Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bachelor Buttons

My grandmother was a master cookie baker.

Every time we visited, she would have a spread of 5 or 6 different cookies from which to choose. As I got older and moved out on my own, she would occasionally send me shoeboxes of cookies. I always shared with my roommates and, later, with Tim, but there was always one type of cookie in the box that I would immediately separate out and hide.

Eventually I got around to asking Grandma for the recipe. She sent it to me handwritten on an index card. In shaky handwriting she had written, "Here is my recipe for Bachelor Buttons. It's so putzy I usually double the recipe."

Bachelor Buttons have been at the top of my list for a gluten free conversion. I have waited, though, because the thought of those cookies failing and running all over the baking pan in a molten, smokey mess was too sad.

Last week I took a chance and tried them. Oh my. They did not run all over the oven. We did not have to call the fire department. They did not fail. In fact, I think its quite possible I achieved cookie nirvana:

Here is the recipe.

Note: I am not using a specific flour mix. I have mixed together gluten free flours (such as sorghum, rice, teff, millet, etc, etc, etc) with gluten free starches (corn, potato, tapioca) at a ratio of 70% flour / 30% starch BY WEIGHT. This is VERY IMPORTANT. When I mix up my flour mix, I use my digital scale. I measure out 700 grams of flour (very haphazardly, just based on what I've got around.) and then 300 grams of starch. Mix it all together until it is a uniform color and consistency, and, voila, you have flour!

Okay. NOW here is the recipe!

Grandma's Bachelor Buttons (gluten free!)

2 sticks butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-5/8 oz (approx 1/2 cup) almond flour
11-1/2 oz flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum (or use 1 tea xanthan and 1 tea guar gum)
Finely chopped nuts
Something to put in the center - frosting, jam, frosting and jam....

Preheat the oven to 325.

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg YOLKS, vanilla, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour, flour, and xanthan gum. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until it looks like cookie dough.

Chill for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, allow the reserved egg whites to come to room temperature.

Roll the dough into balls. I made mine walnut size, which made GIANT cookies. No one complained (haha), but if you want reasonable sized cookies, a heaping teaspoon full is probably the way to go.

Beat the egg whites with a fork until they are frothy. Dip the dough balls in egg white, then roll in finely chopped nuts. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Stick your finger in the center of each cookie to make an indentation.

Bake for 10 - 15 minutes. This will vary based on how big you make the cookies. Mine took 15 minutes. They are done when they are a pale golden color.

Remove from oven, and, while hot, take a teaspoon and push down the center of each cookie.

Allow to cool, then fill with whatever your heart desires. Grandma used buttercream. I put peach butter that I canned last July on the bottom and covered it with cinnamon buttercream.

Cinnamon Buttercream
1/2 stick butter
2 ish cups powdered sugar
a splash of milk
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine everything, adding more milk as needed.

This recipe makes enough that there is no need to hide them. Go ahead and share.

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