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Have a Gluten-Free Holiday Cookie Exchange
http://www.celiac.com/articles/21694/1/Have-a-Gluten-Free-Holiday-Cookie-Exchange/Page1.html
Phyllis Morrow
I am a 57 year old retired professor and celiac living in Fairbanks, Alaska. The transition to GF cooking was made easier for me because I have always cooked from scratch, whether starting from Alaskan salmon and moose, or fresh vegetables. Living with celiac disease still means good conversation over good food. 
By Phyllis Morrow
Published on 11/17/2008
 
One of the great pleasures of the holidays is having a wide assortment of goodies around to enjoy with family and friends. Don't get left out of the fun because you're gluten intolerant. Organize an old-fashioned cookie exchange with gluten free recipes. Here’s how to do it...

Celiac.com 11/17/2008 - One of the great pleasures of the holidays is having a wide assortment of goodies around to enjoy with family and friends. Don’t get left out of the fun just because you’re gluten-intolerant. Organize an old-fashioned cookie exchange with a gluten-free twist. Here’s how to do it...

 Pick a date and invite people to participate:
  •  The easy route: just get your family and friends together for the event at your house. Whether or not they are gluten-intolerant, these recipes will make everyone happy. They really won’t miss the gluten. Or, if you belong to a celiac support group, this is a natural activity to suggest.
  •  Alternatively, you can do a more public event. There are probably more gluten-free people in your local area than you think there are. Put a notice in your local paper offering to organize and host a gluten-free cookie exchange and see how many responses you get. Your biggest problem may be limiting the numbers. Fifteen people is probably the upper limit for a civilized cookie exchange…unless you have some ambitious organizers to help you. If you do decide to take all comers,  try dividing the participants into smaller subgroups to exchange cookies among themselves. That could also allow people with other common sensitivities (e.g., dairy or nuts) to exchange recipes among themselves, with the appropriate common denominators.
  • Arrange a venue – a local college culinary arts program kitchen, a community hall, the hall of a place of worship, or the home-base of a civic organization. It is often possible to find a space with a large kitchen at little or no expense for such purposes and it will give you a chance to demonstrate gluten-free cooking techniques and increase community awareness of gluten-intolerance. If there is a cost, you can ask participants to contribute (or look for community sponsorship).        
Set and distribute the ground rules:
  1.  Use gluten-free ingredients only. Follow recipes carefully.
  2. Prevent cross-contamination with gluten during preparation, baking and handling. Scrupulously clean all utensils and surfaces before you begin. Unless baking pans/cookie sheets have ONLY been used for gluten-free baking, line them with parchment paper or aluminum foil (some recipes call for this step anyway, to prevent sticking). Tip: use some gluten-free baking spray on the pan before you line it with parchment paper. The spray will keep the paper from curling up and slipping around while you work.
  3. Participants should make copies of the recipe/s they bake and bring them to the exchange. This allows others to check ingredients as well as to expand their cookie repertories.
Distribute recipes:
If each participant makes one or two recipes, with no duplication, everyone will get a maximum variety of sweets to take home. You could manage this by just assigning each person a recipe or two, or you can ask participants to call or e-mail you with their preferences, so that you can prevent duplication. You’ll also need to decide how many cookies each person should make (do the math: how much variety do you want? how many of each type of cookie will people want to bring home?). Most of these recipes make 2-3 dozen. Recipes can be doubled, if you wish to end up with more of each type. Extras are also fair game for tasting at the exchange….

I have included a number of recipes here (followed by a listing of sources), but you may want to add your favorite gluten-free cookie recipes. Be sure to give recipes for flour mixes to participants, as needed. Surf the web for gluten free cookie recipes (Celiac.com is a good source, but there are others, as well) of use your favorite cookbooks. If you can’t find a gluten-free version of your favorite holiday cookie recipe, try substituting the same amount of basic gluten-free flour mix for the all-purpose wheat flour in your original recipe. It usually works.

Have a party:
The exchange itself is a good excuse for a party. Serve tea, coffee, hot spiced cider or eggnog and enjoy sampling the extra cookies while you all count out your “shares.”  Some of these cookies can be decorated. You may wish to do that as a group. If so, have confectioners icing, colored sugar crystals, cinnamon, food colorings, etc. available.

Have paper platters on hand or ask people to bring their own platters or tins to pack their shares home. You might want to pretty them up with ribbons or other decorations.

Flours and flour mixes:
It is not difficult to mix your own gluten-free flours and they will be superior to pre-made mixes in flavor and quality of results. They will also cost you less over time. If you really get into making your own flour mixes, you may use different blends for different types of baked goods. I grind my own brown rice, which really makes for a superior flavor and complete control over texture.  But following are fine multi-purpose blends that you can mix up from store bought ingredients.

