Friday, July 22, 2011

Sometimes You Are The Stick And Sometimes You Are The Pinata, But You're Always Gluten Free.

    A few days ago @AlecBaldwin who I follow on Twitter, and who is probably one of the wittiest guys out there, sent out a Tweet that I found truly inspiring. "Sometimes You Are The Stick and Sometimes You Are The Pinata." It gave me pause. It was short and sweet and almost "Dudeist" in it's purity. Pure Alec. I had him on my radio show in Los Angeles as co-host a couple of times and he always rocked the house.
  Stick, pinata, that's it in a nutshell. And it was one of those sorts of days. I was thinking about a few friends of mine who were truly having their paper mache donkey moment. Of course we've all been there, where fate is an over-sugared 5 year old with a baseball bat and we're just twisting in the wind.
  A very good friend of mine is recovering from a pretty bad horse back riding accident. She's been flat on her back for the last couple of months and all of us have been trying to help out as best we can. But if that weren't enough a few weeks before her accident, she discovered she was gluten intolerant! So picture this. Flat on your back with a busted whatever and not even the comfort of a brownie or a cookie. Stick, meet pinata.
   Luckily a lot of the Indian recipes that I make regularly are naturally gluten free, but I really was searching for something outside my regular recipe list. I started reading up on how to make gluten free treats, cookies, cakes, shortbreads and pies. I stocked up on gluten free flour and xanthan gum, tapioca flour and almond meal.
   So there I was with all these gluten free tools and not too sure how to use them. I know I'm going to eventually master the art of Western style baking without the gluten, but I needed to be able to make something like...yesterday.  I needed to bring Terri something sweet and crunchy that would be easy to make with readily available ingredients that I didn't have to study up on. I wanted a fast train to cookie town. And boy howdey! Did I get a great answer to my gluten difficulty. Right through the email ether I got a recipe from my friend Bibi in Katmandu with the golden cookie of desire.
   A few weeks ago I happened to have made some very delicious though gluten-riddled Rose Pistachio Cookies. The next day Bibi sent me an email. It turns out her mom-in-law makes a very similar cookie to the one I wrote about. She also passed along a couple of intriguing cookie recipes, one of which was gluten free! I'm going to be making all the various cookie recipes she sent me, but the first one I decided to try was the gluten free one made with besan, or chickpea flour aka garbanzo flour. I tested it this last weekend on our guests for my Indo-French, Bastille Day Feast and it was a hit. See. All gone. Fast. And just to be honest, not a single person at the lunch had any gluten issues.
   The cookies came together almost as fast as they were gobbled up. They're just as easy to make as any old gluten cookie, and did I say they were good? They are. If you want to venture into the gluten free arena, here's what to do.
 In a large bowl mix together:
   2 sticks of unsalted butter
   1/2 cup of sugar
   1/4 cup of brown sugar or jaggery. If you'd like a crisper more shortbread-like cookie (I did) use    1/4 cup of powdered sugar instead.
 Beat the butter and the sugars together until it's all light and fluffy.
Add in:
 2 eggs
 1/4 tsp of salt
 1/2 tsp of baking powder
 1/2 tsp of baking soda
 1 tsp of ground cardamom
Keep beating until it's smooth.
Gradually beat in 3 and 1/4 cups of besan (chickpea or garbanzo flour) at a low speed.
 Just a note: This can be difficult as things tend to get rather stiff and sticky, but keep a goin'. You"ll finally get a nice thick dough.
 Add in:
  3/4 cup of grated dried unsweetened coconut
Divide the dough into three sections and roll each into a ball and then into 10 inch long logs of dough.
Set the logs of dough on some waxed paper and roll them up
Tuck the logs into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If you'd like to bake these cookies later, the cookie dough logs can also be frozen. When you want to bake the cookies, just take them out, slice off as many cookies as you'd like and bake away.
But say you'd like to have these cookies right now. Immediately, almost. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wait the 30 minutes and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice off the number of cookies you'd like to bake and pop them into the oven.
 Bake them for about 10 minutes, turn off the oven and then let them rest for about 5 minutes before taking them out.
 Crunchy, crispy, delicious, I served them with a kaffir lime mousse.
 The cookies were so popular they were all gone. Boom! What Alan doesn't know (well once he reads this he will) is there are 2 other cookie logs in the freezer all ready to go. I'm going to be baking them up tomorrow. Stick. Pinata. Here's hoping that when she gets these cookies Terri will not feel like she's leaking Tootsie Roll Pops anymore.


  1. What a gorgeous dessert! Looks delicious! :)

  2. very tempting cookies
    do visit my indian blog i am happy to follow u

  3. wat a lovely post...awesome recipe..
    first time ur space...
    very interesting recipe collection
    Am your happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  4. YAY!!!
    I'm so glad you liked the recipe! I'm just discovering the wonders of BESAN, I know all you Desi chefs are laughing at me. Did you know besan is a great curry thickener? It also prevents yogurt from splitting/curdling in your sauce/curry. Just stir 1 tablespoon of besan per cup of yogurt before adding into your simmering dish & it won't split! Alternately make a slurry of 1 tablespoon besan & 1/4 cup water & add to a 'watery' sauce or curry while simmering to thicken it. Yes, I KNOW I'm easily amused. ;)

  5. Oh wow, I need to find some garbanzo flour ASAP! These look soo good!



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