Mint Chocolate and Cinnamon-Coffee-Toffee Cookes from Sweet Freedom (vegan, wheat-free, and refined sugar-free!)


True story: if I had to cast the most appropriate (note, I didn’t say most desirable) celebrity to play me in the upcoming story-of-my-life film debut, it would be Cookie Monster. I know, I know. He’s a he (I think?). And he’s blue. Two things I am most certainly not. But our mutual love of cookies and ability to consume them could trump all dissimilarities.

Actually, scratch that. Does anyone know if Cookie Monster has a sister or girlfriend? One who’s purple and sparkly and derives fuel from cookie dough?

Because that’s who should really be playing my part.

On Friday I tweeted a confession that my whole day’s diet included cookie dough, and more cookie dough. If you care for more details, it was Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon-Coffee-Toffee cookie dough. I’m guessing nobody caught that because if you did, you would have questioned how that could possibly be true about a girl who decided to give up wheat, dairy and sugar. I mean, cookie dough doesn’t exactly scream wheat-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free.


Unless, of course, you’re baking with Sweet Freedom by your side. This is the genius collection of chewy, buttery cookies; fudgey, decadent brownies; tender cakes and breads and sweet fluffy frostings created by my good friend Ricki Heller. Ricki happens to be a wheat-free, refined sugar-free and vegan and wouldn’t you guess, she doesn’t just create recipes, she eats them! Everything in her book is suitable for her dietary needs, which makes them suitable for mine too.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking a lot of things, actually.

1) Dessert without wheat, dairy, eggs, or sugar? That’s just sad. Why bother?

2) Why should I trust a “baker” who doesn’t even know what the real stuff tastes like?

3) ThankGAWD I can eat all of those things. Why would I bother with this book? The ingredients must be, um, weird.

4) There’s a little problem here. I’m gluten-free. What good is this to me?

5) This woman is a genius. Sign me up. 


1) Because life without dessert is not just sad, it’s unnecessary. You will learn that when you flip through this book’s pages and discover that you can enjoy chocolate chip cheesecake swirled brownies, sumptuous cinnamon buns, and chai-spiced cheesecake. Whether you have a single food sensitivity or all of the ones listed above, or none at all, you’re going to flip when you see what’s included here.

2) Ricki didn’t always eat this way! Like me, she spent many years eating and loving really good desserts. You can only make truly good dessert if you have the taste for it.

I made the Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are deliciously chewy and fudgey, just like a good cookie should be. And I made Cinnamon-Coffee-Toffee Cookies, which is actually a bar-cookie recipe in the book, but produces a dough so thick and sticky that I thought it would be just as suited to making drop-cookies. That gooey dough is exactly what produces the rich, fudgey texture of a good blondie inside these cookies (or bars!) Additionally, I adapted a cheesecake filling recipe for use in another treat, which I’ll be sharing with you soon. Let me tell you something about that vegan cheesecake filling – I barely had enough for my recipe because I could not stop eating it with a spoon!

There’s nothing crumbly, gummy, grainy or bean-y about any of the recipes I tried, and I trust that that holds true for the rest of the book too. I don’t pretend it’s a secret that I posses the ability to consume endless amounts of desserts that other people claim are “too rich” and it’s no secret that if I had to pick only two foods to eat for the rest of my life they’d probably be cookie dough and frosting. So when I tell you that these recipes are bowl-lickin’-good, you better believe me.


3) You know that feeling that comes from eating too much dessert, whether in raw (my preference) or baked form? It starts off with a good-lord-what-did-I-do, I-think-I’ll-eat-some-more-to-numb-the-pain kind of tummy ache. Followed a couple hours later with some slight nausea and a little headache as it sinks in. Sleeping soundfully throughout the night? Forget it. And on a really bad binge, you realize the next morning that there’s a number of cookies equivalent to an entire bottle of wine, and you ate precisely that many.

I’m pretty sure you’ve felt these symptoms, whether you have food sensitivities or allergies or not. If you recall, I was not diagnosed with as being intolerant or allergic to wheat, dairy, or sugar; I’m restricting my intake as part of a traditional Chinese medicine approach to some health issues I’m dealing with.

