All throughout my weeklong silent meditation retreat, I had a recurring fantasy about baking holiday cookies. I knew the friends I wanted to bake with but I had no idea if they would still be in town when I got back. Lucky for me, they were, they were available, and they wanted to bake! So tonight we drank wine, listened to really good Christmas music (thanks, Pandora!) and baked four batches of cookies. There were some winners and some losers, and after five hours of work we somehow ended up with fewer cookies than it seemed like the time invested should have produced, but the night itself was so much fun and a great way to kick off the days leading up to Christmas.
The clear winners of the evening were the iced molasses cookies. Tender, chewy, perfectly spiced, and exquisitely complemented by their drizzle of icing, the molasses cookies were the ones we just couldn’t stop eating. The cookies were these from Gluten-Free Gina, made with sorghum flour instead of Bob’s Red Mill baking mix. The icing was just 1 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar whisked with 3 tablespoons vanilla almond milk (because that’s the nondairy milk we had on hand – you can use anything), drizzled over the cookies with a spoon, and left to set. My goal was to evoke the soft, delicious Archway cookies with their delicious crackle of icing that were a special treat when I lived in Providence, RI. (I remembered an iced molasses, but maybe they’ve stopped making it – I only see plain molasses and iced oatmeal now. All the more reason to make them myself!) (Um, as if making them vegan and gluten-free weren’t reason enough. It’s not like I could even eat the Archway ones anymore. But you know what I mean.)
The Buckwheat Double Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Cocoa Nibs and Fleur de Sel from Gluten Free Gobsmacked were pretty darn awesome as well. I’m not partial to crisp cookies, but we got around that by eating them hot ‘n’ chewy as soon as they came out of the oven. I’ll have to try one again tomorrow (I know, my life is so hard!) to see how I feel about the “real” texture. They’re very subtle in flavor – not overpoweringly chocolatey or sweet or salty, but a nice mix of all three. The chocolate chunks really tie the whole passel of flavors together, so when I make these again I will not be sparing with my chocolate chunk goodness.
I wanted to make spritz cookies with my cookie press, which is basically an awesome gun-shaped thing that shoots out cookies in different shapes! But apparently the dough has to be super elastic to hold up to the process, and every recipe I found either required eggs or gluten, and I obviously wasn’t going to bake with eggs. Since I kind of hate vanilla cookies anyways, and most of these cookies were intended for giving away, I decided to just go ahead and make them with glutenous flour. Our first batch was made with spelt flour, adapting this recipe from Cake Maker to the Stars, but for some reason it came out way too wet to use in the cookie press. We jazzed up the dough with cardamom and orange flower water and just made round sugar cookies instead, but, according to my tasters (I couldn’t eat them because of the gluten) they pretty much tasted like play-dough. Oh, spelt. The next batch was made using this recipe from Sinfully Vegan with regular old bleached wheat flour and held up nicely in the press. They still taste pretty boring, but at least they look nice!
Gluten-free cookies don’t retain their texture well over time, and there are still many days between now and Christmas when I’d like to take the cookies around to my various loved ones. I’m going to try freezing them, which I’ve read can work well for extending the life of GF cookies, and while I’m not sure how the iced cookies will do, hopefully they’ll all come out okay. Either way it was a truly fun evening of baking and now I’m all sugar-bombed and zesty with Christmas spirit!