Cookies

Gluten-Free Compost Cookies – Milk Bar Mondays

“I love you, Christina Tosi.”

“I hate you, Christina Tosi.”

This went on for a while as I scooped cookie batter onto Silpats and wrapped each sheet with plastic wrap. I couldn’t stop eating tiny nibblets of dough. Dough that was most likely the unhealthiest thing to ever come out of my kitchen. Dough housing chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, granola, potato chips, oatmeal, cookie crumbs, coffee grinds and a crap-load of sugar.

I love food, obviously. And, for the most part, food loves me. But maybe you’ve noticed that I’m trying to behave a bit more for various reasons.

Enter, these damned cookies.

Luckily, they’re so big and indulgent that one is all you need before you’re shivering in your shoes. There are so many fun flavors and textures happening inside, all you know is they make you obnoxiously giddy. I made it through one half and then had to step away. They should be called Compost Crack Cookies.

This recipe is part of Milk Bar Mondays, where a ridiculously lovely group of lady bloggers is baking our way through the Milk Bar Cookbook. I’m the gluten-dairy-free adapter of the group. In general we don’t change anything about the recipe – rather, we’re learning how to be better bakers by getting into Tosi’s world, and sharing our varying opinions as we go. Other than the gluten and dairy thing, I don’t alter.

Except that this recipe gave us a tiny bit of leeway.

The Compost Cookie was created to be endlessly adaptable, depending on what was around to be loaded up. I had a limited amount of cash in my wallet for the bodega and not enough time to run to Fairway for gluten-free pretzels, graham-crackers (I normally make my own), etc. So I used all of Tosi’s proportions and then had a little fun.

  • Instead of butterscotch chips, I used raw cocoa nibs
  • Instead of graham-cracker crust, I used some crumbled cranberry chocolate cookies that were chilling in my freezer, the result of a not-perfect recipe that still tasted really darned good
  • Instead of popcorn I used granola

It’s a scary-good cookie. The base and proportions will forever be one that I’ll use when needing some really big, chunky cookies and when feeling creative. My recipe’s below.

For the original recipe, head over to this week’s host Krissy of Krissy’s Creations. Her site is truly stunning.  And then check out what the rest of the ladies are up to, and come back on May 7th for my pick – Chevre Frozen Yogurt with Pistachio Crunch and Beet-Lime Ganache. Yes, I’m excited.

Meet the Ladies!

Krissy of Krissy’s Creations

Erin of Big Fat Baker

Meagan of Scarletta Bakes

Cassie of Bake Your Day

Audra of The Baker Chick

Nicole of Sweet Peony

Averie of Averie Cooks!

Follow the group on Twitter!

Compost Cookies

Adapted from the Milk Bar cookbook by Christina Tosi

Makes about 20 cookies

Note: I go back and forth between weighing and measuring – depending on if I need ease or accuracy with the ingredient. When adapting recipes with gluten-free flour blends, 90% of the time I weigh – otherwise I can’t be sure as to the proper quantity. Hope this isn’t maddening; it’s just my method.

Ingredients:

  • 16 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp molasses

———-

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

———-

  • 75g brown rice flour (soft, fine and a good base)
  • 75g arrowroot flour (the starch that pulls it together, corn-free)
  • 50g millet flour (it’s golden and sweet!)
  • 25g white rice flour (to soften a bit and make more flavor-neutral)
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum (to help bind together)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

———-

  • 150g bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 25g cocoa nibs
  • 125g gluten-free granola
  • 85g gluten-free cookie crumbs (I have a stock in the freezer of leftover cookies I crush for this purpose – this batch was some sort of chocolate cranberry I think? Mysterious….)
  • 40g old-fashioned gluten-free rolled oats
  • 5g decaffeinated espresso or coffee grinds (unused, not instant)

———-

  • 2 cups potato chips
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

———–

Method

In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, paddle the butter, sugars and molasses on medium/high for about 3 minutes, until smooth and light.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for an additional 8 minutes. This creaming method is somewhat unique to Tosi and gives these cookies incredible lift and chew. If you don’t cream long enough, they’ll spread and crisp too much.

Meanwhile, measure out your flours and dry ingredients, whisking to combine.

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix until it just comes together, about 30-45 seconds (don’t overmix).

With the mixer on low, add all ingredients but the potato chips. Spin for about 30 seconds, until everything is evenly dispersed.

Dump in the potato chips and stir for 5 seconds, just so that they’re here, there and everywhere.

Tosi suggests measuring with a 1/3 cup measuring cup – these make HUGE cookies (awesome, but huge). I did 1/3 and 1/4, and found that the slightly smaller ones worked more for me. Drop onto Silpat or parchment-lined sheets, and press/shape into circles with slightly flattened domes. Wrap each sheet in plastic and stick in the fridge for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours (do NOT put directly into the oven, or they’ll just fall into a flat, nasty mess).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°. Bake each sheet for 18 minutes, until lightly browned at the edge but soft-looking in the center. Cool for a few minutes on sheet before removing to rack.

