28 Mar 2013
Being gluten-free has certain challenges. Over time, they’ve become less daunting. But, there’s still the occasional hurdle in my path.
I’m not one to shy away from hurdles. Ever. I tend to have an extraordinary tolerance for pain, quite often fueled by my desire to have things done my way. I’ve never been one to take no for an answer. My husband says I’m stubborn. So did my dad.
I call it tenacious.
Regardless, it has served me well.
In the kitchen, there are certain mainstream foods that are iconic. So iconic that they’re called for by name in recipes. Think about cream of chicken soup, lady fingers, Oreo cookies, and yes, Vanilla Wafers.
For the average person, there is no challenge here. They simply pull a box from the shelf at their favorite grocery store and, presto, they have exactly what they need.
For someone on a specific diet – be that gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, egg-free, vegan – it’s not so simple. We obsessively read labels, search for creative solutions, and often go another route all together just so we can feed our families delicious foods.
And, when we really want to eat one of those iconic foods, we put on our aprons, get out our mixers, and start creating. And, yes, it mandates tenacity.
I was in one of those moods when I decided that I must have Vanilla Wafers. They were one of my favorite cookies as a kid. There’s just something about them that breeds smiles. Maybe the understated simplicity. Or the crunch. Or the fact that they make pudding into a grand affair.
My version of Vanilla Wafers is, dare I say, better than I remember from my childhood. They’re homemade, and isn’t nearly everything homemade better?
These wafer cookies are crispy, just like the originals. But the bite is lighter and fresher. When you whip up a batch, you’ll see what I mean.
I made my version of dairy free cookies refined sugar-free as well. If you want to use butter, substitute an equal amount for the butter-flavored non-hydrogenated shortening, and do the same for the dairy-free milk.
And, yes, the recipe is correct. Use two tablespoons of vanilla. Because gluten-free flours have a stronger flavor than their wheat-based counterparts a little more extract is necessary to make sure the vanilla shines.
What iconic foods do you miss the most? Have you attempted to create your own version?
Homemade Vanilla Wafers
YIELD: makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen cookies
DIET TYPE: gluten-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, peanut-free
Preparation Time: 50 minutes, including the time the dough chills
Baking Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
2 cups Erewhon Honey Rice Twice cereal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated butter-flavored vegetable shortening
1 scant cup powdered coconut palm sugar**
1 large egg at room temperature, preferably organic
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dairy-free milk
Put the Erewhon Honey Rice Twice in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until the cereal is the consistency of a slightly coarse flour. You will have approximately 3/4 cup.
Add the brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and xanthan gum to the food processor. Process until uniformly combined.
Beat the butter-flavored vegetable shortening on medium until light, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered coconut palm sugar and beat on medium for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until mixture is light and creamy.
Add the egg to the sugar mixture and mix on medium until homogeneously combined. Mix in the vanilla extract and dairy-free milk, scraping bowl as needed.
Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in one addition and mix on low just until a dough forms. Cover dough, placing plastic wrap directly on the mixture, and chill for 30 minutes.
To bake both trays of cookies at once, position one rack in the upper third and one in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Scoop the chilled batter using a teaspoon-sized scoop. Roll into balls, then flatten with your hand. The dough doesn’t move much in the oven. Bake the cookies for 15 – 18 minutes, rotating shelves and turning 180 degrees halfway through. The cookies will be set and the bottoms will be golden brown when finished. Let cool completely on the cookie sheets. They will crisp as they cool. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
** To make powdered coconut palm sugar, put one cup of coconut palm sugar and 1 tablespoon GMO-free cornstarch in your blender. Blend on high until the coconut palm sugar is light and powdery. Store in an airtight container. It will clump during storage. Run it through a flour sifter to remove clumps.
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