After I finished up these cookies the other night, I wasn’t completely satisfied. For just an instance, I slipped into feeling sorry for myself. Wanting them to be exactly like their gluten-filled counterpart.
You see, Sunday I spent the entire day baking with gluten.
Crazy, I know.
But my mother-in-law needed the hands of many to make light work of her baking this year, so I was first in line to be one of her elves.
That’s what you do for family.
And even though I couldn’t eat one of those cookies, or lick the spoon after the mixing was done, that didn’t matter. It was about time spent with family. Letting my mother-in-law sit for a moment and just relax — sharing stories of baking over the years. Having her there to show the techniques, give the baking tips, and remind us to double the batches. THAT is what this time of year is about.
(and celebrating with sprinkles — two three year olds’ dream come true — to them, they were perfect, just like these thumbprints are)
It’s not about having perfect cookies. Or the lighting you want for photos. It’s about being with family and cherishing every single moment.
And after the horrific event in Connecticut last week, it was just what I needed. Many tears were shed over the weekend and early this week. I’m still left feeling helpless, angry, confused, and full of the kind of sadness that physically hurts.
It feels funny sharing recipes to celebrate this holiday season, when the families of those sweet angels and brave educators are making funeral arrangements. I still have no words.
But for many of us, cooking and baking brings us comfort. When days are rough, and I feel helpless or lost, I head to the kitchen and find peace in putting my hands to work — sharing with you here brings us together, something we could use plenty more of in this world.
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups GF flour blend (plus ½ teaspoon xanthan or guar gum if making your own blend)
½ teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract to make them nut-free)
½ cup jam of your choice
½ cup white baking chips
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar, but not for too long, just until well combined. Add almond extract and give it another whirl in the mixer. Slowly add flour mix until everything is combined, then chill in the fridge for up to an hour. (or longer if you’d like)
Roll into small balls and press a “print” into each ball using a small measuring spoon. (the ¼ teaspoon or the ½ teaspoon work well.)
Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are set, then remove from oven, re-print each one using the same little spoon, and fill each small indent with the jam. To make things easy, you can scoop the jam into a small baggie, cut off the tip of one corner, and fill.
Return to the oven for 4-6 minutes, until edges just start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then move to wire rack to cool. While they are cooling, melt chocolate pieces in double boiler or microwave.
Spoon melted chocolate into small baggie and again cut the tip off the corner. Drizzle each cookie with white chocolate and allow them to cool completely.
*Sarah’s Notes: there have been times over the years when these cookies ended up spreading out in the oven… be sure to check that your oven is running at the correct temperature, when that has happened to me, it was about 25-50 degrees too hot, which can make a huge difference. Oven thermometers are inexpensive and you can pick them up at most stores — adjust your oven up or down to make sure it’s running in tip top cookie shape. It also helps to chill the dough, and sometimes I even chill the pans. They can be delicate little buggers, but these cookies are worth it and requested every single year at our gluten-free cookie exchange!
Also: gluten-free flours don’t always soak up the fats in recipes the way their gluten counterparts might, so if your cookies are spreading out, you can also add up to 1/4 cup additional flour to the recipe to help prevent that from happening.
Share them with your family.
So it didn’t matter that these cookies weren’t exactly like the family recipe version that my husband has put at the top of his list for years. And it’s Wisconsin, there won’t be the light I’m looking for on a dark, Monday night.
But I’m here. And light creeps into this darkness in little ways — reminding me that sometimes you have to seek out the good. It’s there.
What’s your favorite holiday cookie? Stop back soon for the peanut butter reindeer recipe I’m in the kitchen with tonight.