Healthy Cooking

The 8 Most Delicious Grain-Free Desserts You’ll Ever Bake

Tehrene Firman

Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff
How are your supposed to make pies and cookies without flour? According to the nutrition experts and chefs, it's actually really easy. All you need to do is make a few tweaks to your favorite recipes.

Mia Rigden, chef and founder of RASA, says nixing typical grain flours is easy with all the alt-flour options available on store shelves. In the recipes below, you'll notice a combination that's definitely a favorite for grain-free baking: a mix of almond flour and coconut flour. "Almond and coconut flour are both gluten- and grain-free, which make them great alternatives to white flour for anyone with gluten or grain sensitivities," says Rigden.

Recipes for the best grain-free desserts

1. Chocolate chip cookies

Almond and coconut flours are swapped in for regular flour in these cookies, giving you a grain-free version that's just as delicious.

Ingredients
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup coconut oil (or ghee)
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax seed + 6 tbsp warm water)
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups vegan chocolate chips
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp flaky sea salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix your ingredients together. Once everything is combined, form the dough into balls and gently press between your palms to create a hockey puck shape.
3. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown.

2. Grain-free granola

Instead of using typical granola ingredients, this recipe calls for coconut chips. "What I love about this recipe is that the bulk of it uses coconut, which is not only super delicious, especially when toasted, but it is a lighter base for a granola than, say, oats or nuts you would normally find in a granola,” says Rigden.

Ingredients
3 cups unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 Tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Melt coconut oil (if it’s not melted already) in a saucepan over low heat. Add maple syrup, and vanilla, and whisk with a fork to combine. Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix to combine.
3. Spread granola across baking sheets in a thin layer. Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring about halfway through. When the granola is done, the coconut flakes should be golden brown, but not burnt.
4. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

3. Healthy blueberry pie

You can make a totally grain-free pie by creating a crust with coconut flour, hazelnut flour, and tapioca starch.

Ingredients

For pie crust (will make x 2)
1 1/2 cups coconut flour
1 cup hazelnut flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1 cup solid coconut oil
2 large eggs

1. Put all ingredients in food processor, and pulse until coarse crumbles appear.
2. Add egg and continue to pulse until mixture begins to come together as a ball.
3. Place mixture into bowl and shape by hand into ball.
4. Preheat oven to 375°F.
5. Split ball into pieces and carefully press into pie mold by hand, making sure bottoms and sides are even and the bottom edge is tucked in. Poke a few holes at the bottom of the crust with a fork.
6. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely.

For pie top: Place dough on parchment paper and carefully roll into even, flat layer. Use bottom imprint of final pie dish to create a circle at center, then trim all excess dough. Reshape the edges, smoothing until aesthetically pleasing. (Optional: punch out cute shapes at center of dough!) Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

For blueberry filling
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup water
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Combine coconut oil, water, and blueberries on stovetop over medium heat.
2. Mix and cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until blueberries begin to bubble and give off juice.
3. Add honey and salt, stirring and continuing to cook another 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Whisk together tapioca starch and water until smooth.
5. Add to pot and continue to cook 1 min until tapioca starch thickens.
6. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature and pour into pie shell.
7. Add pie top crust and bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

4. Chocolate tart

This mouth-watering chocolate tart is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free... but you'd know it.

Ingredients

Coconut almond crust
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup ounces organic coconut flour
6 Tbsp ghee, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 pinch sea salt

Salted chocolate filling
1 package of chocolate chips (9 ounces)
1 1/4 cup full fat unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pastured eggs, beaten
Maldon sea salt

Garnish
Fresh berries
Coconut whipped cream
Mint leaves

1. Start with the crust. This can be done the day before, if you want to break the process up into two parts. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and combine, then add melted ghee and vanilla, and work with a fork (or your hands) until the ghee is fully incorporated and you can make balls with the dough.
2. Add the crust to the tart pan, working the edges first. Spend a decent amount of time pressing the dough into the edges of the pan. A strong edge will form a strong crust that you can easily cut through, so don’t skimp on this step. Firmly press the remaining dough into the bottom of the pan. The dough should be about ½ as thick on the bottom as it is on the edge.
3. Place tart pan on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Start checking at 15 minutes, as each oven is different and you don’t want to burn it. Once brown, remove from the oven and let cool completely.
4. To make the filling, create a double boiler to melt the chocolate by heating water to a simmer in a pot and placing a bowl on top. The water should not touch the bowl, but it should rest nicely on the pot. Break up chocolate and add to bowl, stirring occasionally with a spatula or wooden spoon.
5. Once melted, remove bowl from pot and slowly whisk in coconut milk and vanilla. Allow to cool slightly, then add one spoonful of chocolate into the beaten eggs to temper. This is to prevent the eggs from scrambling when you pour it into the hot chocolate mixture. Then slowly add eggs to chocolate, stirring continuously.
6. Pour filling into tart pan and top with a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt. Make sure the tart pan is on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until it’s almost entirely firm (give it a little shake in the oven to test). Remove from the oven and allow to cool before placing in the fridge.
7. When you’re ready to serve, push the bottom of the tart pan up to remove it from the pan. Place on a cake plate, cut and serve with coconut whip cream, fresh berries, and a sprig of mint.

