Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Makes about 20

1 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond meal
3/4 tsp orange peel, dried
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 tablespoon cold water

1. Start by combining all of the dry ingredients, from the rice four to the xanthan gum. Mix well.

2. Next, cream together all the wet ingredients. Use a mixer, you really want that butter broken down.

3. In 1/2 cup intervals, start adding the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients. This is a good time to use the mixer again. It's important to get the butter evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture so you don't get bubbles in your cookies when they bake :). Continue this process until all the ingredients are combined.

4. Divide the dough in half, now freeze it for about 45 minutes. Sounds crazy, but this makes it easy to work with! You want it fairly solid and very cold.

5. Get some foil or parchment paper out, lay out enough to bake half the cookies on. GENEROUSLY dust this work surface with rice flour. I mean, really cover the parchment paper or foil, on the counter, with rice flour. This will prevent sticking and won't make the cookies taste bad--believe me, I did it :).

6. Using only half of the dough (leave the rest in the freezer until you're ready to work with it), shape it into a disc. Now dust the top and bottom with rice flour before placing it on the foil/parchment. Roll out the dough with a flour-dusted rolling pin, not too thin. Now have fun with the cookie cutters! You can leave the cookies on the sheet of foil, don't worry about the flour underneath the cookies--it'll help them to not stick when you try to remove them. Leave about 1/4 of an inch between each cookie, they don't spread much.

7. Preheat your oven to 350 and bake the cookies on the middle rack for about 12-14 minutes.

8. After they cool for about 30 minutes, you can decorate them with royal icing. I used this recipe. I doubled it and added a little less water.

Happy Easter Weekend! Please forgive my absence over these last few months! I have a good excuse. I'll let the photo at the bottom of this post explain everything ;).

Sugar cookies remind me of childhood. So simple, usually, but so yummy and sweet. I wish I could bottle the scent. But making them gluten-free, and photo-worthy, wasn't such a simple task...

Some important things to keep in mind when making these cookies and preparing the dough: The key is working with cold dough! I think that's the case with most buttery cookies, but it is absolutely essential here. Also, don't be afraid to get crazy with the rice flour. When I say sprinkle generously with flour, I actually mean pour the stuff all over your work surface so that these little guys don't stick! Oh yes, and let the cookies cool before you frost them.

The great thing about this particular Royal Icing Recipe is that it's pretty forgiving and doesn't harden as quickly as I expected it to. Not that I know much about royal icing, this is the first time I've actually decorated sugar cookies with it! I made mine a little thicker than Martha's recipe, but that's because I used liquid food coloring; I've heard that you should actually use gels? Anyone have any good frosting other tips to pass along? I think keeping the frosting covered with a moist cloth or in an air-tight pastry bag also helped. I was even able to stick the leftovers in the fridge and finish decorating the rest of the cookies the next day...

But don't let that photo fool you! Most of the cookies didn't look like that :). I don't even want to talk about how much time I spent on those three cookies for that one photo; let's just say, I don't think Martha would've approved of the others. But who cares! The best part of this experience was getting to decorate them alongside my two pals, the hubby and Mirabel. Of course, when I handed Mirabel a small baby spoon loaded with lavender-colored frosting, and a cookie to decorate, she decided that the spoon of frosting belonged in her mouth instead of on the cookie. She ate the cookie second, then she proceeded to take one bite out of every other cookie I gave her to decorate. But when you're not quite two (or 28), that's how cookies are supposed to be enjoyed, right ;)?

Have fun baking and decorating these cookies with your loved ones this Easter weekend. And if you can't get around to making them until Christmas time, don't worry...who am I to judge? My initial plan was to make them around Christmas, but I was a little tired at that point in the pregnancy... And that's the obvious give-away, but below is the photo I promised, anyway :). Here are my TWO little girls. Juliette will be here this August (25th), just in time to start thinking about decorating Halloween cookies! Hopefully Mirabel will share the frosting with her!

...And if I owe you an email, you'll hear from me shortly :). Thanks!