I crumbled about 4 of these to have on hand in the freezer. The rest went to craving friends (big, big hit).

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodles

Look at that crunchy, crackly top!

It was a pretty rad week.

I set up three interviews for this week for Serious Eats NY with some ridiculously awesome chefs I’m psyched to meet (hopefullynot adding a new crush to my growing list, though… stupid men and their stupid talent with stupid food…).

I’m doing my first cookbook review for a sorta-big-deal source (hopefully good news coming, fingers crossed) of a mouth-watering book by a chef who also happens to have rheumatoid arthritis and is on the same boat in regards to adding healthful foods instead of adding layers of restriction.

And after too-many grueling hours of taxes and accidentally erasing a series of articles I hadn’t yet submitted from my hard drive, I got everything restored and to the proper people.

Which is why it took little canoodling for me to spend yesterday having lunch with my pal Ruark and then taking Mitra to visit some old friends.  I babysat these kids what feels like eons ago now, and occasionally have to take them out for a bit of spoiling.

Yup, these kids are way too cool. Love em.

And, as sometimes happens, after our afternoon out of being scrappy all over the UWS (Mitra had the time of her life with these kids), it was time to catch up with their mom.  And though the conversation started with “let’s not drink as much vino as last time”… yeah…

I’m a little dusty today.  As in, three smoothies and some bad-moving watching dusty.  As in, it’s 5:30 and I’m still in pajamas dusty.  Not so dusty that I haven’t uploaded some blog posts for my different sources or continued reading through the (crazy-awesome) cookbook, but dusty enough that it’s taken me far longer to get anything productive done than would take, maybe, a seven year-old child.

However, before all the evil shenanigans (so much fun, lady!) began, there was a stop to my friend Anthony.  To drop off some of his favorite cookies that I hadn’t made for him in forever.  I wasn’t honestly aware of the deliciousness of snickerdoodles until him, who requested them a few times when we worked together in Cincinnati.  Since he doesn’t like chocolate (I know, the horror!), I often had to have a backup for him when bringing in sweets.

So these little, easy-peasy treats were whipped up and dropped off first thing…

Going back to the couch now to watch Something Borrowed or the Sex and the City movie or something equally as horrible.  I swear, the only time I can stomach movies like that is when both my brain and my stomach are reduced to infancy or something.

Stay cool,

– Jacqueline xoxo

Snickerdoodles:

Makes about 3 dozen. Easy.

A note about snickerdoodles: the doodle in these snickers means that you have to include cream of tartar – it really gives them that special something.  These are a bit crisper than their gluten-full counterparts, which I love.  But if you’re in for a chewier cookie, head over to the amazingness of Irwin at Eat the Love.  Browse around his site while you’re there – he’s one of the good guys.

These work fine in various sizes, but I recommend keeping them on the smaller side.  My larger ones puffed up a bit too much and so the signature crackling on top was a bit uneven.  Flattening them lightly with a spatula while rotating the pans also helps get a nice, flat cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 cup white sugar, separated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cookie flour (make sure your mix has 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum in it)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.  In an even smaller bowl, mix cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar for rolling the cookies.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, paddle the butter and shortening together until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add remaining sugar 1/2 cup at a time and cream until doubled in size and pale, about 7-8 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time and paddle to incorporate, about 30 seconds each.

Scrape the bowl, then add the flour on low speed 1/2 cup at a time.  Paddle until it comes together and the dough is smooth.

Roll into walnut-sized balls and roll in sugar.  Bake sheets one at a time for 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through and lightly pressing down with a spatula if desired.

Blueberries and (Dairy Free) Cream – Burwell General Store Swap

It’s Burwell Recipe Swap time again – check out my past swaps for more info about the group.

So…  I had plans to make something that would blow my mind.  Something I learned from Alton Brown, who’s tied as my favorite brain crush with Brian Lehrer (all you WNYCers know what I’m talking about).  Something that I figured I could mix and measure and adapt as necessary.  I even wrote the post out last night.  It was brilliantly witty.  Pinky swear it was.

And while the experiment worked up to this point…

… that beaker of coolness was as far as I got.  They were to be these beautiful pearls of dark red wine that I had simmered with some really potent dried ginger, honey and gelatin sheets.  Dropped into chilled oil, they were to separate easily when rinsed clean.

I tried several variations – still think I need more gelatin.

So, in a pinch – what could I make?!?!  Because the recipe we were given, the one that we were to try to keep close to, was this:

Honestly, reading it invoked a reaction of reverse peristalsis in me (probably the only phrase I remember from high school biology).  Look at that ingredients list: really?

So what I took from it was: fruit, gelatin, ginger.  My original idea for the swap was to be a take on Charlotte Russe, which I’ve been wanting to adapt since I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn again a few months ago.  But for the same reason that this recipe makes me gag, I couldn’t do it.

So the result was a relatively healthy, bi-blueberry dessert served with a gluten-free lady-finger.  I did not make them.  If you want to make your own, I suggest this recipe from Krissy’s Creations.

