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Allergen-free desserts

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Safe-to-savor baked treats

Inspired by her oldest son, who was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies, Kelly Rudnicki did her research and home kitchen experimentation to develop delicious allergen-free foods. Being a mom of four, Rudnicki not only needed recipes that would keep her oldest son safe, but she also needed results that would please the whole family. Her book The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book (Agate Surrey, October 2009) is a blessing for parents with children who are suffering from allergies to dairy, eggs and nuts.

Savvy substitutes for dairy, eggs and nuts

Removing allergenic foods from your family's diet will change the way you grocery shop, the meals you eat, and how you prepare your everyday and special-occasion recipes. Rudnicki, a pro at modifying recipes for baked goods, suggests the following substitutions for dairy, eggs and nuts.

Top dairy substitutions:

  • Instead of dairy milk, use Silk Plain Soy Milk.
  • To make dairy-free buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon plain white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a measuring glass and fill with soy milk to reach a 1-cup measure. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Use dairy-free margarine and shortening.
  • Substitute Tofutti's tofu-based products for sour cream and cream cheese.
  • Make dairy-free heavy cream by pureeing silken tofu in a blender.

Top egg and nut substitutes:

  • Replace each egg with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or 1/4 cup mashed banana.
  • Replace each egg with 1/4 cup tofu or 1 tablespoon water.
  • Replace each egg with 1 tablespoon flax meal and 3 tablespoons hot water; let stand for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Substitute soy nut butter for peanut butter.

"Baking is a science, and when you take out a crucial ingredient like eggs, it can drastically change the taste and texture of the finished product," says Rudnicki. "Through lots of trial and error, I found that some of the best substitutes are the cheapest and most natural, like water." The author of The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book has done the home kitchen experimentation so you don't have to (unless you so desire) and delivers nearly 100 easy-to-make recipes for both sweet and savory baked goods. And the best part? Your whole family will enjoy them.

Dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free dessert recipes

Recipes adapted from The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book

Safe-to-savor baked treats

Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

2/3 cup dairy-free margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup dairy-free buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips (Divvies or Enjoy Life brands)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine margarine, sugar, applesauce, buttermilk and vanilla.

2. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix on low for 1 minute to combine. Increase speed to medium high and beat 2 to 3 more minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a cookie scooper to place dough on baking sheet. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool completely on baking sheet.

Harvest Pumpkin Cake

Makes 1 (9-inch) layer cake

1/2 cup dairy-free shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup silken tofu
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy or rice milk
Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine shortening, sugars, tofu, pumpkin and vanilla on low speed until creamy.

2. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F and spray two 9-inch round cake pans with dairy-free baking spray. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture, alternating the additions with soy milk, and beat well.

4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Cool completely and frost.

Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 2 cups

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine
3/4 cup dairy-free cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the margarine, cream cheese, salt and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

2. Slowly add in the confectioners' sugar and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Chill about 30 minutes before using.

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