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Recipe from Beth Hillson
Makes 36 cookies

These chewy cookies are laced with brown sugar and sweet butterscotch chips.  Adding a sea salt topping creates an explosion of flavors.  Easy to make, these are perfect for holiday cookie swaps and gifting but you’ll want these on your table for every occasion.

sweet and salty butterscotch cookies

2 cups gluten free cake and cookie blend (below)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup gluten free butterscotch chips such as Hershey or Guittard brand
Sea salt, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour blend, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Place butter and brown sugar in the large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until combined.

Add the dry ingredients. Mix until the just combined. Stir in the butterscotch chips.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, form tablespoons size balls of cookie dough. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt.  Press into the dough. Place on balls on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Do not over bake. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Cake and Cookie Flour Blend

This makes enough flour blend for several of your favorite holiday cookie recipes.

2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
2 cup white rice flour
1 ½ cups cornstarch
3 teaspoons xanthan gum (or guar gum)
1 teaspoon salt

Mix to combine.  Store leftover blend in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator.

Recipe by Beth Hillson
Makes 30 to 32 cookies

holiday sugar cookies

These rich, buttery cookies are slightly crisp on the outside with a chewy center. They have quickly become my favorite cookies; they’ll be yours, too.

Dip dough in colorful sanding sugar to turn them into beautiful holiday cookies.  Top with chopped pecans or fold chopped, toasted nuts into the batter to create another variety. Perfect for cookie swaps and gifting, you’ll be making these cookies for occasions all year long.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cookie and cake flour blend (below)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
Sanding sugar or sprinkles (optional)

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down sides with spatula. Add egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour blend, baking powder, and baking soda. Add half to wet ingredients, mixing on low speed. Then add sour cream and combine. Finally, add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough is well blended.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into walnut-size balls.  Dip one side in sugar (if using). Place sugar-side up on parchment-lined baking sheets, two inches apart as dough will spread.

Bake for 15 minutes, until edges start to brown slightly.

Cool for 10 minutes in pans before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Cooled cookies will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for several days and can be frozen for up to 2 months.

TIP:  Can’t have dairy products?  Replace butter with dairy-free buttery sticks from Earth Balance and sour cream with dairy-free sour cream from Tofutti or Follow Your Heart.  For lactose-free sour cream, check out Green Valley Organics.

Cake and Cookie Flour Blend

This makes enough flour blend for several batches of your favorite cookie recipes.

2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
2 cup white rice flour
1 ½ cups cornstarch
3 teaspoons xanthan gum (or guar gum)
1 teaspoon salt

Mix to combine.  Store leftover blend in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator.

 

A letter from a reader sent me scurrying to create an oatmeal cookie.

“I have had celiac for 15 years, I’m excited about all the new products coming out in all these years.  But I haven’t found an oatmeal cookie I like.  I was wondering if you have a recipe for oatmeal cookies?”

The note sparked memories of my childhood when we would pull down the Quaker Oats cannister from the top shelf of the cupboard and make the recipe on the back of the container.  I couldn’t recall the last time I made oatmeal cookies – certainly not since I became gluten-free 36 years ago.

So her suggestion triggered a powerful reaction in me, a hankering to enjoy chewy oatmeal cookies again.  But this time, I couldn’t use Quaker Oats or all-purpose flour and my tastebuds hankered for a more updated, mature version of my childhood favorite.  Nevertheless, as I creamed the butter and sugar and folded in gluten-free oats with a wooden spoon that had belonged to my mother,  I was, once again, standing at the counter in her blue and yellow kitchen.  Funny how a hankering evokes such vivid memories – – the days of childhood, the days of old fashion oatmeal cookies, the days before I was gluten-free.

I suspect oatmeal cookies stir up fond associations for all of us.  I brought these cookies to a barbecue where the young adults far outnumbered us oldsters.  One-by-one, the “kids” in the group sought me out to say, “thank you.”   “These are the best cookies I have ever had,” several of them told me.  A couple of them (friends of my son who is a celiac) knew they were gluten-free, but no one else  suspected.

The recipe was inspired by one on Food.com.  It’s a good thing it makes a big batch! They disappear quickly.  A key step in this recipe is to let the dried cranberries soak in the eggs and vanilla for 1 hour.  So allow a little extra time when preparing these.  If you’d like to reduce the fat, replace 4 to 6 tablespoons of butter with the same amount of unsweetened applesauce.

