Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies

Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies

These cookies should come with a warning: Utterly addictive. Be forewarned. They are everything that I love about Mexican Wedding cookies – nutty, buttery, lightly sweet, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. They also happen to be grain and gluten-free.

(These cookies are also commonly called Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes.)

If I was just going to make one cookie recipe a year, this one would be it. Mexican wedding cookies and I go way back. They are a deeply impended favorite, so I am thrilled that I finally have an allergy-friendly version to enjoy for a special treat!

We made these for our daughter’s “Frozen” themed birthday party – we went with a snowy theme, and “snowball cookies” fit into that well, and looked lovely on the table with the décor. But truthfully, I would eat these if they looked like reindeer poo’ because they simply have such a wonderful flavor!

I used just two flours in this recipe – almond and tapioca flour. I’ve been noticing many, many paleo-ish recipes using this combination, and so have started experimenting with it myself. It really works well in this recipe! I’m excited to continue to experiment with other recipes with this flour combination.

(Amazon links below are affiliate)

I adapted this recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I continue to be amazed that often I get better results adapting from old gluten-filled recipes, then when starting with a gluten-free recipe.

I use a very finely ground almond flour (like this one). I am not sure how they would turn out using a more coarsely ground flour. I also choose to go ahead and use organic powdered sugar for this recipe. Because I was making these for a crowd of friends, I wanted the flavor to be very similar to traditional Mexican Wedding Cookies. However, I think that they could be very delicious with coconut sugar! Coconut sugar tends to add a caramel undertone to baked goods that I actually like; it’s just not quite as delicate. You can also powder coconut sugar for a more delicate texture (and even add a little arrowroot powder to it to mimic store-bought powdered sugar). Regardless, one of the aspects I love about these cookies is that they aren’t very high in sugar.

I choose to use chopped almonds in place of the more traditional chopped pecans simply because I was making a double batch, and it was so much cheaper. However, they tasted just perfect! So use whatever nut you prefer.

I did use a food processor in this recipe, and made the cookies small (they will hold together the best this way – and they seemed very much like regular cookies!).

Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies 2

Grain Free Mexican Wedding Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 3 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped almonds (or pecans or walnuts)
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) room temperature butter (I recommend organic and/or pastured butter)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup organic powdered sugar (see notes above)
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour
  • Extra powdered sugar for dusting, as desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. On a large sheet pan, place the chopped nuts, and toast, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes, or just until you start to smell their aroma released. Set aside to cool, and turn off oven. Once cool, grind further in the food processor (you want fairly fine bits, not chunks). Don't over-process and make it oily or powdery.
  2. Dump out into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Now place the butter, salt, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla extract into the food processor and process (scrapping down the sides as needed) until smooth and fluffy. Add the nuts back in and process until combined. Now add the two flours. and process once more. If you have a small food processor that can't handle all of the ingredients, simply scrap out the butter/sugar mixture into a bowl, and hand mix the flours into it.
  4. Now place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes at least, or until the dough has firmed up enough to be able to roll into balls (You may find it necessary to leave for up to 2 hours, depending on how cold your refrigerator is).
  5. Once ready, preheat the oven again to 350F, and use a teaspoon to scoop out batter and roll lightly into balls, and place on a parchment covered sheet about 1-inch apart (there will be some spreading). Baking one sheet at a time (placing dough back into the fridge between batches), bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet for about ten minutes to firm before removing to cool rack. Repeat rolling/baking/cooling process until all of the cookies are cooked.
  7. Using a sieve, lightly dust the cookies with powdered sugar, if desired, for that snowy sweet look.

 

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

Peanut butter, unrefined sugar, coconut oil and vanilla are combined, hardened in the freezer then sliced into bite-sized morsels of bliss. These silky, sweet & salty little chips taste divine on their own, but this is a dangerous path to tread! I try to reserve them for a special treat atop ice cream or in cookies and other baked goods.

You may also want to check out the many other mouth-watering peanut butter recipes on this blog!

It was my 3-year old daughter who first opened the door to peanut butter chips. We were shopping at Trader Joe’s when she made the decision to place a bag into her kid-sized cart. My knee-jerk reaction was to quickly and nicely veto it, then redirect her to the dried mango. But I paused and skimmed the ingredients. Could have been worse. I decided to stroke her confidence and bring them home.

