Thursday, June 23, 2011

GF Ice Box Cookies, Take 1

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about my dear departed friend Alice.  Alice is the one who introduced me to the joys of cornmeal lemon cookies.

Thoughts of Alice often lead to thoughts of cookies.

This time, my thoughts turned towards ice box cookies.  They had a rounded oblong shape and were fairly thick. Maybe a quarter of an inch or three-eighths. Brown and drab.  I vaguely remembered walnuts.

They weren't my favorites.  Chocolate chip cookies probably held that place of honor back then. What teenage girl can resist chocolate?  My other favorite would have been peanut butter. Or, better yet, peanut butter topped with a Hershey's Kiss.  Creamy white snickerdoodles with their spicy dusting of cinnamon and, of course, sunny yellow cornmeal lemon cookies would have rounded out my top five.

I have no idea why, after all these years, I should develop a yearning for drab, brown icebox cookies. But, I did.

And thus began the quest.

Job one: Find Alice's recipe. Not in my huge stack of recipes dating back to the '70's. But, fortunately, a Modesto friend had the recipe, and she was kind enough to facebook it to me.

Job two: Convert to gluten free. 

Which also means converting from cups to grams -- at least for the flour.  Lots of variation out there on flour weights.  The best guess: 3 cups of flour » 375 grams.

Also, lots of variation out there on proportions. One source said to use 50% starch, 50% grain.  Another said 30% starch, 70% grain.  Yet another recommends up to 10% bean.  Another, up to 10% nut.

I decided to go » 30/70 for a baseline, using tapioca starch, potato starch, sorghum, and brown rice.

The next consideration is xanthan gum. I think the rule of thumb is 1/4 tsp per cup of flour for cookies.

So, the first draft looks something like this:

GF Alice's Ice Box Cookies

60 grams tapioca starch
60 grams potato starch
125 grams sorghum flour
130 grams brown rice flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups organic dark brown sugar
1 cup Spectrum organic shortening
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.

Mix dry ingredients together until well-blended
Cream shortening; add sugar, beaten eggs, vanilla. Add dry to the wet mixture. Add nuts. Mix thoroughly. Make into long rolls about 2" in diameter. Place in refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours.

OK, so these logs look slightly less appetizing than cookie logs should. Carry on... In the end, it's about how the cookies taste, not how looked along the way.

Slice thin and bake in 400 degree oven until lightly browned -- 5 to 10  minutes depending on diameter of your rolls and thickness of your slices.


A bit disappointing. I quickly realized that when you make your cookies smaller than Alice's, you need to bake them for a shorter period of time.

They spread out a bit more than they should have, and had a bit too much of a caramelized sugar texture.

Having said that, they've gotten pretty positive reviews from folks eating them.  I guess, so long as I don't expect them to be Alice's, they are enjoyable enough.

Next time:

Try a bit more xanthan gum?
Use part organic turbinado rather than dark brown sugar?
Up the flour to 400 grams?
Add a little bean or some other high protein flour?
Use part sweet rice flour for some of the starch?

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