But you know what? There was none of that going on even when I binged on these cookies. Not that I recommend binging. But if you’re going to do it, why not set yourself up to feel a little better by substituting ingredients that won’t spike your blood sugar or leave you feeling like there’s an indigestible block of concrete in your stomach?

If you’re some kind of superhuman and have never experienced these symptoms (I’m guessing you also have a speed-of-light metabolism and regularly finish whole pizzas on your own, in which case I’m slightly envious) perhaps someone you know – a coworker, your best friend’s kid, your friendly dental hygienist – is newly diagnosed with some food allergies. I guarantee it would brighten their day if you made them a batch of “safe” cookies this holiday season – as well as brightening your day too, as soon as you tasted them.

Lastly, I want to point out that the ingredients are not “weird.” They are wholesome, all natural, and fairly easy to find. They are ingredients you will surely use again, whether you choose to bake from this book or substitute them in other recipes. A little more expensive than white sugar, white flour, and butter? Yes. But if you’re anything like me you don’t mind spending a little extra for good quality food that is kind to your body.

4) Gluten-free? Shouldn’t be a problem. About 30% of the recipes in the book are gluten-free already. For just about any of the others, you should be able to substitute a favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. (For those wondering, wheat-free doesn’t mean entirely gluten-free. Many of the recipes in this book use flours that contain gluten, but are not wheat, such as spelt flour and barley flour.)


5) Now for the really good stuff. No, there are no recipes. You see, I loved this book so much that instead of sharing the actual recipes, I thought a better way to show my gratitude towards Ricki would be to help her sell some books. To be clear, I asked her – and not the other way around. I purchased my copy on my own, it was not given to me to review. There is no compensation for me here either. It’s simply that Ricki is a good friend and an inspirational blogger and author, and I want to help her grow even more successful, because she absolutely deserves it. So I asked Ricki if she’d be willing to offer a deal for you, dear readers, and she agreed!

Visit the Ebook Mega-Sale page over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs where you can purchase any TWO of Ricki’s Ebooks for just $10.95! This offer is only good through the end of the year, so move fast and don’t miss it!

Ebooks? Two of them? I know, I’m moving too fast. While you do have the option of purchasing Sweet Freedom in traditional hard-copy form, Ricki has also made it available in a PDF format available for purchase. Upon purchasing the Sweet Freedom Ebook, Ricki will email you the file faster than it would take to ship the traditional book. How’s that for (almost) instant gratification?

In addition, Ricki has written three other books available as Ebooks: Anti-Candida Feast, Desserts without Compromise, and Good Morning! Breakfast. Because Sweet Freedom normally sells for $14.95, you are getting an exceptionally good deal by being able to purchase it for just $10.95 along with a second book of your choice!


I know this post was long. I do hope you got the take-home message, but here it is, in case you missed it: healthier, allergen-friendly desserts (whether you have sensitivities or not) are totally doable and a really, really good thing to add to your repertoire. And I would be so happy if even a few of you decide to buy Ricki’s books, because she’s been wonderful to me and I know you and someone you love will truly benefit from owning them as well.
And one more time, a link to Ricki’s Ebook Mega-Sale page, where she has been so kind to offer a fabulous discount on TWO of her books for just $10.95!
Happy Holiday Baking 🙂
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22 Responses to “Mint Chocolate and Cinnamon-Coffee-Toffee Cookes from Sweet Freedom (vegan, wheat-free, and refined sugar-free!)”

  1. 1

    Ricki Heller — December 14, 2011 @ 2:34 pm Reply

    Cara, thank you so much for this stellar review! I am thrilled that you liked the recipes this much! 😀 Also wanted to mention that your photos are beautiful.  I love the wintery effects (which are so much nicer than actual winter–ha ha!). We are so much alike when it comes to desserts–I am also a "prefer the cookie dough raw" kinda gal. And I think it was a brilliant idea to make the coffee-toffee squares as cookies. I am going to do them that way myself next time! Thanks again! Big hugs! xo

  2. 2

    Nicole, RD — December 14, 2011 @ 3:15 pm Reply

    I am so intrigued! The baked goods sound wonderful – and look wonderful!

