3 recipes that will wow
The holidays are just around the corner! And with them, holiday sweets worth the yearlong wait to devour. Grab your friends and family, pull up a kitchen chair for the little ones to help out, and savor the sweetness of each other’s company while baking up these wholesome seasonal treats.

Flourless Sea Salt Chocolate Squares
These vegan and gluten-free (and grain-free) slices are extra dense, getting their fudgy texture from pinto beans (you won’t taste them, though!).

1 – 14 oz (398 mL) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut oil, melted
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
2/3 cup (160 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more to garnish
1/2 cup (125 mL) almond meal
1/4 cup (60 mL) coconut sugar or evaporated cane sugar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) psyllium husk powder or chia seed powder
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) dairy-free dark chocolate chips
1/4 tsp (1 mL) flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), plus more to garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal.

In food processor, purée beans until smooth. Add oil and vanilla. Purée until smooth, and scrape down sides. Add cocoa powder, almond meal, sugar, psyllium or chia seed powder, and fine grain sea salt. Pulse in chocolate chips; stop machine, and smooth mixture into pan with offset spatula.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until edges appear dry. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt while still warm. Cool completely in pan, cover, and chill in refrigerator until cold. Using parchment overhang, remove from baking pan. Slice into 12 squares and garnish with a dusting of additional cocoa powder and flaky sea salt. Store airtight in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Serves 12.
Each serving contains: 191 calories; 5 g protein; 13 g total fat (9 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 19 g total carbohydrates (5 g sugars, 5 g fiber); 147 mg sodium

Banana Bread Pudding with Rum and Coconut

This tropical take on bread pudding brings warm Caribbean breezes to chilly winter kitchens.

Banana Bread
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 mL) coconut sugar
2/3 cup (160 mL) unsweetened plain soy milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut oil, melted
1 3/4 cups (435 mL) light spelt flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
3/4 tsp (4 mL) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1 – 14 oz (398 mL) can coconut milk (light or full-fat)
1 tsp (5 mL) dark rum or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) rum extract
1 Tbsp (15 mL) demerara sugar or coconut sugar
Flaked toasted, unsweetened coconut and sliced banana to garnish

For banana bread, preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line standard loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 in/23 x 13 x 6 cm) with parchment paper, leaving overhang for removal.

In large bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, eggs, and sugar followed by milk and coconut oil. Using fine-mesh sieve, sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until just combined and smooth into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until toothpick or skewer inserted in center comes out mostly clean (do not overbake). Cool for 1 hour in pan, loosen edges, remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack. Cut into large (1 in/2.5 cm) cubes.

For pudding, preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). In large mixing bowl, whisk coconut milk and rum until combined. Add cubed banana bread and gently fold in until bread is coated with milk mixture. Transfer to 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) glass or ceramic baking dish and sprinkle evenly with demerara or coconut sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until dry on top and cooked through (test with knife in center; bread should be hot but still moist). Serve warm garnished with a little flaked coconut and sliced banana.

Serves 8.

Each serving contains: 377 calories; 7 g protein; 22 g total fat (18 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 44 g total carbohydrates (16 g sugars, 4 g fiber); 307 mg sodium

Apple Raspberry Galette with Butter Crust

Enjoy this red and white holiday galette, including whole wheat crust, as an elegant plated dessert or teatime treat.

1 1/2 cups (350 mL) whole wheat pastry flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour (with xanthan gum)
1 tsp (5 mL) evaporated cane sugar, plus more to garnish
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
3/4 cup (180 mL) unsalted butter, cubed and very cold
1/4 cup (60 mL) ice water, as needed
1 egg, whisked, optional

1 1/2 cups (350 mL) peeled, cored, and cubed apple
2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen, undefrosted raspberries
2 Tbsp (30 mL) evaporated cane sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cardamom or cinnamon, plus more to garnish

For pastry, in food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until only pea-sized pieces of butter remain. Working 1 Tbsp (15 mL) at a time, add ice water, pulsing after each addition, until dough holds together between your fingers. Dump onto piece of parchment paper and form into 2 in (5 cm) high disc; wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, until cold.

On lightly floured surface or between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll dough into a rough circle 1/4 in (0.6 cm) high. Place on large parchment-lined baking sheet and chill until ready to assemble. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).

For filling, in large bowl, toss all filling ingredients together until combined. Mound into center of rolled pastry, leaving 3 to 4 in (7.5 to 10 cm) gap around the outside. Fold pastry edges up around filling (it should look very rustic). Brush with egg wash for a shiny coating, if you wish. Lightly dust with cane sugar and some cardamom or cinnamon.

Bake for 5 minutes. Lower heat to 375 F (190 C) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer, until fruit is bubbling and pastry is beginning to brown. Cool completely on baking sheet. Serve.

Serves 6.

Each serving contains: 355 calories; 5 g protein; 24 g total fat (15 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 34 g total carbohydrates (8 g sugars, 7 g fiber); 103 mg sodium