Baking for school kids never used to be this hard!
March 5, 2014 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I need some recipes/ideas for treats to make that avoid a host of allergens so that I can make treats for my kid's school as well as for my allergic friends. The problem is coming up with something that actually doesn't hit any of the many allergies. Please help!

So I have a friend who is allergic to corn, which was ok, with a a little preplanning I could make all kinds of things for her. But then she found out that she's also apparently sensitive to gluten and needs to try to cut that out. And while I can avoid corn, gluten is killing me. On top of that, my son's school has a ridiculous level of allergies, so that any treats brought in have to be corn, gluten, dairy, and nut free, and can also not include pineapple. For valentines day I ended up making strawberry meringues dipped in chocolate, which seemed to work. However, I'd like to have something more than meringues (though I'll take more meringue recipes too!) that I can make, especially as we have birthdays coming up! I know pavlovas are another similar option, and I love them, but I like variety.

Hit me with your best either corn/gluten free or corn/gluten/dairy/nut free recipes!
posted by katers890 to Food & Drink (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
black bean brownies/ chick pea blondies

also, i have seen a recipe using just bananas, eggs, and maybe a few other ingredients. bananas are versatile!

I don't have specific recipes to recommend, but these kinds of treats can be googled so you can search for a good recipe for you. I've had great black bean brownies but do not have the exact recipe! they were dairy, nut, and gluten-free.
posted by bearette at 10:40 AM on March 5, 2014

Macaroons are tasty!

You may have luck with the Gluten Free cake mixes out there. Betty Crocker makes some that will fit your bill (really read those ingredient lists.)

Carrot Cake Cupcakes should work.

I find the best deal on gluten free flours is at my local Asian Market. There I can buy Rice Flour, Potato Starch and Tapicoa Flour dirt cheap (like .50 cents on sale).
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:41 AM on March 5, 2014

Rice krispie treats!
posted by chickenmagazine at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

How about Rice Krispie treats? I think you can cover all your bases - buy gluten-free Rice Krispies and dairy-free butter like Earth Balance.
posted by lyssabee at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2014

Oops - should have previewed!
posted by lyssabee at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2014

I was going to say rice krispy treats.

Take a look at some Passover baking sites. Most Passover food has to be wheat free, and much of it has to be corn free and dairy free as well. (But it does tend to rely heavily on nuts, I won't lie to you…)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2014

Response by poster: (sorry for threadsitting, but just had to pop in). I looked into rice krispie treats before, but the problem is getting dairy free butter, cornstarch free marshmallows, and gluten free rice krispies, all of which are not the easiest, especially given that I'm not a huge fan of them to begin with.

And since I'm here, maroons/carrot cake do sound like options, however I hate both coconut and carrot cake : (
posted by katers890 at 10:55 AM on March 5, 2014

Rocks, or very small pebbles? With the myriad of allergies you are limited, but have you tried Graham Crackers? and modify some of these recipes.
posted by Gungho at 11:09 AM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Gluten and corn free isn;t too hard -- there are endless flourless chocolate cakes (my favourite -- the flour can be left out or replaced by ground nuts) or flourless nut cakes (my other favourite -- replace the matzo meal with more ground almonds).

The multi-allergy options I am less knowledgeable about.
posted by jeather at 11:10 AM on March 5, 2014

the problem is getting dairy free butter

Dairy-Free Butter aka Margarine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:13 AM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

As far as Rice Krispie treats go, virtually all commercial marshmallows are made with corn syrup, which is corn.

This Betty Crocker's gluten-free cake mix has an amazingly short ingredient list -- it literally just contains rice flour, potato starch, sugar and xantham gum. It's my go-to for any allergy-friendly dessert. In making it, you add eggs and oil or a butter product. (You'd want to use oil or dairy-free margarine for your son's school.) It makes great cupcakes.

