One of my most cherished childhood memories is baking Christmas cookies with my mom. She would pull over two kitchen chairs for my sister and I to stand on so we could reach the countertop and get our hands in the flour. We’d watch her line up all of the ingredients, preheat the oven, prepare the cookie sheets.
She’d flip to the back of the recipe rolodex and pull out three cards that were stained with butter splotches and a dusting of flour. It was holiday tradition that we would start with spritz cookies, a butter/sugar cookie that was made special with the magical ingredient, almond extract. Once the butter was creamed and the sugar added, my mom would open up the tiny brown bottle of almond extract, and say “it smells like Christmas now.”
Last weekend, I finally got around to some christmas baking. This isn’t one of our traditional family recipes, but lets just say it was “inspired by” my memory and the “Christmas” smell of almond extract.
I’m kind of in love with these cookies because of the minimal amount of ingredients. And as far as baking goes, they’re pretty foolproof. I subbed in as many “healthier” ingredients as I could but they’re still a pretty sweet and buttery indulgence.
Pass down your own recipe memories by giving the gift of handwritten recipes… (because your own writing says love better than a recipe in an email).
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I’ll be honest, most things I bake don’t make it to the blog. For starters, I don’t bake very often. Our household (not including the dogs), is just 2 of us. And if 12 cookies are made one day, 12 cookies will be gone the next day.
When I do bake, I’d call it experimental more than anything else. I can’t bring myself to follow a recipe all the way through without changing at least a few things… sometimes an attempt to healthify things… other times, I’m just too lazy to go out and get the exact ingredients. You know how I like to work with what I’ve got.
But every now and then one of my “trial by error” baking projects works out. This one I was especially pleased with. These didn’t really flatten out like I thought they might, but I really enjoyed the thicker texture of these cookies. Not too dense, nicely chewy and moist… and filled with walnuts and chocolate.
They’re partially made with coconut flour, which I’ve been experimenting since it’s so healthy. It has tons of fiber, but it can make your baked goods so so dry if you use too much (and also if you over-bake).
I’m by no means an expert on gluten free baking, but I’ve learned 2 things so far:
1. add lots of nuts and chocolate, that’s not the area to skimp.
2. maybe the saddest part – the raw dough (in blends w/ chickpea flour in them, at least) tastes terrible. I’ve started liking Bob’s Red Mill gluten free blend lately… I find it the most similar to all-purpose flour (and it doesn’t have dairy in it like some other blends do). That funky taste goes away once they’re baked, but if you’re having one of those days where you need to consume a bowl of dough, you need to use another kind of flour. (oat or almond (or both) perhaps…).