07 December 2011

Almost Gluten-Free Holiday Cookies

Here's a cookie recipe I threw together today using the ingredients that inspired me as I walked into the pantry.

It was 3:15pm, about an hour before the start of that great French institution (one worth keeping) that kids around the hexagon

observe with ritualistic gusto — goûter, or afternoon snack time.

To be fair, goûter really deserves its own post. And it'll get one in the near future.

So for now let's get back to the cookies.

I call them "almost gluten-free" because there's still a little wheat flour in them. I know that doesn't do you any good if you're allergic or intolerant. But for anyone trying to reduce their gluten intake, I think this can be a good compromise. You can always substitute with more rice or chestnut flour.

They're also entirely dairy free. Instead of butter they're made with an equivalent measure of palm oil.

Here's what you'll need:
  (petit disclaimer - some amounts listed below are, well, approximations. I tend to cook and bake the way my Nona did - a handful of this, a pinch of that. But I've made variations of this recipe a few times now and have never been disappointed with the results. I also usually bake by weight and not volume. Get those conversion charts out!)

   - 150 grams of rice flour*
   - 200 grams of chestnut flour*
   - 50 grams of wheat flour (T80 seems to work well)
   - 100-150 grams of sugar (any kind'll do)
   - 200-250 grams of palm oil* (room temperature and cut into cubes)
   - 1 egg, also room temperature
   - zest and juice of one lemon (preferably organic)
   - 1 or 2 tablespoons of vanilla
   - about 3 handfuls of shredded coconut
   - 4 handfuls of shelled sunflower seeds
   - pinch of salt

* you should be able to find this in your local health food store

Before I get to the "How" of these amazing cookies, let me draw your attention to the heavy artillery I turn to when baking.

This Kitchen Aid mixer, a gift we offered ourselves two years ago, has already seen enough action to merit a medal of some sort. Now, you don't absolutely need an electric mixer to make these amazing cookies, but it sure helps.

Not only is it robust, handling the thickest cookie, bread and pastry doughs effortlessly, it's rather handsome too, with its shiny, nail-polish coating. Ours has found a permanent home on the kitchen countertop.
(thank you kitchenaid.co.uk for the photo)

Here's how to do it: 4 easy steps
1) preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F)
1) mix sugar, palm oil, egg, vanilla, lemon zest and juice until smooth
2) slowly add remaining ingredients until everything is well mixed
     (cookie dough should easily form a big ball. Option - refrigerate for 1/2 hour)
3) scoop onto greased or paper-lined cookie trays (I use a small cookie scoop)
    then gently press hash marks into each cookie with a fork dipped in sugar
    (the way you would for peanut butter cookies) - makes 45-50 cookies
4) bake for around 15 minutes (depends on your oven - today's batch took 20)
5) cool on a wire rack before eating

I call these "holiday cookies" because they're crispy and nutty with little bursts of lemon that dance around on your taste buds. But mostly because the taste reminds me of the Russian tea cookies, the ones shaped like miniature snow balls, mom used to make during the holidays.

Bon appétit and happy holidays!

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