Gluten-Free Desserts You Have to Taste to Believe

PHOTO: Gluten Free & Vegan Desserts
Celine Saki

Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Elisabeth Hasselbeck have praised the virtures of a gluten-free diet, and it seems as if everyone is hopping on the food trend and going gluten-free.

Whether you're allergic to gluten or trying to cut back on refined sugar, it doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to the desserts and baked goods you love.

That's Ricki Heller's philosophy. The whole-foods chef and registered holistic nutritionist prepares versions of classic desserts using natural sweeteners and gluten-free flours as substitutes. While baking without gluten, eggs or dairy can seem daunting, Heller offers tips and tricks of the trade in her new cookbook, "Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free," which features 100 gluten-free dessert recipes, from ultra fudgy brownies to cinnamon buns that will satisfy the hungriest healthy sweet tooth.

Click through for three of Heller's foolproof dessert recipes to try in your home.

PHOTO: Gluten Free & Vegan Desserts
Celine Saki

These butterscotch blondies are gluten-free and vegan but taste like the real thing. "The combination of lucuma with coconut sugar and coconut nectar is, I think, very reminiscent of butterscotch," Heller writes. "I love using dried, super-healthy goji berries in these bars, but dried cherries or cranberries work just as well. In fact, feel free to stir in any additions you like, as long as you keep the same proportions. For instance, one alternative I really enjoy is pistachios and chopped dried apricots."

PHOTO: Gluten Free & Vegan Desserts
Celine Saki

Heller's cinnamon buns are a lower-glycemic and yeast-free version of the classic recipe. "The buns are slightly denser than yeast-based ones, but they bring back all the joy of eating a 'real' cinnamon bun for me," Heller writes.

PHOTO: Gluten Free & Vegan Desserts
Celine Saki

Baking a vegan brownie that has an authentically fudgy taste is no small task. Ricki Heller's secret ingredient: pureed avocado. "One of the gripes of vegan bakers is that it's difficult to achieve a brownie texture that is truly fudgy rather than cake-like. Well, here they are: the ultimate fudgy brownies!" she writes. "The addition of pureed avocado creates a little miracle of chemistry, combined with just one-fourth cup (60 ml) oil. The result is one of the richest tasting, fudgiest brownies I've ever had."

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