This is definitely not my most proud swap.  But as this post goes up I’m not even near NYC at all, but on an island off of Portugal touring a vineyard, cooking food in the ground, interviewing chefs and chasing dishes around the island while my recorder runs and my photographer clicks away.  In prep for the trip I’ve been working like mad to meet deadlines.  And as I gobbled this up, I realized sometimes even last-minute creations come together when you need them.

Now please go check out my fellow swappers for, I’m sure, a tasty combo of creations!


Blueberries and Cream

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • Scant 1lb of fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dark red wine
  • 1 tsp dried ginger (less if you don’t like too much spice)
  • 2 sheets gelatin, bloomed (soak in cook water for about 5 minutes to bloom)
  • 1-8oz container cream cheese or alternative (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 slices candied ginger
  • 16 ladyfinger or Madeleine cookies

Method:

  • Rinse and separate the blueberries, and reserve 1/2 cup.  Put in a small pot on medium heat with the wine and dried ginger.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, crushing some of the blueberries with a fork.  Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin.  Whisk in slowly, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Turn off heat, and remove 1/4 cup blueberry liquid.  Add remaining 1/2 cup blueberries to pot, and stir in – these will soften a tad but give the jam a nice texture.
  • Remove the pot to refrigerator until chilled.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1/4 cup blueberry liquid.  Stir until completely incorporated.  Return to fridge to chill until firm.
  • When ready to serve, scoop the cream cheese mixture into a small ziploc bag.  Snip the corner, and pipe onto the flat side of one cookie.  Sandwich with another cookie.  Spoon about a tablespoon of chilled jam onto plate, then rest cookie sandwich on top.  Garnish with candied ginger.

Gluten-Free Confetti Cookies – Milk Bar Mondays

It's a friendly little cookie, no?

I have a feeling if Christina Tosi ever knew what I do with her recipes, she might wanna punch me in the neck.

My gluten-free Carrot Cake Truffles and Apple Pie Layer Cake from the last two swaps were, yes, divinity.  But in my allergy-friendly adaptations for this lovely group of swappers, I went one step further with this swap, and tried to swap certain ingredients with their slightly healthier cousins.

Because while I think Tosi is a dessert genius, there are just some things I can’t use: milk powder and liquid glucose being two of them.  I gave in a little and swaped agave for the glucose.  And I just omitted the milk powder and did a little dance of prayer in my kitchen, hoping they’d come out (it was a cross between how silly I look chanting kirtan and a rain dance I made up when I was little and wanted to be Pocahontas – no joke).  I love her book, and really admire her recipe writing style.  So I hope neck-punching isn’t in my future.

These cookies are exactly what Tosi intended them to be – the best confetti birthday cake in cookie form.  It truly tastes like the vanilla Betty Crocker cake mix I remember from days of yore, rolled up in a snicker-doodle-esqe base with a touch more salt.

They’re incredible.  The Birthday Cake Crumb adds that extra touch of awesomeness, and the design is just fun!

Now head over to Cassie’s Bake Your Day for the original recipe and go say hi to the Milk Bar Ladies!

Meet the Milk Bar Ladies!

Gluten-Free Confetti Cookies!

Ingredients:

  • 225g / 2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g / 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 50g / 2 Tbsp light agave nectar

——

  • 2 eggs
  • 8g / 2 tsp vanilla extract

——

  • 100g quinoa flour
  • 150g arrowroot starch
  • 50g sorghum flour
  • 100g brown rice flour
  • 9g cream of tartar
  • 6g baking soda
  • 5g kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 40g rainbow sprinkles (my grocery store brand had no gluten ingredients)

——

  • 1/2 recipe Birthday Cake Crumb (recipe below)

Method:

  • Combine butter, sugar and agave in bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Paddle for 2-3 minutes on medium/high.  Scrape the side of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla, and paddle on medium/high for 7 – 8 minutes, when the mixture is incredibly pale, light and fluffy and has doubled in size.
  • Reduce the mixer to low and add in the flour / sprinkle mixture.  Mix until it just comes together, less than one minute.  Do not over mix.
  • On low speed, stir in the Birthday Cake Crumb, just until it’s incorporated.
  • Scoop onto parchment or Silpat lined sheets – I made 12 large cookies by doubling my cookie scoop, then another 12 small cookies by single-scooping.  Either way, make sure there’s a good 3-4 inches between each on the sheet, and press down with your fingers to flatten (this version will not spread that much).  Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 1 week before baking – do not bake directly, these must be chilled!
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°.  Bake large cookies for 18 minutes and small ones for 14 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the centers are just starting to show color.
  • Cool completely on sheets before removing to plate or container.  Can be kept at room temp for 5 days or frozen for 1 month.
TheDustyBaker

Birthday Cake Crumb

Birthday Cake Crumb:

Once again this whole crumb thing blew me away.  It adds a bit more texture and salt to the recipe, and a lot more flavor.  These crumbs are a tad more healthful than the original, but are addictive nonetheless.  Use your fingers to press the crumb into little clusters if paddling doesn’t do it.

