Gluten-Free Recipes for Dessert

Master Almond Cake

July 29, 2019

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh

This is a variation of my English Bakewell Tart with shortbread pastry crust, raspberry preserves layer, almond cake and sliced almonds. One of my son’s most favorite desserts so the first one I made completely gluten-free. If you can only eat other nuts, then weigh (roughly eyeball from packet) nut you can eat, add sugar and process together in food processor until nuts are very finely ground. Sugar helps stop nuts from turning into a paste. 

This is what I make for those times we’re asked to bring something to a meeting. Throw it all in a bowl and beat. I get into trouble with friends at conferences if I don’t bring it with me. Including flying from Boston to Atlanta to speak at a GIG conference. I was on a four page cover wrap for Blue Diamond Almonds for National Food and Wine magazine.

Gluten-Free Almond Cake

makes 1 x 8×8 or 1 x8″ cake pan. About 1 “ deep.

Naturally gluten-free, easily dairy-free, paleo, can be made egg-free.


  • 1/2 stick (2oz) very soft butter 
  • ½ c (4 oz) ordinary sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1+1/4 cup (4 oz, 115g) of almond meal/flour slightly rounded 
  • 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder – I use Rumford’s, labeled gluten-free
  • 2 tsp gluten-free almond extract – I use Penzey’s that they say is gluten-free. Optional but adds to flavor.
  • Topping: powdered sugar, ¼ – ½ c sliced almonds

Note: Different brands of almond flour or almond meal will often give a different weight to volume measure. For best results weigh.


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F/ 170*C.
  2. Place all ingredients in 4 c (1 ltr) mixing bowl and beat until well blended and fluffy- 2 minutes.  Mix will go lighter in color as you beat it.
  3. Spread mix in greased and gf floured 8×8, or one 8” cake pan. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
  4. Bake in 350* oven for about 25-30 minutes until well risen, golden brown and set but still soft in the middle. The texture should be similar to rolls of almond paste when cut, but cooked throughout.
  5. Remove from oven, serve warm or cold,  sprinkled with powdered sugar.


  • Cut into wedges and serve with raspberry sauce.  
  • Cook in 8×8 pan and cut into tiny squares for a buffet table. 
  • Cook in 8×8 and cut into large squares and then cut large squares into 4 triangles or 2 larger triangles.
  • Divide mixture between 2 holes of Wilton Giant Whoopie pie pan or 2 x 8 inch cake pans to make thin layer cake.
  • Divide mixture in 12 holes of Wilton mini whoopie pie pan,  watch for temperature as dark lined pan browns rapidly underneath. Use as base for individual Baked Alaska, different strawberry shortcake, ice cream sandwiches.
  • Top with chocolate ganache, raspberry, mango couli, fresh berries.
  • Spread cooled cooked cake with Nutella and top with more almonds, make a chocolate ganache with either equal quantities of heavy cream and semi sweet chocolate or with Sodelicious vanilla or hazelnut creamer mixed with gf, cf chocolate.  Serve in puddle of raspberry sauce or with a mix of fresh berries slightly sweetened, add some Amaretto. 
  • Whip 1 cup cream until nearly stiff, whip in 1/2 c Nutella and chill to stiffen. Use as filling or topping.
  • If you don’t use almond extract, you really do need to add the zest of 1-2 lemons or 1-2 oranges if you eat the cake plain. You can also add 1-2 tbsp poppy seeds and make a melted lemon juice/sugar glaze to drizzle on top of baked cake.

Mango Cream Pie

May 28, 2019


From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh 

I love ripe sweet mangoes, but unfortunately in NH you rarely get mangoes that are sweet and ripe when you buy them.  Too much of our grocery store fruit looks ripe, smells ripe but doesn’t taste ripe.  I’ve also decided that frozen mango, canned mango in syrup or glass jars of mango just don’t compare to flavor of fresh mango.

