Chocolate Chip Cookie Perfection

Searching for the holy grail of GF cooking: 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 4.5 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 3 years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones are small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricy.

So about a year ago 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!

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 one year ago, September 2016.  A few minor changes.

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Lemon Custard Bars

Lemon season is right now; they are very fresh and I have a whole box of them my wonderful brother in Texas sent me.  The incredible lemon scent when I opened the box about knocked me over! Besides the venerable lemon meringue pie, lemon marmalade, lemoncello liqueur, lemon velvet pie, lemon chiffon pie and lemonade; what else can be made with them? I use them when I oven bake chicken with small potatoes. I make preserved lemons for use in Moroccan cooking and in sauces. I put the zest in shortbread cookie dough and I love lemon bars.  Recently, I found a new lemon bar recipe that is more of a lemon custard bar you cut into squares. This recipe is so simple. I followed it exactly down to the parchment paper lined baking pan; makes for easy removal of the squares after cooling.  This is a 8×8 square pan; makes 9 big squares or 12 smaller rectanges.

The custard is eggs, gf flour blend, baking powder and a whole lot of lemon juice.  Beat them up and pour on top of a lemon scented shortbread (it has lemon zest in it!) and bake a while.  Then comes the waiting; they have to chill two hours before you can cut into the pan of delicate lemony goodness.  The squares get sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar for a pretty picture of a lemon treat.  They are from Nicole Hunn’s gluten free website.  Since she doesn’t allow bloggers to share her recipes; here’s the link to her amazing lemon bars: http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gf-lemon-bars-for-dad-plain-lemons-for-me/

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They are thicker and more custardy than typical lemon bars and a delicate delight when made using Meyer lemons.  But the recipe is for regular lemons and they make a great dessert using whatever lemons you like.  If you are a lemon lover they can’t be passed by!

Kiffles, Kiffles, Kiffles…GF Too!

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, now sold on line! I used to enjoy them but never took the time to make them until last Christmas.  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!

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.

Russian Teacakes…Even Better Gluten Free!

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.  Some people call them Mexican Wedding Cookies but we 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.  They are delightful with a cup of tea or coffee.  My family clamors for extras 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 minor changes by me. Enjoy: they are rather addictive cookies!

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Not the prettiest picture but trust me, these are incredibly tasty cookies!

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.

Nut Tassie Cookies

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.  Now, that is no long a possibility and I was craving a nut tassie. I started looking for a recipe and had some trouble with that; found a cherry one that was gf and thought I would combine it with the filing in my cookie book’s recipe.  Then I lost that location and had to search again.  Inept me….but then 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!

This weekend my family had a small pre-Christmas gathering and I whipped up a batch of these tassies Saturday morning.  After chilling the dough some I made a dozen.  My crust was very crumbly and with trepidation I started rolling a ball of the crumbs into one ball a bit over an inch in diameter. It held together in a ball. Then I dropped it in my mini muffin tin and used my finger to spread it out and up the sides.  It worked but I fear I used a bit more than specified for the dozen shells so I may not get my full two dozen tassies.  I will make the rest of them next weekend…reason being that gf cookies don’t keep as well as regular flour cookies so best not to bake a whole batch at once shot.  This way you have fresh cookies twice.  I keep the dough and filling in the fridge nice and cold and it will last up to a week or so.

Speaking of 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.

Here is the link to the recipe I used: http://www.food.com/recipe/gluten-free-pecan-tassies-105371

They are easy to make and totally yummy to devour.  I find it takes me 2-3 bites to down one of these treat.  Happy baking folks!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Some times you want those fancy, full of stuff kinda cookies and that is fine but occasionally a simple but delicious cookie is the way to go, like shortbread.  Dainty crisp shortbread cookies are great with a cup of tea or coffee.  I hadn’t tried them gluten free until this holiday season.  I now wonder why it took so long.

I baked my lemon cookies using Meyer lemon peel but you can use whatever lemons you buy at the grocery store.  Mine were sprinkled with a touch of green colored sugar.  Top yours as you wish or leave them plain.

