Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies Two Ways
Every year my mom and I bake Christmas cookies together. We always make sugar cookies, which happen to be Allan’s favorite. My mom’s favorite cookie is the gingersnap, so we usually make gingerbread men as well; however, we are bursting at the seams with cookies this year and settled on simply making roll out cookies, as we call them.
I have a fantastic sugar cookie recipe that we have used since I began eating clean – it isa delicious cookie made with whole wheat pastry flour and is low-sugar and low-fat; however, it is not gluten-free. This year I decided that we would go out on a limb and try two different recipes for gluten-free sugar cookies.
The first recipe used a combination of gluten-free, grain-based flours. You can find the original recipe here. Click here to view my modified version of this recipe. The following are the modifications that I made:
I used 2 cups of flour to get the correct rollable consistency: 1 cup oat flour (ground from certified gf steel cut oats) + 1/2 cup raw buckwheat flour (ground from raw buckwheat groats) + 1/2 cup brown rice flour.
I substituted 1/2 cup potato starch for the 1/2 cup cornstarch called for in the original recipe.
I did not use stevia and instead used 1/2 cup powdered sucanat (sucanat that was finely whirled up in my Vita Mix) for the stevia and 1/4 cup rapadura sugar.
I placed the dough in the freezer instead of the fridge for 1 hour. Thoroughly chilling the dough is very important for easily rolled cookies.
When I removed the dough from the freezer it was a bit stiff, but easily rolled out once warmed a little by my hands and the rolling motion. Between rolling sessions I stored the remaining dough in the fridge. I used potato starch to flour my bread board and rolling pin. This dough was very easy to roll out, no parchment paper necessary.
The feel, smell and taste of this dough is very similar to any other traditional sugar cookie dough that I have ever used. We were able to roll out the dough pretty thin and the cookies were easily moved from the bread board to the baking sheets.
The resulting cookies were lightly sweet, vanilla-scented and crunchy. I imagine that if you rolled the dough a bit thicker and reduced the baking time that these would be crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. However, we like our cookies on the crunchy side, so they were perfect.
Like I said earlier, these taste exactly like traditional sugar cookies made with white flour and sugar; however, they are made with (mostly) whole grains (potato starch is refined) and unrefined sugar. Usually when baking gluten-free, there is a tendency to have gritty, dry cookies. There was not a bit of grit to these cookies. They were perfectly soft and dense with a light crunch. We will definitely be making these cookies again next year!
The second recipe that we tried was from the The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam. There is a very similar recipe on her blog here. Click here to view my modified version of this recipe. The following are the changes that I made to the recipe:
I used 2 cups of almond flour + 1 cup of buckwheat flour in place of the 2 1/2 cups of almond flour called for the in the recipe.
I did not add cinnamon to my cookies.
I used 1/2 cup of grapeseed oil in place of coconut oil (this is what the cookbook recipe called for).
These cookies were much more difficult to work with than the first recipe. You definitely need to ensure that your board is well floured/starched and you must use a piece of parchment paper between your rolling pin and the dough.
Also, the recipe says that to roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. We found that when the dough was that thin it was near impossible to transfer cookies from the board to the baking sheet without tearing and misshaping the cookies. When we rolled the dough out much thicker (1/2 inch) the cookies were much easier to transport.
Thicker dough = Much better!
We ended up rolling smaller pieces of dough to ensure an even thickness along with easier transport to the cookie sheets. Once we got in the groove, this dough was fairly easy to work with.
Note the difference in thickness between the two different doughs… the star in the foreground is the almond flour + buckwheat cookie (recipe #2), while the bell and star in the background are from the first batch of oat flour based dough.
We experimented a bit with the baking time of the almond flour cookies. The left cookie is darker in color and crisper because it was baked for 11 minutes while the right cookie was lightly browned and softer because it was baked for only 7 minutes. Both cookies were good in their own way.
The almond flour cookies were delicious; however you can definitely taste the almond flour and grape seed oil. I love the flavor of these cookies, especially when covered with a simple powdered sugar + butter + almond milk + vanilla extract frosting. Although, you were able to taste the grittiness of the almond flour and the distinct flavor of the grapeseed oil.
I did not use a recipe for the frosting, I simply started with 4 tbsp of cold butter + 1 tbsp almond milk + 1 tsp vanilla extract + 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. I beat this together with my immersion blender and kept adding powdered sugar by the heaping tablespoon full until it was the right consistency and taste. I then added a ton of natural blue and yellow natural food coloring until it turned green. We decorated the cookies with a bit of natural decorating sugar, which I have in several colors. I swear these sugars are going to last me forever!
So, which cookie did we like best? It’s really a tie. I like both cookies for different reasons. The whole grain cookie (recipe #1) is definitely the most traditional; however, the almond flour + buckwheat cookie is lightly sweet and softer, which I really enjoyed. Elana has a recipe in The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by for a Pecan Sandy-like cookie using a similar recipe that I will definitely be making for my father-in-law.
In the photo above you can really see the difference in the texture + thickness of the two different kinds of cookies. The cookie on the left is the whole grain version (recipe #1) and the cookie on the right is the almond flour + buckwheat cookie (recipe #2).
What is your favorite Christmas cookie? I really like sugar cookies. I could eat WAY too many of them without much of a thought!
Allan and I will both be taking the next week off from work + blogging so that we can spend some quality time as a family celebrating the joyous birth of our Savior. I will most likely still be active on Twitter and Facebook, just not here on the blog.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
See you in 2012!!!