Vegan Friands: Cinnamon Choc Chip (Gluten-Free)



At last a recipe for vegan friands which are just as good as the original. These little cakes made with ground almonds and buckwheat flour are deliciously crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Studded with chocolate chips and flavoured with cinnamon, they’re a complete delight. They’re super easy to make too.Vegan friends with choc chips and flaked almonds cooling on a wire rack.
I know these little sweet treats don’t really tie in with my healthy Veganuary. But they are just that, little. I allow myself one sweet thing a day in an attempt to consume less sugar. The only unhealthy ingredient in these vegan friands is sugar and as there’s only nine grams per friand, I’m not too bothered.

What’s The Difference Between Friands and Muffins?

Friands are not muffins. They’re an antipodean version of financiers, which were popularised in France in the nineteenth century.
Muffins are big and brash whereas friands are more refined. The former are made with flour, eggs and quite a bit of liquid. The latter, however are made with egg whites only and a mix of flour and ground almonds. Muffins contain baking powder, but egg whites act as the only raising agent in friands.
A vegan friand broken into three pieces sitting on a blue plate. Whole friands on a cooling rack to the side.These differences result in quite different textures and flavours. Muffins are supposed to be super light and airy and not overly sweet whereas friands are crisp on the outside and rich, sweet and tender on the inside. Friands are also light in texture, but unlike muffins, they’re not airy.
Unlike their French cousins, financiers, friands are not made with brown butter. This makes them eminently suitable for creating a vegan version. Here are my recipes for non-vegan friands if you’re interested. And here are my recipes for muffins, both sweet and savoury ones.

For These Vegan Friands You Will Need:

Aquafaba
The water from a tin of chickpeas is best for this. It won’t colour the friands and the flavour isn’t as obtrusive as some beans. Having said that, I’ve used the water from tinned butter beans to good effect. You can aquafaba you don’t use for another time.
Sea salt
A pinch of salt helps to bring out the cakes’ flavours and just this small amount really makes a difference. I tend to use Himalayan pink rock salt in baking though, rather than sea salt.
Icing sugar
I prefer to use golden icing sugar when I can get it as its less refined than white. But it’s not particularly easy to get hold of, so I often end up using the more ubiquitous white.
Gluten-free flour
I use buckwheat flour in friands. It works really well and helps to give the classic soft interior that friands are so well known for. I’ve also used brown rice flour, though it doesn’t produce quite the same soft crumb. Both of these are highly nutritious. You can, however, use your favourite gluten-free flour mix.
Cinnamon
I love the flavour of cinnamon. It’s not only a lovely spice for flavour though, it also contains a number of beneficial antioxidants.
Ground almonds
Also known as almond flour. I usually grind my own almonds for baking. But for this I went with ready ground as the meal is finer. And it’s fine meal that gives the classic soft friand crumb.
Extra virgin olive oil
Don’t use your best EVOO for this one, but something with a bit of flavour is a bonus. If you prefer, you can use coconut oil instead as it’s great for texture. However, the taste of coconut can be a bit intrusive, plus you need to melt the oil first and then allow it to cool. This creates more faff and washing up, so I prefer olive oil, even though it creates a more fragile crumb.
Dark Chocolate
If you’re a strict vegan, you’ll want to ensure you use vegan chocolate. See the next section for more on this.

Vegan Chocolate

Not all dark chocolate is vegan. Some dark chocolate is actually made with dairy, which always seems a bit strange to me. So check the ingredients carefully before you buy. However, whilst this isn’t the case with most dark chocolate, many brands use the same machinery to make both dark and milk versions.
This means that they cannot guarantee their chocolate is free of dairy. If you read the labels, they will state something along the following lines: “may contain milk”.
Some vegans are bothered by this, others not so much. But it’s something to be aware of. Basically, if you’re a strict vegan or baking something for a strict vegan, only buy chocolate that is labelled “vegan”.
A block of chocolate split in half on a board with chopping knife and a pile of chopped chocolate.You can use chocolate chips instead of a block of chocolate in this recipe. But I really like the variety that chopping your own gives. You get everything ranging from large chunks to tiny slivers.