Gluten-free Flour Mixes called for in the following recipes:

Multi-Blend Gluten-Free Flour (source: Celiac.com)
  • 2 ¼ cups finely ground brown rice flour (or mix white and brown rice flours, if preferred)
  • ¼ cup potato starch flour (potato starch or potato starch flour is not to be confused with potato flour)
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
  • ¾ cup sweet rice flour (Mochiko brand can typically be found in Asian section of stores)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum (or guar gum)

Featherlight Mix (source: Betty Hagman)
  • 1 cup each of rice flour, tapioca flour and cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of potato flour (NOT potato starch)

 Simple Gluten-Free Flour Mix (aka Food Philosopher Brown Rice Flour Mix from Annalise Roberts;  Basic Gluten-free Mix from Rebecca Reilly)
  • 2 cups finely ground brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch

 COOKIE RECIPES

 Hazelnut Cookies (16-18 cookies)

1 ¾ cups hazelnut flour
¼ cup tapioca starch
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
1 egg yolk

Mix together the hazelnut flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Cream the butter until white. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, abt. 5 min. Add the vanilla and egg yolk. Blend. Stir in the dry ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
 
Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray the paper with cooking spray.

Make 1 ½ inch balls and place them on the cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between. Bake 15-20 min. The bottoms will have a slight golden brown color. Cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack

VARIATIONS: Use pecan or almond flour in place of hazelnut.

 

Walnut Orange Biscotti (makes abt 3 doz)

1 ½ cups Basic Gluten-Free Mix
¼ cup sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped, lightly toasted walnuts

Mix together gluten-free flour mix, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Cream butter until white. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, abt 5 min.

Blend in the eggs, one at a time. Add orange zest and vanilla, then stir in the nuts. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients to form a soft dough. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. The dough bakes better if refrigerated overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets and line with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log 1 ½ -2 inches thick. Place 2 logs on one cookie sheet, leaving enough space betweent hem for the dough to spread while baking. Place the third log on the other cookie sheet. Bake the logs for 20 mins.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and let sit for 5-10 min. Slice the logs on a slight diagonal about ¾ inch thick. Place the slices, cut side down, on the cookie sheets. Lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake the slices for 10-12 min. Cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

 
Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies (2 dozen)

2 ½ cups Basic gluten-free Mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk

Mix together gluten-free mix, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, xanthan gum, cloves, and salt. Cream the butter until white. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, abt. 5 min. Slowly pour in the molasses. Beat until creamy. Add the egg. Alternately add the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 additions. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper.

Using a medium or small ice cream scoop, place mounds of dough on the cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between the mounds. Or roll the dough into 1 ½ in balls, place on the cookie sheet, and flatten slightly. Bake for 8-12 min, depending on the size. Let the cookies sit for 5 min on the coolie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

 
Scottish Shortbread Cookies (2 dozen)

2 cups brown rice flour
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup sweet rice flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon. gluten-free vanilla
2 tablespoon heavy cream mixed with an egg yolk, for glazing cookies (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Mix together the brown rice flour, almond flour, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum and salt.

Cream the butter until white. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, about 5 min. Add the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients. Keep mixing until you have a soft cookie dough.

For traditional shortbread cookies, divide the dough into 3 pieces. Lightly flour the counter with white rice flour. Roll out the dough into a round 1/3 -1/2 in thick. Thicker cookies will be somewhat softer; thinner ones, crisper. For a golden finish, brush the dough with the egg glaze. Using a fork, prick the surface gently. Cut into wedges. Place pieces on the cookie sheet 1 in apart and bake for 12-20 min, depending upon the thickness. Transfer to a cooling rack.

 
Chocolate-Chip Coconut Macaroons (3 dozen)

½ cup sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 ½ cup coconut flour (coconut powder)
1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325. Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and the eggs until pale and thick, at least 5 min. Fold in the coconut powder, melted butter, vanilla, and chocolate.

Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls about 1 in apart onto the lined cookie sheet. Bake in the upper part of the preheated oven for 18 min. Transfer to a platter with a metal spatula.

 

Nut-filled Dates (makes 25)

2/3 cup ground, blanched almonds
2 ½ teaspoon sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon rum
25 pitted dates
5 oz. melted chocolate

In a medium bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, lemon zest, and rum. Using a small spoon, fill each date with the nut mixture. Dip the end of each filled date in the melted chocolate and allow it to harden.

