gluten smuten


I’ve never been one for health food crazes. I’ve never ‘been on a diet’, I just try to avoid drive-thrus and eat my broccoli. A coworker of mine mentioned his family was trying to go gluten-free. I didn’t know what that meant, and while the all-knowing  google has shed light on what gluten is, I still am not totally clear on why people avoid gluten unless they allergic to it—besides the fact that avoiding gluten means avoiding lots of carbs but let’s call a spade an Atkin’s diet spade. So of course that very same day I am perusing pinterest when I see these cookies and am stunned by their shiny, scrackly, chocolate goodness. I went to repin it for myself and realized underneath the picture and see it says “gluten free” and I thought “who wants their cookies to be—” ohhhhh. So I made these. For my coworker and his health kick. For myself and my sweet tooth. For the gluten sensitive. And for all those people out there who broke up with gluten because “it’s not you, it’s me”.

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1 biscotti 2 biscotti

I love biscotti. There is something so unique about the idea. Is it a cookie? Is it really socially acceptable to eat these before 9am? Thank heavens the answer is yes. Not too sweet and iconically shaped, biscotti are ridiculous dipped in a cup of coffee and the variations are endless. I debated about dipping them in chocolate (okay, so the debate was very very short) and decided that as long as I was bringing them to church bright and early and sat them next to the eggs and sausage, I could stick them on ice cream and drizzle them with chocolate syrup and they’d count as breakfast. But seriously, they aren’t too sweet and the chocolate adds a touch of glamour and melts perfectly with a hot drink on a cold day. I did this recipe two ways—white chocolate cranberry pistachio and dark chocolate cherry almond. They are from the same basic recipe which allows the imagination to take over for future delectable combinations. Both turned out crisp but not too crumbly, perfect in my book (I got a lot of “did you really MAKE these??”). And it was a fun experience learning how to get that biscotti shape and crunch (warning: you do have to bake them several times so be patient, it’s not that bad).

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’tis tea time

A cookie by any other name would taste as sweet—or something like that, right? These cookies have so many names and boy did I hear them all when I had them at work and then requested the recipe, made them myself, and dragged them 5 hours and through 1 time zone for a very merry family Christmas celebration. Tea time or wedding time, whatever you choose, these cookies are good. I’ve seen a similar variation in a cashew nouget, which I hope to try very soon. This is a favorite cookie of mine, crumbly and nutty and delicious. Messy in the way only a cookie covered in powdered sugar can be. But don’t worry, the cookies themselves aren’t very sweet so the flavor comes together in a wonderful balance. Possibly a new addition to your Christmas cookie list? Thanks to Peggy for the recipe.

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a family tradition

Tradition! (>insert song from Fiddler on the Roof<)  I never really grew up with a lot of deep running family tradition and never thought much about it. We have Grandma’s Orange Stuff at holiday gatherings and Dad had that hideous Santa hat he wore while doling out gifts on Christmas morning (or actually at 11am after cleaning the house, eating breakfast and waiting for everyone else to do the same—-which was excruciating through my younger years, lol). All these were things we had invented over the years but none were by any means deeply rooted. Since marrying my husband, it’s been a lot of fun learning all about his family’s German roots–when his Oma was young her German family helped Jews in the underground railroad. There are traditions like hiding the pickle in the tree where whoever find’s it first on Christmas Eve gets an extra present (yes, I heard about that and had to buy a pickle ornament!) and there’s the bird ornament in the tree for good luck. And every year my husband is most excited to make his very favorite—potato cookies. Something his Grandma makes every year, it’s a combination of nostalgia and just plain good cookie that keep us cranking out dozen after dozen of these babies around the holidays. They taste like sugar cookies but better somehow—the way potatoes pretty much make everything better. Don’t worry, these aren’t savory cookies—-they are anything but. They have a soft middle with crispy edges, with a crunchy sprinkling of sugar on top. This recipe makes a ton, so eat them all or share if you can bear it. And know that you are partaking in a bit of deep rooted holiday family tradition.

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the official cookie of fall

I don’t know how I haven’t made this cookie before. As soon as I saw it I knew it had everything a fall cookie should—a soft cookie texture, warm melty caramel center, and a classic fall flavor—apple cider. It tastes just like the tall Starbucks drink I get now and then when I dare stray away from dear pumpkin spice this time of year. It also reminds me of my favorite halloween candy—those green apple flavored lollipops wrapped with caramel. The dough itself has a wonderful apple scent, and the caramel center just tops it off. These are best served fresh from the oven, or throw in the microwave for 15 seconds to warm the middle. The blogger I got this recipe from has the best suggestion of all—-place the cookie atop a fresh cup of coffee or tea to allow to warm and enjoy!