Gluten Free Vegan Friands

It took three attempts at developing this recipe before I got it right. I was hoping for a straight swap of ingredients from non-vegan to vegan, but it didn’t quite work out like that.
blankAquafaba makes a wonderful vegan substitute for egg whites. Generally two tablespoons of aquafaba equals one egg white. However, it is more watery than egg white and thus creates a more fragile friand.
Because aquafaba makes for a wetter batter than egg white, the friands take longer to cook than traditional ones. This means you need to bake them at a lower temperature or they burn.
Friands contain a relatively small proportion of flour. This makes them ideal for creating gluten-free bakes. I started doing this several years ago for a friend who was gluten intolerant. The resulting friands, were not only delicious, but they had a softer crumb. I’ve mostly stuck with buckwheat flour ever since.
Friands have quite a high sugar content, which means they burn easily. These have less sugar than my non vegan friands as I’m trying for a slightly healthier bake, but they are still quite sweet.
Don’t worry if you over-bake them a little and they’re darker than you’d like. They’re still delicious. I know, because I baked my first and second batches at too high a temperature.
If twelve small cakes doesn’t quite do it for you, you can easily scale up the quantities given in the recipe to make eighteen, twenty four or more. I’ve made it purposefully easy to scale both up and down.
How Long Do Vegan Friands Keep?
Like any other friands, vegan friands are at their best on the day of baking. Although they will keep well in a sealed container for five days, they will no longer have their addictive crisp edges.
You can also freeze friands for longer term storage. Allow them to cool completely then place in a freezer-proof bag and freeze for up to three months. Allow to thaw in the bag before removing.
For best results, heat in an oven or air-fryer for five to ten minutes.
Gluten Free Vegan Friands: Step-By-Step
Vegan friands are super easy to make. It’s almost, but not quite, a case of chucking everything in a bowl and giving it a good stir. Although they take no time at all to prepare, however, they do take a while to bake.
Step 1. Whisk Aquafaba
You can use any aquafaba you like for these friands, but I prefer to use water from a tin of chickpeas or a tin of white beans. This won’t colour the friands and the flavours aren’t as obtrusive as some beans.
Frothy aquafaba in a bowl.Pour the aquafaba into a mixing bowl and add the salt. Then whisk until it becomes frothy. You can do this by hand as you don’t need peaks and it takes only seconds.
Step 2. Sift Dry Ingredients
Sift the icing sugar, buckwheat flour and cinnamon into the bowl. This ensures you won’t have any lumps in the finished bakes.
Icing sugar, buckwheat flour and cinnamon in a metal sieve.There’s no need to sieve the ground almonds, just add them to the bowl after you’ve finished sieving in the other dry ingredients.
Give the lot a good stir until everything is just about mixed together.
Step 3. Add Oil
Pour in the oil and stir gently, but well until all of the oil is incorporated into the batter.
Olive oil on top of vegan friand batter in a bowl - waiting to be mixed.Step 4. Add Choc Chips
Stir in the chocolate chips. See section on vegan chocolate further up the post.
Top Tip
Set aside twelve or twenty four of the larger chunks to place on top of the friands prior to baking. This makes them look doubly appealing.
Step 5. Spoon Into Moulds
Grease or oil a twelve hole mini muffin pan. Silicone or tin are both good, but I prefer silicone as there’s less risk of anything sticking.
Divide the batter equally between the twelve holes. If you followed the previous tip, place the chocolate chunks on top of the batter.
Raw vegan friand batter in mini muffins holes with chocolate chunks and flaked almonds on the top.Scatter a few flaked almonds over the top. This is optional, but recommended. It makes the friands look good and provides an extra tasty crunch.
Top Tip
Mini muffin pans are great. I use mine all the time. If you don’t have any though, or prefer larger friands, divide the batter between six muffin moulds instead of twelve mini ones.
Step 6. Bake Friands
Place the friands on the middle shelf of a preheated oven and bake for approximately thirty minutes.
Chocolate chip vegan friands in their moulds just out of the oven.They should be well risen, firm to the touch and golden rather than dark brown. If they’re not quite ready, return to the oven and bake for a further five minutes.
Leave in the pan for ten minutes to cool and firm up a little, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Do this as gently as you can, as they’re somewhat fragile.
Top Tip
If using larger muffin moulds you will need to increase the baking time by a further five to ten minutes.

