Friday, November 11, 2011

Almond Cardamom Cookies 2 Ways, Gluten Free and/or Vegan

    It's the middle of November and as everyone starts talking turkey and cranberry sauce, homemade or canned, served in a bowl or with the can rings fresh on it like a new set of tats on a Top Chef, I swear I saw a stack of evergreen Christmas wreaths at a the market today... and twinkle lights! This can only mean one thing. Cookie season is here. No matter what holidays your family celebrates, no matter what part of the world you live in, you can be sure of one thing. There will be cookies. There most certainly will be cookies. Bank on it.

   I've only become a cookie baker recently. Cookies were not a big deal growing up in my house. It's not that my mother didn't bake cookies, it's just that it's something we didn't really go out of our way to encourage her to do. My mother went through a butter cookie baking phase when I was a kid. A Swedish friend of hers gave her a recipe and soon our fridge was filled with these long, tubular objects wrapped in waxed paper. My mom loved taking these tubes out, slicing off skeet sized wedges and baking them.

   We went off to school with a brown bag filled with leaden, yellow poker chips, blackened around the rims and raw in the center (since she really didn't believe in pre-heating ovens). We're not talking about great school lunch trading items here. You know the "I'll swap you my cookies for your Twinkie" sort of thing. Seeing them on the plate, I always just wanted to yell "Pull!" Lately mom has been trying her hand at biscotti and has had a lot better luck. Somehow cookies that you have to bake twice before eating them seems to work out a lot better for her. You can see however that these sorts of cookie baking experiences would not exactly turn me into a baker. But lately I've been trying.

    It all started when my friend Terri got a Kitchen Aid mixer and started turning out what she calls "Crack Cookies", oatmeal cookies with dried cherries, nuts and chocolate chips. I was soooo hooked. She talked to me about getting a mixer too (I don't have one, it never occurred to me to buy one) but the way she was cranking out those cookies, who needed a mixer, I'd just let Terri do it. She's that good!  But then a few months back Terri found out that she was gluten intolerant, "Buh bye crack cookies." She had to start looking at alternatives. Then she was badly injured in a riding accident and wasn't doing much baking.... okay, any baking. Which is where I come in. I decided to "help out" by trying my hand at some gluten free baking.

   Gluten free eating is pretty simple in the world of Indian food, since rice and potatoes are cool and there are plenty of substitutes for wheat flour breads. There are gluten free desserts galore, but there are times when only a cookie will do, and that time is now! The holidays. In my internet search for gluten free cookie wisdom I saw a lot of candidates. Over the last few months  I've collected a big old collection of exotic gluten free flours, gums and starches so I was ready for anything. Not that I knew what to do with any of it. That was the reason for the internet search.

   It didn't take much searching before I stumbled across a likely candidate. Sinfully Spicy  had a recipe for eggless Almond Cardamom Cookies that just screamed out to be tried. I scanned through the list of ingredients. Besan (chickpea flour)  check. Almond meal flour, check. Semolina flour... whoops. That's not gluten free. Hmmmmm what to substitue. A quick comparison led me to sorghum flour, totally gluten free. I was good to go.

Almond Cardamom Cookies

 Here's what you'll need for my gluten free version of these cookies.
  1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  10 tbs of powdered sugar
  3/4 cup of almond meal
  1/2 cup of besan (chickpea )flour
  2 Tbs of sorghum flour
  1/4 tsp of green cardamom powder
  1/8 tsp of salt
parchment paper

Here's what to do:
 Sift the almond meal, besan flour and sorghum flour together
 Add in:
  1/4 tsp of cardamom powder
  1/8 tsp of salt
 Set it aside
  In another bowl cream together:
  1 stick of softened unsalted butter
  10 Tbs of powdered sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together. Since the original directions indictaed this should be done by hand, it's exactly what I did. Once the butter has softened, it's pretty easy.

When it's nice an well mixed together, add in the dry ingredients a bit at a time.

Mix them gently together.
 The dough is going to be a bit sticky and loose, but gather it up as best you can, roll it into a ball, wrap it in a bit of clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to take a nap for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Take out the dough and knead it a bit... only 3 or 4 times, then nip off little bits.
Roll each one into a little ball and put it on the cookie sheet.
Pop an almond on top.

Just like this.

Press them down a bit.
Okay, now back into the fridge again for another 15 minute cat nap.
Then take them out and put them in the oven on the middle rack for about 22 minutes or so.
The cookies should stay on the light side of done. You can tell when they're ready when they're light brown on the bottom.
Take them out of the oven.
Let them sit on the cookie sheet for another 5 minutes then move them to a cooling rack.

After that, you're on your own. I am not responsible for how far you go.

  I must add however that these went really fast, and I heard from my gluten free friend that they were the best gluten free cookies she'd ever had. I am so grateful to Tanvi for the recipe.

   Okay, so I sucessfully made my gluten free cookies, could I leave well enough alone? No. I had to try to tweak them a bit. I wondered what would happen if I tried to make them vegan. It just so happened that the guys at Tropical Traditions had sent me a gallon of their Organic Palm Shortening to try out.

   I used it when making a vegan "butter" cream frosting during the summer, and it worked like a charm. I was really  eager however to try it in baking something. I figured these cookies were the perfect opportunity. So what I did was substituted the 1/2 cup of butter for 1/2 cup of palm shortening.  This is what happened.

   Pretty dang sweet. I didn't press them down this time as I wanted to see what would happen. I loved 'em, so did Alan, never a guy to be caught yelling for more vegan food.

 Now, for a little extra:
Tropical Traditions is offering a giveaway to give someone else a chance to try their palm shortening. They'd like to send you a container of Tropical Traditions palm shortening to try just like the one you see above.

How To Win
Main Entry (Required) - Leave me a comment below and let me know what kind of recipes you'd like to try with Tropical Traditions Organic Palm Shortening, or tell me about your baking successes, failures and scary experiments. I'd love to hear them.

Want Another Chance To Win?
 Each item you do will give you ONE chance to win, THREE chances total. If you're already doing any of these, just mention it in your comment so it will count too!

 1.) Follow @kathygori and @Tropical Traditions on Twitter. Send out the following Tweet then come back and tell us you Tweeted.
I just entered to win Organic Palm Shortening from @kathygori and @Tropical Traditions Enter here:

2.) Like  The Colors Of Indian Cooking on Facebook

This Giveaway starts today and runs until next Sunday November 20, 2011.
 The Winner will be chosen using and I'll notify them by email.

Good luck!
 Coming up next , I explore a healthy Indian finger food for all those Holiday do's. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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