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melt in your mouth good

These may very well be my favorite cookies. Of course a plate of melty, under-cooked chocolate chip cookies won’t be turned away (ever) but there is something uniquely wonderful about these little bites of heaven. They are the first cookie dough log cookies I ever made and I love the process, it’s fun and cute and makes me feel like I’m really putting care into the cookies rather than the typical scoop and drop style. The texture is a velvety, crumbly, crunchy mess covered in powdered sugar. It sounds sweet but its just enough sugar to compliment the naturally tart lime, which is the key of course (use key limes if you’ve got them!). The lovely thing is that these cookies are refreshing, which makes downing 2 or 3 or 7 effortless. Which is okay since this recipe makes a million. Make them. You won’t regret it.

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oh fudge!

(Pardon my “A Christmas Story” reference)

At 22 years of age, I am going to be completely honest with you. The last coffee-type dessert I made lead to my realization that the word is ‘eSpresso’ and not ‘eXpresso’. I still can’t believe it. And every time I say the word I bounce back and forth in my prenunciation of an ‘x’ or ‘s’ sound—not that anyone is analyzing my every word. So needless to say, all of this was on my mind when I caught sight of these cookies. But the picture alone convinced me—these cute little crinkly things are irresistible. And their texture—that classic brownie flake on the outside, and an incredibly moist, fudgy center. I think the key is that these aren’t typical chocolate cookies made with cocoa powder—they have a syrup of melted semi sweet and unsweet chocolate that, with a touch of coffee, made for a cookie much more grand and indulgent than the typical cookie. They went over great at work—lots of people claiming they were the best cookies I’ve made (granted, I am a cupcake girl myself so the competition probably wasn’t fierce). Let’s just say a glass of milk may be handy to have around—enjoy!

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gourmet, you say?

I don’t venture into the world of cookies often enough. I forget that there is an entire culinary experience there, from the rich and gooey to crisp and crunchy. Some iced, sprinkled, rolled, folded, layered, and cut out. I found these and couldn’t resist their adorable charm, a creative twist on a never old favorite. The deep cocoa flavor of the sandy cookie is an excellent contrast to the smooth flavor of the white chocolate ganache filling—a filling I plan on thickening up a bit and topping cupcakes with in the very near future. No one believed me when I said the chocolate cookie was homemade. They come out perfect, like something you pull out of a neatly packed sleeve and minutes later realize you’re not sure where that row went…The great thing about these cookies is that they echo the classic oreo flavor without challenging it. So go ahead and whip out a tall glass of milk. And dip these with your pinky up.

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Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be about underwear. Though I will mention that after doing a trial run of these cookies to make sure the cut outs didn’t overpuff, I had an apartment full of bra and panty cookies I had no idea what to do with (these aren’t work appropriate??). After briefly imagining my almost all-male coworkers with handfuls of these pink unmentionables, I ate did something more responsible and healthy with them. These aren’t really sugar cookies by any means. They have a smooth vanilla bean flavor coupled with refreshing lemon. I have mentioned before that I don’t really eat a ton of what I make since I intake enough sugar in the process of licking my fingers and inhaling over-sweetened air in the process. But these I ate. When I made them for practice. And again at the lingerie shower. And the next morning after the shower (breakfast!). Don’t judge. They are great for cutouts of any kind–they puff up a little as they bake but settle back down when removed from the oven and cooled. A little piping work and you’ve got yourself a specialty cookie you’d have previously had to order until you uncovered your exceptionally mad cookie skills. Good luck!

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an elephant never forgets

My husband and I spent a month in Mozambique, Africa on a mission trip. We visited the poorest of villages as well as more “Americanized” cities. In the more developed areas, the big thing was internet cafes. And if you were up for a snack, these beautiful little treats were everywhere–elephant ears. They are delicious, flaky pastry cookies (also known as French palmiers) that in my opinion, are best served a la Africa—with a cold bottle of ‘Fanta Ananas’ (Pineapple Fanta).  But feel free to enjoy them however you please. And you surely won’t forget these cookies, both for their perfectly sweet flavor and the incredibly basic 2 ingredient recipe.

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