Oh, and I grabbed my bin of “dog-knows” gluten-free flour, where I’ve basically thrown whatever cookie flour I have leftover from a recipe into the bin.  I used that for the 90g below, but a fair estimate is that it’s 1/3 starch, 1/3 brown rice and 1/3 white rice flour with 1/4 tsp xanthan gum.

Ingredients:

  • 100g palm sugar
  • 25g light brown sugar
  • 90g gluten-free flour (see note above)
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 2 g kosher salt
  • 20g rainbow sprinkles

——

  • 40g coconut oil
  • 12g vanilla extract

Method:

  • Heat oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment.
  • Combine the top ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment and paddle until completely combined.
  • Add wet ingredients and paddle again until clusters appear.  When all the moisture is absorbed, use your fingers if necessary.
  • Spread the clusters on the sheet and bake for 20 minutes, tossing half-way through.
  • Cool completely before using.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (gluten free) and a show!

Cookies to get us through a cold weekend of performing

Theatre is awesome.  I love it, and I love doing it.  Though I’m not making performing my main focus for work right now, instead pounding out the pavement from a writing perspective, I do adore it.  And after 6 months of not being on a stage, I’d missed it.  A few months ago a producer of a theatre festival I’d worked at before in Provincetown, Massachusetts emailed me a script, asking if I’d bring it to the festival this year.  I got a director friend on board who drives me batty but is incredibly talented and has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met.  He pulled in an actor he likes, we rehearsed a few times (bashing out “what does this thing mean!?!?”), and then we had a show.

"I" meaning character, not "I" meaning actor Jacqueline

Yesterday I returned from Provincetown, which now seems “more like a dream than an assurance that my remembrance warrants” (100 points if you get that quote, it’s a subtle one).  Our piece went well: a very interesting, subtle, tough bit of theatre, it felt incredibly real and personal.  I felt in control, and calm, and strong.  I now adore the man who played opposite, who was strong and smart and calm as well.

Our piece was only ten minutes, which meant we had a total of 50 active minutes on stage the entire weekend.  So we spent our luscious spare time enjoying the gift that is turning off a bit.  I still did some work, but curled up by the fireplace in my room in the B&B they housed us in, watching snow falling magically on the water from the windows next to my bed.  I took long hot showers and drank coffee from a delicious little shop across the street.  I walked on the beach and wrote words in the snowy sand.  We stayed up late drinking and talking in our rooms until the wee hours.  I laughed.  I met some interesting people and breathed in deliciously fresh air and ate simply.

Provincetown Beach in the snow

Peace, love and a sweet, sweet life...

Bed and Breakfast across from the beach

Oh, and ate cookies.  A lot of cookies.  I had made a batch for the six-hour drive and between the three of us we ate almost 30 of them in four days.  These are the only survivors around to snap pictures of.

I adore these cookies, which I normally label as “kitchen sink cookies”.  It was a busy night before we headed out and I didn’t want to buy anything I didn’t have.  So some organic crunchy peanut butter, gluten-free oats, walnuts and raisins made it into the bowl.  These cookies are both soft and crunchy, hearty, relatively healthy and delightfully sweet.  I cut down the sugar from the basic recipe I use by 1/4 cup and would suggest knocking off another 1/4 cup if you’re not into too-sweet cookies.  These definitely aren’t too sweet for most tastebuds, but if they were less sweet I could have justified how many I ate a bit more.

OH, and I used Better Batter for my flour.  Normally I blend my own and would have put 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour and 1/4 cup millet flour for this mix.  But I had a box of it right there and was in a rush.  It was perfect.  Great flour, I’m a fan.

They’re delicious, promise, one of my favorites now.  Sustenance.  Sweet, sweet comfort.

Raisins and nuts and peanut butter oh my!

 Peanut Butter Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Aka: Kitchen Sink Cookies

Makes 36

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, soft
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter (I used organic crunchy with sea salt from Trader Joes)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (I used Better Batter)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1/3 cups organic raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Beat butter and peanut butter until fluffy.
  4. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat to incorporate.
  6. Add flour and mix in thoroughly.
  7. Fold in oats, nuts and raisins.
  8. Drop with a cookie scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 16 minutes or until slightly brown.  Cool slightly before removing from sheets.
  9. Try not to eat 4 of them after a few glasses of wine.  If you do, make sure you’re curled up by a fire and watching old reruns of The Office at 3am. That’s classy, promise.

Classic Butter Cutout Cookies (gluten free) – the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I’m gonna get a sentimental for a moment.

I have a very clear memory of my first Christmas with Lyme Disease, when I was 12 or 13 years old.  I was upstairs in my room, having been excused from the dinner table.  It was a cold winter.  I was in a lot of pain.  I hadn’t eaten much food, because I could barely digest anything at that point.  I had been carried upstairs, as I had lost almost my entire ability to walk.  I could hear laughter, and smell delicious things, and I felt very alone and very sad.  I cried, all bundled in bed, and listened to Windham Hill Artist’s A Winter Solstice, which my mother would play to comfort me.  The song “Gift” has always stuck with me – a gentle bit of comfort when feeling ill and lonely.