  3. 3

    Jessica — December 14, 2011 @ 5:25 pm Reply

    So glad I came across your blog from a fellow foodie, this looks fantastic! You've got yourself a new follower! XO Jessica @ Cajunlicious

  4. 4

    Amy Green — December 14, 2011 @ 6:58 pm Reply

    Love your photos, Cara! I have Ricki's book too and it's incredible!! 🙂

  5. 5

    Ranjani — December 14, 2011 @ 7:32 pm Reply

    I really enjoyed these cookies, especially the mint chocolate ones! If you hadn't said so, I wouldn't have known that these were free of any of those ingredients. I have to admit I am *very* curious about the recipes…

  6. 6

    Lily — December 14, 2011 @ 7:53 pm Reply

    What an awesome review! I have a long list of cookbooks I want to buy (I have to wait until after Christmas) and Sweet Freedom was definitely on the list. I love your blog and Ricki's as well. I'm going to take advantage of this deal now! …And if I get it for Christmas, too, so be it.

  7. 7

    Shannon — December 14, 2011 @ 7:56 pm Reply

    Yessss, ricki is awesome, and i was a particular fan of the chocolate mint ones 🙂  I already have sweet freedom, but perhaps i should make it my mission to try every single recipe!

  8. 8

    Cara — December 14, 2011 @ 7:59 pm Reply

    oh I didn't know you had that book too! What other recipes have you tried?

  9. 9

    Cara — December 14, 2011 @ 7:59 pm Reply

    Glad you liked it, Lily! And I agree, this is a deal not to be missed 🙂

  10. 10

    Cara — December 14, 2011 @ 8:00 pm Reply

    only one way to find out! I promise there is nothing weird about these recipes, just good, wholesome ingredients.

  11. 11

    Jennifurla — December 14, 2011 @ 10:10 pm Reply

    I am in love with these pictures.

  12. 12

    Laurel — December 14, 2011 @ 10:48 pm Reply

    I was reading it in bed last night. My husband leaned over and said "Avocado?" in such shocked tones I laughed 5 minutes straight. It's always better just to feed people and tell them the ingredients later, after their 2d or 3d helping.

  13. 13

    maggiesavage — December 14, 2011 @ 11:54 pm Reply

    I love Ricki's book too!  Mmmm, her buttertarts are to die for!  You MUST try them.  I love your shots, as always.  Pinned 🙂 

  14. 14

    Kim Wilson-Maes — December 15, 2011 @ 2:50 am Reply

    Wow! What a stellar review of Sweet Freedom! I reviewed it a while back too and loved absolutely everything I make from it! I love all of your photos. Looks like someone is having fun with Picnik! LOL

  15. 15

    Alisa Fleming — December 15, 2011 @ 3:26 am Reply

    Sweet Freedom is one of my favorite cookbooks, and wow Cara … you definitely did it justice with those pictures! I want some of those cookies now!

  16. 16

    Emily — December 15, 2011 @ 1:25 pm Reply

    These cookies do look good! I'm really into chocolate and mint these days!

  17. 17

    Kate — December 15, 2011 @ 5:34 pm Reply

    I'm pretty sure Cookie Monster was an only child.  But I'm also betting he's single… if things don't work out with you and Ben 😉

  18. 18

    Kelly — December 15, 2011 @ 10:17 pm Reply

    Those look tasty!  I think I also have the same milk glass BTW.  I know you don't tend to go into too, too much detail about your health, but if you're okay with sharing I'm curious…are you noticing a reduction in some of the problems you were complaining of in your earlier post?  

  19. 19

    grace — December 16, 2011 @ 12:09 am Reply

    you're a blessing for those with dietary restrictions, cara–these are amazing!

  20. 20

    Carol — December 16, 2011 @ 12:51 am Reply

    Great review and great photos!

  21. 21

    Ivy — December 16, 2011 @ 5:12 am Reply

    What a wonderful cookbook which I am going to check it out right now.  Your pictures are stunning.

  22. 22

    Elina (Healthy and Sane) — December 16, 2011 @ 6:52 pm Reply

    These sound fantastic although I think you need to be eating cookies more than just once-in-a-while to qualify for Cooking Monster! 😉

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