I saw a recipe for mango cream pie and had some mangoes.  The recipe was the regular milk, sugar, corn starch and eggs plus mango. I made it, didn’t taste enough of mangoes and who wants to heat up a kitchen and have to wait for custard to cool in the heat.  I was going to make cream and mango set with gelatin then remembered another summer dessert recipe we enjoy.  Our local Indian restaurant had a dessert on the buffet that was commercial, ready made banana pudding mixed with canned fruit. I used instant vanilla jello pudding, mango juice/nectar and fresh fruit.  Made in a few minutes and everyone loves it.  That’s my quick version #2, I also make a variation of my dirt pie #1, we think is even more delicious but dirties more bowls and higher calories. We also prefer this mango cream on its own, not in a cookie crumb crust, so it’s smooth and velvety – except if you finish with some toasted almonds or madacamia nuts.

Note: I buy ‘Best’ mango juice, 32 oz bottle, $2.99, 50% juice, with water and sugar and nothing else.  imported seasonally from Egypt. The bottle I bought last week in my regular grocery store, had a 12 month shelf life, unopened.  You can buy a 12 oz small bottle or can of juice, but many brands are much lower quantities of mango, less flavor plus additives. (


Mango Cream #1

2 ripe, sweet ataulfo/champagne/alphonso mangoes or other mangoes that are sweet and ripe. Cut either side of mango to get 2 ‘cheeks’. Place ‘cheek’ on chopping board, skin side down, cut a tic-tac-toe pattern in flesh, push skin so mango flesh sticks out and carefully cut the cubes away from the skin. Carefully cut off side skin and remove flesh, then carefully cut off flesh left on mango stone.  Do all of this on chopping board, not in your hand.

In large bowl mix:

1 box instant vanilla pudding (normal 4 oz box) with 1+1/2 c mango juice/nectar using electric mixer or whisk. NOT the 2 cups of milk you normally use for an instant vanilla jello pudding, it won’t thicken as much.

Then while still runny add 1/2 cup of heavy cream whisked with 2 tbsp powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/8 tsp xanthan gum until stiff. I find adding xanthan gum helps mango cream to stay thicker.  Omit xanthan gum if you want.

In another bowl mix:

4 oz (half a normal packet) softened cream cheese (I use lite) with

1/4 c, 2 oz, 1/2 stick soft butter

then mix in

1/2 c powdered sugar

Then mix both bowls together using electric mixer until totally blended and no visible streaks.  Try and do this while vanilla pudding mix is still quite soft. Stir in mango pieces. Turn into 6 c pretty bowl for serving. Mixture will set reasonably firm, but spoonable not sliceable. Refrigerate so flavors blend. I like to finish bowl with more whipped cream, toasted almonds, more mango.


Mango Cream #2.

This is the quick lazy version. One mixing bowl.

2 ripe, sweet ataulfo/champagne/alphonso mangoes or other mangoes that are sweet and ripe. Cut either side of mango to get 2 ‘cheeks’. Place ‘cheek’ on chopping board, skin side down, cut a tic-tac-toe pattern in  flesh, push skin so mango flesh sticks out and carefully cut the cubes from the skin. Carefully cut off side skin and remove flesh, then carefully cut off flesh left on mango stone.  Do all of this on chopping board, not in your hand.

In large bowl mix:

1 box instant vanilla pudding (normal 4 oz box) with

1+1/2 c mango juice/nectar using electric mixer or whisk. NOT the 2 cups of milk you normally use for an instant vanilla jello pudding, it won’t thicken as much.

Stir in mango and chill.  that’s it. Add the same whipped cream to mix if you want.

Try other fruits with other fruit juices. I made a bowl to take for a girl’s RV camping weekend and it vanished. It’s even good for breakfast. Put into individual bowls with lids for packed lunch or beach picnic. Fresh bananas, strawberries and blueberries.




May 25, 2019

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

After Christmas this year I wanted gluten-free grahams or shortbreads for a Lithuanian cooking demo I was giving. Below is the recipe for my own gluten-free version of honey cinnamon graham crackers.

