Gluten-Free Doesn't Mean Dessertless
June 15, 2013

Gluten-Free Doesn’t Mean Dessertless

As I wrote about on May 27, 2013, I have had to start a gluten-free diet due to a gluten intolerance that is affecting my health in several ways. So, since then I have been researching gluten-free recipes and trying a bunch out. I recently came across an article on the Huffington Post from April 2013 about gluten-free desserts. I have never really been one to indulge in desserts regularly, but I do like to have them from time to time. I thought I would share these dessert options with redOrbit readers who may suffer from a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease.

As the Huffington Post article acknowledges, being on a gluten-free diet can be incredibly frustrating for all parties, especially when it comes to desserts because “cookies, cakes and other baked goods include flour in some form, but there is a whole world of other desserts that either don’t contain gluten to begin with, or can be easily adapted to substitute almond meal, or other gluten-free ingredients. Think mousses, meringues, baked fruits, ice creams, sorbets, etc. — even your friends who include gluten in their diets will be lining up for seconds.” So, here are some of the Huff Post’s suggestions.

These three recipes come from Simply Recipes.

1. Baked Apples Recipe


4 large good baking apples, such as Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins

1 Tbsp butter

3/4 cup boiling water


1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash apples. Remove cores to 1/2 inch of the bottom of the apples. It helps if you have an apple corer, but if not, you can use a paring knife to cut out first the stem area, and then the core. Use a spoon to dig out the seeds. Make the holes about 3/4-inch to an inch wide.

2) In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, currants/raisins, and pecans. Place apples in a 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking pan. Stuff each apple with this mixture. Top with a dot of butter (1/4 of the Tbsp).

3) Add boiling water to the baking pan. Bake 30-40 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. Remove from the oven and baste the apples several times with the pan juices.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Yield: Makes 4 servings.


2. Flourless Lemon Almond Cake Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

It helps to separate the eggs first, while they are cold, and then let them sit to come to room temperature as you prep the other ingredients. Eggs are easier to separate when cold, and they perform better as leavening agents when at room temperature. When whipping egg whites, make sure your equipment is perfectly clean. Any fat (or even bits of egg yolk in the whites) can keep the egg whites from properly whipping up.


4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature

2 Tbsp lemon zest, packed

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup (100 g) white sugar, divided 1/4 cup (50 g) and 1/4 cup (50 g)

1 1/2 cup (170 g) finely ground almond flour*

1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure your baking powder is fresh!)

1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

* If almond flour is not available at your market, you can grind up blanched, slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground. I would start with a little more than 1 1/3 cups, perhaps 1 1/2 cups. Our local Whole Foods carries a Bob’s Red Mill brand of finely ground almond flour which is what we used for this recipe.


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 °C). Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and grease it and the sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon the egg yolks, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, ground cardamom, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat until smooth.

4) With an electric mixer with a very clean bowl and clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed. When bubbles start to form, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of vinegar (both the salt and the vinegar will help the beaten egg whites maintain better structure, as will the sugar in the next step). As the egg whites begin to increase in volume, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, a little at a time, as you continue to beat the eggs whites. Beat until soft peaks form.

5) Fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a large scoopful at a time. You won’t get much lift with the first third of the egg whites, but as you add more, you’ll be able to gently fold in the whites in such a way as to create a light batter.

6) Gently scoop the batter into a the prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake helping it to separate from the side of the pan. Release the springform pan sides, and gently move the cake (on parchment) to a cake serving plate. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar before serving.

Yield: Serves 8.


3. Gluten-free Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutesCook time: 20 minutes


1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (I only had 3/4 of a stick so I used that and added 2 Tbsp of olive oil. It worked fine.)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 Tbsp molasses

1 Tbsp honey

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin purée

2 cups Red Mill’s gluten-free flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest)

1/2 cup buttermilk*

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup raisins

Frosting ingredients:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup confectioner’s powdered sugar, sifted

*Note to make your own buttermilk, combine 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let stand 10 minutes before using.



1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. In a mixer, beat the butter, molasses, brown sugar, and honey together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. (Start on low speed and increase to high speed to get the mixture light and fluffy.)

2) Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and pumpkin purée. Beat until well mixed.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients—the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the pumpkin batter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

4) Use a wooden spoon to mix in the pecans and raisins.

5) Arrange paper cupcake holders in a muffin tin. Portion out the batter into the cupcake paper cups, filling them close to the top of the cups. Bake about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven to a rack. Let cool completely before frosting.


6) In an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add maple syrup and confectioners’ sugar and mix to combine. Once cupcakes have cooled, apply the frosting.

Yield: Makes 16 cupcakes.

Beyond these, the Huffington Post article has links to recipes for donuts, chocolate chip cookies, meringues, crepes, and several others. This is a great page for anyone looking for a variety of gluten-free dessert options.

Image Credit: LHF Graphics / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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