Chocolate Chip Cookies…Delish of Course

Searching for the holy grail of GF baking: home made chocolate chip cookies.  Bet you thought I was going to say some sort of bread!  That’s another post entirely.  Anyway, when I went GF 7 years ago I made a batch of chocolate chippers that were gf. They were rather sweet and didn’t taste all that great.  I keep looking for something that would approximate the real deal cookies I loved all my life.  Recipes I came across seemed to require that I buy weird vegetable shortenings or use Crisco. I draw the line at Crisco. Or they used odd flour blends and I feel it’s just not worth it to me to add another flour mixture just for one cookie recipe.  So I had not made chippers in years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones I tried were small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricey. Until I went to King Arthur’s website and looked in their cookie recipes.  There it was: cookies made with the same flour blend I use and made with butter, one of my few chosen shortenings.  Glowing reviews and advice; said to make them and refrigerate a day or better yet, freeze them formed and ready to bake in a few minutes.  Comments about how much they are like Tollhouse cookies, great texture and flavor.  Bingo, this seemed so hopeful. So…Less than a week later I made up a batch; Goal scored; perfect brown sugar nutty flavor and texture; not too hard or too soft. I am a happy chocolate chip cookie lover at last!

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I put some in my cookie jar, closed it tightly and 4 days later those cookies (what remains) are still delicious. That is pretty long for a gluten free baked good. By the fifth afternoon my last cookie in there was getting soft so suggest not holding them for more than 4 days in a jar. I love that they can be frozen ready to bake in like 12 minutes.

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chocolate chip cookies on rack

This is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe; none other will do. I love that I can freeze them ready to bake and in 12 minutes I have warm fresh gooey cookies!

So, if you are still looking for a great gf chocolate chip cookie look no further: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.  Enjoy!

Originally published in 2016.

Thumbprint Cookies. 2.0 GF and Delish!

As children we each had our favorite cookies to make, this was traditionally my next older brothers’ to bake but once grown up I began to make them ‘cause they are addictively tasty.  I love it made with apricot jam, you can used chopped slivered almonds instead of walnuts for that version.  But, any flavor good quality jam will work, pick what you like.  I used two flavors this time; homemade peach jam and some store bought but excellently flavored raspberry jam. Like getting two cookies out of one batch of dough.

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A few  Christmases ago a dear friend gave me a new cookbook “Gluten-Free Christmas Cookies” by Ellen Brown.  I have tried several recipes and all were fantastic including this one, I swapped the candied red and green cherries for jam, but you can go old school and use those freaky candied cherries.

Jam and Walnut Thumbprints

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup white rice flour

1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

2 sticks unsalted butter cut into thin slices

1 lg egg

1 tbsp. whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

½ cup jam; raspberry, peach, strawberry

INSTRUCTIONS: Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl food processor, steel blade, blend briefly.  Add butter to work bowl and process off an on until it resembles coarse meal.

Combine egg, milk and vanilla in a small bowl; whisk. Drizzle into the work bowl, pulse about 10-12 times until it forms a stiff dough.  If it doesn’t come together, add more milk a tsp. at a time. I added a tsp. more of milk to get the dough to form up.

Chill the dough for 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put racks in the middle of the oven. Place chopped walnuts in a wide shallow bowl and roll 1 1/2 inch balls of dough.  Roll them in the chopped walnuts, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Press an indent in with a finger and fill with about ½ tsp. jam.  Bake 14-15 minutes, until just firm but not browned.  They will be very delicate to the touch.  Let cool 2-3 minutes on sheet before carefully moving them to a cooling rack using a metal pancake turner. I bumped a couple and they just fell apart on the sheet; very fragile while hot.  They will solidify once they cool.  I store mine in cookie tins or Tupperware containers.  They won’t last as long as wheat cookies but they get snapped up fast so that shouldn’t be a problem.  I supposed you could freeze them for a week or two if necessary.

They are not too sweet and so delicate, great with a cup of tea or coffee.  As good, if not better, then when I made them with all purpose wheat flour years ago before I had to go gluten free.  Your family will be amazed that they are gf, no one you serve them to will ever guess.  Totally tasty and fun to make with your kids! Enjoy.

 

Christmas Baking: Moravian Spice Cookies

I love both my cookbooks by Annalise Roberts,  this recipe is from “The Heirloom Collection”…have made some really tasty baked goods from it like my apple custard tart.  I blogged that the other week. Today I bring you her Moravian Spice Cookies. I chose them for many reasons – the memories of spicy cookies being foremost.  I think you will love this cookie for its flavor and crisp texture. I live not far from Bethlehem which is the home base for the Moravian Church.  You can buy these cookies in the Moravian Book Shop but not gluten free.  So now those who can’t eat gluten can have them to enjoy this holiday season.  xmas cookies 007

You can cut them out in shapes but I found I liked to mostly make diamonds using a sharp knife. I did do some hearts and ornament shapes but it was tough going to get them off the wax paper and onto the baking sheet without distorting their original shape. You can take her advice and chill them further to facilitate the moving process.  I do love them any shape they are!