Last time she did this I ended up with 5 cans of sardines! I got a little creative them them.

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

How these chips act in baking (it’s a little different)

When you take out the additives, and use unprocessed ingredients, peanut butter chips melt at a lower temperature. So you have to store these in the freezer then take them out immediately before you use them.

  • In cookies and scones they work perfectly, leaving little pockets of gooey goodness.
  • In muffins they leave somewhat concentrated pockets of peanut butter but they get absorbed by the muffin so there is no change in texture. Could be a good thing, but I’m just letting you know what to expect. (I’ve only tried them in coconut flour muffins, so they might act differently with less spongy flours.)
  • In waffles & pancakes – I haven’t tried this yet but I’m assuming they will work similar to the cookies since they are cooked quickly.
  • Over ice cream they are absolutely delicious!

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

Using unrefined powdered sugar

You’ll need to use powdered sugar in these. Thankfully making your own unrefined powdered sugar is easy!

I have also tried a different method, leaving the sugar un-powdered and melting all the ingredients over the stove. For whatever reason, I had a surprisingly difficult time getting the coconut sugar to melt so powdering your sugar first is definitely the way to go.

UPDATE: I think melting the ingredients gently on the stove-top then cooling would work. I thought the coconut sugar wasn’t melting but now I realize that the graininess I was tasting was the texture in the natural peanut butter – it was more prominent when it was melted. I think the  graininess would be unnoticeable when cooled!

I hope you enjoy them!

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips - The Nourishing Gourmet

Super-Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Chips
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Topping, Add-In
Serves: about 4 cup
 
These simple and delicious peanut butter chips come in handy for many purposes.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup powdered coconut palm sugar or powdered sucanat (it's easy to make your own)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sea salt, to taste (if your peanut butter is not salted)
Instructions
  1. Stir together the ingredients until smooth.
  2. Pour into a parchment paper lined baking pan (mine was 9x13)
  3. Freeze for 1 hour
  4. Slice up into chips (for best results, place the pan on cooling packs when doing this)
  5. Store in the freezer until immediately before use
Notes
You can certainly reduce the sugar! I put in a fair amount because we usually make our baked goods not-too-sweet so we like a sweet chip inside them.

Almond and sunflower seed butters would also work well.

Grain-Free Pizza “Pockets”

Grain free pizza pockets - These freeze well and are so fun!With a crunchy crust and a flavorful filling, no one complained about eating a grain-free meal last night! These flavorful pockets were very satisfying and filling, and make a very fun lunch or dinner (I’d recommend serving it with a homemade salad with a yummy homemade salad dressing!). We aren’t a grain-free family, but since we are gluten-free, our meals often end up being grain-free. And with beautiful foods like these homemade pockets, everyone is happy (even those in the family who CAN eat gluten!).

Proving that advertisement to children really does work, I still remember when “Hot Pockets” were a new and very cool product. I’m quite certain that I begged and begged my mother to buy me some. I think she did finally once, and I was pretty happy. But I’m not sure I was actually that pleased with the actual product. Regardless, I don’t remember much about my experience eating them, though I still remember exactly where they were placed in the freezer that day.

I think I will remember these ones for the flavor, not where I put them in my freezer ten years from now. ;-)

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My Inspiration

As I talked about yesterday, I have been really inspired to freeze more foods lately. I talked about being inspired by two of the books in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle (only on sale for a couple more days, by the way). What I didn’t mention was that this project was already on the schedule for my first experiment! They were inspired by the Grain-free Grab and Go eBook by Hayley from Health Starts in the Kitchen. This book is also part of the bundle (hey, when you have 73 eBooks, you end up with a lot of good stuff in there!). She has some a-m-a-z-i-n-g recipes in there. She has pockets for breakfast, pockets for lunch, pockets for dinner. Some are very American, some are Ethnic. They all sound great. I knew I had to try them.

Here’s Hayley’s book, among the other books in one of the categories of the bundle.

Following my own advice, I wasn’t so much trying to make huge amounts to freeze, but try out a few recipes to see what we liked best. These were such a hit, I’m definitely adding them to my list of recipes that are “good to freeze.”

