Perfect Pumpkin Cookies

Lots of people with celiac seem to live on processed gf foods, boxes of crackers, cookies and snack straight from a bag. I have been known to enjoy a great cracker and there is a certain brand of gf pretzels which is amazing. Still, I find that home made is generally better; worth the time and effort. Not to mention better for you.  But, I can’t seem to interest certain folks in baking homemade gf treats. This recipe may change your mind. Old fashioned pumpkin cookies sound okay but not exciting much less addictive. But they are just that. Totally brilliant in the flavor department and even better: easy to make.  Bonus: somewhat healthy. Which is the new trendy thing. Or so I read.  Anyway, they are the bomb and frankly couldn’t be much easier to make than this. Give them a whirl and you will wonder what took you so long to make homemade cookies.

They are adapted just slightly from the original recipe in “The Heirloom Collection” by Annalise Roberts. I am crazy about this book. I know, cookbooks are totally passé and superseded by Pinterest. I use Pinterest too (kinda more often than I want to admit here) but this wonderful cookbook is crammed with recipes that harken back to when my mom baked for me. Or what I baked for my kid before I went gluten free. Honestly these cookies remind me of a recipe from  “The Joy of Cooking” which I used to make many years ago for Kasey. The recipes in her 2014 volume are all gf of course but they taste like my childhood. Simply Brilliant. If you try these cookies and fall in love…there are many other great recipes to check out.

She puts a vanilla icing on them, I in the interest of avoiding sugar have left that off; feel free to ice yours!

 pumpkin cookies

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Cookies  (makes 3 doz.)

Ingredients:

½ cup softened butter

1 cup sugar (I used organic sugar from Aldi’s)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 lg egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ¾ cup brown rice flour mix (recipe below)

¼ cup sweet rice flour

1 ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

½ tsp. salt.

½ cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray.

Mix all dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in stand mixer until well blended. Add egg and vanilla and blend well.  Stir in dry mixture on low speed. Blend well, add raisins if desired.  Drop by tbsp onto baking sheet. I used a soup spoon for that process. Bake 15-16 minutes. Let cool 2-3 minutes on sheet before removing them with spatula to a cooling rack.  They can be frozen for a couple weeks. I found the cookies to get a bit soft when stored in a cookie jar. Just enjoy them fresh and freeze leftovers. I eat them right out of the freezer…delish! Enjoy

 

Flour blend  (Same as King Arthur basic gf blend)

2 cups brown rice flour

2/3 cup potato starch

1/3 cup tapioca starch

 

Lemon Squares: Easy, Delish and GF

I strongly believe in seasonal eating and winter is the season of citrus so more power to the lemon! As mentioned previously, my brother sent me a box of juicy Meyer lemons from his tree down in Texas. I also believe in making my own treats; truly they are a lot healthier than store made sweets.  Last night we enjoyed lemon squares, gluten free and very dainty with the special flavor of Meyer lemons.  Of course, you can use the regular lemons available in the store; will be a tad sharper/brighter in flavor but they will work nicely.

These cookies are very easy to throw together; I made a shortbread cookie style gf press and bake crust and the filling ingredients are whisked together in my mixer and poured into the partially baked crust.  So easy to make and I wanted something light and delicate after all the fancy holiday desserts.  You would never guess they are made without all purpose wheat flour.  Anyone will love them if they are a fan of lemon. Take these to your next gathering, they will be scarped up pretty fast, and you will be seen as a real baker. Best of all you are eating a safe treat that is relatively guilt free; no gluten, no preservatives, not that much sugar compared to a cake and homemade flavor. Score!

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 Cookie Tart Crust

1 cup brown rice flour mixture (recipe below)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5 tbsp. cold butter cut up into 6 or 7 chunks

Directions for crust:

Mix the dry ingredients with a stand mixer, add the butter, blend with the paddle blade until the butter is small pebbles.  Press into an 8 inch square pan, be sure to first spray the pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with rice flour.  Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  While it bakes make the filling.

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Baked cookie crust

Filling

3 large eggs, warm them close to room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice

2 tbsp gf flour mix

2 tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon peel

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs until fluffy, add the sugar slowly but steadily, mix, add rest of ingredients, Mix until smooth.

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Adding the lemon zest.

Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 min; until set.

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Just out of the oven.

Cool completely and refrigerate if you want to serve them cold. They do not freeze well and only keep about 3 days, if any square are left that long!   I like to sift some powdered sugar on right before serving them. Use a sieve and about 2 tbsp. powdered sugar.  Luscious lemony goodness can be yours with minimal effort.

lemon squares 008

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur’s basic gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

This recipe is from Annalise Roberts; Gluten – Free Baking Classics, a fantastic source for baking gluten free treats, full of recipes just like  your old wheaty friends but so so much safer!

Originally posted in winter of 2015. Minor changes to text, not to recipe.

Chocolate Chippers that Please Everyone!

If you are searching for the holy grail of GF cooking: chocolate chip cookies, search no further.  Bet you thought I was going to say some sort of bread!  That’s another post entirely.  Anyway, when I went GF 5 years ago I made a batch of chocolate chippers that were gf. They were rather sweet and didn’t taste all that great.  I didn’t give up, I keep looking.  Recipes seemed to require that I buy weird vegetable shortening or use Crisco.  Or they used odd flours and just not worth it to me to add another flour mixture just for one cookie.  So I had not made them in over 3 years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones are small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricy.