 

Melting Moments

½ cup cornstarch
½ cup confectioners sugar
¾ cup softened unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 cup gluten-free flour mix
 
Mix dry ingredients together into the softened butter to form a dough. Chill at least one hour.  Preheat oven to 375. Roll into ropes. Cut into small, uniform pieces (a bit smaller than a quarter).  Roll in sugar that has been placed on wax paper. Dip cookie press in sugar and before pressing each cookie (Tip: if cookie press sticks to the dough, oil it lightly with cooking spray). Bake on greased cookie sheets for 25 min.

 
Gingerbread Cookies (makes a lot…)

In a large bowl, beat together:
¾ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-2 tablespoons fresh, finely grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Dissolve 2 teaspoons instant coffee in 2 tablespoons hot water (OR use 2 tablespoons very strong brewed coffee) and stir into sugar mixture.

Gradually stir in 3 ¼ cups Multi-blend gluten-free flour mix.  Cover and chill until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

Use gluten-free flour mix or sweet rice flour to dust rolling surface. Roll to ¼ in thickness. Cut with cookie cutters, as desired. Use all your dough – just gather scraps together and roll them out again.

Bake at 325 for 10-15 minutes. Cool briefly on pan, then transfer to wire racks. When completely cool, decorate as desired with confectioner’s icing and other gluten-free decorations, such as colored sugar crystals, candied fruit, etc.

 
Pecan Butter Cookies (Mexican Wedding Cakes) – makes about 50

1 cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
2 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup pecans, toasted (bake about 5 min in preheated 350F oven) and chopped
Confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Position rack in center of oven. Lightly grease cookie sheet with baking spray. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until light and creamy. Add vanilla and mix until smooth.

Add flour mix and xanthan gum; beat until a smooth dough is formed. Mix in pecans.  Use your hands to shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in confectioners sugar and place on cookie sheets.

 Bake in center of oven for 12-15 min or until a very light golden color. Test for doneness. Bottom should be light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Store in an airtight container.

 
Dutch Sugar Cookies (makes 3 doz, 2 ½ in cookies)

2 ½ cups Featherlight Mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter flavor Crisco
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup (or more) potato starch for kneading

Preheat oven to 350F. Have on hand 2 un-greased cookie sheets. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour mix, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the sugar and Crisco. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, mixing enough to combine. The dough will be a soft ball. With your hands, knead in enough of the potato starch to make the dough easy to handle and roll out.

Using about half at a time, place a piece of plastic wrap over the ball and roll out to about 1/8 in thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on pan. Decorate with colored sugars before baking or use frosting to decorate after baking. (With this dough, you can use all the scraps. Just scrape them together and roll out again. They will not get tough)

Bake for about 13 min. Cool very slightly before removing from pan.

 
Almond-Pignoli Cookies 

12 ounces (Solo canned) almond paste
½ cup white sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
4 egg whites
1 ½ cups pine nuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line 2 cookie sheets with foil; lightly grease foil.

Mix almond paste and granulated sugar in food processor until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and 2 egg whites; process until smooth. The dough will be easier to handle if you chill it before proceeding to the next step

Whisk remaining 2 egg whites in small bowl. Place pine nuts on shallow plate. With lightly floured hands roll dough into 1 inch balls. Coat balls in egg whites, shaking off excess, then roll in pine nuts, pressing lightly to stick. Arrange balls on cookie sheets, and flatten slightly to form a 1 1/2 inch round.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Let stand on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack to cool.


Gluten-Free Recipe Sources:
  • allrecipes.com (Pignoli Cookies I, reproduced above as Almond-Pignoli Cookies)
  • Hagman, Bette The Gluten-free Gourmet Makes Dessert (Henry Holt, 2002) Dutch Sugar Cookies, p. 175
  • Reilly, Rebecca, Gluten-Free Baking (Simon & Schuster, 2002) Walnut-Orange Biscotti, p. 83; Hazelnut Cookies, p. 78; Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies, p. 70; Scottish Shortbread Cookies, p. 75
  • Roberts, Annalise G., Gluten-Free Baking Classics (Surrey Books, 2006) Pecan Butter Cookies (aka Mexican Wedding Cakes), p.101
  • Mauksch, Mary Wachtel Fabulous and Flourless: 150 Wheatless and Dairy-free Desserts  (MacMillan, 1997) Chocolate Chip Macaroons, p. 139; Nut-filled Dates, p.159
  • Morrow, Phyllis (old favorites made gluten-free): Gingerbread Men (or Women, or Children, or Bears….)
  • Melting Moments (adapted from the recipe of a dear Danish friend, Clara Foged, who called them “melting moomins”)