I have an acquaintance who’s recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease. She’s an old lady and I think when her doctor told her, she didn’t know what that doctor was talking about. Suddenly they wanted to change her eating habits and told her that she had to cut everything with gluten from her diet.
Since I have experimented a bit with gluten-free baking before I told her I could help her a bit with the transition and give her some ingredients she might need. So that same evening I grabbed some gluten-free flours, gums, and binders and took F. along to bring those items upstairs. When the neighbour saw that I had brought F. along, she took her to the living room and handed her a huge box of homemade shortbread cookies. “I can’t have them anymore”, she told F. “You can eat them and when you are done, you can bring me the box back.” F. didn’t get what was going on and just thought she had won the jackpot. But I thought that if we had to bring back that box, I wanted it to be filled with gluten-free cookies.
Last week I tried to make some gluten-free shortbread cookies. I started with my basic shortbread recipe and learned a lot. My cookies turned out rock hard and they looked greasy. So I reduced the amount of sugar and fat. Still a bit too crunchy and too sweet. I increased the amount of flour. This time the dough was too crumbly and wouldn’t hold together. I added some soy milk and this time the cookies came out great. That is, I think the texture was perfect but the taste was a bit different from what I am used to. Not bad though, just different. I guess it’s my lack of experience with gluten-free baking that blocks the road here. I just cannot tell you how good or bad these are because I can’t compare them.
Since I wanted to make these cookies as simple as possible I used ingredients which are easy to find in our neighbourhood. I have never seen sorghum flour, which so many people seem to use in their cookie recipes. And teff is very expensive. That is why I made my own flour mix with 150 g brown rice flour, 150 g millet (ground in a coffee mill), 150 g potato starch, and 2 teaspoons of guar gum.
Since these cookies are very basic I wanted to add something special to them. And what is more suitable for this task than caramel? I made a simple caramel sauce by boiling almond milk and sugar. Once it had cooled down I whipped it up with some coconut oil to use it as a frosting for the cookies. I am so glad I did this because this frosting transforms every average cookie into an outstanding cookie. No matter how different they taste from your average wheat based cookie, as long as you put a teaspoon of this dulce de leche filling between two cookies, it doesn’t matter.
Gluten Free Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies (makes 40, depending on your cookie cutter)
For the cookies:
80 g (5 2/3 tablespoons) refined coconut oil, room temperature
50 g (1/2 cup, sifted) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
210 g (2 1/2 cups) gluten-free flour (see my recipe above)*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons soy milk
*I strongly recommend to weigh your flour instead of measuring it with a cup.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat coconut oil and sugar until fluffy. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Make sure everything is blended well. The mixture should look white and airy when done.
Add remaining ingredients except for soy milk. Beat until crumbly. Now add the soy milk and knead the dough with your hands until the flour is incorporated well. Shape into a ball.
Roll the dough out between two layers of plastic wrap. Mine was between 2-4 mm thick. Cut out cookies with your favourite cookie cutter and place half of the cookies on the baking sheet. They won’t spread. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges start to get a golden brown colour. Remove from oven, let cool and transfer to a cookie rack. Bake remaining cookies.
For the filling:
300 ml (2 1/4 cups) almond milk
70 g (1/3 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla
Place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved and make sure the milk doesn’t boil over. Reduce heat and let the mixture simmer for 35-40 minutes, until it has turned into a thick sauce. The mixture should be thick but not very sticky. Make sure to check on the sauce from time to time as the cooking time can vary depending on the setting of your stove top.
Let the sauce cool completely before making the frosting.
To make the frosting:
1 recipe caramel sauce
55 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil, room temperature
Place sauce and fat in a bowl and use a hand-held mixer to beat until fluffy. Spread the bottom of a cookie with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of frosting and top with a second cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies.