FODMAP Friendly Thanksgiving Recipe – Pumpkin Spice Pavlova with Candied Pecans and Pepitas (also Gluten Free)

Pumpkin Spice Pavlova with Candied Pecans and Pepitas - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free and perfect for Thanksgiving

It’s well into pumpkin spice season – almost Thanksgiving now, where does the time go? – and around Halloween I had a hankering for a pav. Problem is, berries are ridiculously expensive in November (in Seattle, obviously not in Melbourne where you lucky ducks are heading into summer). What to do? At first I considered making a jack-o-lantern pavlova but, after I couldn’t find red, yellow or orange food dye at the supermarket (tip – don’t leave that until the day before Halloween next year), I thought about a pumpkin spice pavlova. Who knew, it might be delicious.

As it turns out it, it was delicious (if you like pumpkin pie, PSL’s and pavlova, you’ll love this) but sadly I wasn’t the original genius that I had thought; after writing down my own recipe, I googled it and found out that a few others had beaten me to making this ultimate Ameristralian fusion dessert.

Never mind, my use of pumpkin in the pav instead of the whipped cream (or coconut cream) seems to be original, as was serving it with candied pecans and pepitas. Note – so you don’t end up with a giant mound of cream on one side and not much on the other, be gentle with your pav and don’t rush it! I didn’t realise how poor my cream application was until I cut this slice… Whoops!

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FODMAP Notes

  1. Castor sugar is sucrose, so 1:1 fructose/glucose and safe in moderation. One serve of this pav would be fine for most FODMAPers.
  2. Maple, golden and brown rice syrup are all low FODMAP.
  3. Pumpkin safety depends on the type of pumpkin – I prefer sugar/pie pumpkin, which is safe in 1/4 cup serves – sorbitol can be an issue in larger amounts. Given that the small amount of pumpkin puree is spread between 12-16 serves, this is low FODMAP.
  4. Normal dairy cream can be used if lactose is not an issue, otherwise replace it with lactose free double cream or a low FODMAP vanilla yoghurt.
  5. Coconut Cream is low FODMAP in up to 1/2 cup serves – any more and sorbitol becomes an issue. It is also the dairy free option, for those who do not eat dairy products.
  6. Pecans are low FODMAP in small serves.
  7. Pepitas are low FODMAP in 2 tbsp. serves, as with most seeds.

Pumpkin Spice Pavlova with Candied Pecans and Pepitas

Serves 12-16.

Pumpkin Spice Pavlova

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 pinch table salt
  • 250 g castor sugar, sieved
  • 2 tsp. corn starch or 1 tsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground all spice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 30 g pumpkin puree

Before you start, make sure your kitchen is not humid. Open a window and do not turn on the dishwasher before you make the batter.

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F (non fan forced) and line two baking trays with baking paper or a silicon mat.

Place the egg whites and pinch of salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and beat slowly for 60 seconds, to loosen the protein, before gradually increasing the speed in increments, until at full speed for 3-4 minutes. Stop when the egg whites are light and fluffy, like a cloud.

Next, gradually pour in the pre-sieved castor sugar in quarters while beating on high, allowing 30 seconds between each pour for the sugar to dissolve properly into the mixture, then continue to beat, on high, for another minute or two. After this, the batter should form stiff peaks when you remove the beater from it. If it does not, continue beating on high for another 2 minutes at a time, or add 1/4 cup pf sugar, then check again.

Once ready, add in the vanilla, pumpkin puree and white wine vinegar, then the corn starch, cream of tartar and beat for another minute to combine. Pile the mixture in two even piles on the lined baking trays and place in the oven and close the door. Don’t open it again until it’s done.

Immediately reduce the heat to 150 C/300 F and bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat further to 100 C / 200 F and bake for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven and let it cool down for 30 minutes.  Your pavlovas are done but they should be allowed to cool completely to room temperature before handling, which should be kept to a minimum. Store them at room temperature, covered with an upside down container to keep them from getting damaged, until you’re ready to assemble them.

Spiced Whipped Cream/Coconut Cream

  • 400 ml double cream to whip, or 3 cups whipped coconut cream (follow these instructions)
  • 1 tbsp. icing dextrose
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground all spice
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Either whip the 400 ml of cream (only use as much as required), or prepare the whipped coconut cream according to the linked instructions. Once almost completely whipped, add in the icing dextrose and spices and whip for another 30 seconds until combined. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pavlova – don’t make more than 12 hours ahead of time.