I pulled out of that bout of Lyme, and two others, and walked again.  My ability to move from point A to point B is something I will never take for granted, and a reason I so fully love walking in the 60-mile Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure.

Changing my diet is what healed me.  Yes, I’ve taken a lot of antibiotics in my 18 years of battling Lyme.  But every time I’ve gone through treatment it has not been until I’ve worked with a nutritionist of some sort and been put on a strict diet with lots of supplements and vitamin drips that I’ve seen results.

As a child it was obviously hard.  There weren’t cookbooks and blogs on gluten or dairy free baking.  There was one alternative for gluten free bread, and it was horrid.  Rice Dream was no substitute for ice cream, and the only offering.  Whole Foods did not exist, at least not in Connecticut.  There was almost no “alternative baking”.  It was a huge adjustment for my parents.

So this holiday season I’ve found myself overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and a feeling of community.  In one weekend I participated in three cookie swaps.

The first, the NY Cookie Swap organized by Three Many Cooks for Bloggers Without Borders, benefited Cookies for Kids Cancers.  Obviously any way I can help other children fight their illnesses, I’m in.  I remember how hard it was for my parents, seeing me sick as a child, a college student and as a full adult, and how my father sometimes tears up to this day, knowing I will never be as free of illness as he wishes I could be.  On a crisp Sunday afternoon dozens of bloggers met for some barbecue, margaritas and cookie swapping.  It was a joy to put faces and voices to the blog names I’ve seen all over the web.  And there was an entire table set aside for gluten-free cookies.  Awesome.  (Getting misty-eyed).

My monthly Burwell General Store Swap went up that Sunday as well.  Every month I join a group of 25 or so bloggers in adapting a recipe to our heart’s content.  Mine, of course, are gluten free.  I love this group of talented home and professional chefs.  For the NY and Burwell swaps I made Mesquite Gingerbread Men (recipe soon) and Chocolate Almond Biscotti, the recipe of which was chosen for FoodBuzz’s Top 9!

And then there’s this: the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which required me to ship out 1 dozen cookies each to 3 bloggers I had been paired with – all gluten-free eaters.  In return I’d get three dozen different cookies as well! Awesome, no?

I am so very thankful for my ability to walk, my ability to eat what some see as a limited but I see as an incredible diverse and dynamic scope of food.  And I’m so thankful to have grown with a community of those who need to eat the same way, who pool information and resources, and to be able to teach some of what I have learned in my 18 years of living this way.

While I look back on that first Lyme Christmas as a blue one, the only blue snowflakes that are falling for me now are the ones I’m dunking in my almond milk.

Thanks to Three Many Cooks for the NY Cookie Swap and Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for organizing the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

I don’t have pictures of the beautiful gluten free cookies I received in the swap because as soon as they came in they were either in my mouth or on a plate and out the door with a collection of others.  They were so delicious and looked so nice alongside others that I had made for gifting, and, well, I’ve seen myself on camera lately and I have to WATCH MY COOKIES.

Julie from Swim… Bike… Running on Empty sent some deliciously moist gluten, corn and dairy free vegan pumpkin bites that were laced with nuts and chocolate as well.  The perfect soft cakey-cookie.  Check out her blog for healthy living tips including balancing all these cookies with exercise (which some of us need to incorporate more, note to self).  Follow her Tweets, people!

Maria from Gluten-Free Girl in Chicago‘s White Sugar Cookies with Pecans reintroduced me to the love of dipping cookies in milk.  Don’t know why, but I’m as excited about this practice as if I’d just discovered the combo myself.  Her crisp, delicate cookies were made with Earth Balance Coconut Spread (which I’d never heard of) and Better Batter All Purpose Flour.  So two new things for the DB.  I’m making them asap.  Since I have a big thing of almond milk waiting for me in the fridge.  Also check her out on Twitter.

Lastly, Clean Eating Chelsey’s Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies were just the perfect way to round out this trio.  I loved how they weren’t that sweet.  I find a huge difference between gluten-free and/or vegan eaters: we generally use less sugar. When adapting some recipes I’ll think something is WAY too sweet and my regular eating friends will disagree.  So these soft, chewy cookies (also perfect in almond milk) with big chunks of vegan chocolate and a strong coconut oil flavor were divine.  Follow her on Twitter too.

Classic Butter Snowflake Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen large snowflake cookies

Ingredients:

Adapted from the Classic Sugar Cookies by Saveur

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • 1 cup quinoa or millet flour
  • 3 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (3 sticks), soft
  • 2 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp Meringue / Egg White Powder
  • 1/2-1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, cinnamon etc.)
  • Gel food coloring
  • Colored sanding sugar and edible glitter

Method: Cookies

Whisk the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (especially when using organic sugars or sucanat, you need to mix longer as they don’t break down or dissolve very well).  Add the eggs, one a time, beating thoroughly between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.

Slowly add the flour, and mix until the dough just pulls together and the flour is blended in.

Divide in four, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for 45 minutes or until a bit firmer.