Here’s what I tried out

I made three crusts. I made a slight adaption of Hayley crust from her book (I didn’t have the same seasoning, so I substituted), which was a tapioca and almond flour based crust. Technically, almonds are a food I am not supposed to have a lot of, so I wanted to also try out a very interesting alternative – yuca root crust. The third crust was completely accidental! When attempting to make Hayley’s crust the first time, I accidently poured in potato starch instead of tapioca starch! Turns out, it works just as well! I figured that was a good substitution tip to share with you all.

The almond flour/starch based crust firms up nicely, and is quite crunchy and delicious when cooked. The taro root crust is quite soft, yet still manages to be “bread-like” when cooked. We also lightly pan-fried these pockets for a crunchy outside, and then they were perfect.

I don’t have permission to share’s Hayley’s beautiful crust recipe with you all, since it’s part of her lovely eBook. However, if you aren’t able to purchase her book or the bundle right now, you could try this similar recipe here (just be aware that the ratios are different and I haven’t actually tried this recipe yet). For the amount of filling below, I’d double it.  I DO want to share my own tips with on making them however, and my own filling recipe.

You can also buy the bundle by clicking on the button below.

Grain-free Pizza pockets - These freeze well and are so fun!

For an almond flour/starch batter:

  • Don’t expect your first few to look perfect. Like most things it takes a little practice. At first I wasn’t spreading out the batter in the pan thin enough, so my pockets were too small for the amount of filling I should have been using. My first few were not beautiful, but they were still delicious!
  • Don’t overcook the batter when pan cooking your pocket dough. If it gets too crunchy, it’s harder to press together (if that happens moisten your fork with a little water).
  • Instead of pressing the edges together in the hot pan, I removed it to a plate, poured in batter for the next pocket dough, and while the first side cooked, moved to the plate, and pressed the edges together.
  • Put some music on and relax while you are making them! It does take a little time, but once you get a rhythm going, it goes much faster.

Grain Free Pizza Pockets - made with a yuca dough!

For the yuca crust

I got my recipe from Predominately Paleo, who I believe first created the “yuca dough.” Kudos to her for developing them!

A few notes:

    • The yuca has to be peeled, boiled, blended, and then cooled before you can work with it. This takes some time, but each step is very simple, and most of the time is not hands-on time, but waiting time.
    • The dough is very soft, and a fairly easy to break, so you have to make much smaller pockets.
    • Pan-frying them after cooking is the way to go. We also found that they could be cold in the refrigerator (as leftovers), and panfrying them warms them up perfectly. Win-win!
    • You absolutely should watch this video to see what you are going to be doing. It should take away any fears about the recipe.

  • Don’t overheat your blender when blending.
  • I loved the dough, but definitely think salt should be added to it. I’d recommend 1 teaspoon during the blending process.

To get the recipe for the dough (and another delicious filling) go here.

I also wanted to note that this method of freezing breakfast burritos would probably work great for these pizza pockets too!

Grain-Free Pizza "Pockets"
 
 
Next time, I am thinking of adding a red pepper, cubed mushrooms, and olives to the mix! This is enough to fill one recipe of the almond/starch crust, or the yuca crust recipe. Our favorite was the pork. Follow the instruction for filling the crusts per recipe you’ve chosen to use.
Ingredients
  • ¾ pound ground beef or pork, grassfed preferred for the beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • A generous pinch of thyme and oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (we used goat), optional
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, brown the meat with the dried herbs and garlic. When cooked through, if needed, remove any grease with a spoon (tip the pan slightly to allow the grease to run to one side).
  2. Stir in the tomato paste and then salt generously to taste.
  3. If using the cheese, place a couple tablespoons on top of the meat filling before closing.

 

Blueberry Lemon Clafoutis with Einkorn Flour (refined sugar free)

Blueberry Lemon Clafoutis with Einkorn Flour (refined sugar free)

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Plump blueberries burst in your mouth as the creamy custard-like batter hints of fresh lemon zest and the subtle zing of ginger. This adapted version of the traditional French dessert is absolutely brimming over with summertime flavor! The classic version is made with cherries, covered with a batter of eggs, milk, flour, and sugar, and served as a dessert sprinkled with powdered sugar. I love the idea of substituting nourishing ingredients and serving this rustic looking treat as a breakfast or brunch option as well.