Gluten-Free Honey Cinnamon Graham Crackers 


  • ¾ c (3oz) my gluten-free flour mix – see below
  • ¼ c (1oz)  almond meal/flour – Trader Joe’s at $5/lb, Costco 3 lbs for $12, Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur $10-12/lb.  All labeled gluten free.
  • ½ tsp (3ml) xanthan gum
  • ¼-1/2 tsp salt – decide on how much you want after first time of baking
  • 1+1/2 tsp (8ml) gf baking powder
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon – or more after first baking (2 tsp of ground ginger for ginger snaps.)
  • 2 oz (60 ml)  half a stick of really soft butter – (Earth Balance instead of butter, coconut oil has so little flavor for this cookie, but up to you)
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) honey or 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp corn syrup if honey flavor is too strong.
  • 1 tsp (5ml) gf vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp (1+1/4 oz, 45 ml)  light brown sugar – 4 tbsp (1/4 c, 60 ml)  was too sweet for me, so I reduced light brown sugar but kept honey for flavor and liquid content in making dough.


1. Preheat oven to 350*. Always mix dry ingredients (gluten-free flour, almond, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, cinnamon) together first and whisk or stir to get rid of any lumps.

2. Beat really soft butter, honey, vanilla and light brown sugar together until light and creamy. 1-2 minutes.

3. Add dry ingredients and slowly mix until it becomes a soft dough that is only scoopable not rollable.

4. I used a #60, 1 tbsp scoop (mine is pampered chef-Home Goods often carry stainless steel scoops at good price) to evenly scoop out dough onto lined baking sheet.  Don’t use black pan. Don’t have dough over flowing in scoop. Place scoops of dough at least 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle scoops of dough with sugar. Use the bottom of a glass or similar flat surface (decorative cookie mold might also leave a nice impression) to flatten scoops to a little over 2” across. I used the white plastic food pusher tube insert from my food processor. If your kitchen is very warm you will have to ‘peel’ dough off glass. They will spread to about 2+1/2” on baking.

5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes to start.  I cooked mine for 15 minutes total and they were just starting to over brown and taste burnt.  They will still be softly firm to the touch as they crisp up on cooling, they will have barely changed color due to cinnamon coloring dough.  Lift up a cookie to see if base is over browned and therefore nasty tasting. You will have to adjust times according to your oven, the pan -stoneware tends not to burn on the bottom, and size of scoop. Grahams that I flattened cool to crisp, if you don’t flatten they are chewier.

Store in air tight tin.

My Gluten-Free Flour Mix

  • ½ cup potato starch or arrowroot starch for those with nightshade problems
  • ¼ c tapioca starch – note there is a difference in tapioca starch from different brands
  • 2 tbsp amaranth or millet flour: Bob’s Red Mill (millet is roughly one third the price of amaranth, is not so nutritious, but is more readily available.)
  • 2 tbsp sorghum flour: Bob’s Red Mill

No-Bake Wicked Chocolate Cake aka Groom’s Cake

January 30, 2019

Prince William had this cake at his wedding to Catherine Middleton.

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

I don’t remember where this recipe came from but I have vague memories from England (pre-celiac disease) of a flyer with recipes based on Scotch Whisky, which is no doubt why I tried this recipe in the first place! In England we are not into chocolate chip cookies (or at least not when I lived there), so chocolate for baking is quite expensive and normally bittersweet. I made this for Thanksgiving one year at my husband’s request and the ladies present must have needed a chocolate fix, since we sat nibbling away like little mice until it was finished.

This is a very easy recipe that keeps well in the fridge or the freezer so it is ideal for the holidays. It can also be poured into a loaf pan, sliced once firm and served in small pieces, as the equivalent of an after dinner mint.  It is very rich, but the flavor of whisky or other liqueur is not overpowering. Some variations could be gluten-free gingersnaps with spiced rum and raisins; orange rind and raisins soaked in orange liqueur, instant coffee and coffee liqueur, gluten-free dark chocolate wafers and brandy or chocolate liqueur. My personal favorite is the orange version. Be creative! For gluten-free, choose which cookies and liqueur you can tolerate.

By the way, if you are at all concerned about using the eggs, then don’t use them. Just add the sugar to the melting chocolate mix and leave out the alcohol for kids.

