Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Almond Dried Cherry Cookies

Gluten Free Almond Dried Cherry Cookies

One of my favorite Christmas traditions as an adult is to make cookies as a gift for all of my close friends. My apartment becomes cookie central – trays of cookies are dangerously balancing on my stove and tiny kitchen counter tops, and every spare inch of table (and coffee table) space in my living room is covered with cookies waiting to be decorated. Almond butter cookies, iced pumpkin, almond-dried cherry, and of course my angry gingerbread men.

When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease three and a half years ago, I refused to let that dietary challenge prevent me from continuing my tradition.

I could not find a satisfactory recipe for gluten free almond-dried cherry cookies, so this was perhaps one of the first recipes that I experimented with on my own. The structure for the cookie itself is inspired by the cookies in Carol Fenster’s 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes (http://www.amazon.com/000-Gluten-Free-Recipes/dp/0470067802).  However, I took the flavor profiles of my old gluten-filled recipe and incorporated new gluten free baking techniques that I was learning. The result – my new favorite cookies!

Note that with all of my cookies I use insulated baking sheets. They are well worth the minimal investment and turn out prefect cookies every time – no burnt bottoms!

Gluten Free Almond Dried Cherry Cookies

2 cups GF all purpose flour (I recommend Carol Fenster’s blend – instructions found in previous post)
1 tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
½ cup chopped almonds
¾ cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherries

Sugar icing:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp (+ more if needed) water

1.      Toast the almonds by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange almonds in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes until lightly toasted, being careful not to let them burn. Cool completely before using.
2.      In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Use a low speed and beat for about one minute.
3.      Add in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract.
4.      In another bowl, combine the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Mix together.
5.      Slowly pour the flour combination into the wet mixture and beat on low speed until just blended.
6.      Stir in the toasted nuts and chopped cherries
7.      Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log, about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours (you can place the dough in the freezer for future baking fun)
8.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
9.      Cut the log into ½ inch slices and place on baking sheet. Bake 12 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet, then remove and let cool completely before frosting
10.  For the icing: combine the sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix. Add the water a little at a time until you get the right consistency. The consistency of the icing needs to be thin enough to be able to drizzle it with a spoon, but no so thin that it spreads out all over the cookie. You want clear, distinct drizzle lines.
11.  Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the cookies and let set in the fridge for at least an hour to harden.
12.  Store the cookies in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer for a month. 

More holiday recipes to come! Happy baking! 

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