When ready to cut and bake, preheat oven to 325°.  On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with 3 inch snowflake cookie cutters (or cutters of choice, of course).  Bake for 15 minutes or until just brown at edges.  Cool for 5 minutes on sheet before removing to cooling racks.  Cool completely before icing.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: It’s easier to re-roll gluten-free cookies than regular cookies because you don’t have the presence of the gluten protein to make them tougher.  However, the softer the dough gets, the less crisp and crumbly it will be.

Method: Royal Icing

To make the icing, place sifted powdered sugar and meringue / egg white powder in bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add 1/2 cup of warm water and mix on medium low to incorporate.  If it is very dry, add a bit more water.  Increase speed to high and beat until glossy and stiff, about 6 minutes.

Now, some people freak out with royal icing.  I find it fun.  Because if you need thinner icing for piping a trillion cookies smoothly, just add warm water a teaspoon at a time until you get to the consistency you want.  Mix gel food colorings in a desired amount in small bowls.  This mixture makes about 3 cups, which is plenty for this batch of cookies.

Have fun with icing tips to pipe thick frosting on the snowflakes, and immediately sprinkle with shimmery sanding sugar or edible glitter as you go.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti – A Recipe Swap!

Toll House Chocolate Almond Biscotti

It’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap time again! And a holiday swap at that!

Quick catch-up for newcomers: About 13 months ago Christianna over at Burwell General Store started a recipe swap with Lindsay of Rosemarried, where she gives a recipe to a group of bloggers and we all change at least 3 things about the recipe.  With the coming of the second year we’re now a group of about 25 bloggers and just changed over to our second book, “The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places”.  While I’ve cherished “All Day Singin and Dinner on the Ground”, there’s something momentous about changing books.  The swap has been one of my favorite discoveries since starting this blog, and I look forward every month to seeing what the group has come up with, as well as connecting regularly on what’s inspiring us in and out of the kitchen.  Check out their posts on the little frog link below, and my Recipe Swap category for more!

New year, new book!

This month, with the craziness of the holidays, Christianna gave us something classic: the Toll House Cookie.  I got all mushy and sentimental when I saw the recipe.  Because for as long as my little dusty heart can remember my mother has kept her recipes, in bits and pieces, in a Toll House recipe book.  Its plastic brown cover contains so many recipes that we played with over the years, and many that are still favorites in our family.  Before the internet food world, before this blog, before I knew of single-origin chocolates, the science of baking gluten free, and became what some people might call a “food snob”, there was that book.

December's recipe: look at the adorable bit of history!

One of my favorites as a youngster was my momma’s biscotti.  Crisp and full of mini chips, she made several variations for her abundant plate of holiday cookies.  As I had to gluten free myself, she started adapting some of the recipes.  Or, at least, she tried.  It was sort of a running joke for a while between my siblings and I that she would attempt to make foods that I could eat, and then upon running down a list of ingredients she’d slap her head and go, “ah, sh*t!”.  Including the first time or two she made me “gluten and dairy free” biscotti; then realized she used regular chocolate chips.

But, as I did, she practiced and learned.  And now hers is one of the few houses I can go to and know I will eat, and I will eat well.

Mom and the Dusty sibs, Christmas 2009

So I wanted to take this classic Toll House Cookie recipe and make it into a biscotti.  And while no other biscotti will ever give me the same satisfaction as one made by my mom, these are pretty perfect.  Crispy, flavored with almond, perfect for dunking in sweet wine (an Italian recently told me that’s the way to do it), coffee or a glass of chilled almond milk (or cow, for you lucky dairy people!).

Happy Holidays, Swappers.  And, thanks, mom.  I love ya more than my luggage (10 cookies if you name that movie).

Mom and me at the end of the Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!

Oh, and mom, if you read this… Christmas is coming… hint hint.  And yours, please, not mine.

– Jacqueline, The DB

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Makes 18, Adapted from the Toll House Cookie and Toll House Biscotti recipes, with some dusty love.

Notes: I grew up with denser, harder biscotti, so to replicate that I baked the roll until it was slightly underdone, then cut and toasted it.  If you want yours crispier and a bit drier, bake completely before toasting.  I’ve made this recipe both ways with success.  Also, you can swap so many things in and out of this recipes: try cranberries, dried fruits, other nuts, go wild!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups starch-heavy gluten free flour (mine was 1 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup millet and 2/3 cup arrowroot)
  • 2 Tbsp Sweet Rice Flour, plus more if the dough seems sticky
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (or 1 Tbsp flax seed if you’re avoiding xanthan)
  • 1 Tbsp Mesquite flour (totally optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft
  • 5 Tbsp white sugar
  • 5 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat, or lightly grease.

Pour almonds on a second, dry, sheet and toast in the oven while preparing the biscotti.  Check occasionally so they don’t burn, and remove when slightly golden in color. (They will look all pale one second and like Troy after the horse in the next, so keep a close eye. A toaster oven works too.)

In a medium bowl combine flours, gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally.  Add eggs one at a time, beat to incorporate.  Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.  With the mixer on slow, add flour and beat to combine, increasing speed to incorporate.  Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.