Gluten-Free No-Bake Wicked Chocolate Cake


  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature (about one hour out of fridge)
  • 2 c (12 oz bag) of gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (4oz) butter
  • 1/2 c cream – whipping or heavy
  • 8-oz gluten-free graham crackers or gluten-free shortbread made into fine crumbs
  • 1 c, 4 oz finely chopped, toasted almonds, pecans or hazelnuts (10 minutes at 350*)
  • 1/4 c whisky or other liqueur


1.  In a 2-qt non-stick saucepan, gently melt chocolate, cream and butter until the chocolate is smooth. Do not heat on high temperature but the mixture does need to be showing the bubbles of almost boiling, once everything is smooth.

2.  In a food processor, kitchen aid or hand held electric mixer and bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until foamy but not stiff.  About 2-3 minutes.

3.  With the machine running pour in the melted hot chocolate mix. As the mixture beats, it will thicken to a thick sauce like consistency. With an electric mixer it will only thicken slightly. The hot chocolate mixture has actually cooked the eggs into a chocolate sauce.  There is no more cooking involved. This is why it is important to start with eggs at room temperature for about 1 hour and have the hot chocolate mixture just bubbling as you pour it into the machine.  The heat of the chocolate mix should take the temperature of the eggs above the 160* mark. (The temperature at which salmonella is killed if it is present in the egg.  Salmonella has to be there to start with, it will not magically appear).

4.  Pour chocolate sauce out of food processor into a 4-qt bowl.  Mixture can remain in kitchen aid bowl.

5.  Stir in crushed graham crackers, nuts and alcohol.

6.  Line a 1-qt basin or 7-8” decorative cake pan (4 cup capacity) with plastic wrap and pour the chocolate mixture into pan.  Smooth surface, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  This allows the flavors to develop as well as being sufficient time for the chocolate to set.  The chocolate will not set like a bar of chocolate but will be more like a cold block of cream cheese.

7.  Turn out onto decorative plate and either cover in whipped cream and sprinkle with grated chocolate or drizzle with melted white chocolate.




Lithuanian Apple Cake   

Lithuanian Apple Cake

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

I give monthly Lithuanian cooking demos, as I studied in Vilnius, Lithuania for summer school. I also give talks, with photos, souvenirs, scrap books and a buffet of Lithuanian dishes.

The original recipe for this cake is from Treasures of Lithuanian cooking, which says it’s “an easy and delicious cake for family gathering or a weekend treat.” In Lithuanian, it’s called obuolinis pyragas.


  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) neutral tasting oil—I use avocado oil
  • 1 cup flour King Arthur all purpose gluten-free
  • 1/2 tsp (3ml) xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp (3 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (3 ml) baking soda
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, washed, cored (no need to peel) and either shredded in food processor or cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (56 g) toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk—fat free or almond milk works fine.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°c) and spray an 8×8 or bundt pan and dust with flour.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar together until fluffy, then beat in oil.
  3. Add in the rest of ingredients except for the apples and nuts.
  4. Stir in apples and nuts.
  5. Bake in oven for an hour.
  6. Remove from oven and insert a toothpick or fork into the middle to make sure it’s cooked through. Cake should be well-risen, nicely golden brown but soft to the touch.
  7. If using an 8×8, let the cake cool in the pan. If using a bundt pan, let cool for about 10 minutes, then use a thin plastic spatula to loosen edges and turn out onto serving plates. It might break.
  8. Drizzle warm caramel sauce over cake.
  9. Serve warm with ice cream. As an extra touch, add orange or lemon rind, or crystallized fruit.

Caramel Sauce

I buy Trader Joe’s caramel sauce, but Wegman’s and Rothschild’s also carry caramel sauce labeled gluten-free. If you want to make your own caramel sauce, follow the instructions below. If you don’t like caramel, I sometimes substitute sour cream mixed with honey as a topping.

  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients in small saucepan and boil for 3 minutes over medium heat.

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Kitchen Sink Cookies

January 21, 2019

Kitchen Sink Cookies

Courtesy of Crunchmaster

gluten free cookie recipe Gluten-Free Kitchen Sink Cookies


  • 1 cup Crunchmaster® Hint of Sea Salt 7 Ancient Grains Crackers, crushed
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 cups gluten free baking mix
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1/3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. all-spice
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/6 tsp. fresh orange zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Slowly add eggs and almond extract continue to mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour mix, Crunchmaster Cracker crumbs, rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture and mix well to combine. Add cinnamon, all-spice and orange zest. Mix well and portion out teaspoon sized balls onto baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven; set aside to cool before serving.

