureed cooked peach (substitute applesauce or any fruit puree).  Yum!  These are soft and cakey, and would be very tasty with a glass of your favorite milk substitute.  I'm totally out of rice milk, so I had mine with some licorice tea instead, and that was pretty good too.  
I really like making petite cookies, and think these are totally charming in their diminutive size.  If you insist on baking a bigger cookie, I'd suggest flattening the dough slightly with a fork, probably baking a little bit longer. I also froze a few scoops of the cookie dough for baking later, and will also be freezing the leftover baked cookies; I'll update on how those bake/thaw.   Enjoy!

THREE-BITE SUNFLOWER COOKIES

yield: about 30 petite cookies

3/4 c millet flour
3/4 c amaranth flour
1/4 c arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp salt
2 T sunflower butter (or other nut/seed butter)
1/2 c fruit puree (I used peach)
3 T sunflower oil, safflower oil, or other light tasting oil
1/3 c hot water
1 tsp SweetLeaf sweetener (stevia-based sweetener)
1/3 c toasted sunflower seeds
1/3 c carob chips, chocolate chips, coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate, etc...
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and prepare a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together flours and starch.  Add salt and baking powder, and whisk together.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sunflower butter, fruit puree, and oil with a hand mixer until smooth.
  4. In a microwave or saucepan, heat 1/3 c water; once heated, dissolve stevia in the water. SEt aside.  
  5. Add flour mixture to fruit/sunflower butter mixture, adding in batches, and mixing in between.  Before the last batch of flour, add the hot water, mix, and then finish adding flour, stirring only until moistened.
  6. Quickly and gently fold in sunflower seeds and carob/chocolate chips, stirring only until evenly mixed.
  7. Scoop by the tablespoonful on prepared baking sheet, and back for 10-12 minutes, until firm to the touch and lightly golden.
  8. Remove from oven, let cool on baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

 

Saturday
May092009

Coconut Rice Flake (Poha) Cookies (gluten free, vegan, low sugar)

My friend is having a party tonight, and it is a great cause for celebration.  So, I wanted to make something special to take to the party.  He, his housemates, and most of their friends are all very socially, environmentally, and dietarily aware; they are a communal household that all work for a volunteer corps.   They are a mix of vegans, vegetarians and conscientious omnivores, so, I knew whatever I'd make, I'd have a totally receptive audience.  
I have been wanting to give another go at using pressed rice flakes (a.k.a. poha or flattened rice) in cookies,  in an attempt to conjure up the texture of oats.  Poha is used in Indian cooking for desserts, porridge, and different snacks.  It is simply dehusked rice, flattened into little flakes.  I found a really inexpensive 2 lb bag of poha at one of my favorite Asian grocers, and have been playing with different ways to use it; my last attempt didn't turn out as well.  I tried using it in bread; the flakes didn't absorb moisture as readily as oats during baking, and instead of plump, chewy flakes of rice, I ended up with rather dry, poky flakes that reminded me of press-on fingernails.  Gross. I had a hard time eating the bread after making that mental association.  It makes me kind of queasy just thinking about it. I was not pleased.  
The other option for tonight's cookie contribution was a macaroon.  This was also a very tempting choice.  I have never tried making macaroons, and thought a vegan, sugar free macaroon would be a fun challenge.  
Instead of choosing one or the other, I decided to make a macaroon-inspired rice flake cookie.  To avoid having dry, poky rice flakes this time around, I soaked the rice flakes in coconut milk first.  It totally did the trick, and those suckers plumped right up.  No press-on fingernails in these cookies, no sir.  Only chewy, coconutty, rice flaky goodness.
My cookies turned out chewy and moist in the middle, flaky around the edges, and a nice golden brown color.  I spiced them with a hint of cardamom, lightly sweetened them with fruit puree and just a dab of brown rice syrup, and didn't add and extra fat or oils - the coconut milk and coconut add plenty all on their own!  In keeping with the macaroon theme, I decided to dip half the batch in some melted down homemade carob chips.  Yum...
The cookies were a hit at the party, and everyone liked them - vegans, animal product eaters, and gluten-lovers alike. One girl said that they were some of the only vegan cookies that she'd actually want to eat.  My friend Lauren said that they are her favorite gluten free vegan treat I've made thus far; she was a very good sport to a highly experimental, only semi-successful carob-chocolate-zucchini-millet-rice cake a few months back.  The cake was weird.  The coconut milk carob frosting was delicious.  Yes, my gluten free vegan baking skills are definitely improving...  
The carob dipped ones went more quickly than the undipped; it added a nice touch, and I will do it again.  While many people liked the cookies just as they were, many people commented that they could stand to be a little sweeter (not a surprising or uncommon comment for my baked treats).  I only added 1 T of brown rice syrup for the whole batch; if you like a sweeter cookie (most people do!), feel free to add more per your preference, or add a little stevia instead.  
As for me, I will definitely be making these for more parties in the future.  Success!


