Monday, December 1, 2008

Cherry Peppermint Cookies & The Holiday Cookie Exchange

Holy Holiday Cookies, Batman! 

Despite my Thanksgiving cooking exhaustion, I promised myself I would make cookies for and attend the NEOCSG Holiday Cookie Exchange. Maybe holiday cookies are a no brainer for some of you, but let me let you in on a little secret, us Jewish people don't really know from Christmas cookies. While we may enjoy an occasional sparkly red and green sugared treat, a iced gingerbread man, or a peppermint striped cane, they're not our forte. Ask me for a latke and I've got you covered, but a seasonal cookie? Well. That took a lot of reading and a little invention. 

I spent most of Saturday researching, shopping for, and baking my holiday treat. I flipped through my Bon Appetite, I combed the Internet, looking for a good representation of a Christmas cookie, and I even learned the history of the maraschino cherry in a quest to discover it if those sugary holiday staples were gluten free. (Did you know that a new process for preserving maraschino cherries came about during prohibition? As cherry liquor was outlawed, like alcohols of the time, new preservatives had to be devised to continue the production of these sweet treats.) 

I eventually settled upon a variation of cherry tassies - making small adaptations to the recipe in December's Better Homes and Gardens. Tassies are meant to be baked in mini muffin tins and are generally made with cream cheese, but why bake a conventional cookie when you can experiment, right?  

In any event, I arrived at the Independence Public Library, Tupperware of cherry-peppermint cookies in hand, and was totally and completely amazed at the ten-foot long table covered in gluten free baked goods. Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, meringues, cupcakes, and even a version of my Cream Cheese Thumbprints! (Which, by the way, were given an updated spin by a lovely lady named Michelle who gave them a new, delicious update and seasonal color by using raspberry - or strawberry? - jam. Yum!) 

Cookies aside, I gleaned tons of valuable information from the meeting. From a through report on November's Celiac Conference at the Columbus Children's Hospital (did you know, for example, that an injection and pill are in the works for us celiacs in case of accidental gluten ingestion?), to an awesome resource list for online ordering (Joan's GF bagels rank among my next I-must-try-this gluten free foods), the ladies of the NEOCSG really know how to pack a lot of information into one hour meeting. 

Among the most interesting of information passed along though was the formation of a Northeast Ohio Gluten Free Co-Op. That is, buying gluten free foods at whole sale in bulk style. And we're not just talking crackers and flours here, the catalogue passed out to us included Gluten Free Ravioli and the like. You will absolutely see more information on how to join the Co-Op soon, but if you want direct information immediately, please email me at dana (dot) wax (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will do my best to connect you up with Serena, the Co-Op Lady. 

Alright now, I know you're thinking what I was thinking by the end of the meeting, let's get to the cookies, already! A word about my Cherry-Peppermint creations though, I was trying to keep them lactose and nut free in case of any other food allergies at the Exchange. However, I think a tablespoon or two of Cream Cheese might make these guys stick together a little better. Additionally, substituting a third of the flour with almond meal or ground hazelnuts could be a delicious variation. So experiment and enjoy - welcome to the beginning of the Holiday Food Season!

Cherry-Peppermint Holiday Cookies
lactose and nut free, minor adaptations Cherry Tassies in December's Better Homes & Gardens

1 ¼ cup Earth Balance (or butter), softened
2 ¼ cup Powered Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder 
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Peppermint Extract 
1 tsp. Vanilla 
1 Egg
2 ½ cups GF Flour Mix (I use whole foods brand so it has xanthum gum in it. If you're using your own mix, be sure to add 1/2 teaspoon of xanthum gum so your cookies don't fall apart!) 
4 GF Candy Canes crushed (I used Pure Fun Organic Candy Canes)
Approximately 48 GF Maraschino Cherries (I used Silver Palate - no artificial flavors or dyes, in addition to being gluten free!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Gradually beat in 1 ½ cups of the powdered sugar, the baking powder, and the salt. Then beat in the peppermint, vanilla, and the egg. Add as much of the flour as you can using the electric mixer, and add remaining flour, stirring by hand. Gently mix in the crushed candy canes.

Place the rest of the powdered sugar in bowl (about ¾ cups, though you won’t need that much and can use less to start with). Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll through the powdered sugar. Place the ball on a greased non-stick cookie sheet and place cherry in the center. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Let cool at least 5 minutes on the tray before removing them. Makes between 42 and 48 cookies, depending on size.  


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

DELISH cookies!!

Sophie said...

What a fun event! I wish we had one of those cookie exchanges here, I would love to try these gluten-free cookies :). I like you addition of the peppermint, these look very festive indeed :). Thanks for adding me to your blogroll!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice review of the NEOCSG Cookie exchange. The Cherry Peppermint cookies were good! The peppermint was not over powering.

OhioMom said...

This cookie looks yummy! A cookie exchange sounds like fun :)

Lynn Barry said...


Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

Wow!! I so wish I lived in Ohio :) The cookies look amazing!!

Anonymous said...

Your peppermint cookies look so light and delicate, which is NOT easy to do when you're messing with gluten-free flours. Good job! Plus, they're so "holiday-ish" with the colors, tastes, and smells. I'm imagining the tastes and smells. Yummmm!
Happy GF Holidays!

Anonymous said...

This is amazing. I wanna taste soon.

Inversiones en petroleo said...

It's like going into a Cold Stone or Krispy Kreme only to find "low fat" or maybe even "healthy" options on the menu

Imogen said...

Wow, there is a great deal of useful information in this post!

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