Monday, December 24, 2007

Snowy Cookies - Gluten Free

Mexican wedding cookies are one of my favorites. I remember them as a traditional Christmas cookie while growing up. There are many variations on the recipe as well as the name. I've also seen them called Russian tea cakes or snowballs.
It's been almost a year since we discovered the baby is allergic to wheat. Since she is nursing, I have given up everything made with wheat - bread, pasta, crackers, pizza, Chinese take-out, almost anything processed or packaged, and cookies. There are several good cookbooks for making these things gluten free. We probably don't need to go totally gluten free, but it's easier to find gluten free recipes. If it's gluten free then it's also wheat free. I've tried making bread, but not been successful. I tried making pizza. It wasn't great, but it was okay. I haven't been motivated to make pies, but I do make a good apple crisp. Macaroni and cheese with rice noodles is good enough. I've made chocolate chip cookies twice and they were good. Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of traditional baked treats that I was just planning to pass on. But there are a few good gluten free blogs that I enjoy reading: Gluten Free [Cooking School], Gluten Free Mommy, and Karina's Kitchen. They make it sound easy enough to experiment with adapting a favorite wheat filled recipe to one that is gluten free. So, I decided to give it a try. If it didn't work out, there are other uses for the less than desirable cookies. They could be used to make graham cracker pie crusts or in the crumb topping for the apple crisp. Well, these cookies are as good as the original. They do leave a bit of an aftertaste, but that's easily cured with a good milk chaser, or something more interesting if you're not nursing a baby. :)
There are probably other flour substitutions that would work just as well, but here's the recipe that I used:

1 pound butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but I like it)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
2/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup soy flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
8 ounces walnuts (or almonds or pecans), ground fine in a food processor
Extra powdered sugar for rolling cookies in (1-2 cups)

In a large bowl, cream butter and extracts. In another bowl, mix powdered sugar, flours, and xanthan gum. Gradually mix into creamed mixture. I use a hand mixer and it was easier to mix by hand after a while. Stir in the nuts. Cover and refrigerate until workable with your hands. Roll into balls about 3/4 inch. These cookies are plenty crumbly when made with wheat, so err on the small side. Arrange on cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake on top oven rack for 11 minutes. Let cool 3-5 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and roll in powdered sugar while still warm. I didn't count, but it probably made 8-10 dozen cookies.

I have zero will power when it comes to cookies, so I store them in the freezer and warm up a couple when I want them. That keeps me from eating one every time I go in the kitchen.


Mary Frances said...

Congratulations on a successful experiment! The cookies look great. I'm going to bookmark them to so that I can try them sometime.

By the way, I think garbazno flour has a horrible aftertaste, so that may be the offending flour =)

Candi said...

Russian Tea Cakes AKA Mexican Wedding Cakes are one of our favorites of the holidays. My granddaughter made them for the first time this year and it was great! I'm in awe of all the work you do to remain Glutton free

Candi said...

Can't spell today either! lol