COCONUT RICE FLAKE (POHA) COOKIES (gluten free, vegan)
yield: 36 cookies

 

2 c  pressed rice flakes (poha)

1 15-oz. can regular coconut milk
1/2 c rice milk
1/4 c fruit puree
1-4 Tblsp brown rice syrup, depending on sweetness preference (reduce fruit puree or rice milk if adding 3 or 4 Tblsp of sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla
2 c finely shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/4 c tapioca starch
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tblsp agar agar powder dissolved in 2 Tblsp boiling water
optional, for dipping:  melted chocolate chips or carob chips (either store bought or homemade
  1. In a large bowl, combine coconut milk, fruit puree, rice milk, vanilla, and brown rice syrup, and whisk together until well mix.  Add rice flakes, stir to coat evenly with liquid, and let soak for 20-30 minutes, until rice flakes are softened but not mushy.
  2. Preheat oven to 350* and prepare baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom powder, and salt.  Add coconut and whisk again until well mixed.
  4. Put water on to boil.
  5. Add dry ingredients to soaked rice flakes mixture, stirring until just combined.
  6. Dissolve agar agar in 3 Tblsp of boiling water, then add to dough mixture, stirring until just evenly mixed.
  7. Use a cookie scoop to scoop dough onto baking sheets, then flatten lightly with a fork.  Bake in oven for 20-23 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.  
  8. Remove from oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to rack to finish cooling.
  9. If you want to dip in carob/chocolate, melt down chocolate/carob chips, or make a fresh batch of the homemade carob chips.  Dip completely cooled cookie in the melted down chocolate/carob and cool on cooling rack, or place in fridge to cool more quickly.  Once chocolate/carob has cooled to solid, serve 'em up!

 

Sunday
May032009

Apple Pear Streusel Cake (gluten free, vegan, sugar free)

While reading my copy of The Yeast Connection Cookbook some time ago, I came across a recipe for "Magic Apple Pie".  I was intrigued - it was a crustless pie, sweetened with pureed pears.  I knew I had to try it some time.  I've had a hankering for a fruity dessert thing lately, and since I am having a few friends over tonight - the first social gathering at my new apartment! - I decided now is as good a time as any to try this whole magic apple pie thing out.  Instead of a pie pan, I put it in a square pan to make a cake, and whipped up a crunchy, lightly sweetened streusal topping to add to the top.  As it baked, and my home filled with the sweet smell of baking apples, I got a good feeling about it.
I couldn't resist sampling a bite before my friends arrived, and was totally pleased with the result! This cake is a little fragile, but has a good texture and amazing flavor. The combination of pears and apples is lovely - making the pureed pear sweetener is a litlte time consuming, but well worth the effort.  I used mesquite flour and a little allspice to achieve a spicy, warm flavor, but if you can tolerate cinnamon, go ahead and use that.   The streusal topping is crunchy and just a little sweet, and adds a nice touch. 
My friends really liked it, and thought it tasted great.  They were surprised that it didn't have any added sugar.  I like getting feedback from my gluten-eating, sugar-loving friends because I feel like I've lost my ability to be an impartial judge - I'm glad they are good sports and supportive of my baking endeavors.  We all agreed that while the cake was totally delicious, it would be awesome to add berries.   The cake is fairly moist and the apples are juicy, but overall, it is verging on the crumbly side, since brown rice flour tends to cook up a bit dry.  So, added berries would help add a nice, juicy twist - apple blackberry perhaps?  Or maybe use sliced pears instead of apples, and add blueberries.  Or sliced peaches and raspberries.  Or use only berries.  Or maybe rhubarb?  A handful of nuts or seeds thrown in would be delightful as well.  The combinations are endless, and I'll need to try this recipe again.  
Give a try exactly as it is, try using other fruit, or add nuts; either way, I think you'll be very happy!  This would make a great crumb cake for breakfast brunches or afternoon tea parties.  For something more dessert like,  serve up with a scoop of your favorite ice cream-like frozen dessert, or a dallop of whipped coconut milk or non-dairy yogurt - or the real stuff, if you're a dairy eater.  


APPLE PEAR STREUSEL CAKE (gluten free, vegan, sugar free)

adapted from The Yeast Connection Cookbook by William G Crook and Marjorie Hurt Jones
yield: 1 9"x9" pan (12 or 16 slices)
2 1/3 c pureed ripe pears
1 c brown rice flour
1/2 t salt
2 T mesquite flour OR 1 t cinnamon and 1/4 t nutmeg
dash of allspice
4 1/2 - 5 c finely sliced cooking apples 
1/3 c coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/4 t vitamin C crystals OR 1 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
2 T boiling water
1/2-2/3 c streusel topping (recipe below)
MAKING PUREED PEAR SWEETENER
  1. Wash and chop pears, and put in blender to the 3 cup level.  Liquefy.
  2. Add additional fruit to reach about 2 1/3 c, and liquify until smooth.
  3. Transfer to saucepan and boil 20-25 minutes, stirring occassionally, until it boils down and condenses to 3/4 c.  
ASSEMBLING INGREDIENTS
  1. While pear sweetener is boiling, prepare other ingredients.  Oil and dust with flour a 8x8 or 9x9 square cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and mesquite flour/spices and mix well.
  3. Peel and slice the apples, and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350* F.
  4. Once pear sweetener is ready, add vitamin C crystals to the cooked fruit puree.  NOTE: If using cream of tartar, combine it with the flour.  Stir the oil into the fruit puree until well mixed.
  5. Pour the pureed fruit mixture over the flour mixture, and mix well with a whisk or electric mixer.  
  6. Combine baking soda with boiling water, stir to dissolve, and add to the flour/fruit mixture.
  7. Quickly fold in the sliced apples, and immediately transfer batter to prepared pan.
  8. Sprinkle evenly with struesel topping, and place in oven.
  9. Bake 55 minutes, or until cake and topping are browned and apples are tender.
  10. Let cool completely, slice, and serve!
CRUNCHY BROWN RICE STREUSEL TOPPING (gluten free, vegan)
yield: about 2/3 c 
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/3 c crispy brown rice cereal, lightly crushed
1 T xylitol
dash allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg
3 T coconut oil, solid
  1. Lightly crush rice cereal in your hands, and mix in small bowl with other dry ingredients.
  2. Rub solid coconut oil in to cereal mixture with your fingers, until it is well combined and crumbly.
  3. Sprinkle over muffins, cakes, bars, or breads before baking.  NOTE: because  there isn't any sugar in the recipe, and rice flour does not brown like wheat flour, it will not get brown in the same way as traditional streusel.