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Cookbook Review: Baking with Agave Nectar

I have tried many sugar substitutes in my day. Mostly out of curiosity and in a vain attempt to quell my sweet tooth. In my search I must say that agave nectar works the best for me. It is sweet, without being overly sweet and it is great in tea and salad dressing. I was curious to bake with it and found Baking with Agave Nectar ($15.95) and thought I would give it a whirl.

The cookbook contains over 100 recipes from cookies to ice cream – some vegan recipes and some that include milk, eggs and butter. Many of the recipes sound tasty and I appreciate the fact that the author, Ania Catalano, includes easy to find whole wheat pastry flour as a substitute for the not so easy to find sprouted spelt four. The directions are easy to follow and the photographs are lovely; I just wish there were more of them. If you are new to cooking with ingredients typically considered health food, Catalano includes a detailed glossary of terms with in depth explanations of things like carob and guar gum. The introduction is equally inspiring.

Since I had a vegan houseguest this weekend I whipped up a batch of vegan Linzer torte cookies. The recipe took well under an hour to make (super quick) and my daughters thoroughly enjoyed helping me make the cookies as well as eating the final product. These Linzer cookies (made with almonds and raspberry jam) are truly healthy cookies. I found myself eating them after running like I would an energy bar. Next on my list to make from this book is Skinny Vanilla Bean frozen yogurt, banana cream pie and the agave Margarita.

I liked the recipe so much I wanted to share it with you. To check out the Linzer cookie recipe just

.

Vegan Raspbery Linzer Torte Cookies

Vegan Raspbery Linzer Torte Cookies

Vegan Raspbery Linzer Torte Cookies

Ingredients

2 cups raw almonds
2 cups regular rolled oats (not quick cooking)
2 cups sprouted spelt four or whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup light agave nectar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup juice-sweetened raspberry preserves

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place almonds in a food processor and grind to a fine meal, about one minute. Remove and set aside.
  3. Place the oats in the food processor and grind to a fine meal.
  4. Return the almonds to the food processor along with the flour, cinnamon, agave nectar, and canola oil. Pulse to combine all the ingredients.
  5. Roll the dough into walnut-size ball and place on the prepared baking sheets. Using your thumb, press an indentation into the center of each ball.
  6. Fill the indentations with preserves.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Reprinted with permission from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature's Ultimate Sweetener by Ania Catalano. Copyright (c) 2008 Celestial Arts Press, Berkeley, CA. www.tenspeed.com. Publisher retains all copyrights and the right to require immediate removal of this excerpt for copyright or other business reasons.

You can buy the book here.

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debralynndadd debralynndadd 7 years
I also want to comment on the health effects question above. I did a lot of research on this. You can read my conclusions at http://dld123.com/sweetsavvy/sweeteners/summary.php?id=Agave%20Nectar.
debralynndadd debralynndadd 7 years
There are lots more recipes using agave and other natural sweeteners at http://www.sweetsavvy.com. Agave is one of my favorite sweeteners.
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
Thanks aanyanka, I was just curious. I really wanted to try the stuff, and then got worried when I started reading more. Thanks for clearing that up!
aanyanka aanyanka 8 years
ella1978, From what I've read it seems that the fructose in agave nectar is in the form of inulin. Inulin passes through the stomach undigested and is digested by human gut bacteria. The resulting fructose must then be absorbed by the small intestine and processed by the liver. I think moderation is the key here. There are other foods many people eat regularly that are high in inulin and/or fructose (e.g. Garlic and onions are high in inulin; apples, pears, and watermelon are high in fructose). Unless a person has a fructose intolerance problem then moderate use of agave nectar should be fine.
kia kia 8 years
Thanks fitsugar. As someone allergic to cane sugar I have become reliant on natural sugar substitutes but have forgone many baked treats. I'm not saying I want to start those up again but a girl has got to have a treat every so often. I will check out this book.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
Ooooh agave... isn't that the cactus that makes tequila? i've had the margaritas and the gummy candies and fries, but never have i heard of agave sweetener. where could i buy one of these?
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I don't usually use agave nectar, but I might be interested in trying this stuff. Does it taste good in coffee? BTW, those cookies look delicious!! I may have to make them sometime.
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
I was really starting to look into agave nectar and found some big negatives... wondering if some of you guys could clear it up.. The article basically says that agave is mostly fructose as opposed to glucose or sucrose, and frutcose in large amounts is NOT good for you. It can resemble the effects of alcohol on the liver... here is the link to the health problems associated with fructose... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fructose#Health_effects I need some help in figuring this out... agave looks like it's much better for your metabolism, but terrible for your liver. Am I reading this wrong?
JudyRie JudyRie 8 years
I like agave nectar in my oatmeal or tea, sometimes other things. It is sweet without the strong taste of honey, which I don't always want. And I do find that I only need a teeny bit of it - sometimes I think I just psychologically need a sweetener, and I can't even taste it. :P
JudyRie JudyRie 8 years
I like agave nectar in my oatmeal or tea, sometimes other things. It is sweet without the strong taste of honey, which I don't always want. And I do find that I only need a teeny bit of it - sometimes I think I just psychologically need a sweetener, and I can't even taste it. :P
ruizdar ruizdar 8 years
I've been looking for ways to decrease my sugar intake. Thanks. Also does anyone know if honey is just as good. I've been using that in my tea lately. Thanks
Kellyim Kellyim 8 years
Yum, these cookies look great! I haven't tried agave nectar yet, but am starting to explore alternative sweeteners. Right now I'm going through a box of Stevia.
aanyanka aanyanka 8 years
And the self life is like 3 years so you don't have to worry about it going bad on you
aanyanka aanyanka 8 years
Oh by the way Amazon.com has a great offer on agave nectar right now. A 12 pack of 23oz bttles for $30.37. For those of you who use a lot of this stuff (like I do) that is a great deal.
aanyanka aanyanka 8 years
I love love love agave nectar! I started substituting it for sugar in my coffee a while back and I feel so much better for it. Can't wait to check out this book!
squirrellypoo squirrellypoo 8 years
ooh thanks so much for reviewing this! Baking Bites mentioned it earlier in the week and I immediately put it on my Amazon WishList. I've been using agave nectar for a while now, but I gave up sugar over a week ago because I seem to be REALLY susceptible to sugar highs and then bad crashes, and agave nectar doesn't affect me at all. So hearing about this book is a lifesaver for my sweet tooth... :) (and artificial sweeteners are repulsive to me. I might as well drink a vat of chemicals if I'm going to sprinkle chemicals on my food)
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
I'm going to have to get this book. I've been using agave nectar as my sweetner of choice for a couple of months now. I haven't used any refined sugars or artificial sweeteners since. The only thing is it has more calories so I have to make sure I add it into my daily total. But I pretty much only use it in my morning tea.
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