The Best Oatmeal Cookies EverBest Oatmeal Cookies Ever
Makes 72-84 cookies

3 large eggs, well beaten
1 cup dried cranberries such as Craisin brand
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter. softened
1 cup lightly-packed light brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
2 ¾ cups any All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 ¼ cups gluten-free rolled oats (not steel cut or thick cut oats)
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

*Add 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum and ½ teaspoon salt if these are not included in your blend.

Combine eggs, cranberries and vanilla and let stand for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment.  Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugars.  Mix flour with cinnamon and baking soda and whisk to combine.   Add to butter mixture and mix well.  Blend in egg mixture, oats, and chopped walnuts.   Dough will be stiff.

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheet, or roll into balls and flatten slightly.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.  Cool in pan before removing to a serving tray as cookies are quite soft.

These freeze well.

 

Hello Sweetie!  These dazzling Linzer Cookies are just the thing for your special someone.  They are easy to make, keep for several days, and freeze well.

I confess.  I am a sucker for cookies, especially cut-out cookies.  But it seems like many of you are, too. People frequently ask me if I have a good recipe for roll-out cookies.  So, here it is.  These are wonderful and, since two cookies are sandwiched together, you get two-for-one when you make these Linzer Cookies.

And, now I feel like the Ginsu Knife salesperson.   Not only can you make Linzer Cookies with this recipe, but you can also make fabulous drop cookies, too.

I love the idea of using one recipe to make many kinds of cookies.  It’s brilliant.

My goal was to develop a dough that can be used for several variations.  To create this makeover, I incorporated elements of several recipes I found in regular cookbooks and turned these inspirations into one Master Dough.  I’m making roll-out Linzer Cookies here, but by adding an additional egg, I’ve also come up with recipes for fabulous Double Ginger Cookies and Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies.  (See the recipes below.)  I suspect the possibilities are endless, but I will stop at two and let you use your own culinary inventiveness
to create others.

All of the mainstream recipes I found use butter.  I tried these with Earth Balance Buttery (Vegan) Sticks and with unsalted butter.  Truth be told, I prefer butter.  There’s nothing quite like the taste in home-baked cookies.  But, if you can’t tolerate dairy, these work well with a dairy-free spread.  I also added one teaspoon of baking powder to lighten the finished product. Gluten-free baking needs all the help it can get.

For ease of handling, I rolled out the Linzer Cookies between sheets of plastic wrap.  Don’t roll them too thin or they will be difficult to handle.  And, don’t use raspberry jam with seeds.  It is disastrous as the little seeds make it very difficult to fill the tiny opening in the top cookie.

Enjoy these cookies and don’t forget to share some with your sweetheart!

Roll-Out Linzer Cookies
Makes 48 to 60 cookies

1 ¾ sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange extract
2 ½ cups cake and pastry flour blend (below) or all purpose blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam or jelly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until soft and slightly fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla and orange extracts and beat until smooth.  Combine flour blend and baking powder.  Add the flour blend to the butter mixture, one cup at a time, beating briefly just to incorporate
after each addition.

Between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick.   Cut out 2-inch circles or other shapes.  Gently gather the extra dough from around the cutouts and reroll it.  Chill the cutout cookies for 15 minutes while you roll out remaining dough.  With a small star or circle or the point of a paring knife, cut centers out of half the cookies.  Remove the centers and add them to the dough you are reworking.  When cookies are chilled, use a spatula to transfer them to the cookie sheets, setting them 1 inch apart.  Bake 10 to 11 minutes or
just until the edges are slightly brown.

Heat the jam or jelly in a microwave for 45 seconds or until softened.  Set the whole cookies on one sheet of parchment.  Brush with jam and top with a cut-out cookie.  Spoon the remaining jam into the center of each cookie sandwich, leaving any chunks of fruit behind.  Let cool until set.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  These can also be frozen.

Cranberry White Chocolate Walnut Cookies
(Makes 42 to 48 cookies)

1 ¾ sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange extract
2 ½ cups cake and pastry flour blend (below) or all purpose blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup white chocolate
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until soft and slightly fluffy.  Add the eggs, vanilla and orange extracts and beat until smooth.  Combine flour blend and baking powder.  Add the flour blend to the butter mixture, one cup at a time, beating briefly just to incorporate
after each addition.  Fold in cranberries, white chocolate, and chopped walnuts.  Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets and bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Double Ginger Spice Cookies
(Makes 42 to 48 cookies)

1 ¾ sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange extract
2 ½ cups cake and pastry flour blend (below) or all purpose blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¾ cup chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup raisins.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until soft and slightly fluffy.  Add the eggs, molasses, vanilla and orange extracts and beat until smooth.  Combine flour blend, baking powder, and spices.  Add the flour blend to the butter mixture, one cup at a time, beating briefly just
to incorporate after each addition.  Fold in chopped ginger and raisins.  Drop by
teaspoons onto a plate of sugar and roll to coat.  Set on baking sheets and bake 10 to 12
minutes.

