Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ginger-Nut Lace Cookies, Gluten-Free and Addictive

December is such a busy month for me with the children's school and music events, holiday orders at our bookstore and all the other fun but numerous decorating, gift buying/making/wrapping/mailing and Christmas card sending activities, that baking often gets crowded out. However, my celiac husband must have his wheatless treats, so I used Monday, my usual day of frenzied cooking and baking, to get something sweet into my gluten-free man.

Yesterday's hagiographic research into Saint Joseph led me to summon courage from St. Lawrence, the Patron Saint of Cooks and St. Honoratus (also known as St. Honore), the Patron Saint of Bakers. I had some crystallized ginger on hand to play with as I wanted to come up with a recipe for the Leftover Queen's Foodie Blog Roll holiday cookie contest. Foodie Blogroll members who submit a ginger cookie recipe are eligible to win a basket of goodies from Ginger People, an Australian company that makes awesome sounding ginger treats like Chocolate-Covered Ginger, Hot Coffee Ginger Chews, and Crystallized Ginger Chips for Baking.

Dan loves ginger, so I set about trying to come up with a spicy cookie recipe that would be gluten-free AND delicious. I thought a molasses and spice cookie rolled in sugar and studded with bits of crystallized ginger and walnuts would be perfect for my sweetie and riffed out of several different gluten-free baking cookbooks to come up with something soft and chewy. Imagine my surprise when my cookies turned out big and crunchy, more like Lace Cookies than the soft and chewy Molasses cookies I had anticipated. I am the Crispy Cook, after all, so I guess I just accept that most things I cook up will be crispy (and are usually edible).

These cookies were pronounced delicious by gluten-free and glutenous eaters alike, including an extra visiting test eater, so I would count this a success. I made this recipe in two batches, one rolled in red sugar and the other rolled in Turbinado (raw) sugar and the Turbinado sugar makes a much better looking cookie by far. I also rolled out my original cookies out into 1 inch balls and set them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, but this resulted in a much bigger circumference and crowded cookies, so I have called for smaller balls of dough in the recipe below.

I hope that you will try these tasty cookies if you are looking for some treats for celiac or gluten-intolerant friends and family this holiday season. They weren't too spicy for kids and not too sweet for adults, so this turned out to be a successful kitchen experiment. You might also try my gluten-free Rudolph's Noses cookie recipe which is even easier, as it requires no baking, only a working food processor.

The exotic flours below can be found at most health food stores and I find it easiest to mix up a baking master mix in batches so I can just go ahead and proceed with baking without this first flour blending step. Most gluten-free baking cookbooks will have several different flour blends to chose from, depending upon what types of baked goods you are planning. This bean blend is good for cookies, so I ambitiously made up a quadruple batch. You can also check out some other flour blends at the the Celiac Sprue Association site here and see which ones work best for your kitchen.

With thanks to Saints Honoratus and Lawrence, I present to you the recipe for:

Ginger-Nut Lace Cookies

1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cups tapioca flour
3/4 cups cornstarch

Vegetable shortening
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. powdered cloves
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Turbinado (raw) sugar crystals (about 1/2 cup)

Grease 2 large baking sheets with shortening and set aside.

Mix together chickpea flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and cornstarch. Mix in xanthan or guar gum, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Blend well. Add crystallized ginger and nuts and mix well.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar several minutes or until fluffy. Add egg and molasses and blend. Mix in dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least one hour to chill dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

With wet hands, roll dough into 1/2 inch diameter balls and roll in Turbinado sugar. Place on greased cookie sheets at least 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes, making sure they do not burn at the edges.

Let cool on trays several minutes, then remove carefully with a spatula to cool on baking racks.

Makes approximately 60 cookies. Store in tightly covered tins or other containers to keep crisp.

In addition to submitting this recipe to the Foodie Blogroll Ginger People Recipe Contest, I am sending it on to Susan the Food Blogga for her Eat Christmas Cookies event, for which entries are already pouring in from around the world. I am also sending it on to Joelen for her Tasty Tools event that features baking sheets, having just missed the deadline for her Holiday Cookie event. Happy Baking!


Joelen said...

What a wonderful cookie for the holidays!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I'm sure your husband is grateful to have you creating delicious and gluten-free cookies. What a wonderful entry to my cookie event. Thanks so much, Rachel.

Vegetation said...

Mmmm cookies. They look lovely (plus yum! I love ginger!)

ARLENE said...

These look delicious, Rachel. I love crystallized ginger. There's a Martha Stewart cookie that turned me on to it. Yours look so chewy!!!

Liz said...

Yum! Those look amazing. They remind me of the outside of a cannoli florentine that an Italian bakery sells around here.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

the spice mixture sounds perfect for the winter season. i find the flour mixture interesting - not your usual ingredients, a little ahrd to source here, but i would love to try them

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Great cookie entry Rachel! They look amazing!

Rachel said...

Thanks everyone for your encouragement. Liz, you've given me an idea to try to make these again, but underbake them a bit so they come out softer and then roll them around wooden dowels to become cannoli shells like you saw at your bakery. Then I could mix up a little ricotta filling and BAM! Dan could have his first gluten-free cannoli. That would really make him a happy camper!

gfcanadian said...

Those look really good! I think I'll try them this weekend

Geri said...

I love ginger, and it sounds like a great cookie for the holidays.

Ivy said...

I love ginger cookies and they are in my to do list.

Anonymous said...

those look amazing! ginger is one of my favorites