Candied Nut Topping

  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepitas
  • 1 tbsp. butter or dairy free sub like coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple, golden or brown rice syrup

Melt the butter over a low to medium heat, then add in the nuts and syrup. Increase heat to medium, and keep stirring for 1-2 minutes, until the syrup has reduced by half – the rest will firm up as the mixture cools. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before topping the pavlova. Can be made a day ahead, store in an airtight container.

Assembly

GENTLY lay the first pavlova upside down on a serving dish. Top with half the whipped cream/coconut cream and then cover with the second pavlova, right side up. Top with more whipped cream/coconut cream (don’t feel like you have to use all of it, if it’s not required) and decorate with the candied nut mix.

Refrigeration isn’t best for pavlovas, as it causes the crispy meringue shell to soften, so to avoid this serve within two hours of assembly. If you have to refrigerate it (summer in Australia etc), then it’s not the end of the world, the flavour will stay the same, it’ll just be softer.

Enjoy!

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Maureen’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Brownies – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Old Fashioned Chocolate Brownies - low FODMAP, gluten free, dairy free

When I was younger, a friend of Mum and Dad’s always made a plate of her amazing chocolate brownies on special occasions. At Christmas and on birthdays, Sharon would turn up with an ice cream container filled with chocolatey goodness – and Dad would then say that they weren’t made for the kids. He was terrible at hiding them, though, so it all worked out in the end. The second drawer in the garage filing cabinet wasn’t such a clever place, after all.

For years, I’ve been trying to work up the courage to try out brownies. It’s not that they’re an exact science, or really fiddly, like pastry but they weren’t ever made in my house, so I didn’t have any tried and true recipes to go from/convert to be gluten free and FODMAP friendly…

… Which is why I snagged someone else’s (not so) secret family recipe and FODMAPified that, instead. Apparently it’s at least 75 years old! I’ve been following Maureen, the Orgasmic Chef, for a few years now and am continuously wowed by what she creates – and her pace of blogging. Fair warning, it’s not a blog for those with food intolerances, so you’ll have to put on your thinking caps and tweak the recipes yourself but, really, I like that, as it allows me to give my own flare to meals at the same time.

After my first attempt, I was a little disheartened, as my brownies hadn’t developed the crispy/flaky crust that I love so much. After a bit of searching, I discovered that the more you beat your eggs, the more pronounced this crust will be, as it’s actually a thin layer of meringue. Well, I decided to go all out and whip the egg whites and sugar together before adding them to the mixture and voila! Batch number two had a perfect layer of brownie crispiness on top.

These little beauties take almost no time at all to whip up and you’ll end up with cake-like brownies; just chocolatey and sweet enough to satisfy a mid-afternoon or late night craving without making you feel sick and guilty. Perf. Maureen very kindly allowed me to share my altered version with you guys here, so thank her!

FODMAP Notes

  1. Unsweetened dairy free dark chocolate is low FODMAP in the amounts called for in this recipe.
  2. Coconut oil is FODMAP friendly (it’s 100% fat, no carbs) but it can be replaced with butter if you can tolerate dairy. PS. Butter is low in lactose, just not lactose free.
  3. I’ve reduced the sugar called for in Maureen’s original recipe, both to suit my tastes and to reduce the overall fructose load of the brownies. Feel free to up it back to 2 cups if you want and you know you can tolerate it.
  4. Almonds and walnuts are low FODMAP in the amounts called for in this recipe.
  5. I use milk in this recipe (even though the original doesn’t call for any), as gluten free baked goods are notoriously dry and need a little extra moisture to keep them soft. Use coconut/almond/rice milk etc if dairy free is required, or lactose free dairy milk if not.
  6. The chocolate chips are optional, just, as above, use chocolate that follows your dietary requirements.

Maureen’s Old Fashioned Brownies

Makes approximately 32.

  • 120 g unsweetened dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp. coconut oil or butter
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten free flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 heaped tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup low FODMAP milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and grease and line a 9×13″ baking tray – or two 9×9″ cake tins (or there abouts), if you’re like me and don’t have the full sized pan.

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together over a very low heat (so as not to burn the chocolate). Mix thoroughly and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy and soft peaks form, then add in the castor sugar beat for another minute. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture, along with the egg yolks and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Add in the flours, cacao powder and xanthan gum and stir through, before adding in the milk. Finally, thoroughly stir through the chopped nuts and the optional chocolate chips, before pouring the mixture into the prepared baking tins and baking for 20-25 minutes, or until they just test clean with a skewer.