5. Vegan cheesecake

No grains needed to make this healthy vegan cheesecake. Instead, the crust is created from dates and walnuts. Added bonus: It's also no-bake.

Ingredients

For the crust
1 cup pitted soft dates
2 cups raw walnuts
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
Pinch of sea salt

For the filling
4 cups cashews (soaked for at least 5 hours, or overnight)
2/3 cups coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (optional)

1. Start with the crust. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until it the pieces of date and walnut are about the same size (almost like large grains of sand). At first it will appear crumbly, but eventually will turn into a paste. If your dates are hard, soak in warm water for a few minutes before adding to the food processor.
2. Press the pie dough into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Work the dough until you’ve created an even layer across the bottom of the pan.
3. Place into the refrigerator or freezer while making the filling.
4. Wash out your food processor and get started on the filling.
5. Add all filling ingredients to your food processor and blend until completely smooth. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes, so be patient! Note that the vanilla bean is optional—we love the specks and the natural vanilla taste it lends to this dish, but vanilla beans are expensive and can be hard to come by, so feel free to skip this ingredient if it’s not available to you.
6. When the filling is smooth, take your springform pan out of the fridge and fill. Using a spatula, smooth the top as much as you can.
7. Cover with aluminum foil, and place in the freezer overnight to set. Then transfer to the fridge and enjoy!

6. Protein banana bread

Ingredients
3 overripe bananas (cold for better sugar caramelization)
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 scoop vanilla whey protein (dairy-free alternatives ok to sub)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
5 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Mix in standing mixer. Mixing by hand is totally doable, albeit more labor intensive.
2. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 46 mins, depending on oven variability.

7. Strawberry shortcake

The grain-free version of strawberry shortcake is just as good as the real deal. I mean, look at it.

Ingredients
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 to 3 pints of fresh strawberries
Juice of 1 lemon
1 to 2 teaspoons coconut sugar (optional)
Fresh mint

For the shortcake
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 organic eggs
1/4 cup ghee or coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of sea salt

1. Wash and cut strawberries. Toss with lemon juice and coconut sugar and let macerate at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the shortcake. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, honey and vanilla, then add melted ghee or coconut oil. Make sure the ghee/coconut oil isn’t so hot that it cooks the eggs.
4. Add egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix until a dough is formed.
5. Using an ice cream scoop, make rounds of dough and flatten with a spoon or the palm of your hand. You can shape them with a cookie cutter or a round glass.
6. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown on the edges.

For the coconut whipped cream
1. Throw egg beaters or whisk and stainless steel mixing bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes before starting.
2. When you open the coconut milk, it should have separated into a solid cream and a liquid. Reserve the liquid for smoothies and add the cream to the mixing bowl.
3. Using a stand mixture or egg beaters, whisk on high for about 30 seconds, then slowly add in vanilla. Continue to whisk for another minute or two until it thickens. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.
4. When ready to serve, place a biscuit on the bottom of a plate, top with a spoonful of strawberries, coconut whipped cream and a sprig of fresh mint.

8. Lemon bars

Lemon bars are the tangy dessert of your dreams, and this recipe is one you'll be making over and over again.

Ingredients

For the crust
2/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 egg
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil solid
Lemon zest (1 tsp)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Add wet ingredients to a mixing bowl or stand mixer and whisk to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, add dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix thoroughly. The dough will be crumbly.
4. Add dough to baking sheet and, using a spatula or the heel of your hand, press dough into the bottom of the dish to create an even layer. The more you work the dough, the easier it will get.
5. Let the baking dish chill in fridge for 10 minutes before adding to the oven.
6. Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes.

For the lemon filling
3 eggs + 1 yolk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp coconut flour
Sea salt

1. While the dough is baking, whisk together all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
2. When the dough is done, remove from oven and lower temperature to 325°F.
3. Pour mixture immediately over hot crust, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the custard is set.
4. Remove from oven and allow lemon bars to chill completely (at least 2 hours in the fridge or overnight).

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