A Merry - and Gluten-Free - Cookie For All

Psst! Hey, come here. Yeah, I'm talking to you, over in the corner with the food allergies, running far and clear from the cookie tray that inevitably shows up at every dang holiday party.

I've got something I like to call a cookie miracle -- a gingerbread cut out that has not a drop of gluten, eggs or dairy -- and it tastes so good no gluten, egg and dairy cookie monster would ever know the difference. I'm serious, y'all! This recipe, which comes from the brilliant gluten-free kitchen of Maryland cookbook author Jules Shepard, is a stroke of sheer near-allergy-free genius. (Last month, I shared a few of her recipes for GF Thanksgiving treats).


A holiday cookie miracle: no eggs, dairy or gluten. (Kim O'Donnel)

In spite of all its ingredient omissions, this recipe is packed with a spicy punch and a crackery crunch that feels as festive and seasonal as anything on the traditional holiday sweets platter. In fact, if you make them and keep the recipe a secret, none of your guests will ever know what they've been missing.

A few tips: Cold dough is an absolute must, as is plenty of cornstarch for rolling out the dough. You may find the dough to be stickier than what you're used to, but hang in there. The dough really works; it just may take a little longer to get used to the new GF, dairy and egg-free paradigm.

During the most indulgent time of the year, isn't it nice to know you can snack on a cookie that feels rich yet is kind to the body? I think I'm turning in my old gingerbread recipes for this new model. Anyone care to join me?

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies
From "Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating" by Jules E.D. Shepard

Ingredients

3/4 cup Earth Balance vegan shortening (alternatively, unsalted butter or margarine)
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Nearly Normal Gluten-Free Flour Mix â„¢ (recipe below)
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat or brown rice flour
pinch salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I reduced it to one teaspoon)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cloves (I reduced to ½ teaspoon)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup water
cornstarch for rolling out dough

Method
In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until well combined and creamy.

In another bowl, combine flours, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking powder. Gradually fold in dry ingredients into shortening mixture, adding water as necessary. The objective is a moist dough ball. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour. Dough should be very cold before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Liberally dust work surface and rolling pin with cornstarch. Roll out one half of dough into a rectangle shape about 1/2 inch thick. The thinner the dough, the crispier the cookie.
Cut out into shapes and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You may need a pie server or thin flipping spatula to help lift dough off work surface onto baking sheets.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar or decorate with dried fruit, jimmies or whatever strikes your fancy.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cut-out cookies, or 1 dozen 4 inch gingerbread people.

Dough may be frozen for later use.

Nearly Normal Gluten-Free Flour Mix â„¢

Ingredients
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup corn flour (may also be sold/labelled as whole grain cornmeal; Bob's Red Mill is one brand)
1/2 cup tapioca flour or tapioca starch
4 teaspoons xanthan gum

Method¨
Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies
From "Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating" by Jules E.D. Shepard

Ingredients

3/4 cup Earth Balance vegan shortening (alternatively, unsalted butter or margarine)
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Nearly Normal Gluten-Free Flour Mix â„¢ (recipe below)
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat or brown rice flour
pinch salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I reduced it to one teaspoon)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cloves (I reduced to ½ teaspoon)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup water
cornstarch for rolling out dough

Method
In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until well combined and creamy.

In another bowl, combine flours, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking powder. Gradually fold in dry ingredients into shortening mixture, adding water as necessary. The objective is a moist dough ball. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour. Dough should be very cold before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Liberally dust work surface and rolling pin with cornstarch. Roll out one half of dough into a rectangle shape about 1/2 inch thick. The thinner the dough, the crispier the cookie.
Cut out into shapes and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You may need a pie server or thin flipping spatula to help lift dough off work surface onto baking sheets.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar or decorate with dried fruit, jimmies or whatever strikes your fancy.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cut-out cookies, or 1 dozen 4 inch gingerbread people.

Dough may be frozen for later use.

