Monday, May 10, 2010

In Light of Last Monday's Sweet "Agave" Article

     So I didn't get enough new info on agave posted for you, here are a couple really quick tid-bits (before todays fabulous fresh ingredient!)    First off, here is a quick link for substituting agave in recipes  Agave Substitution, great info for any of you who want to experiment on adding agave to your baking recipes instead of any other sweetener. And here is a GREAT reason or two that you might want to substitute Agave a little more in your cooking, a little phrase called "Glycemic Index". Basically Glycemic Index has to do with how your body is affected by the food we eat in terms of blood sugar. Anything with a high glycemic index is basically a food with carbohydrates that your body can quickly convert to sugar, meaning blood sugar spike. 100 is the median for glycemic index, anything above would be high and anything below or more close to zero would be a low glycemic index. The long and beautiful short of this, is Agave Nectar has a low glycemic index, meaning it is safer for diets like the Atkins and the South Beach Diet (which are both base on the glycemic index) and is great for those with diabetes or other blood sugar problems. Again, then clicking on the "Agave Nectar and the Glycemic Index" tab is a great place to start with some basic information on agave for all of you interested in the science behind it all.

     NOW for the more interesting part of agave, a few more recipe selections, courtesy of moi. I included the following because first off, buttermilk pancakes are HUGE in my family and this recipe is pretty close, but with agave instead. The cookies, well I obsess over a good chocolate chip cookie and I am determined to try these. And lastly, the brownie recipe is because it is a great prelude to my fresh ingredient of the beans!

Debra Lynn Dadd


Buttermilk Pancakes

This is a good basic recipe made with whole wheat flour.
makes 6 4-inch pancakes
Dry ingredients:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon sweetener
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
Wet ingredients:
1 eggs
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
3/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Oil or butter for the pan
  1. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another.
  2. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just enough to combine.
  3. Heat a griddle until water droplets dance on the surface when sprinkled in the griddle.
  4. Grease the griddle and place about 1/4 cup batter in a 4-inch circle in the pan. Allow to cook until bubbles form on top and break, leaving an open crater in the pancake.
  5. Flip the pancake with a spatula and cook for a few minutes on the other side, until the pancake is firm to the touch.

Agave Nectar Recipes
Elana's Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Elana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 30 cookies
Sweetness: medium
 These moist, chewy cookies travel well and are my go-to
treat for potlucks and picnics. A scoop of vanilla ice cream
between two of these cookies makes a fabulously rich
ice cream sandwich. 
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate (73% cacao)
 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets
with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and
baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the
grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir
the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until
thoroughly combined. Fold in the chocolate, then
refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.
Spoon the dough 1 heaping tablespoon at a time onto the
prepared baking sheets, pressing down with the palm
of your hand to flatten, leaving 2 inches between each
cookie. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly golden.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes,
then serve warm.

Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe         


For those of you who have a hard time 
tracking down agave nectar (which is becoming much more readily available) substitute honey 
1:1 for the agave nectar

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well 
(hs: canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute 
(or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 
18-inch (rimmed) baking pan (hs note: or 
jellyroll pan) with parchment paper and lightly 
oil with canola oil spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl 
in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on 
high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the 
walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into 
the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should 
be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 
1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well 
and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer 
beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. 
Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended 

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 
1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into 
the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, 
beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture 
until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie 
batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the 
egg mixture through the batter, creating a 
marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, 
until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They 
will be soft until refrigerated.)
Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.
Reprinted with permission from Baking 
With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using 
Nature's Ultimate Sweetener by Ania Catalano. 
(Ten Speed Press 2008)

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