It is easy to make a buttercream-style frosting out of confectioner's sugar and dairy-free margarine. Earth Balance makes a vegan, soy-free butter product that has a great consistency. If you don't need to avoid soy it's even easier to find a butter replacement that will work.
posted by kate blank at 11:13 AM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Dairy-Free Butter aka Margarine

Many, many, many margarines are made with whey or other milk products. Read your labels carefully -- here in Canada, at least, there's probably one kind of margarine that doesn't have dairy for every 15 that do.
posted by kate blank at 11:15 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

If the margarine is labelled kosher - parve it won' t have any dairy in it. Nucoa is the easiest brand to find where I live (obviously not the buttery flavored version, the regular in the gold box)
posted by metahawk at 11:44 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

America's Test Kitchen has a new gluten-free cookbook out. Here's their recipe for GF Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I'm not GF and can't vouch for this recipe, but I do trust ATK. If nothing else, the recipe notes might help you with other desserts.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:51 AM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: That's tough. I have several recipes that could fit any one of those requirements, but I can't think of any recipes off the top of my head that would fit ALL of those requirements. However, you may find ChowStalker extremely helpful. You can search recipes based on a variety of special diets, and if you use their advanced search you can screen out lots of ingredients.

Here are the search results for dairy-fee, nut-free, gluten-free, corn-free recipes.

You can further refine it by excluding coconut if you want. I wasn't sure if your coconut dislike carried over to coconut milk (which does not taste like coconut and is an excellent dairy substitute). Also, some people who can't eat nuts consider coconuts a nut.

Also check out Oh She Glows. She has lots of gluten-free, nut-free, vegan recipes.
posted by geeky at 11:53 AM on March 5, 2014

Gluten-free pie crust can be surprisingly good-- maybe make a vegan-ized version of these apple hand pies?
posted by dizziest at 12:02 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: Not a baked good, but what about dark-chocolate dipped fruit (fresh strawberries, dried cherries, dried apricots)? It might take some work to find dairy-free dark chocolate without the "processed in a nut-contaminated facility" but you could always shop online.
posted by esoterrica at 12:04 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dates!

Use dates to make a paste. This paste can be the base of a chocolate cake (no date flavor! Use a gf-flour mix, like kate blank recommended) or you can roll it into little balls and add whatever floats your boat and is not dangerous to anyone (cocoa powder, pistachios, sesame, chia, flax, coconut flakes). Dust in one of the mentioned ingredients or caster sugar or a light starch and they won't stick together.

I'd also recommend to look for non-bake options. Stuff like fruit leather or pumpkin panna cotta cut into cubes can be served to kids as well.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:10 PM on March 5, 2014

For future marshmallow-related endeavors, Dandies marshmallows are corn-free. They use tapioca starch instead of corn starch and cane sugar instead of corn syrup. You can find them at some Whole Foods locations. Also, the brown rice variety of Rice Krispies are gluten-free (the white rice variety uses barley malt for flavoring which is why it's not gluten-free).

But you say you are not a huge fan of Rice Krispies treats anyway, so. Chocolate coconut truffles? (Assuming you are not avoiding coconuts -- despite what the FDA may say, they are not really a tree nut.) Wowbutter cookies with gluten-free flour?
posted by BlueJae at 12:13 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh wait I missed the coconut-hating part. Well, if you're baking for people with multiple food allergies, coconut is a pretty go-to ingredient; do the people you are baking for hate it? Because if they like it, maybe you could make them something with it as a favor, and make something else for yourself ;)
posted by BlueJae at 12:15 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: At my grocery store I can get a box of sweet rice flour (Mochiko blue star brand) which you mix with cocoa powder and water to make Cocoa Mochi (Japanese chewy rice sweet). It's pretty tasty, and very easy (you mix stuff together and microwave it until the rice starch gelatinizes.)

I think that would pass your allergy requirements...

It's not exactly baking, but it would work well as a baking analogue, and it's popular with my kids.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:22 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: We are a severe allergy household (dairy and corn), although gluten is okay.

Not all coconut oils are really coconut-y and they replace butter in cookies like a dream. I did not have success with Earth Balance and it's true that most margarines have some kind of dairy protein.

Trader Joe's coconut oil is very coconut-y but Dr. Bronner's oil is great.

On preview I was also going to suggest mochi too, but be careful about lactose and other milk proteins. The label would say so.
posted by mamabear at 12:25 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: these mini donuts look super cute - dairy-free, corn-free, gluten-free. plus sprinkles.
posted by kerning at 12:28 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: How about candy? Truffles can be made without dairy and without gluten and without corn., since you can substitute margarine (I have done this with no problem, but it may require a little experimentation) for butter. Some recipes call for corn syrup, so just look for one that does not. They call for cream, usually, too, so I usually use the thickest non-dairy milk I can find. If the result is not firm enough to dip in chocolate, freeze tiny balls of it and then dip in cooled chocolate coating or tempered chocolate. I called Wilton, their candy melts are gluten-free (I have a gluten-free friend so have to check). Don't know about the other problem ingredients, though.

