Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gluten, Dairy and Soy Free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

The word, cookie, is an Anglicized version of the Dutch, "koeje," meaning "little cake."  The first cookies were actually oven-testers -- a bit of cake batter was put in the oven and baked to make sure the fire was at the correct temperature.  I imagine this was a treat for the baker -- or any children hanging about -- if they had the fire just right.  Otherwise, what a disappointment!

Christmas sugar cookie dairy gluten soy free
In modern times, we don't have to bake a single test cake and then race to the oven to claim the goodie.  In our house, it's not uncommon to make several dozen cookies at a time.   While everyone has his or her favorites, it's rare for anyone turn down any cookie.   I suppose there must be people out there who don't like cookies, but around here -- Cookie Monster would get a run for his money!

The one cookie I've never really cared for are sugar cookies.  I prefer the more piquant flavor of molasses-style cookies, like Speculaas or Marranitos, or the contrast of molasses and milk chocolate in chocolate chip cookies.  To me, sugar cookies are usually too bland; even frosted, they have a one-dimensional "we're loaded with sugar" flavor.  While we were doing our holiday baking, Jude wanted to make cut-out cookies.  I didn't have the ingredients on hand to make gingerbreads, so I pulled out my sugar cookie recipe and sat down to re-work it.  Since I already had to convert it from "regular" to allergy-friendly, I figured it was worth trying to tinker with the flavor, too.

Most cookies call for a teaspoon or so of vanilla, and that just wasn't working.  But if you just increase the vanilla, that can make your dough too wet.   I wondered --  what would happen if I swapped out some of the liquid that the recipe called for with vanilla?  I tripled the vanilla to a full tablespoon, and what a difference!  These have a bright vanilla flavor that makes the cookie stand out, and it was enough moisture that the cookies were easily rolled out.  Rather than tasting like a slab of sugar, the floral notes of the vanilla really shine and give it a slightly exotic flavor, and the cookie holds up to adding even more sweetness (either sanding sugar or even frosting) without becoming insipid.

vanilla  Kerstmis koetje

I've used shortening, but not just because it's dairy free.  Shortening has no water content (unlike butter) and produces a softer, more cake-like cookie.  Shortening is also neutral in flavor, so you don't have butter competing with the vanilla for prominence.

Gluten Dairy Soy Free Sugar Koetje from Adventures with Jude

Vanilla Sugar Koetjes

makes approximately 24 cookies, depending on size of cutter

1/2 c. shortening (Spectrum)
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg 
1 Tbsp. vanilla 
2 c gluten free flour  mix (King Arthur)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
2 tbsp milk or water (if needed) 

Cream the sugar and shortening until they are fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until fully incorporated.

 In separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. 

Carefully add the flour mix to sugar mix on low speed.  (You can also mix it by hand.)  If the dough is too dry and not coming together, add milk (cow's milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc.)  or water a teaspoon or so at a time. 

Roll dough out to about 1/4" thick.  I like rolling gluten-free dough between pieces of parchment paper - I find it keeps me from having to add a lot of flour to the dough.  Cut into squares with a pizza cutter, or into shapes with cookie cutters. 

Decorate with sanding sugar or jimmies (sprinkles) if desired.  (If you want to frost them, leave them plain.) 

Bake @ 375° for 6-8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool 2-3 minutes on the cookie sheet, then cool rest of the way on a rack.

 Frost if desired.   Or just devour.  

blogging through the alphabet sm.

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  1. Meg, I'm not a fan of sugar cookies either. I usually add a bit of lemon or orange flavoring along with the vanilla to give it better flavor! I love this allergy free recipe! I shared it with my neighbor, whose daughter has to avoid wheat, dairy and soy. Thanks!

  2. Do you have an egg replacement suggestions? Since it's just one egg, I think it would be fairly forgiving, and I'm leaning towards just using EnerG. I'm afraid a flax seed egg would mess up the flavor.

  3. Meg @ Adventures with JudeDecember 18, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    I think I'd try applesauce, since that's pretty bland. I usually sub 2 Tbsp per egg, but I'd start with 1Tbsp and see how wet the dough is. OR skip it altogether and use 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (like So Delicious - not from a can, because then you'd have a coconut cookie) since that's pretty viscous.

  4. Meg @ Adventures with JudeDecember 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    You're welcome! Warning -- they disappear fast! (It's a good thing I took my photos before anybody came home from school/work!)

  5. These sound yummy! And I love the history lesson on cookies, my kids will enjoy hearing that when i tell them tomorrow too . . . :)

  6. We are making sugar cookies with friends again this year, but I have to make them gluten free. I'm going to give these a try. Thank you!


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