Let them cool to room temperature before slicing and serving, or they might crumble while you cut them. Enjoy them with some fresh strawberries and tea or coffee. Yum.

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And a behind the scenes shot… it’s almost warm enough for the poor, shaggy creature to get a hair cut.

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Chocolate Coated Fudgey Peanut Butter Balls – Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Grain Free

Chocolate Coated Fudgey Peanut Butter Balls - Low FODMAP, Fructose Friendly, Gluten Free, Vegetarian,

I have a confession – I am not a cookie baker. Everyone tells me how easy they are to make, which might be true; they are easy enough to mix together… but then you have to bake them. They’re not like cakes, into which I can stick a skewer and check if it’s done. There’s no fail safe method (that I know of) to judge the perfect balance of done-ness, so that the biscuits will firm up as they cool, yet remain chewy without getting too dry. It’s IMPOSSIBLE, I tell you. I think I have managed it once in my life but only after baking three separate batches of the same chocolate chip cookie dough. I’d made Stephanie Alexander’s recipe gluten free, (drools) and was *this close* to giving up and just eating the raw cookie dough. I suppose, with practice, I could get it right consistently but then I’m sure I’d bake biscuits more often and that is something my waistline does not need.

That being said, there are literally no low FODMAP biscuit/cookie options at our local supermarket. All the gluten free versions – maybe four or five brands – contain inulin, honey or agave syrup etc. I haven’t tested inulin out specifically but it’s generally in foods with other higher FODMAP ingredients, anyway, so it’s probably not much use. Besides, most of those packaged biscuits also contain a tonne of sugar and are ridiculously expensive, as well. Five dollars for a packet of gluten free biscuits that would cost no more than three dollars if they were made with wheat? No, thank you.

I decided to try my hand at a healthier cookie recipe. I chose peanut butter and chocolate because, even though I can’t stand Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, peanut butter and chocolate is an awesome flavour combination that I can’t get enough of, when done correctly. I’ll also kid myself that the choice of peanuts and almonds makes this “healthy” (combined, they’re low in sugar and high in copper, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorous, riboflavin and vitamin E) and conveniently forget the maple syrup, which, although technically an unrefined sugar, is still a sugar. Shhh! Though, to be fair, I’ve used less than half of what might be found in your typical store-bought biscuit. No sugar-induced headaches here.

What resulted is a baked cookie ball that is delicately sweetened and peanut buttery, with a decadent fudge-like texture. The perfect after dinner treat with a cup of tea or coffee.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Peanuts are a legume but are generally well tolerated, FODMAP-wise, in small (2 tbsp.) portions.
  2. Almonds are low FODMAP in servings of 10 nuts – stick to 1-2 of these balls and you should be fine.
  3. Maple syrup is low FODMAP, with a ratio of 1:1 fructose/glucose. Make sure you buy pure maple syrup, without any additives, to prevent sneaky sweeteners from getting in.
  4. Eggs are FODMAP friendly but can be an allergen/irritant in their own right.
  5. Pure vanilla extract is low FODMAP, check for additives.
  6. Dark chocolate is low FODMAP in servings of 30 g, see here.

Chocolate Coated Fudgey Peanut Butter Balls

Makes approx. 26-30 balls, depending on size.

Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup of natural, unsweetened smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch table salt

Chocolate Coating

  • 1 cup dark chocolate, chips/chunks/smashed
  • Finely chopped roasted nuts (I used peanuts and pecans)

In a bowl, beat the peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, table salt and egg until smooth, then add in the almond meal. Mix until well combined and then cover and chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. During this time, preheat your oven to 150 C/300 F.

Fudgey Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Place 1 tablespoon balls of the cookie dough about 2.5 cm/1 in apart on a lined baking tray; you could gently flatten them with a fork, making a crosshatch pattern if desired. Bake for 10 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through, until golden brown at the edges. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack until they reach room temperature. Repeat with the remaining dough. As you can see below, I tested out both a flattened cookie shape and a ball shape and (obviously) decided that the balls were what looked best.

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Let the cookie balls come to room temperature before melting dark chocolate (lactose/dairy free if required) using your preferred method (stove top double boiler, microwave etc), stirring until the chocolate is silky smooth. Fair warning, it is really easy to overheat and burn chocolate, so low and slow is the way to go.

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Dip the peanut butter balls halfway into the chocolate. Next, while the chocolate is still slightly soft (but not dripping), dip the coated part into a mixture of finely chopped nuts and leave to set on a baking tray. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two weeks – if they last that long. Don’t forget to enjoy them with a nice hot cuppa.

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