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Moravian Spice Cookies

1 1/4 cup GF flour:  suggest brown rice blend (recipe below)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
¼ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter (room temp)
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses

Directions: First combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
Beat shortening, brown sugar and molasses in your big mixer bowl until smooth, add flour mixture and blend until well combined. Shape dough into two disks, chill about 30 minutes, lay between two sheets of wax paper, roll into a very thin (1/8 inch thick) sheet. Cut into 2 inch or less shapes, move with spatula onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If they are sticky and hard to lift up return the sheet to the freezer for a few minutes until they are stiff enough to move. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-11 minutes. Make sure they are fully baked or they won’t be crisp. Leave on the cookie sheet a minute before moving to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight cookie jar or tin.

Spicy and crisp. Great with a cup of coffee or tea! Annalise says you can reduce the spices for less zing; 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, ¾ tsp. ginger and ½ or less of cloves.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur Basic GF flour)
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca flour

First published on my blog in December 2016

Holiday Cookies: Nut Tassies…Terrific!

Nut tassies are a local favorite around here in eastern Pennsylvania. They look like a tiny pecan pie, the size of one big bite! Heavenly sweet and best made with pecans.  I have eaten them at many people’s homes. In all fairness I never made them when I could still eat regular gluten filled white flour. Perhaps it is that I was able to just snag them off a cookie plate at someone’s holiday party.  Once that is no longer a possibility I started looking for a recipe and found a great recipe on food.com, there it was; a classic tassie recipe complete with cream cheese dough for the pie crust and a filling almost identical to the traditional filling. And it was gluten free for folks like me…eureka!

The first time I made them: for a family Christmas gathering and I whipped up a batch of these tassies.  Even after chilling the dough my crust was very crumbly and with trepidation I rolled a ball a bit over an inch in diameter and it held together. Then I dropped it in my mini muffin tin and used my finger to spread it out and up the sides.  It worked and the tassies were simply delish!

As to the pecan filling, I didn’t chop my nuts really fine; left some in chunks to give a bigger texture which I prefer. The filing is so simple; chop the nuts, then dump the sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl, add the softened butter and the vanilla and nuts; stir and it is ready to spoon into the little crust cups you just created.

 

 

Reposted from December 2016.

Christmas Cookies: Kiffles are a Classic

Kiffles are a local favorite when it comes to cookies, particularly Christmas cookies.  The Kiffle Kitchen outside of Bath, PA has made their reputation on their outstanding kiffles, sold on line! I used to enjoy them but never took the time to make them until a few Christmases ago.  I had purchased “Gluten-Free Baking Classics The Heirloom Collection” by Annalise G. Roberts and page 170 had the answer to my search; Rugelach, Kifles, and Kolaki.

I made a batch of kiffles (the preferred local spelling) on Christmas Eve 2015.  I just did jam filling: apricot and raspberry. The cream cheese dough in formed into two discs and chilled before rolling out between wax paper sheets into an 8 inch square. I did find myself chilling it a bit to keep it from getting too soft.  After rolling, cut each big square into 16 two inch squares and put a tsp. of best quality jam on each; fold together so the filling peeps out both ends and chill some more on the baking sheet.  I brushed them with heavy cream and sprinkled a touch of granulated sugar on before they hit the hot oven. The cute packets of dough and jam bake up lightly browned and delicate. Success was felt when my mom ate a few that evening and her smile told me how yummy they were.

Next time I made them with the nut and cinnamon filling that is very traditional around the Lehigh Valley.  Yummers!  Stores sell special kiffle filling meant just for these cookies but I don’t think it is gluten free due to cross contamination issues and therefore not safe for me to enjoy.

So if you are gluten free and crave kiffles; this cookbook by Annalise Roberts is the place to find a workable recipe.  She has never failed me yet with her desserts and I thank my lucky stars her cookbooks are on my shelf to guide me through holiday, parties and everyday meals. I don’t mean to sound like a salesperson for her but I can’t say enough great things about this new cookbook and her prior best seller Baking Classics – my copy of that is well worn and I couldn’t exist without it.  This kiffle recipe is way too involved to type out for you and I think that if you are serious about baking gf you need to check it out and get your own copy, real soon! Here are the dough ingredients to help you in deciding whether  you want to make it:

1 cup gf flour, King Arthur Basic blend

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. softened butter

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

You can use apricot or raspberry jam or what ever you like; be careful as some kiffle fillings that are ready made have traces of wheat flour in them.

