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Allergen-free treats can still be tasty sweets

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What’s a cookie without butter, milk or eggs? An ookie? An ickie?

Pat Yamauchi wrote in search of sweet treats for her 4-year-old granddaughter, who is allergic to milk, eggs, soy products and nuts. She’d like to be able to offer little Kara something besides Popsicles for dessert.

Kara can’t have butter or egg substitutes, either, but thankfully she can have wheat, sugar and some forms of chocolate, although not chocolate chips.

A little girl’s sweet tooth was at stake – it seemed a worthy challenge.

With these restrictions the best approach was to gather a bunch of vegan recipes and eliminate the ones with "bad" ingredients. I tried a few, and I did get an ookie in one case – a cookie with something missing but not quite icky. And I found a few winners.

Eggs are the real issue here. Butter can be replaced by vegetable oil or shortening and milk by rice milk, with spices boosting their lesser flavors. But eggs provide the structure in baked goods – not so noticeable in cookies, but in cakes a lack of eggs can leave the end result very soft. They’ll still taste good, but be prepared.

Silken tofu is a vegan replacement, but Kara can’t have soy. Bananas or a mixture of ground flax and water are also egg stand-ins, but because of their assertive tastes can’t be used in all cases.

These two egg-free recipes were the most successful. Even if you’re not allergic to anything, these treats offer uncompromised good taste without the cholesterol of eggs.

The first, a delightful spice cookie, is adapted from

"Vegan with a Vengeance," by Isa Chandra Maskowitz

(Marlowe and Co., 2005). Maskowitz maintains an informative blog, ("The Post-Punk Kitchen"), with recipes and advice.

Sparkled Ginger Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup skim, soy or rice milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment or lightly grease.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Whisk together remaining ingredients in separate bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring until well combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, then roll balls in more sugar. Place on cookie sheets and flatten slightly.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Makes about 32 cookies.

Versions of this chocolate cupcake can be found in several cookbooks and on websites for vegan baking. It turns out soft and moist with loads of chocolate gooeyness.

Fudgy Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup skim, soy or rice milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vinegar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Combine milk with vinegar; let stand 5 minutes.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

Add sugar, oil and vanilla to milk mixture; whisk well. Gradually add dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, until a pick inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean. Makes 1 dozen.

» For Double-Chocolate Cupcakes: Stir 1/2 cup chocolate or carob chips into batter. Might make an extra 2 or 3 cupcakes.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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