Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spicy, Soft and Chewy Gluten-Free Ginger Cookies

...And there's not a drop (or sprinkle?) of xanthan gum in this recipe, folks!  So if you want to make your gluten-free friend a special cookie this coming holiday season, you don't have to spend $12 on a bag of xanthan gum that you'll never use again (...let's avoid having it spill all over your pantry floor or cupboards, like it always seems to do in mine)!

I'm still experimenting with xanthan gum-free recipes, and I've found that making gluten-free bread without xanthan gum is pretty challenging.  It seems the dough doesn't want to rise as nicely.  But if you want to make a light pie crust or batch of cookies, all you need is a teaspoon or two of cold milled ground flaxseeds.  I heard about this baking secret from the gluten-free girl. (If you can make delicious gluten-free bread with flax, lemme know!)

Ok.  So maybe it isn't a secret.  I think I'm just a little behind, as with most things :).  And this is why I'm getting getting an early start on the holiday baking.

I can't wait to do a cookie exchange!  Only thing is, I think I might be the only one bringing a batch of gluten-free cookies.  But at least I'll be able to fool their taste buds into thinking that the chewiness is from gluten!

These Big Soft Ginger Cookies looked good.  But one thing I've learned from All-Recipes' recipes is that their members usually give THEIR OWN versions of the cookie/dessert 4 or 5 stars, but they seem to offer quite a few critiques of the original recipe.  So I read the tips and tweaked away, all the while remembering that I'd be working on a gluten-free version.

When using gums like xanthan and guar (What weird names.  Still feel like I'm speaking some sort of green-eyed alien language when saying them), more liquids are required.  I usually throw in a few extra eggs, or a bit more milk/water/etc.  But this time we're using ground flax mixed with a bit of hot water.  The result?  A cookie that isn't heavy.  Instead, it's soft, chewy, and even spicy.

That's how I like my ginger cookies, with a kick.  2 1/2 tsps of ginger did the trick for me.

Now that I've got you thinking about holiday baking, what Christmas cookie do you want to see gluten free?  Email me your requests starting.... now!

I can't seem to get my hands off of that Better Homes and Garden Magazine with all the pretty festive cookies on the cover.  But it's $10!  Guess what?  You can find those recipes by googling "Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies".  First link, promise!  I'll be making a few of 'em.  Don't they look good?!

Spicy, Soft, and Chewy Gluten Free Ginger Cookies
Makes about 16 medium ginger cookies

Bowl 1
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup teff flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt

Bowl 2
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
combine 2 tsp ground flax with 2 tsp boiling water (in another small bowl)
3 TBSP olive oil butter
3 TBSP non hydrogenated shortening
2 TBSP molasses

1/8 cup sugar for rolling cookies in...

Preheat oven to 350

Mix together all the dry ingredients in one big bowl.  In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients (I know sugar isn't wet, but you know :). And in yet another small bowl, stir together the flax and water. Then work everything together in the biggest bowl, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Roll the cookies into little balls, then roll them in the extra 1/8 cup of sugar you set aside.  Place them on a cookie sheet about an inch apart on a greased cookie sheet, and flatten them a tad with your fingers (they will spread, but don't leave them as brown balls.  Doesn't look pretty on the cookie sheet this way, and won't cook evenly either. :)

Bake for 9- 10 minutes in your preheated 350 degree oven.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cranberry Pecan Maple Bars

Merry Christmas!

Paying attention?  Just checking :).  I'd be impressed if you were.  Seeing it's been MONTHS since I've blogged.  Easter, actually.

I digress...

I might as well be wishing you a Merry Christmas; I'm already baking for the holiday season and listening to Christmas music.  In fact, I listened to Nat King Cole's version of Jingle Bells about 20 times earlier today.  Not because I'M obsessed.  My two year old is.  "Again!",  she cried.  And AGAIN it played.  (I also don't know how to disable the replay feature on my iPhone.  Why is my iPhone set to replay?  Because a certain 11 pound someone falls asleep to the "White Noise" track.  See photo below to find out who this someone is. :)

We cheated and had a semi-Thanksgiving dinner last week, too.

In my yard, the scarecrow wears a scarf and a Santa hat, while the snowman's got a pumpkin head (not really, but  I've considered giving him a much needed make-over).  Around here, We celebrate all the holidays together!  Why not?

But you're here for the food, right?

Back to the holiday baking topic.  I've been experimenting with two recipes, one for biscuits and the other for pumpkin bread pudding (which uses the leftover biscuits).

...Also been working on a stuffing recipe that's been tested out on a few folks already.  They survived the test!  That means it'll be on here soon.  I posted a stuffing recipe a few years back, but it's my family's colorful version, which includes all kinds of fruits and nuts--a reflection of the actual family, perhaps? ;)  Kidding!

Anyhow, last year my sister-in-law was on a quest to find the perfect stuffing recipe, the kind she grew up eating at her grandma's every holiday season.  She found the recipe!  Only thing is, it wasn't/isn't gluten free.  So I took that recipe and gave it a gluten-free make over. Because her gluten-filled version smelled so good, I couldn't resist.  The recipe called for Pillsbury Biscuits.  Man, those are good and how I miss their buttery sweetness!  Well, I think I might've found their gluten-free counterpart... stay tuned for the recipe.  I promise I'll post it before Christmas 2013 ;).

Stuffing... that reminds me.  I stopped feeling like a stuffed turkey around midnight on August 16, 2012.  Why?  Because my sweet and delicious Juliette Vera was born on that very day.  Here she is.  Don't you just want to gobble, gobble her up?!  :D

Now, here's a treat that reminds me of Boston.  My old home.  Since we're in Texas now, I made sure to throw in a few pecans.

Base of Bars:
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 tsp guar gum
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries

Crunchy Topping:

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt

Frosting Drizzle:
powdered sugar
tablespoon of maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
2 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese

It's a long recipe, so let's keep the instructions simple (Is that's possible in the gluten-free world of baking? ;)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix the "Base" ingredients together, starting with all the dry ingredients.  Put the wet ingredients in another bowl, then stir to combine.

Next, prepare the "Topping" by first melting the butter with the pecans, then adding the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on low until this thickens.

Grease an 8 by 11 inch pan, then pour the "Base" in.  Next, evenly layer the topping!

Work on the "Sauce". Just throw everything together in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it all together for 30 sec increments while taking stirring breaks, until everything is nice and gooey.

Lastly, pour that over the topping and bake it for 25 minutes at 350 on the middle rack.

Lastly (I mean it this time ;), when everything is cooled, prepare the frosting glaze and drizzle it over the bars.  I don't measure this part.  It should be like a thick glaze in texture.  First add the cream cheese, water, and maple syrup, then add enough powdered sugar to give it the desired consistency.