Note: when I was first looking for kiffles I did a search on line for a gluten free kiffle recipe and didn’t really find one; lots of other cookies but these are quite a specialty and not made by most home cooks except in areas where they are popular and what you can buy is not gluten free.  Let me know if you can provide any other recipes but I am very happy with the one I used and recommend to you for your own holiday baking. Enjoy!

Originally published December 2015.

Russian Teacakes – A Christmas Classic

These miniature snowball cookies were the foundation of the Christmas cookie baking season when I was a kid.  They were always made every year, sometimes a second batch had to be baked as we had eaten them all before the big day!  You can use pecans but I rarely do; walnuts are cheaper and I sort of prefer their flavor for this cookie.  Some people call them Mexican Wedding Cookies but we generally called them Russian Teacakes… For me it is not Christmas without these cookies so I was extremely pleased to find a great gf recipe. My sisters think they are better tasting than the old regular recipe!

They are easy to make with not too many ingredients.  Be careful lifting them off the pan as they are delicate until fully cooled. The texture and subtle flavor of this GF version is actually superior to the wheat flour recipe of my childhood. When you bite into one it shatters into a delicious mouthful of sweet cookie. They are delightful with a cup of tea or coffee.  My family clamors for a few to take home!

If you like them really sweet sprinkle on extra powdered sugar, less of it makes them perfect for those who are not used to too much sweetness. No one will ever know they are GF and you will get complements on their flavor and texture.  This recipe is from Annalise Roberts’ fabulous Gluten-Free Baking Classics with some minor changes by me. Enjoy: they are rather addictive cookies!

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Russian Teacakes

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

6 tbsp. powdered (confectioners) sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups brown rice mix (recipe below)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup walnuts or pecans chopped fine

Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

Directions: beat butter and powdered sugar in large bowl of stand mixer until light and creamy.  Add vanilla, beat in.  Add flour and gum, mix in until well blended, stir in walnuts until distributed.  Chill dough for an hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Form dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar if you like.  Place on cookie sheet lightly sprayed with Pam (not the baker’s version that has flour).  Place about 1 ½ inches apart.  Bake 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned on top and bottom.  Cool on pan for 5 min and then sprinkle with lots of powdered sugar before placing on wire rack to cool. I like to sift it onto the cookies so the coating is even.  You could put a sheet of wax paper under the wire rack to catch the excess sugar.  Store well wrapped: in airtight container, in fridge for a week or freezer for up to 30 days.  You could store unbaked dough in fridge for a few days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix  (same as King Arthur gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch *not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Note: First posted December 2014 on my blog.  Minor revisions have been made since then.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies and Range Decisions….

 

We baked cookies last Tuesday which was a snow day for both of us. That was fun; my grandson helped form the balls to make chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies.  Gluten free of course. They were very simple to create and very tasty. Look on pinterest and you should find them! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-oatmeal-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-cookies/

chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

They baked fine; yummy mildly peanut buttery…we ate a bunch and then I tried to bake a quiche a few hours later for our supper. Neither oven would turn on, there had been troubles of late; had to run the broiler the other day to get it hot and then oven came on.  No such luck today.  I ended up broiling it in the upper oven which has that capability. Scorched quiche; yummy in the less than black area of it…at least we were able to enjoy a supper before I set out to find a new range. I have gas heat and a gas stove. Love gas cooktop; loved my gas oven a bit less; my now defunct ovens always had a lot of difficulty maintaining a set heat. scorched quiche

I did a lot of research and settled on a Frigidaire one oven with 2 power burners, 5 total burners, grate top for sliding pots from burner to burner and it goes the full top so more room for a big pan. I also wanted self-cleaning and a convection oven. Got that and even a quick preheat cycle. The range got here in only 3 days and it was installed within 30 minutes of the truck arriving.

So far, I love it; nice even heat in oven; holds temp and is certainly not lower than correct temp I set it for. Range top burners heat well and the timer is easy to set. I haven’t tried the convection setting yet but I plan to!  I baked some tartlets; put the shelf down to the very lowest it goes; just above the metal bottom. My tartlet crusts baked perfectly; can be difficult to get a browned crust when baking gluten free pie dough in a regular oven. My old range had a smaller upper pizza oven which was awesome for pies and pizza because of the bottom heat which cooked/browned them perfectly. But double oven equals double the price. Just not doable or justifiable. I got as much range as I could afford and I am very satisfied so far.  My biggest hint for regular ovens: I strongly suggest you bake all pies at the lowest level of your oven for a nicely brown crust.

stove

I think it’s a beauty!!

Do your homework in researching ranges and be sure you are clear on what features you really want so you are satisfied with what you bought rather than wishing for something you might have selected…

Aiden and me

No more scorched quiches or under baked pies. My new range is wonderful and we are a pair of happy bakers!