Cake and Pastry Flour

This makes ¼ cup more flour blend than you’ll need for the master dough recipe.  Reserve the extra for dusting the counter when making roll-out cookies. 

1 cup sweet white sorghum flour (4 ounces)
1 cup white rice flour (5.4 ounces)
¾ cup cornstarch (3.4 ounces)
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum (or guar gum)
½ teaspoon salt

SHORTCUT:  This blend makes very light pastries and cookies with a fine crumb but, if you are pressed for time, you may use 2 ½ cups of any all purpose flour blend.  Add the xanthan gum and salt if they are not already in the blend.

No one has ever mistaken me for a shrinking violet.  I’m not subdued and I’ve never been one to turn my back on a challenge.  You get the picture.

So when a friend who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease asked me if I had done a spritz cookie makeover, I said, “yes.”  Truthfully, I hadn’t made spritz cookies in years.  I wasn’t even sure I could find my cookie press, the one I inherited from my grandmother a while back.  What was I thinking?

But my friend, who I will call Debbie, is still in the pity phase of the gluten-free diet, a place I rarely go.  I don’t recall feeling badly even when I was diagnosed with celiac disease more than thirty years ago.  Frankly, I didn’t know another soul with this disease back then.  So who would have listened, if I did complain?

But Debbie was diagnosed this year.  “I miss pizza.  I can’t find a beer I like.  “And I wish I could bake up a batch of the spritz cookies my family makes for the holidays,” she said.

After thirty-something years of living and baking gluten-free, I have a hard time accepting her glass-nearly-empty outlook.   “Look what you can have,” I countered.  This is when the stubborn in me goes from simmer to full boil.  There is no need to miss out.  Today, we have so many choices.  And after writing my cookbook, Gluten-Free Makeovers, I am convinced that everything can be made over.

So, when Debbie asked if I had a gluten-free spritz cookie recipe, I didn’t tell her I had no idea what I had done with the recipe or if I ever had one.  Nor did I mention that my cookie press had disappeared.  I was out to prove a point – – we can eat everything, just gluten free.  So what if I had no idea what I was doing?  I’d figure it out.  After all, isn’t that part of a no-shrinking-violet philosophy? I went to the basement where I store all the gadgets I rarely use.  I rummaged in storage closets where they are well wrapped and piled in a heap.  Under the back-up coffee maker, the spice grinder, the antique food mill, I found the gold metallic cylinder of a cookie press.  I dug deeper and found the levered top.  Two piles over, were the discs and finally, in with an old food processor, was the ring that holds the discs in place.  I was ready to try my hand at making press cookies.

I did not realize there was more of a challenge ahead.  On the surface, spritz cookies look pretty simple – – flour, butter, eggs and sugar. I could replace the flour and create my own cookie press cookies, I reasoned.  And, at first, that’s exactly what I did.  Little did I realize that these delicate cookies hold their shapes because of the wheat and gluten.  Every shape I pushed through the metal cylinder produced the same non-descript blob of dough.  I was ready to throw in the kitchen towel, give up the whisk, put my grandma’s cookie press in the tag sale box.

A one-for-one conversion was not doing the trick.  How was I going to create a dough that would hold its shape when pressed through the cookie press but still tasted delicate with a pleasant crumb?  Little by little I increased the flour, adjusted the xanthan gum.  And soon I had reached the exact balance, the ratio of butter to flour that produced the right amount of texture but preserved the delicate crumb.  So dust off your cookie press and enjoy!

Spritz Cookies
Makes 60 cookies
These rich, buttery treats are fun to make and decorate.

1 cup white rice flour + 2 tablespoons
¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line 3 to 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine rice flour, sorghum flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Sift and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter until light yellow.  Add the sugar and beat about 3 minutes or until fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and extracts and beat to combine.  Add the
flour ingredients, a little at a time, beating briefly after each addition.  Chill 30 minutes.  Scoop into a cookie press and press out cookies, one at a time.  If they do not release from the tube, loosen with a dull kitchen knife.  Set 1 ½ inches apart.

Decorate with sprinkles or colored sugar and chill on trays for at least 10 and up to 30 minutes so that cookies hold their shape.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool completely before storing.

TIP:  Add food color to the dough and beat or divide dough and color each portion with a different color.
For best luck, use cookie press forms with the widest openings and avoid those with small holes in the designs.