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Pecan Cranberry Tart

January 7, 2019

Pecan Cranberry Tart

Courtesy of Crunchmaster

gluten free pecan tart pie dessertGluten-Free Pecan Cranberry Tart


  • 1½ cup finely ground Crunchmaster® Original Multi-Seed Crackers (Crust)
  • 1 ½ cup roasted* pecan halves, divided (Filling)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (Filling)
  • 1/3 cup dark corn syrup (Filling)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (Filling)
  • Pinch of salt (Filling)
  • 4 tbsp. sugar (Crust)
  • ¼ tsp. salt (Crust)
  • Refrigerated
  • 3 eggs (Filling)
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar (Filling)
  • 1 tbsp/ butter, melted (Filling)
  • 4 tbsp. butter , melted (Crust)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries chopped (Filling)
  • 1 tbsp. tahini (sesame paste)


  1. * Roast pecans 5-10 minutes at 350°F. Remove from oven and cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind the Crunchmaster Original Multi-Seed Crackers in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt. Mix until ingredients are well blended. Add melted butter and stir until the crumb mixture is thoroughly moistened.
  3. Press crumb mixture firmly into a 9” deep dish pie pan, distributing mixture evenly throughout the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. In another large bowl, combine sugar, egg, corn syrup, vinegar, butter, vanilla extract, tahini, and salt. Mix until smooth. Gently stir in dried cranberries and roasted pecans. Pour the filling mixture into the prepared crust, spreading evenly.
  4. Bake the tart about 30-35 minutes at 350°F. Filling will become golden.
  5. Cool before serving.

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Chocolate Yule Log

December 5, 2018

Everything’s better with chocolate!

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

When it comes to this chocolatey holiday recipe, my wheat-eating husband says you wouldn’t know it was gluten-free. At parties all the wheat eaters devour my gluten-free desserts. Don’t worry about amount of ingredients, it’s straightforward to make.



  • 2/3 cup (112 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (120 ml) water
  • 4 eggs separated into yolks and whites. Put the whites in clean, grease-free 8 cup (2 liter) bowl
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp sugar (224g) divided into two containers
  • ¼ tsp (1.25 ml) xanthan gum
  • ¾ cup (126 g) King Arthur all-purpose, gluten-free flour
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) cocoa
  • 1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
  • Pinch of salt


Choose whichever liqueur you like and a fruit that matches. Good options are orange, raspberry, coffee, hazelnut, plain rum or brandy. Or just plain cream and plain chocolate are delicious, too!

  • ½ cup (120 ml) seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) brandy, rum, or raspberry liqueur
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) powdered sugar
  • Small container of fresh, sweet raspberries

Chocolate Topping, Option 1:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup (168 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp brandy, rum, or raspberry liqueur
  • White chocolate to garnish for snow

Chocolate Topping, Option 2 (quicker variation, no need to chill):

  • 1 cup (168 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup cream (60 ml)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) liqueur
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (224 g) lite sour cream
  • White chocolate to garnish for snow



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 10×15 jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Make a single cut into the four corners of the paper so corners overlap.
  2. Melt chocolate and water together in microwave and stir until smooth. Leave to cool.
  3. In a clean bowl (glass or stainless steel), whisk egg whites until stiff (when the tips point up).  Add half of the sugar (4oz) and whisk until very stiff and marshmallow-looking.
  4. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks with the second half of the sugar (4oz) until thick, creamy, and much lighter in color.
  5. Whisk the cooled chocolate mix into the egg yolks.
  6. Add flour, baking powder, cocoa, salt, xanthan gum and whisk until smooth.
  7. Slowly pour this mixture into bowl containing egg whites and gently whisk until smooth. Scrape down to bottom with spatula.
  8. Gently pour mix into lined jelly roll pan and cook for 22–25 minutes. Cake should be risen, softly firm and no wet batter in middle if you poke with a fork.
  9. Remove from oven and leave in pan for about 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack.
  10. Tear off parchment paper liner in strips, then put a fresh piece of parchment paper on top and loosely roll up with parchment paper inside. Don’t worry if it cracks, the the cream filling will hold it together and the chocolate topping will hide any cracks. If you don’t feel confident rolling cake, then cut into 2 or 3 strips short or long and fill and frost as a layer cake when cold.
  11. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes and then unroll.