With floured hands, roll into a 12-inch log and place on prepared sheet (or longer if you want smaller cookies).  Round top slightly.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cracked on top and slightly firm.  It shouldn’t be cooked completely, so the center should seem a tad underdone.

Remove to cooling rack and cool for at least 10 minutes.  Slice into into 1/2 inch slices and gently slide onto cookie sheet, cut side down.  They will be a bit crumbly, so use a spatula to gently flip them on the sheet.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until crisp and brown.  Cool completely before serving.

Enjoy with or give to someone you love!

How To Make Just 6 Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free)

6 Chocolate Chip Cookies... the whole batch.

When I first moved to NYC, I lived in Manhattan with three guys I graduated college with.  After that apartment, my boyfriend of the time lived with two other dudes down in Brooklyn, and I’d stay with them often.  For a while after that the boyfriend and I lived in Queens, and his brother crashed with us for a few months.  When I wasn’t home during those raucus years of my twenties, I’d be going from show to show with casts full of eager eaters.

The point of that little history: I always had someone around to eat the batches of sweets I whipped up.

But now I’m a single gal, and my roommate doesn’t contribute enough by far in helping me rid the apartment of all things that come out of my kitchen.  I pawn sweets off on my upstairs neighbors after walking our dogs, while we have a glass of wine or talk food (love the chefs in my building).  But what I don’t give away, I eat.  Which means no matter how few I eat, I still eat too many.  For someone who’s 5 foot 2 and has hypoglycemia and gains weight easily.

Sometimes you don’t need three dozen cookies staring at you while typing an article about Third Wave Feminism (after having come out of the kitchen barefoot and covered in flour)  or while watching Bored to Death or The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (which you should be watching if you’re not…).  You just need a few.

So here’s how to do just that.  How to make just 6 gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.  That are rich, and sweet, with just enough chocolate and a boost of flax (both for fiber and to bind the cookies together since we’re not using eggs), and a bit of extra protein from some nuts (optional, of course).

When you don’t want a whole batch but are craving something sweet…

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dark or blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, oatmeal etc.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine flour, flax, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth – about 2 minutes.

Add molasses and beat to combine.

Add the flour mixture in a beat on low until together.  Continue to beat on high for about 2 minutes.

Add the chocolate chips and nuts and beat in to combine.

Use your hands to proportion 6 cookies, and place evenly on cookie sheets, flattening slightly.

Bake for 18 minutes, cool slightly before serving.

Notes: make sure you beat this batter well so that the butter softens completely and the sugars dissolve in, otherwise your cookies will flatten horribly.  I used organic white sugar, which melts better than palm or sucanat in this recipe.

Delectable Trail Mix Cookies for Breast Cancer (gluten-free!)

That gorgeous lady on the left is Barbara Jo Kirshbaum.

I met Barbara Jo years ago while walking one of my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cures, 60 mile walks that take place around the country raising money and awareness for the battle against breast cancer.

Barbara Jo is a marvel.  She started walking in 1998, and since then has raised OVER A MILLION DOLLARS For the Avon and Komen organizations.  As Team California, Barbara Jo and her late husband, Dr. Bob, could be seen at several events yearly.  Their bright pink signs toting slogans such as “You’re Beautiful” and “Just Keep Walking” dotted the miles.  Dr. Bob would be standing on street corners next to their rented car throughout the entire weekend, smiling, clapping and giving hugs as needed.  Barbara Jo would be walking away, a cape of ribbons imprinted with the names of those she was walking for on her back. I’ve seen her over the years in many walks, and she’s been such an inspiration and source of support as I’ve dealt with my on and off health and my changing ability to complete my goal of walking every city the Komen organization organizes.

Here are her stats by the end of her 2010 walking season:

  • Raised $126,247 for 2010
  • Total since 1998:  $1,259,017
  • Completed 119 long distance walks in the fight against breast cancer
  • Completed 5869 official miles
  • Walked 11,738,000 steps
  • Walked a total of 300 days (about 3000 hours)

On my Twin Cities walk this year, I found out that Dr. Bob passed away last year.  My heart broke a little bit when I heard the news, as I’d been walking for miles in excitement to see him and Barbara Jo, their coming foretold by those Team California signs.  The Komen and Avon walkers lost a foot soldier in our fight to make sure that breast cancer is no longer a life threatening illness, and I thank Dr. Bob and Barbara Jo with all my heart for their work over the years, and for Barbara Jo continuing to walk after Bob’s passing.  I did a little tribute to Bob in my Frosting for the Cause post, and was grateful for a way to mark his passing in words and by making something sweet for others.

I ate too many of these today...

This weekend the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer comes to NYC, as does Barbara Jo, now with her son-in-law Chris putting up those bright pink signs.  I’m excited to be out there first thing tomorrow morning, about 40 blocks from my apartment, cheering along the walkers on the first few miles of their journey.  Later in the day my sister and I will join them with more cheering and homemade trail mix cookies – part of my promise in making a cookie for every $10 donated to my own walk this year (this will bring my total to about 140 out of 400… still a long way to go!).