No forming needed.  You glop the soft dough onto a long piece of plastic wrap, close it and roll on the table to shape.  Chill well and cut the dough into slices, onto the baking sheet and into the oven.  Simple to make and they are perfect for many festive occasions. I can’t wait to try some other variations on these shortbread cookies.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp. lemon zest

¾ cup brown rice flour mix; recipe below

1/4 cup sweet rice flour

¼ tsp.  xanthan gum

1/8 tsp. salt

Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, add the vanilla, lemon extract, and zest and mix.

Mix flour, xanthan gum in small bowl; add to butter/sugar mix.  Mix until a soft dough is formed.

Place lumps of dough in a line along a big sheet of plastic wrap; from it into a 1 ¼ inch log of dough.  Twist ends shut, smooth into a round long by rolling it on the table top.  Chill it at least an hour; until firm.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, racks to center of oven.  Lightly spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

Slice into ½ inch rounds. Place 1 ½ inch apart on sheet, sprinkle with colored or plain sugar.  Chill in fridge 15 minutes. Bake 12-14 minutes until lightly golden. Mine all took 14-15 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes so they solidify; transfer to a cookie cooling rack.  Store in airtight cookie jar once cooled.

My recipe says the dough can be kept in the fridge for a week or in freezer for up to two months.  It made about 32 cookies. They go fast!

They are thin and delicate; if left out in the air unsealed they will get soggy and loose their crisp, delicate texture.

To make them plain leave out the lemon extract and zest and add another ½ tsp. vanilla.

Flour Mix (same as King Arthur GF blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

This recipe is out of Annalise G. Robert’s great cookbook: Gluten Free Baking Classics, second edition.

This is a reposting of a recipe I shared December 2014.

Forgotten Kisses Cookies

Ever on the lookout for a great tasting cookie I came across these sweet meringue treats called forgotten kisses. I found an easy recipe on foodnetwork.com.  Made them once we got past the rainy days a week or so ago.  If you can whip egg whites, you can make these beauties.  They have chocolate chips and walnuts in them but if you look at the comments you will see that folks add many different spins and flavors.  They keep really well too.  I put some in my cookie jar four days ago and they still taste as though they were just baked.

I froze some for later.  My Christmas cookie list just got longer with this beauty added on!  Thank goodness hey are simple and they keep well. I used slightly less than the sugar amount here and my version has less chocolate chips in it.  They seem pretty chocolaty to me just as I made them.  My whole house smelled like a chocolate factory while they were baking.

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forgotten-kissesForgotten kisses

Ingredients

2 egg whites, room temp

½ tsp. cream of tarter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

¾ to 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions: Heat oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Beat egg whites until frothy with electric mixer (I used a stand mixer), add cream of tarter, keep beating until fluffy.  Then add the sugar a tbsp or two at a time. Add the vanilla when half to all of the sugar is incorporated.  Beat until shiny and stiffly peaked when you put a spoon in.  If it gets a chunky look you have overbeaten it, not a good thing.  Stand mixers are so powerful they can do just that so watch it closely; has to have stiff peaks and look shiny but don’t keep going or you will have the overbeaten which is a no no.  The opposite is bad too; if the egg whites are not beaten to a stiff peak the cookies will flatten out and not look right.  When it looks ready, fold in the nuts and chips with a spatula.  Use two spoons to put tablespoons of batter on a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Mine made about 30 (15 on a sheet) cookies.  I did use a mixture of semi sweet and dark chocolate; was incredible tasting!

Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes, turn off oven, and leave for 2 hours up to 8 total hours.  If your oven is gas you should probably reheat it after an hour back up to the 300 degrees and let them cool in the closed oven for that second hour.  Do not open the oven door for any reason before 2 hours is up.

Here is the original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/meringue-cookies-forgotten-kisses-recipe.html

Be sure to read the comments for other flavor ideas.  I know I will be trying a few of them.