Christmas in a Cookie

I am so excited today to share with you a recipe (my first one on the blog!) that I’ve spent several years working and reworking until I am quite satisfied that my gluten-free version is as close to the actual recipe that I remember from my childhood as possible.

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This particular cookie recipe is my great-grandmother’s recipe from my mother’s side. Many Christmases my grandmother would bring a plethora of these little cookies with her when she came to visit. If she wasn’t going to be visiting, she would pack them into her yearly Christmas package that she sent to us.

They have a slightly nutty¬†taste and a satisfying texture to them that I can’t quite describe; to me, they taste like Christmas!

A technical note – for those of you who have not yet switched to baking by weights, now is the time. The difference that baking by weight makes is dramatic. Learning to bake this way is what has allowed me to rework my best loved recipes from pre-diagnosis so that they are gluten free. Parts of this recipe are given in grams, so you will need a scale; I do not know what the amounts are in cups. Even though this particular recipe is not necessarily simple, in that it’s time consuming and involves a good deal of waiting, having the measurements in weights makes measuring out the flours and getting consistent results much simpler. And trust me – these cookies are worth the fuss!

One more note – in past years I have done all the mixing by hand for this recipe, and while it’s a thick and sticky dough, it’s possible. Earlier this year, however, we finally bought a stand mixer to help with bread-making, so I used that this time around and it made the whole process much quicker and easier. If you have a stand mixer, definitely pull it out for this recipe.

So without further ado, I present my great-grandmother’s recipe for peppernuts!


 

Peppernuts

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

100 grams potato starch

80 grams sweet white rice flour

200 grams brown rice flour

160 grams sorghum flour

1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup raisins, finely chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1 cup sour cream

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat until completely mixed in. In separate bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking soda and nutmeg. Turn the mixer on and add 1/3 of the flour mix. Once it is completely incorporated, add half of the sour cream and mix thoroughly. Add another 1/3 of the flour mix. When that is completely mixed in, add the other 1/2 of the sour cream and mix. Add the last 1/3 of the flour blend and mix thoroughly. On a slow speed, fold in the nuts and raisins until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter. It will be thick and very sticky.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge for about 2 hours to firm up.

Get out your waxed or parchment paper and pull out your chilled cookie dough. Using the paper, roll the dough into long skinny logs. This is definitely the trickiest part because of how sticky the dough is, which is why I chilled the dough before attempting the rolling part this year. If you need to, wet your hands; it makes the dough easier to handle. What I personally do is pull out a portion of the dough and stretch it out somewhat along the length of the paper. Then I fold the waxed paper over and more or less press and pull it into a log shape and roll the rest of the paper around it. It will not roll without the aid of the paper like play dough does, or even like gluten-containing cookie dough, but that won’t matter. Just do your best to shape it into that log shape.

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If this part of the process sounds like too much of a headache (which it was for me in past years), you can alternately preheat your oven to 375 degrees at this point, prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with silpats 0r parchment paper, and simply take your chilled dough and roll into tiny balls, place them on your cookie sheet and when your oven is ready to go, pop them in for around 10 minutes. They are done when the edges start to brown. Be sure to make your balls are tiny though – only slightly larger than a marble; these are meant to be small cookies. When you take them out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer them to a rack and cool them completely.

Assuming that you went the rolling route, put those rolls of cookies dough onto a baking sheet and set them in your freezer for at least 30 minutes (pictured above). This is to firm them up so that you can cut them. I would say it’s to make them easier to cut, but really, without this step you simply can’t cut them. Also, credit to my husband for coming up with this idea, since I just tried chilling the rolls a second time and that didn’t quite work.

Preheat your oven to 375 and prepare your baking sheets with silpats 0r parchment paper. Pull one roll of dough out of the freezer, unwrap and slice the dough into cookies. You will need a sharp knife and you will want to make them about 3/8 of an inch thick. (That sounds really precise, but check out that thickness on a ruler and then just have at it – it’s just to give you an idea.)

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Lay them out on your cookie sheets (do NOT worry if they aren’t round – they spread a little and become a pleasant little shape, even if they get quite flattened during the cutting process) and bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the pan after you take them out of the oven before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

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This recipe makes enough for you to eat some and have a few to spare to give to your neighbors. That is, if you can keep yourself from eating all of them… Enjoy!

If you have favorite recipes that you’ve revamped to make them gluten-free, I’d love to hear about them! Please feel free to link to your blog and recipe in the comment section.

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