So these cookies are what I made for the walkers: a not-too-sweet trail mix cookie that’s gluten and dairy free, and packed with extra fiber and protein.  Such cookies are endlessly versatile – alter the amount of chocolate, nuts and fruit as you see fit, or the kind of additions you want to begin with.  The base cookie is soft and sweet, undetectably gluten-free, and ready for a bit of dusty fun.

Thank you so much to all the women and men walking, crewing and staffing the Avon walk this weekend.  These events are incredibly eye-opening for those who see thousands walking in pink, exhausting themselves and committing to raise a large amount of money for a necessary cause.

Can’t wait to get out there and tell you how truly amazing you are.

Gluten and dairy free Trail Mix cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 almond meal / flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds meal
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter flavored Earth Balance
  • 1 cup beet sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats (totally worth the $).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl) beat Earth Balance on high heat until fluffy.
  • Add beet sugar and cream until the mixture lifts and gets pale.
  • Add eggs and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes (beating the eggs gives a little lift and body to the coming flours).
  • Add vanilla and mix in.
  • Add all the flour, turn speed down to low, and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips, raisins and nuts.
  • Fold in the oats a cup at a time until distributed evenly.
  • Drop in rounded tablespoons onto mats.
  • Put in upper and lower third of oven and bake for 9 minutes.
  • Rotate the trays (switch upper and lower) to ensure even baking and bake for 9-11 more minutes, or until lightly browned at edges.
  • Cool a few minutes on trays before removing to cooling rack.

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cornmeal Cookies

Almond Butter Cornmeal Cookies

You know, I feel very fortunate to be able to say that life is quite rad.  And so are these cookies.  Yes, rad.  I think it’s time for that word to come back in rotation.  Spread it around.  After baking these cookies.

Yesterday I made a batch of My Morning Jolt Cookies (peanut butter, coffee, oatmeal, chocolate chips… they’re gangbusters) to take along to my friend’s company where I was interviewing some filmmakers for a project I’m working on.  It’s exciting and exhausting; assessing working potential, trying to find the chemistry needed for a creative partnership of this kind.  Makes me both grateful to not be on the other side of the casting table (though auditions are a totally different beast) while finally understanding the “please let the next person who walks in the door be the ONE” thing.

I also had a delightful phone appointment with my doctor (hi, Dominiques!) who once again reminded me how rad he is (see, the more I use it the greater the chances are you’ll accidentally start using it yourself and it will take over your social jargon).  I had been nervous to catch up with him since I haven’t been quite as good with my body lately as I should be.  We had started working together during my last serious bout of illness, and it took a long time for me to get on my feet again.  So it was incredibly reassuring to hear him say that, despite said slipping habits, my current health is a testament to all the time and energy we put in for those many months and years, and I deserved a little break from the hardcore discipline to deal with some stuff.  Rad.

I topped off the evening by listening to some delightful bluegrass down in the village (The Six Deadly Venoms, check them out) with the company of someone who… well let’s just say I really enjoyed myself.  And though my late night led to starting late this morning, I’m pretty cool with life right now.

Which, for some horrific reason, inspired Billy Joel to start singing in my head.  I must go turn on some Frenchie jazz music asap and get to work a nap.  So before I go, here’s my new favorite cookie recipe.

Soft and crumbly, perfect with milk!

A few days ago I bought a big, beautiful bag of cornmeal to make a pie crust for an event this weekend, only to open my pantry and see a big, beautiful bag of cornmeal making eyes at me forlornly.  As as I seldom use this kind of flour, I figured there was no time like the present to get started.

After yesterday’s success with the peanut butter I figured I’d move it a step to the left and use some of my favorite Trader Joe’s almond butter along with the cornmeal and other gluten-free flours I’d be blending.  The combo produced a soft, perfectly sweet (mildly), simple cookie with a delicious crumble.  They’re gluten-free, contain no refined sugar, and have some extra protein and fiber thanks to the almonds and the flours.

Start to finish it took me about 35 minutes to make 36 of these little babies.  Though making one HUGE cookie sounds really fun right now too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal / flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp xathan gum
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 slivered almonds

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flours cornmeal, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.  Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and almond butter on high until smooth and incredibly fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  It should look incredibly light – like a dark whipped cream.
  • Add the maple syrup and continue to beat until the mixture expands a bit and, again, looks incredibly light and fluffy (there’s really no better way to describe than light and fluffy, evidently, this morning).
  • Stop the mixer, scrape down, and pour in the flour mixture.  Beat on low until it start to incorporate, then at medium speed until completely combined.
  • Fold in slivered almonds.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared sheets.
  • Baking two at at time, bake for 8 minutes.  Then use spatula to press down on cookies (if desired, this will make them a bit crispier) and rotate the sheets (flip them top and bottom on racks and then turn them around so the cookies bake evenly).
  • Bake for 8 more minutes, or until slightly browned.
  • Cool on sheets for a few minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Pressed version of the cookies

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