  1. Put the cake on your serving plate.
  2. Warm raspberry jam with liqueur and spread onto cooled cake, right to the edges.
  3. Whisk cream with sugar and liqueur until stiff and spread on top of cake, right to the edges.
  4. Add fresh raspberries.
  5. Gently roll up with seam underneath.
  6. Make chocolate topping, then spread it on the cake all the way down the sides.
  7. For extra effects, drag the tines of a fork through the chocolate to give a bark effect; use a cheese grater make white chocolate shreds fall on top of chocolate; garnish with silk holly leaves or other Christmas décor.
  8. Chill until ready to eat. I usually cut the cake in half lengthwise first and then cut thick slices.

Chocolate Topping 1:

  1. Heat heavy cream in microwave, then stir in chocolate and liqueur.
  2. Wait a few minutes and stir again until totally smooth.
  3. Chill for at least four hours.
  4. Whisk until it is stiff enough to hold its shape and spread on cake.

Chocolate Topping 2:

  1. Heat chocolate and cream together and stir until smooth.
  2. Add liqueur and sour cream and stir well.
  3. Add powdered sugar to taste.
  4. It should be cool enough now to spread on top of cake.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Swirls – for Halloween or Thanksgiving

September 26, 2018

A gluten-free pumpkin-y delight that’s perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving meals!

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

A friend told me this was a Libby’s’ recipe. I got it years ago at a pot luck, made it often, and then adapted it to gluten-free. Easy, moist and moreish. A 15 oz can of Libby’s solid pack pumpkin will make three times recipe, that is 3 cakes. And yes, there is no oil or butter in this recipe, pumpkin is used the way apple sauce can be used.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Swirls

Ingredients: Cake

  • 2/3 c (5+1/2 oz, 160g) 100% pumpkin from a can (not pumpkin pie filling). Don’t increase amount of pumpkin, cake won’t work
  • 3 large or 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup (7+1/4 oz, 210g) sugar
  • 1 tsp (5ml) gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp (10ml) gluten-free baking powder and pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice
  • ¾ c (3oz, 85g) my gluten-free flour blend or ½ c (3oz, 85 g) King Arthur all purpose gf flour, doesn’t contain xanthan gum or baking powder (see below)

Ingredients: Cream Cheese Swirls

Cream cheese swirls to top raw cake batter:

Mix together until smooth

  • 4 oz (112g) cream cheese softened – lite is fine but gives a softer texture
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk or 1 Tbsp liquid egg substitute

Ingredients: Outside of Cake

  • 2 oz, (½ c, 56 g) cream cheese softened – lite is fine but gives a softer texture
  • 4 oz (1 c, 112g) powdered sugar  (icing sugar)  – I do sift the sugar as that’s quicker than trying to get frosting smooth with lumpy powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp (5ml) gluten-free vanilla extract

And no, Please do not use the frosting as the cream cheese swirls. The higher sugar content makes the cake far too sweet and sugar also caramelizes and sinks more into cake batter. I did try doing that.


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F, 180*C.  Spray springform pan and line base with parchment paper, dust with gluten-free  flour – I use white rice flour.
  2. Mix together pumpkin, eggs, vanilla and sugar and beat for 2 minutes to incorporate air.
  3. Add baking powder, spice, salt and flour and mix well.
  4. Pour onto lined springform pan, gently spread out.
  5. Spoon cream cheese into ziploc bag, snip off corner and pipe spirals from center out on top of raw batter.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect lines. Take a small sharp knife or skewer and pull tip of knife/skewer through the cream cheese batter from outside to center of circle to give spider web design.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until well risen, springy but still soft to the touch. I literally dig a fork into middle of cake to check it’s cooked and taste a piece of cake. If it still has grainy flour taste, give it 5 minutes more.
  7. Remove cake from oven. Wait 10 minutes, then run a thin spatula around outside of cake and loosen and remove springform ring.
  8. Allow to cool completely and then move to serving plate, lining paper should easily remove. Pipe cream cheese frosting around outside of cake.  Unless you use a huge pipe you should have leftover frosting that you can pipe on individual serving plate or freeze for another recipe.