Make These Vegan Friands Your Own

You don’t have to use gluten-free flour in order to make these vegan friands. You can use pretty much any flour you choose. However, I do recommend trying them with buckwheat flour first and seeing what you think.
Whilst it’s best to keep the proportions of dry ingredients to wet ones, you can go mad with the flavouring. You don’t have to stick to chocolate chip by any means. And if you do stick with chocolate, try skipping the cinnamon and using some flavoured chocolate instead. Coffee chocolate is really good.
Swap the cinnamon for another spice or use citrus zest instead. Add poppy seeds or even berries. Lemon and poppy seed friands are delicious.

Other Vegan Bakes Made With Aquafaba

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these vegan friands, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #nanorecetas, so I can spot them.
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If you’d like more vegan recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious and nutritious, of course.
Choclette x
Chocolate Chip Vegan Friands. PIN IT.
Gluten-free vegan friends with choc chips and flaked almonds cooling on a wire rack. With text box.

Vegan Friands – The Recipe

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Vegan Friands With Chocolate Chips

These little cakes made with ground almonds and buckwheat flour are deliciously crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Studded with chocolate chips and flavoured with cinnamon, they’re a complete delight. They’re gluten-free too and as a bonus are super easy to make.Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 minsCourse: Afternoon Tea, SnackCuisine: AntipodeanKeyword: almonds, buckwheat flour, chocolate chip, cinnamon, friands, gluten-freeServings: 12 cakesCalories: 130kcalAuthor: Choclette @ Tin and ThymeIngredients6 tbsp aquafaba (water from a tin of chickpeas or beans)1 pinch sea salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)90 g icing sugar45 g buckwheat flour or brown rice flour (or use your favourite gluten-free flour)¾ tsp ground cinnamon60 g ground almonds60 ml extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil35 g vegan dark chocolate chopped into small chipsA few flaked almonds for decoration (optional)InstructionsWhisk the aquafaba with the salt in a mixing bowl until frothy. It doesn’t need to form peaks.6 tbsp aquafaba, 1 pinch sea saltSift in the icing sugar, flour and cinnamon, then add the ground almonds. Fold into the aquafaba until everything is just mixed.90 g icing sugar, 45 g buckwheat flour or brown rice flour, ¾ tsp ground cinnamon, 60 g ground almondsPour in the olive oil and stir that in until it’s properly incorporated.60 ml extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oilStir in the chocolate chips.35 g vegan dark chocolateDivide the batter between 12 greased mini muffin moulds. I use silicone for ease of removal, but tin is good too. Just make sure you’ve oiled it well. Scatter a few almond flakes over the tops, if using.A few flaked almonds for decorationBake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes or until the friands are well risen and firm to the touch. They should be golden, but not burnt. If they’re not quite done. Return them to the oven for a further five minutes.Leave to cool in the moulds for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Do this as carefully as you can as they may be a little fragile.Dust with icing sugar before serving, if liked.NotesAt their best on the day of baking. Although they will keep well in a sealed container for five days, they will no longer have their addictive crisp edges.You can easily scale up the quantities given here to make 18, 24 or more vegan friands.If you prefer larger friands, divide the batter between six muffin moulds instead of twelve mini ones.Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They’re approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used.NutritionCalories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 41mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg Tried this recipe?Please take a photo and mention @choclette8 or tag #nanorecetas on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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I’m sharing this recipe for gluten-free vegan friands with Sew White for #CookBlogShare.


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