If you are happy experimenting just to see how things turn out, I would recommend finding a favorite recipe and then using other things in place of the corn, dairy, gluten, and nut ingredients. So, for cupcakes - go with a gluten-free mix? Or a favorite recipe and use gluten-free flour and other acceptable substitutes?

I also like Earth Balance margarine. It is especially wonderful because it is soft and easy to mix into things.

I do not use cow milk in anything I cook. I do not like the taste. I use almond milk (obviously you would skip that one for the nut-free crowd), oat milk, rice milk, or soy milk and so far there has been no issue with results of a recipe. Usually those have very good ingredient lists and allergy warnings on the box.

I have heard great things about the King Arthur Flour gluten-free all purpose flour but have not used it in anything myself yet.

Tapioca starch can be used sometimes instead of cornstarch, as someone mentioned, and you can make your own marshmallows (I do this all the time!). You can also make your own marshmallow creme.

Powdered sugar usually is a mix of sugar and cornstarch, so beware of that if you don't already know. If you use C&H, it is gluten-free, but not corn free. C&H superfine sugar is an okay substitute for making marshmallows nonsticky to touch. If you make marshmallows for rice krispy treats, you may want to reduce the water by a tiny bit (i.e., a tablespoon) to make for firmer marshmallows.

For gluten-free rice krispy type stuff, try puffed brown rice in the natural foods section of your store, maybe? The bag I get says only "brown rice" in the ingredient list. I've tried it, and it tastes better, to me, than the brand name stuff. I occasionally get it for my hamster, who loves it.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 1:06 PM on March 5, 2014

What about Thai mango and sticky rice? That stuff is so good. It does have coconut milk in it, but I hatehatehate shredded coconut but am totally fine with coconut milk, so maybe you're like me.

If the school has a freezer you can keep these in until it's time to serve, kids love frozen chocolate-dipped bananas.
posted by ostro at 1:15 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: Look around the dessert category on some vegan blogs. Oh She Glows is especially good about listing allergens, and has a surprisingly large number of recipes. Don't ignore the ones that aren't explicitly nut-free--she tends to default to almond milk, which, obviously, is easily replaced with coconut or soy milk. And basically anything calling for nut butter can be replaced with sunflower seed or soy butter. I'm not vegan or gluten free, but still think that many of her recipes are great.
posted by MeghanC at 1:41 PM on March 5, 2014

Seconding truffles and date based things (The Homesick Texan has a Complexion Candy recipe that gives you the basic idea, but uses nuts). While you always want some dates in there for texture, you can add other types of fruit for flavor - try dried apricots, cherries or cranberries, maybe with a little cocoa powder mixed in? I found this technique for myself last year by googling 'homemade Lara bars' and accidentally sugar-comaed myself, it was that much like candy.

With gluten free oatmeal and sun butter it's maybe too many substitutions, but I've made no bakes with coconut oil instead of butter and was pleasantly surprised. Rice krispies treats don't need marshmallow, either - just melt a few bars of chocolate, mix in gf rice krispies, and spread on a cookie sheet to dry. Or follow the Weasel Household tradition of eating straight from the pot while molten and chocolatey, mmmmmmm...
posted by theweasel at 2:52 PM on March 5, 2014

Response by poster: Interesting. I will have to look into these things, and I may have to accept making coconut things for school... assuming that's ok, I'll have to check. I haven't used things like coconut milk/oil because my aversion to coconut is very strong, I can tell if there's even a tiny bit of coconut in something.

I knew the powdered/confectioners sugar had cornstarch in it, actually, but it's definitely putting a cramp in my icing/frosting making concepts. Anyone know a substitution for it? In whipped cream and what not I just use regular sugar, but I'm not sure how fundamental the powdered sugar is to frostings.

Ok, off to experiment and see what I can do. Thankfully the first up is just the corn/gluten free combo, and I don't have to do the whole avoid all allergen thing until June : )

Do feel free to add more ideas, I love seeing them all!
posted by katers890 at 3:26 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: Anyone know a substitution for it?

