The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gluten-free, vegan, cane sugar-free, nut-free, corn-free and soy-free roll-and-cut cookies!

Multiple allergy-friendly cuccidate!
O.k., I made the attempt yesterday to create traditional Italian cuccidate that my aunt and cousin (who are allergic to wheat, gluten, corn, milk/cream, egg, cane sugar and nuts) could eat.  I especially wanted the result to be tasty, and not weird-tasting or have a too-strange texture, and I think I can call the following recipe a success!  My relatives could already have the fruit filling from my regular cuccidate recipe: dried fruit, orange zest, spices and a little bit of honey all ground to a paste.  All I needed was the cookie dough to roll it up in.  I found several possible recipes, but this is the one I tried, from the Jules Speaks Gluten Free Blog, because the author said it could handle being rolled and cut out like regular sugar cookie dough.  I had to adjust it because my relatives couldn't tolerate all the original ingredients, and my adjustments still need a few tweaks, I think, but the result smelled good while mixing it, rolled out fairly easily (was very crumbly when I tried to form the cookies, though), smelled good while baking it, and tasted pretty good, too! 

Allergy-friendly Cut-out Cookies (adapted)
½ cup shortening or solid fat (butter, coconut oil)
1 cup palm, date or maple sugar (or 1/3 cup to ½ cup agave or honey)
½ mashed banana (or egg substitute equal to 1 egg)
1 tsp. vanilla extract or orange or lemon zest
2 ¼ cups gluten-free flour mix (if using a mix without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp gum for every cup of flour mix), plus extra for rolling
2 ¼ tsp. gluten-free baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup non-dairy milk (as needed to make the dough moist)
Cream shortening and sugar until very fluffy.  Add banana or egg replacer and vanilla or citrus zest.  Beat banana mixture with shortening mixture until well blended.  Combine the flour with the baking powder and salt, and add to the wet ingredients a third at a time, until it is well incorporated and makes a sticky dough.  If dough is too dry, add non-dairy milk (or water) a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until dough comes together.  Form the dough into a slab, wrap in plastic or wax paper, and freeze for 15 minutes or until firm and no longer sticky. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly flour the rolling surface with gluten-free flour.  Remove the dough from the fridge or freezer and let it come back to room temperature, then roll to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not brown at the edges.  Cool.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies. 
-- adapted from Jules Speaks Gluten Free Blog 

I made a few more adaptations to the recipe when making it, due to the supplies that I had on hand.  Although my aunt and cousin can't tolerate almost all milk products, for some reason they can have butter, so I used that as the solid fat. Next time I make these (and there will definitely be a next time), I think I'll use half butter and half vegetable shortening (if I can find a corn-free, soy-free one) to help with the structure of the dough.  I didn't have a whole cup of maple sugar, so I used a mix of maple sugar, honey, and a teaspoon of stevia, and cut out all but a tablespoon of the milk/liquid.  I'll try to find more maple sugar, or palm or beet sugar for next time so there won't be so much extra liquid.  For the flour I used 1 cup of sweet rice flour and 1 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour mix.  Next time I'll try to add some xanthan gum or other binder to the flour, because this dough cracked and crumbled so much when I tried to shape it. 

I also made the mistake of putting in too much baking powder because I had to mix my own so that it would be free of cornstarch, and the recipe I had made one tablespoon of powder, so I just put it in.  There was a little bit of an aftertaste to the dough, and we thought it was from all the bean flour in the Bob's Red Mill blend, but was probably from too much baking powder ... I also used orange zest instead of vanilla in the dough to help cover up any strange flavors, and discovered that I had forgotten to bring the rice or coconut milk, so I used a tablespoon of the soaking water from the dried fruit when the dough needed a bit more liquid.

When baking this dough as a filled cookie, I baked the cookies on un-greased cookie sheets, without a parchment paper or wax paper lining, at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until browned at the edges and dry on top.  The cookies puffed a little bit, but held their shape and didn't spread while baking, and didn't crumble when I took them off the baking sheet and transferred them to cooling racks.  So, the verdict: a qualified success (I could have made them better), but tasty even to the rest of the family, and my aunt said she was in hog heaven! 

"Cuccidate for Christmas"

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)