Ask Chef Phyllis:
I need some recipes for gluten-free cookies or treats that will satisfy children and are really easy to make. I’ve already tried the prepackaged, store-bought products available, but I think they have unhealthy ingredients to make up for taste. The rice flour, tapioca flour, and almond flour that most supermarkets sell are expensive. Can you suggest some cheaper alternatives that my family will like?
—Maureen DelCielo from Salt Lake City, Utah
Let me say that I do know the gluten-free supermarket products are expensive. Here are two alternatives that are very tasty and your family will like. Some of the flours, especially the nut flours, can be made at home using a coffee grinder, blender, or food processor (see instructions at the end of this post).
Organic Peanut Butter Gluten-Free Cookies with Chocolate Kisses
These nutritious cookies are not only gluten free, they contain only 6 ingredients and are very easy to prepare. Makes about 2 dozen.
- 1 cup organic peanut butter (I like Adams Natural Crunchy)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup Rapunzel Organic Whole Cane Sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Whole walnuts or peanuts (optional)
- Chocolate kisses or Sunspire chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In the order given, mix the first five ingredients in a medium bowl by hand, or use a hand mixer.
- Roll cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, spaced about an inch apart. Flatten the top of each cookie with the tines of a fork using a crisscross pattern.
- Bake for exactly 11 minutes. Remove from the oven. If desired, immediately press a walnut, peanut, or chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie while they’re still warm. To avoid the chocolate kiss (I don’t know of one with healthy ingredients), try Sunspire chocolate chips.
- Gently remove the cookies from the cookie sheet. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight cookie jar.
Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies.
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- ½ cup Rapunzel Organic Whole Cane Sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
- 1 cup almond flour (see instructions below)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 10 dried figs or apricots, halved
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper (recommended).
- In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg, almond or vanilla extract, almond flour, and baking soda. The batter will be slightly sticky.
- If necessary, dust your hands with almond flour. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. With your hand or the back of a spoon, flatten each cookie to about ½-inch thickness. Make a dent in the center with the back of a spoon. Place half a fig or apricot in each dent.
- Bake for exactly 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before placing cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight jar.
Nut flours are easy to make at home, and they store very well in the freezer. You only need a food processor, coffee grinder, or blender. The trick is to work in small batches to avoid overcrowding. You can also grind organic brown rice or tapioca into flour using the same method with similar results, but in my opinion nut flour is more nutritious.
For each ½ cup of almond flour, you’ll need 1 cup of raw almonds. Working in small batches, place the nuts in the appliance of your choice and pulse on and off until you have fine powder. Check the results often—if you over-process the nuts, you’ll have almond or nut butter instead. Use the flour as you would the store-bought version.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products