This recipe is free from refined sugar, and uses beautiful raw honey to lightly sweeten the batter. I love the flavor that orange blossom honey brings, but any honey will do. For those who don’t need to avoid dairy and gluten, this recipe contains both, along with eggs. The great news is that dietary substitutions can easily be made and I find the recipe is very flexible!

It’s also one of the most simple recipes I’ve made. A layer of fruit, mix up the batter, pour it on top, and bake. Easy as pie clafoutis :)

Kimi has posted a number of clafoutis recipes including a dairy and gluten free version made with cherries, as well as an apple version that is grain free. Both look delicious and would be worth your time to try!

Blueberry Lemon Clafoutis with Einkorn Flour (refined sugar free)

Why I chose to use einkorn flour

I recently began experimenting with einkorn flour and I’m loving it. Einkorn flour is an ancient grain and the first variety of wheat. It has never been hybridized and actually contains less gluten than more modern varieties of wheat, making it easier to digest for some (information from Jovial Foods).

For me, when I eat food made with modern varieties of wheat I notice some bloating and uncomfortableness afterwards. This has caused me to bake less (bummer!), and not consume many wheat products. Einkorn has been a game changer for me as it has proved to be much easier on my belly. Along with that, its lovely white color and fluffy texture make it a beautiful ingredient to work with.

Blueberry Lemon Clafoutis with Einkorn Flour (refined sugar free)

I buy einkorn flour at my local natural food store, or you can purchase it from Jovial Foods or Amazon. (affiliatelink) Jovial’s einkorn wheat is grown in the beautiful hills of Tuscany, and I love supporting this small family operation. Here is some nutrition information about einkorn flour from the Jovial Foods website.

* High in Thiamin, essential dietary and trace minerals

* Good source of protein, iron, dietary fiber and a number of B Vitamins.

* Contains a significant amount of the powerful antioxidant Lutein

* Higher Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) than durum and bread wheat

* Higher content of proteins, tocols and carotenoids than other species of wheat.

* Lower percentage of nutrient loss during processing

I have a feeling this recipe is going to become a staple in my home. With the changing seasons you can substitute a variety of fruits as the base, keeping it exciting year round. Pastured eggs make this dessert extra hearty and full of the nutrients our bodies need, making it a great option for breakfast or brunch as well. It’s best eaten plain at a lukewarm temperature, or topped with some homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Blueberry Lemon Clafoutis with Einkorn Flour (refined sugar free)3

Clafoutis would pair well with:

Other fruit based desserts you may enjoy:

Blueberry Lemon Clafoutis with Einkorn Flour (refined sugar free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert or breakfast/Brunch
 
This dessert is beautifully simple, using nourishing ingredients, and can be adapted in various ways. It's a cinch to put together, even on a busy weeknight!
Ingredients
  • Butter for greasing the pie dish
  • 1½ cups of fresh blueberries
  • Zest of 1 lemon and a splash of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (optional)
  • ⅓ cup raw honey (Any will do, but I used orange blossom wildflower)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup einkorn flour (regular wheat flour, soaked or sprouted, should work fine too)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F and grease an 8 or 9 inch pie pan, liberally, with butter.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the blueberries with grated lemon zest, fresh ginger, and a few squirts of lemon juice. Evenly spread this mixture on the bottom of your pie pan.
  3. In that same large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Whisk it well, or use a hand blender to remove all the little flour lumps. Pour the batter over your blueberries and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until it’s set and a knife comes out clean.
  4. Top with powdered sugar if desired (this is the traditional method of serving, but if you’re avoiding refined sugar like I am, homemade whipped cream sweetened with honey or maple syrup, or a homemade vanilla ice cream would be a perfect addition!).
Notes
Kimi Notes: To make this into a "soaked" version, substitute buttermilk or kefir for the milk and cream, and combine with the flour. Cover and leave overnight in a warm place for 12-24 hours. After that point, you can combine the rest of the batter ingredients with the soaked flour.