Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Delicious, and Beautiful, Gluten-Free Cookies

What Christmas cookies are your family's absolute musts?  You know, the ones that it wouldn't seem like the holiday without ?  We sure have our favorites!  I don't bake the hundreds of cookies that I used to make - my waist can't handle it, I work too many hours, the kids are scattered all over the place so there just isn't the need for all those cookies....and none of us want the temptation either.  
If you're like me, you've whittled down the cookie list to the basic necessities.  You come up with a list of favorites that are the CORE cookies for the holiday. Let's face it, none of us have the time that we used to have, do we?

This whole gluten issue put a damper on the cookie baking, too. It was a problem at first, but not any more.  Over the years, I searched everywhere for GF cookie recipes that would taste like the ones I used to make.  I tried countless "special" recipes and, you know, they just didn't cut it.  So I started to use my old recipes, yep, the ones I'd been using for years -  only I substituted GF flour for regular wheat flour. Honestly, it doesn't work for every cookie - I still haven't come up with a sugar cookie that I'm happy with.  But with trial and error I found recipes that not only worked, I ended up with a stable of recipes that you can't tell the difference between the original recipe and the GF recipe! 

So far this year, I've only gotten two kinds of gluten-free cookies made - Coconut Orange Tea Cakes and Chocolate Drizzled Orange Cranberry Pecan Biscotti - so those are the only ones I have pictures of to share.  Here are the recipes for the pictured cookies.  (I'll post more pics and recipes as I get them done - especially for my husband's favorite cookie of all time....Fudge Thumbprints!)  If you don't need a gluten-free version, make them using regular flour - the recipes work beautifully either way.  Yay!  

 Chocolate Drizzled Orange Cranberry Pecan Biscotti
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 cups Gluten-free all purpose flour (or regular wheat all-purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, divided into 1/4  cup and 1 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, I like Trader Joe's orange cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 325.
In a food processor, process 1/4 cup of pecans to a fine meal.  Set aside.  Next, roughly chop the remaining 1 1/4 cup of pecans.  Set aside.  Cool pecans.
Cream butter and sugar until nice and light.  At slow speed, add in the eggs and extract; increase speed and mix until completely incorporated.  Next, again at slow speed, add flour, pecan meal, cornmeal, baking powder and the salt.  Next, on slow speed (what else?!), mix in the nuts and cranberries.  If the dough is too loose, add a little more flour until the dough comes together, but isn't dry.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.  With your hands, roll it gently into logs that are approximately 10" long and 3" wide.  Make them pretty!  Place each, as it is formed, onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  You should be able to get 2 logs to a cookie sheet.
Bake about 40 minutes.  Make sure they are firm.  Take out of oven and cool the cookie sheets on racks.  Slice on the diagonal into 1/2"-3/4" slices and place back onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.  (The slices sometimes lose their corners - what the heck....they'll still taste wonderful and will still look pretty once they're drizzled with chocolate!)  Bake on one side for about 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don't over-brown.  Remove and cool completely.
Once the biscotti are cooled, melt the chocolate chips and the butter together in a microwave oven.  (Follow the directions on the bag.)  When the chocolate and butter are melted together and smooth, put the mixture into a ziptop sandwich bag and snip the tiniest piece off the corner.  Pipe zigzag lines of chocolate onto the tops of the biscotti and let dry completely before storing.

Coconut Orange Tea Cakes

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flakes
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted, then measured
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 1/4 cups Gluten-free all purpose flour (or regular wheat all-purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350.  Bake coconut on rimmed baking sheet until light golden, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.  Check often!  It burns quickly!
Using electric mixer, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and both extracts in bowl to blend well. Beat in flour, orange zest and salt.  Stir in coconut.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.  Soften dough slightly before shaping.
Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using 1 level tablespoon dough for each cookie, roll dough into balls..  Place on prepared sheets, spacing at least 2" apart.  Bake about 18 minutes.  Cool on sheets for 5 minutes and toss warm cookies in remaining powdered sugar.  Cool.  Store in airtight container.

NOTE:  The gluten-free cookies tend to spread and make a pretty mounded cookie.  Cookies made with wheat flour tend to be a ball shape - the gluten keeps them from flattening.  Both taste the same!  Both are beautiful!
Print this post

No comments: