24 (depending on size of cutter)
Based on an old European recipe, these thin, crisp cookies not only taste just like their old-world counterparts but also are gluten-free, nut-free and egg-free. If you wish, you can make a hole in the cookies with a skewer before baking and thread with ribbon afterward, and use them as Christmas tree ornaments. However, as I discovered the hard way, if there are dogs around it’s advisable not hang them too low.
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 17- x 11-inch baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine the rice flour, cornstarch, cocoa, salt, xanthan gum, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves, and set aside.
3. Heat the molasses to boiling in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and butter. Remove from the heat. Stir in the flour mixture one-third at a time, adding a few drops of water if needed to make workable dough. Turn out onto a lightly cornstarch-dusted surface, and knead until silky smooth, 1 or 2 minutes. Cut the ball of dough in half and let rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
4. Work with half the dough at a time. Dust the work surface lightly with cornstarch, and roll dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut out as many gingerbread figures as possible, re-rolling the trimmings to make more. (It’s easiest to lift away the excess dough from around the cookies and transfer them to the baking sheet on a metal spatula.)
5. Bake the cookies until they puff up slightly and lighten to a tan color, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough. These cookies are quite hard (they make great dunkers) and keep extremely well if stored airtight. They do become softer, and to me more interesting, if left on a wire rack at room temperature for a day or two.
Nutrition Analysis (per cookie): 80 cal, 1.5 g fat, 5 mg chol, 80 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein.
The author of more than a dozen cookbooks, Jackie Mallorca’s latest titles include The Wheat-Free Cook: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone and Gluten-Free Italian.
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