Haven't tried it myself, but there is a way to DIY it.
Consider online shopping, if you use Amazon, they usually have all kinds of gf foods/ingredients.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:48 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here is my dad's recipe for white frosting. It uses milk, but you most likely could sub in soy milk. Lots of hits on Google if you search for frosting without powdered sugar.
posted by kathrynm at 4:55 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: As a late addition, Wholesome Sweeteners powdered sugar has no cornstarch!
posted by mamabear at 5:41 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out the Babycakes cookbook.

I highly recommend Mr. Ritts gluten free all purpose flour, which you can use cup for cup in regular recipes.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:12 PM on March 5, 2014

Won't resolve all the allergy issues, but Cup4Cup is a great way to get around gluten issues.
posted by conradjones at 6:45 PM on March 5, 2014

When my boyfriend was vegan I found that you can make a very serviceable rice pudding with coconut milk. I cannot speak to the logistics of bringing pudding to school ;-).

For baked goods that are less creamy rice milk is also a pretty good substitute for milk.
posted by phoenixy at 6:58 PM on March 5, 2014

Best answer: Arrowroot powder can be substituted for cornstarch in some recipes. It is naturally gluten-free and corn-free. Note it is not ideal for using with dairy as it can make things slimy.

As for frostings, you could try meringue buttercreams. I prefer swiss meringue buttercream myself, but there's an italian, german and french versions as well. The swiss version involves cooking egg whites with granulated (not powdered) sugar over heat, then whipping into a meringue. Beat in butter and whatever flavorings you like, and you're done! Sweetapolita has a good primer. Of course, it wouldn't be dairy-free.

You can make dairy-free whipped cream with the solidified cream from coconut milk. You can even add things like cocoa powder or espresso powder to get different flavors. I think it could make a good dairy-free, corn-free, gluten-free frosting :)
posted by geeky at 6:34 AM on March 6, 2014

Here's a pumpkin muffin recipe I post here frequently because it's so good. You could use coconut oil instead of butter. No gluten, no corn, no dairy (unless you use butter, and butter is okay for some lactose-intolerant people). When I've used coconut oil I don't taste the coconut, but I love coconut and might not pick up on it the way you would.


Pumpkin Muffin Cake Thing
(based on, and much of the text copied from, a recipe by Mark Sisson)

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted (that's just under 2 oz)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cooked pureed pumpkin
6 eggs (yes, six)
4 T butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Butter an 8" x 8" baking pan very well.

Sift coconut flour, baking soda, salt and spices into a small bowl. Stir to blend well and set aside.

Place pumpkin puree in a medium bowl. Add eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. Add melted butter, honey, and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture. Whisk until most of the floury lumps are gone. Do not over-mix.

Spoon batter into greased pan. Bake for 45 minutes until it passes the toothpick test.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:55 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know how sensitive the kid in the class is, but gluten is often in many of the ingredients mentioned above, including margarine and even dates.

Have you considered making something else, like fruit skewers or a edible art, such as fruit cut into the flower shapes?
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:46 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to chime in and say be careful with dates, they're often dusted with cornstarch. Or oat flour or gluten, and they're usually unlabeled.

Potato and Tapioca starch substitute well for cornstarch, (better than arrowroot imho) and most organic food stores carry both. Also sometimes you can find potato starch based baking powder in the Kosher section of grocery stores, especially around passover time.
posted by Aliera at 11:32 AM on March 7, 2014

Coconut is actually a nut, so definitely check with the school to see if it's on the no-fly list. This is quite a puzzle, and I wish I had some suggestions!
posted by hungrybruno at 11:42 AM on March 10, 2014

If coconut is okay- this pumpkin pie should do quite nicely.
posted by jaksemas at 6:50 PM on March 10, 2014

Coconut is not a tree nut. However, it is perfectly possible for a person with a tree nut allergy to ALSO have an allergy to coconuts. Anyone with ANY existing food allergy is more likely than the average person to develop an allergy to another food. And if a person with a tree nut allergy also has a coconut allergy, they may not mention it as a separate allergy since the FDA currently incorrectly (from a botanical standpoint) classifies coconuts as tree nuts for labeling purposes. So you'll just have to ask.

(Why do I know this? Because my child has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, and I'm a member of multiple food allergy advocacy and support groups. So I spend a lot of time reading about food allergies, labeling, etc.)
posted by BlueJae at 8:26 AM on March 13, 2014

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