Gluten Free Thanksgiving Desserts

Holiday time in November and December can be a wonderful opportunity to try new and exciting recipes.  Thanksgiving desserts are especially appreciated by our families and friends when they are made with familiar, traditional flavors.  So why try something out of the ordinary?  Why not just make gluten free versions of the same old treats?

Because, as we all know, gluten free desserts have different ingredients and textures than the old stand-bys.  So why not put some fun and exciting changes into the desserts we know so well and start a tradition or two of your own?

Here are three tasty Thanksgiving desserts to help you begin your next holiday cooking adventure.

Cranberry Scones


1-3/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped cranberries (fresh)

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 large egg, lightly beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or with 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cranberries, tossing to coat.

3. Combine the buttermilk, orange zest and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until just blended.

4. Drop large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

5. Sift with powdered sugar or serve with lemon curd.

Gluten Free Cornmeal Almond Cake with Orange Syrup


1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated zest and juice from a navel orange
1 cup extra light olive oil
1 cup corn meal (or 190 grams)
2 cups almond meal (or 190 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

Directions for cake:

1. Beat the eggs with the sugar and salt, using an electric mixer, for 3 minutes, until light in color and fluffy. Beat in the zest and orange juice, and then the extra light olive oil. This creates a sort of mayonnaise-like substance, with the eggs acting as an emulsifier.

2. Mix the corn meal, almond meal and baking powder together and fold into the egg mixture. The batter will look like corn meal mush.

3. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan, line it (bottom and sides) with wax paper, then grease the wax paper. Pour the batter in to the lined pan and bake at 350 for 1 hour and five minutes. The cake will be dark brown on the top. Remove it from the oven.

Directions for Syrup:

1. Make a syrup of 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (1 orange). Simmer this syrup for 8 minutes. Skim off any foam.

2. Add 2 Tablespoons of gluten free orange liqueur, if desired. Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a skewer, then pour the hot syrup over the cake, while the cake is still in the pan. The cake will soak up the syrup almost immediately.

3. As soon as possible after pouring the syrup on the cake, remove the sides of the cake pan and transfer the cake to a plate. Use the wax paper to help you in moving the cake, and make sure to remove the metal bottom of the pan too. If you leave the syrupy cake in contact with the pan for much time at all, the acidic syrup will interact with the metal pan and cause the cake to have a metallic flavor.

4. Chill the cake completely before serving. When completely finished, the cake will be about 1 1/2 inches tall and will serve 12.

Pumpkin Molasses Cake with Maple Frosting

This is a gluten-free version of a pleasant old-fashioned spice cake, with the exciting addition of a cream cheese maple icing.

In a bowl, mix these ingredients:

1 ½ cups brown rice flour
½ cup potato starch (katakuriko)
¼ cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (see recipe for homemade version)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

In a food processor, mix until smooth:

¼ vegetable oil or melted butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup molasses
1 ¼ cups cooked pumpkin, mashed and drained of excess water


1. Combine mixture from food processor with dry ingredients in bowl until all parts are well moistened.  Fold in 2/3 cup dry currants.

2. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the batter comes out clean.

For the frosting:


8 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup dark maple syrup (grade B has more flavor than grade A)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread the frosting on the cooled cake.



Beau Giannini
Beau Giannini