Shortly before my diagnosis, I got really into baking. My roommate, Lisa, got the Magnolia Cupcake cookbook and we got hooked on cupcakes with vanilla butter cream frosting and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I'd even perfected the red velvet cake.
And then, boom. Celiac. My baking days were done. Well, not before trying to make disastrous chickpea flour cookies and cupcakes, all with sunken in centers and a distinct garbanzo taste. Between trying to understand the different flours and the mystery that was xanthum gum, baking proved frustrating, expensive, and not worth the energy. So, pouting, I hung up my apron and learned to focus on making food rather than dessert. Besides, there were tons of GF mixes to satisfy my sweet tooth, even if they felt like cheating. All things considered, the focus on cooking was good; I learned to be comfortable, even successful, in a gluten free kitchen. And yet...
Making a gluten free baked good is like the final frontier of gluten free living. When you explain celiac to someone, they so often reply they couldn't imagine life without bread or brownies. And that look they give you upon explaining that cookies you can eat are made with date paste or something equally ridiculous is such a mixture of sympathy and thank god it's not me! that if such a look had powers, it would melt even the strongest celiac into a pile of gluten free goo.
I find that the non-gluten freers feel more cheated by the gluten free desserts than those of us who routinely have to go without Nabisco and Sara Lee. And for this reason, being able to create a gluten free dessert that passes as simply dessert, no qualifier, has been a goal of mine.
I've been getting the itch to bake.
For the past 24 hours, I've been plotting my cookie. It would not be a simple sugar cookie or an ordinary chocolate chip creation. Like the old days of my red velvet cake, if I was going to bake, I was going to bake. I visited three grocery stores and checked tens of websites and hundreds of recipes.
The result was an amalgam of three normal (that is, non GF) recipes that ended up being so delicious my mom took a dozen over to her friend's for dinner instead of buying a store bought, glutenous, dessert.
If that's not success, I don't know what is.
Cream Cheese Shortbread Thumbprints with Blackberry Preserves
3/4 cup of softened butter (I used smart balance)
1 cup sugar
4 oz of cream cheese
the yolk of 1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 and 1/2 cup GF flour* (I like Whole Foods Brand, but use your favorite)
1/2 cup almond four*
approximately 1/4 cup of Blackberry preserves, as needed or desired
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
* I bought almond flour because a) I like the taste of almond in my baked goods and b) it adds protein. The cookies will be just as successful with 2 cups of GF flour. Additionally, if you really like almonds or have a lot of the flour on hand, you can adjust the flour mixture to 50/50 while still keeping the correct cookie consistency.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Then, mix in the cream cheese. Next, beat in the egg yolk and the vanilla. Slowly add the flour(s), one 1/2 cup at a time, stirring in between each addition.
For dough that is easier to work with, refrigerate the mixture, covered, for about 15 minutes. Chilling the dough produced prettier, rounder cookies (as I found out accidentally, as not having enough room in the oven forced me to bake in 2 rounds), butit won't have an effect on the taste. The impatient and cookie hungry among you may skip this step.
Roll the dough in to balls 1/2 an inch in diameter and place and an inch or so apart (they don't spread out too much in the baking). Using the back of a spoon, make an indentation in the cookies, then use your finger to mold the dip to your liking. Fill the indentation with desired amount of jam. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes, until the edges are a lovely golden brown.
The recipe yielded about 5 dozen cookies. Sounds like a lot, but they go quick, trust me.