Nearly Normal Gluten-Free Flour Mix â„¢

Ingredients
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup corn flour (may also be sold/labelled as whole grain cornmeal; Bob's Red Mill is one brand)
1/2 cup tapioca flour or tapioca starch
4 teaspoons xanthan gum

Method

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

By Kim ODonnel |  December 17, 2007; 10:15 AM ET Cookies , Gluten Free , Vegetarian/Vegan , Winter Holidays
Previous: The Family Dinner Lives On | Next: The Peppermint Patty Project

Comments

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Kim, any ideas on what you can do with any leftover flour mix? (I'm assuming there are more recipies for this in her cookbook?) thanks!

Posted by: College Park | December 17, 2007 2:42 PM

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | December 17, 2007 3:13 PM

LOVE all nearly normal products! Keep it up!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 18, 2007 8:32 AM

I have Shephard's cookbook, but have never made any of the recipes because I can't find the ingredients to make the flour. Where do I find potato starch and tapioca flour? Ordering this stuff online and having it shipped is expensive.

Posted by: va | December 18, 2007 7:43 PM

I cannot have corn products (e.g.: cornstarch or corn syrup). Any suggestions on a substitute for these recipes?

Posted by: Jamie | December 18, 2007 11:49 PM

to va,

I buy my potato starch & tapioca flour at whole foods, sprouts & henry's. not sure what they have near you. have you tried any of your local health food stores? maybe, if they are nice, they will even order it for you.

hth & merry christmas

Posted by: dbmom | December 19, 2007 1:35 AM

To any of you who have had difficulty finding gluten-free flours such as potato starch and tapioca starch, I would agree that specialty foods stores such as Whole Foods should have all the ingredients for my flour mixture (and many others, for that matter!), but you should also look to Asian markets.

If cost is your concern, these markets usually have potato, rice and tapioca starches and flours for far cheaper than those found in specialty food stores. They will likely not have certifications for gf on the packages though, as these products are grown, produced and packed in various Asian nations, not in the US. Whether to trust that there is no cross-contamination is something that you must decide for yourself, but I have never heard from a celiac who has had a problem with these products since these countries typically produce far more rice, potato, bean, etc. flours than they do wheat, barley and rye.

As for corn substitutes, I would recommend a mixture such as this:

1 cup white rice flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
4 tsp. xanthan gum

If you are making breads, you might also try amaranth or quinoa flour for the 1/2 cup of sorghum.

Mix up a large batch of this flour and use it as an all purpose flour in all your cooking. Enjoy the newfound gluten-free baking freedom to make loads of holiday goodies as quickly and deliciously as your wheat flour eating friends!

Check out my website when you have a moment, as I'm getting ready to post some new seasonal gf recipes and I email new free gf recipes every week to those who join my email list!

Happy GF Holidays!

www.nearlynormalcooking.com

Posted by: Jules Shepard | December 19, 2007 8:59 AM

one question- I usually (read- always) sub. canola oil for butter/shortening in cookie recipes. Would that be a bad idea here?

Thanks so much for posting this recipe! My daughter is allergic to wheat/eggs, and my friend's sons are allergic to dairy/eggs, so I can actually make this for both of them!

Posted by: reston | December 19, 2007 9:22 AM

Wouldn't a 24X24 slab require 4 tiles? 2 tiles would be a 12X24, no?

Posted by: Jay in NW | December 20, 2007 12:27 AM

Thought I'd post back- made these for a party and they were a hit. Very tasty! One comment, though- I think the suggested cooking time is a bit long. I cooked my first batch 25 mins, and they were very, very hard, even right out of the oven. I did my second batch at 20 minutes, and I still think that was a little too long. So the next time I make these, I'll start watching them after 15-17 minutes.

Posted by: va | December 22, 2007 7:33 PM

I notice that the recipe says to roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Perhaps there is a sentence missing after that one that says to roll it out to 1/4" or 1/8" before cutting into shapes?

Posted by: Andrea | December 23, 2007 6:41 PM

Andrea, I'd use the 1/2-inch measure as a guide. If you like thinner cookies, then roll out to 1/4 inch or so. But, fyi, there's no typo -- I think 1/2 inch thickness is appropriate for this dough. Cheers.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | December 24, 2007 9:35 AM

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