I used various Halloween items to decorate as well as mini ceramic pumpkins for Thanksgiving.

My Gluten-Free Mix

I use for one cup of GF mix.

  • ½ cup potato starch – substitute arrowroot for nightshade allergy
  • ¼ c tapioca starch from Asian market or Goya or Yoki brand in supermarkets
  • 2 tbsp amaranth or millet flour: Bob’s Red Mill (millet is roughly one third the price of amaranth, is not so nutritious, but is more readily available.)
  • 2 tbsp sorghum flour: Bob’s Red Mill

Larger quantity:

  • 1 x 14 oz bag potato starch, which is 3+1/2 cups – that’s the size I can buy.
  • 1+3/4 c of Tapioca Starch is 7 oz
  • Just under 1 cup of Amaranth or Millet (actually ¾ c plus 2 Tbsps is 4 oz)
  • Just under 1 cup of Sorghum (actually ¾ c plus 2 Tbsps is 4 oz)

Making about 7 cups total of mix.

Watch me make this on NH’s ABC WMUR TV–recipe is still the same but I now leave out xanthan gum.


Fruit Jelly

August 2, 2018

Fruit Jell-O aka Fruit Jelly

Made with fresh ingredients, a gluten-free light version of a classic recipe (adult version with wine included too!)

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

Have you taken a good look at what’s in commercial packets of fruit Jell-o? They say no artificial sweeteners but also make one that’s sugar free. Artificial flavor, color, and lots of sugar. What are those chemicals doing to our bodies and more particularly the kid’s bodies? I haven’t used one in several years.

This recipe goes back to the basics of fruit juices set with packaged gelatin(e). One of my English cookbooks has fruit set with sweetened wine. It was delicious, but even though I would happily drink a glass of this wine, in a jelly (the English name for the dish, this is not jam) it was too strong. Make this just with fruit juices, and check that the juices have as many real ingredients as possible and have high fruit content, not just flavored water. Think of various berry juices with raspberries, peach juice with nectarines, and mango juice (I love the Best brand from Egypt with 50% juice) with fresh mangoes (not frozen, I thought they were horrible). If you use wine, you have to use a wine you like the taste of in the glass, like a Moscato, Prosecco with bubbles, Reisling, fruit wine, or even one of the small bottles of champagne.


Basic proportions for 4 generous ramekins, custard cups or cocotte dishes:

  • 1 packet of Knox gelatin(e) 7 g packet from orange box in grocery store
  • 1 cup (250 ml., 8 fl oz) fruit juice or wine and fruit juice mixed 50/50. You can make it 100% wine, I just thought it too strong
  • 2 Tbsp (1 oz, 30 ml) sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) liqueur to enhance flavor—optional with either wine or fruit juice for adults.
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 cup fruit of choice – I tend to buy the fresh container of mixed cut strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, but I find you need to make this the day you buy the berries or they taste fermented or go moldy rapidly.


  1. Arrange fruit in ramekins. Don’t overfill with fruit or you won’t taste the wine or juice. Put the prettiest fruit on the bottom as you’ll be turning it out.
  2. Pour the water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water. Stir in the gelatin and it will turn into solid lump.
  3. Microwave the lump for about 11 seconds. It will turn to a pale gold, see-through liquid with no lumps.
  4. Dissolve sugar in 1/4 cup of juice and/or wine in microwave.
  5. Combine the gelatin mix, sugar mix and the rest of the plain wine and/or juice, and stir. Taste to see if you want more sugar or teaspoon more liqueur, and then gently divide liquid among 4 dishes.
  6. Refrigerate for several hours, then turn out onto plates. I like to use vanilla Greek yogurt as a sauce.


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