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Part 2 of the Great Cleaner Gingerbread Experiment of 2015 got interesting. A few days ago (see below) I tried a few variations to replace the oil and sugar in a classic gingerbread cookie recipe. In one batch I used Greek yogurt and applesauce and in the other I tried avocado and banana. Both turned out well, though the Greek yogurt/ applesauce variety won my husband's original taste test and the avocado/ banana won mine. We both tried again the next day after the cookies had been in the fridge for 24 hours and guess what? I joined Team Greek Yogurt & Applesauce. This was definitely the more flavorful cookie.
Still, I wondered what would happen if I mixed things up even more. What about avocado and applesauce? What about Greek yogurt and banana? Why not shake things up and try again?
So I went to work. First up: Greek yogurt and banana.
Then: avocado and applesauce. So far so good.
Here's where things got tricky. I read about replacing the flour in a recipe with black beans. It sounds strange, but I've had black bean brownies before and they didn't taste even a little bit like beans. Why not try black bean gingerbread?
If you've been following along with my last few baking adventures, you know I've been putting my little food processor through a lot. I'm sad to report that today was the day I officially had to pull the plug on my mini food processor, which I won at a holiday raffle during an office party about three years ago. So long, little guy. We had some amazing times together. May you rest in peace.
This meant I had to pull out the 'ol blender. The beans didn't seem to want to mix on their own, so I thought I should add some liquid. This is the part where I should have looked up recipes and figured out exactly how much liquid (probably in the neighborhood of a few tablespoons) to use instead of arbitrarily throwing in a cup of water. A cup of water was a BIG mistake as it transformed the beans into a completely liquid form. Remember, the beans were supposed to be my flour replacement. Flour, as we all know, is an extremely dry ingredient.
Sooooooo. I had a VERY wet product to replace a VERY dry ingredient. Hmm. Well, why not halve the beans and combine with half the amount of flour? Sure, great, in theory — but the mixture was still WAY too wet. I added flour and added and added (remember the original point of the beans was to REPLACE the flour), but no dice. I ran out of whole wheat flour and added ground flaxseed. Still too wet. I added coconut flour. More, more, more. At this point we can count this as a completely failed kitchen experiment.
Moving on. Remember how I was hoping to find a frosting that contained less sugar? A typical icing recipe calls for two cups, if not more, of powdered sugar. And powdered sugar is one of those ingredients that's very difficult to replace with something else. After lots of sleuthing, I honestly didn't think I'd find a no-sugar or low-sugar frosting recipe. But lo and behold, there it was on Chocolate Covered Katie: vegan cream cheese, Greek yogurt, vanilla, and only four tablespoons of powdered sugar. The result: sweet, creamy, fluffy frosting. Culinary success!
The gingerbread cookies eventually worked out, but only after I added a TON of flour — which, as you recall, was the ingredient I was attempting to eliminate in the first place.
No worries, though. Once I covered them with the delicious frosting, it didn't really matter what was underneath. A note about the frosting, though: it works best when eaten right away. Frost them tonight, leave your cookies in the fridge overnight, and tomorrow you'll find yourself with cookies that look like they've melted into themselves and taste about the same.