So, these are officially my favorite cookies, in the world, made by one of my favorite people! My dear friend Cathy (aka: mrs cathy), without whom I wouldn’t have my sweet kitteh Callie, made these awesome cookies gluten free for a brunch celebrating Callie’s 5th year living with me. These cookies are melt in your mouth great, beautifully crisp and have a gorgeous depth of flavor from the combination of brown sugars and a lovely warm bite of spice. I asked Cathy to share the recipe here and a little of the cookie’s background. Here’s Cathy…
More than a sweet treat for me, these are the cookies of my people. Everyone in my family adores them. I’ve tinkered with the basic recipe for years, so when my sister went gluten-free I couldn’t wait to bake her a batch, thanks to Cup 4 Cup flour and the encouragement of my favorite GF blogger. They were terrific, with a melt-in-your-mouth quality that demands you eat another. I brought some to Lisa of KMGFB, who agreed and invited me to share them with you.
The original recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s marvelous Baking: From My Home to Yours. My friend Dorie does a typically brilliant thing: to the warm spices she adds heat, in the form of ground black pepper. I thought the gentle burn and fruity depth of Aleppo pepper would be even better, and it was. (Few things aren’t improved by a shot of Aleppo pepper.)
I made them with molasses until dear friends in Kentucky introduced me to sorghum. The flavor is a bit lighter than molasses, complex and honeyed, and it plays nicely with the brown sugar and spices. I was thrilled to discover a local source: Wood Homestead Maple Farm in upstate New York sells their excellent Blenheim Hill sorghum at several NYC farmers’ markets.
Any honest brown sugar will work, such as a mix of sucanat and dark brown. But nothing compares to the rich, earthy granulated piloncillo from Rancho Gordo, produced by a small cooperative in Mexico. To echo its caramel flavor, I roll the balls of dough in turbinado sugar; the crystals also give the cookies sparkle and crunch.
One more Kentucky-inspired tweak: Cebah, the late, beloved mama of my clan and a legendary country cook, made her cookies almost the same way Dorie does. But instead of creaming the butter, she melted it. No mixer required!
Future plans for playing around include chopped candied and/or fresh grated ginger. Maybe a half-cloak of melted bittersweet chocolate? I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as my family and friends do, and that you’re inspired to ring some changes of your own.
Sorghum Spice Cookies (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking – if you don’t have this book, you need it)
2 1/3 cups (11 oz) Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or pepper of your choice, to taste)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar (or a mix of light and dark)
1/2 cup sorghum syrup (or molasses)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup turbinado (or plain white) sugar for rolling
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. Melt butter. (I do this in the microwave, in a mixing bowl.) Let cool. Blend in brown sugar and sorghum syrup, stirring until melted butter is fully incorporated.
Stir in the egg.
Mix in dry ingredients thoroughly. The dough will be soft.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350º and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick liners. Pour ½ cup turbinado sugar into a small bowl.
Scoop up about 1 T of dough – I use a medium cookie scoop – and roll into a smooth ball. Drop the ball into the turbinado, rolling around to coat. Place on cookie sheet. Continue, placing the balls 2 inches apart. With the bottom of a glass, flatten each ball to about ½” thick.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the tops feel set to the touch.
Transfer cookies to a rack and cool completely. They keep well and freeze beautifully. Yield: about 50 2 ½” cookies
Brilliant! I think I even have some RG piloncillo in the pantry! Kisses to mrs. cathy, Callie and of course the GFB!
As Cebah’s daughter and Cathy’s “sister”, I can tell you this much….Ms. Loup’s cookies are so dang good the whole clan fights over them like the Hatfield & McCoys.
Your web site is fantastic! My daughter and brother are Celiacs, and my husband and I are now GF as well. I am delighted to find so many versatile ways to use the Cup 4 Cup flour, which I have, but haven’t explored all of its possibilities. I am a chef, but not a baker. This has made me more courageous with a whisk and my mixer! Thank you! One question: what function does the vinegar provide in many of the recipes? Thanks so much for a great web site!
Hi Carol! Welcome and thanks so much for your kind words! I really enjoy using Cup4Cup because of it’s versatility and ease of substitution in some of my old standby recipes. For those who are corn or dairy free, I find Deya’s gluten free flour blend also works wonderfully. Never be afraid to experiment!
As for your vinegar question: The acid in vinegar has a strengthening effect on the dough, which helps the dough to rise better and hold together. It also acts as a dough conditioner, which improves the final texture of the baked item. In gluten free baking, cider vinegar is often called for because it seems to do an even better job than white vinegar (different enzymes?) and the taste tends to be more pleasant. I need to double check, but i think, in yeast doughs, the cider vinegar also helps to activate the yeast. A neat side benefit of using vinegar (acetic acid) in home gluten free baking is that it also acts as a natural preservative very similar to the way ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is used in commercial gluten free baking.
Please keep reading and commenting! Thanks!
Thanks for your prompt reply, Lisa. My angel food cake just bombed. I was so disappointed, because it looked perfect when I put it in the oven, but after 30 minutes or so, it started to sink a bit. Then after 45 minutes, I took it out and when I inverted it, it fell right out of the pan onto my counter! So now it is in the trash! So wasteful… I suspect my oven was a tad too hot and it looked done before it actually was. As a cook and not a baker, it is always a leap of faith when I put something in the oven. I never quite know what to do to correct things like you can so easily do when cooking. What do you think I did wrong? Do you also suspect the oven might have been too hot? I know the pan was clean and grease free, so that is my only hunch. I certainly would appreciate your expertise! Thanks
it’s possible that the oven was too hot and the cake was not baked long enough. also, when you whip your egg whites, the bowl and beaters must be totally grease free. your egg whites might not have been whipped enough or as is my problem, i tend to overbeat them. with wheat flour overbeating tends not to wreck the cake, but in gluten free the eggwhites are all the structure. gf angelfood cake will always sink a little. lately, i don’t bother to invert and leave it until it’s totally cool before removing it from the pan. it seems to help it hold its shape. did you use cream of tartar? was it fresh? it’s hard to tell without seeing the cake but those are some of the problems. i will say that angel food is an ambitious gluten free baking project. my gut says your oven was likely too hot, though. what was the recipe that you used?
don’t be afraid or discouraged, i still have the occasional cake fail after 40 years of baking, 5 of them gluten free.
Well, the cream of tartar was new, so that wasn’t it! 🙂 And I think the bowl and beaters were OK. Nice to know that the cakes will always sink a bit. I used the recipe on your site, the one adapted from King Arthur flour using Cup 4 Cup. Seriously, it looked amazing when it went into the oven. Piled right up to almost the rim of the pan. I am going to give it another try this week because I am a glutton for punishment, and I think I will turn the oven down a bit. I have a Wolf oven, and it works great for roasting and pizzas, but those take lots of heat. Maybe the temperature listed was just a bit too much with my oven so I am going to try and adjust. i so appreciate your kind responses. Thanks again.
Carol, I have a crappy GE Profile that has trouble getting to 350. LOL! Superfine sugar helps to not weigh down the egg whites and I’ve had good success with dried eggwhites. With angel food, it’s hard to figure out why it sometimes doesn’t work, which is why i love pound cake. Those are super forgiving. Please let me know how it goes the next time.