So one day 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.  Why the heck didn’t I look there a year ago?  Probably because I didn’t realize they had many gf recipes until that summer when I asked and was directed to their cache of gluten free baked treats. I went to the comments as they can be telling as to the truth of whether a recipe is worth actually making.  Glowing reviews and advice; make them and refrigerate a day or better yet, freeze them formed and ready to bake in a few minutes.  Words about how much they are like Tollhouse cookies, great texture and flavor.  Bingo, this seemed so hopeful.

Less than a week later I made up a batch; 2/3 with walnuts and 1/3 nut free for my nut hating friends.  Froze them all on trays and then into freezer bags except one tray to bake.  Made those and tested them on my friend Josh who came to supper.  Goal scored; perfect brown sugar nutty flavor and texture; not too hard or too soft.

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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.  If I have time I let them defrost on the cookie baking sheet before they go in the oven so they spread out nice and thin.I have made a couple batches since then, always bakes up so scrumptious. Cookie perfection!

2018 Update: for my batch today I swapped out 1/4 cup butter for 2 Tbsp. softened cream cheese, used only 3/4 cup brown sugar, and I added 1/4 cup golden flax meal and 1/2 cup old fashioned oats. Plus I used a bit less than the full 2 cups of chocolate chips; 1 3/4 cups is good. I used pecans instead of walnuts. I formed and then chilled them really well in my freezer on a parchment lined sheet pan as many comments on the King Arthur site said they were best if not made right away; well chilled and rested makes for the best flavor and texture.   They were a bit taller than last batch, not quite as crisp; more cakey and the flavor was great. The cream cheese and oats make them a bit less oily/greasy and less sugar makes my blood sugar better.  I prefer slightly less sweet than most recipes.

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 on my blog, September 2016.  A few minor changes.

Kitchen Sink Energy Cookies

Always on the lookout for tasty, low sugar, gluten free snacks I made these kitchen sink cookies the other day. It was not a gf recipe but I made it so with a few adjustments and additions to suit my taste.  I used half sunflower seed butter and half chunky peanut butter. This produced a faint peanut buttery taste which I liked: I didn’t have that much sunflower seed butter on hand. They are fairly interchangeable in baking cookies. I used blueberry flavored dried cranberries. They are just one of the many flavors in these yummy treats. I suggest you can swap things out for similar quantities of additions. Or leave something out that you don’t care for.  They blend remarkably well into a delightfully tender result. I was delighted that they were not heavy from all those trail mix sort of ingredients. One cookie is just enough to hold me for a while until an actual mealtime is there…keeps the blood sugar fairly level.

I froze most of them for future enjoyment. I wouldn’t freeze for more than 2-3 months.

kitchen sink cookies

Trail Mix Cookies

Yield:  2 ½ dozen

Ingredients:

1 cup sunflower seed butter or half cup each of that and peanut butter

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup dates, chopped, I chopped whole soft dried figs

¼ cup sunflower seeds or slivered almonds (I used almonds)

½ cup raisins

¼ cup maple syrup

1 extra large egg

½ tsp vanilla

1/2 cup gf flour mix (I used King Arthur Basic Mix)

1/2 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp. chopped crystalized ginger (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners.

Place all of the ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well incorporated. Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets or. Bake for 12—14 minutes until cookies are set, but still soft.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet.  Store in airtight cookie jar or freeze in appropriate freezer containers; for no more than 3 months. Enjoy!

Kiffles! Just Delicious GF

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 filled, 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.  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

I am baking a batch today; the dough is chilling….using apricot and raspberry fillings. Might try another jam filling….lots in my larder to pick from.

Note: 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.

Moravian Spice Cookies

Time to bake more cookies!

We all long for things familiar, things remembered from our childhood. Especially when it comes to cookies. In my family the holidays were framed by a huge array of fancy cookies, no chocolate chips or peanut butters for my relatives but we had spritz, springerly, butter horns, almond crescents, Russian tea cakes, candy cane cookies, and sugar cookies rolled, cut into Christmas shapes like trees, bells, stars or reindeer and sprinkled with fancy colored sugars. So going gluten free meant finding ways to re-create the special cookies I loved. My first effort was the Russian tea cakes and the results were utterly delicious. Last year I made spritz cookies and they were a big hit. This year I have the newest cookbook by Annalise Roberts, “The Heirloom Collection” and so far nothing has disappointed. If you like to bake gf it is a must purchase, not just for cookies but tarts and lots of other tasty treats.

Today I bring you her Moravian Spice Cookies. I chose them for many reasons – the memories of spicy cookies being foremost. I am blogging this recipe for a friend who avoids chocolate as well as gluten: makes it hard to find great cookies. 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 probably not gluten free.  So now those who can’t eat gluten can have them to enjoy this holiday season.  xmas cookies 007xmas cookies 005

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!

 

Moravian Spice Cookies

1 1/4 cup 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 or vegetable shortening (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 GF flour)
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca flour

Mexican Wedding Cookies aka Russian Teacakes

These miniature snowball cookies were the foundation of the Christmas cookie baking when I was a kid.  They were always made every year, sometimes a second batch had to be baked as we ate them all before the big day!  You can use pecans but I rarely do; walnuts are cheaper and I sort of prefer their flavor.  Some people call them Mexican Wedding Cookies but we generally called them Russian Teacakes… I am going with Mexican today! 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.