You don’t have to shop for gluten-free all-purpose flour to make great gluten-free Christmas cookies.
You don’t have to shop for gluten-free all-purpose flour to make great gluten-free Christmas cookies. Every holiday season, in addition to the sablées that I always make but that my sister, who has celiac, can’t eat, I make coconut macaroons and regular macaroons, cookies that don’t call for flour.
This year I wanted to expand my repertoire. So I solicited ideas for cookies that don’t require any wheat flour from a few pastry chefs around the country.
The veteran pastry chef and cookbook author Emily Luchetti sent me her recipe for chocolate-chip meringue cookies, which are crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with a little crunch from the chocolate chips and just chocolaty enough.
Luchetti said meringue is the first thing she thinks of when she thinks gluten-free or flourless.
“Chocolate works well with meringue, as it cuts the sweetness,” she said. “Often the problem with meringues is they’re too sugary and you don’t want a second bite. Cocoa and chocolate solve that problem. The contrasting textures of the cookie — both crunchy and soft in the center — are what make any cookie interesting and complex. This is hard to do without flour, but egg whites make it happen.”
The New Orleans-based pastry chef Kelly Fields, executive pastry chef for John Besh restaurants, didn’t have to search far for recipes. She has been making haystack cookies with her mother since she was a child. There is no flour in this unbaked mix.
All you do is combine sugar, butter, cocoa powder, evaporated milk and salt in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, then stir in rolled oats, grated coconut and vanilla; drop the batter onto baking sheets while hot. (If the mixture cools before you drop, the cookies will be too crumbly.)
I toasted the rolled oats called for in Fields’ recipe, just to get a little more texture out of them. She says no matter how many times she makes these haystacks, they are never as good as her mom’s; but I don’t know how they could be better.
KELLY FIELDS’ HAYSTACK COOKIES
Makes 2½ to 3 dozen cookies
11/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon rolled oats
1 cup sugar
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2 ounces unsalted butter
¼ cup dark cocoa powder
¼ cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup finely grated coconut
1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spread rolled oats on a baking sheet and toast for 20 to 30 minutes, until slightly darker and toasty smelling. Remove from heat.
2. Line baking sheets or your work surface with parchment or waxed paper. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter, cocoa powder, evaporated milk and salt and bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, oats and coconut.
3. Immediately drop the warm mixture by scant tablespoons onto parchment or waxed paper. Allow to cool and store in a tin.
EMILY LUCHETTI’S CHOCOLATE CHIP MERINGUE COOKIES
Makes 3 dozen cookies
3 large egg whites
½ cup sugar
½ cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment.
2. In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whip attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until airy and peaks start to form. Slowly add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and turn speed to high. Beat until stiff and shiny, another five minutes.
3. Fold in chocolate chips, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt. Drop by heaped tablespoons or scoop onto baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Cookies will not spread when they bake. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the outsides are dry and you can lift the cookies from the parchment. They will lift off more easily once cool. Store in an airtight container.