Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Christmas Spiced Star Biscuits - gluten free


Ok...... I know Christmas is still a way off, but November always signals the need to at least start thinking about the big event, and in particular the annual present-choosing saga. With each passing year, I seem to find it harder and harder to get my head around what to buy for who. It seems that these days we live in a society where people buy what they want, when they want it.  Money seems more easy come - easy go...... which means less stuff 'on the list' when we ask 'what do you want for Christmas?'.


So what to do? Edible and home-made presents seem to become more popular the older you get and are always well-received. They show thought, care and love, not least because someone has spent precious time and effort making them with you in mind.

Chutneys, jams, sweets and of course, biscuits make for great home-cooked presents, because they tend to have a reasonable shelf-life and can be wrapped and presented with all sorts of creativity.


I love to dress up edible presents with pretty cups, plates, plant pots, glasses, etc which will have good use after the Christmas celebrations. Christmas decorations - baubles, tree decorations, candles and the like add colour and festive spirit to the seasonal presentation.

With that in mind, I have started to plan for and test possible Christmas present fare....... These biscuits are a perfect gift. I have made them gluten free (of course), but I am sure that with a couple of minor tweaks and substitutions, they can be made with usual plain wheat flour.


The flavours in these biscuits sing Christmas....... plenty of sweetly warming spiced cinnamon and ginger....... a hint of exotic nutmeg........ all carefully balanced with a mingling of tangy orange and contrasting nutty pecan.

The aromas in the kitchen as they bake are a clear indication that it is time to embrace the steady movement towards the annual celebration........ Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and orange are so intwined with culinary Christmas expectations, that their olfactory significance is unmistakable.


This bake is soft, but still quite crisp. It melts creamily in the mouth with a comforting soothingness that is perfect for cold winter days and hot fireside nights. Coupled with the slight crunch from the nuts, they are the perfect adjunct to soft mousse or ice cream.......... ideally matched with a steaming cup of coffee, chocolate or tea....... and hand-dippingly addictive eaten just as they are, straight from the biscuit barrel.


The orange-infused white chocolate drizzled across the top adds an extra touch of decadence, which marries amazingly well with the alluringly-spiced biscuit, and draws out and highlights the orangeiness hidden within the main bake.

Add a touch of edible glitter to make these biscuits really special and full of festive sparkle!


On the presentation-front, I found some delightful little Christmas snow-flake mugs in Sainsbury's. Being more traditionally 'teacup' shaped, have an extra-wide rim, making them ideal for filling with and displaying the biscuits. I also found some very cute little yarn elves in Tiger, which were too adorable not to pop in alongside.

I am sharing these amazing biscuits with a few challenges this month :


The Biscuit Barrel with Laura over at I'd Much Rather Bake Than...., the theme for November being Winter Warmers. The amalgamation of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and orange in each bite envelops the palate with a gently tingling winter hug. The perfect winter warmer...... Christmas or not.


Treat Petite, this month being hosted by Stuart at Cakeyboi (with Kat at The Baking Explorer), who invite us to share a foodie 'Thankyou'. These tasty, pretty stars make a perfect gift, however you dress them up.


Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.


Cook, Blog, Share with Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.


And Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.



Christmas Spiced Star Cookies

Ingredients

180g unsalted butter - room temperature
140g soft brown sugar  
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange extract
finely grated zest 1 orange
210g gluten free plain flour mix
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
good fine grate of fresh nutmeg
30g pecans - finely chopped

White Orange-Chocolate drizzle
100g good quality white chocolate
¼ teaspoon orange extract
edible glitter to decorate

Method

  1. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla and orange extracts and orange zest and beat to thoroughly incorporate.
  3. In a separate bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and chopped pecans.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir thoroughly with a wooden/silicone spoon or spatula until you have a thick, even paste.
  5. Divide the mixture in half and wrap each in cling-film. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the dough to firm up.
  6. When ready to roll, pre-heat the oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas 5. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with baking paper.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out each half in turn on a sheet of baking paper sprinkled with cornflour to prevent sticking, using a rolling pin (dusted with cornflour) to a thickness of about ¼ inch.
  8. Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes from the dough and place on the baking sheets with a small space between each (the dough should not spread much when baked). Bring together any remaining dough, re-roll and cut until all the dough has been used.
  9. Chill the dough shapes before baking in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  10. Bake for 6 to 12 minutes (dependent on the size of the cookies) until the edges are very slightly brown and set. You may have to bake in several batches dependent on how many cookies you have made.
  11. Leave the hot cookies for about 10 minutes on the baking tray to firm up, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  12. When the cookies are cold, make the chocolate drizzle by melting the white chocolate in a heat-proof bowl either over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave (set to medium on 20 to 30 second bursts) stirring frequently until smooth and liquid.
  13. Stir in the orange extract until completely combined and then quickly drizzle over the cookies.
  14. Sprinkle with edible glitter (if using) and leave to set completely.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated

36 comments:

  1. These look lovely. I know what you mean about everyone buying what they want and no one wants sock and jocks any more :-) I love to make edible gifts but always feel the presentation is a challenge for me - I love your yarn elves and cups. And I have been wondering what to do with some edible glitter I bought on a whim and forgot to use - must remember at christmas (oh it feels so far away)

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    1. Thanks Johanna. I am a big fan of edible glitter....... great for adding a bit of sparkle, especially at Christmas........ which will be here way too soon!

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  2. Yep, I'm 100% sold on these. How I wish I had on or three to go with a cup of tea this afternoon. Thanks for sharing them with the Biscuit Barrel!

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    1. You're welcome Laura. Why stop at three? I seem to have got through dozens of them!

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  3. It's never to early for Christmas baking!

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  4. I concur with the Caked Crusader- I'm already planning my Christmas baking and eagerly cutting out ideas from magazines and bookmarking inspiration from the internet. These will make such a lovely gift- I agree, homemade is always well received!

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    1. I'm really pleased to hear I am not the only one! Thanks Kate.

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  5. I love the spices in these, I bet they made the house smell wonderful. The arty drizzle is very pretty. As they are star shaped you could get away with saying they are for bonfire night (don't mention Christmas!!)

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    1. Thanks Katie. The house did indeed smell really wonderful! I did think of making them with bonfire night in mind as well, but the cup and elves swung it for me and the 'C' word won out!

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  6. Christmas can never come too early in my opinion. Love these. So cute. The orange icing sounds gorgeous too.

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    1. Thanks Dom. And there was me thinking I was ahead of time......

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  7. You are right, after Halloween people begin to think of Christmas already. And spiced biscuits are a must-do for the party season. They are ever so moreish!

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    1. They certainly are! And yes....definitely very moreish!

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  8. Oh these do sound very Christmassy and very delicious too.

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    1. Thanks Julie...... Christmas isn't far away now!

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  9. The minute Halloween was over all thoughts suddenly turn to Christmas - especially if you are a food blogger! Thanks for linking those gorgeous biscuits to #CookBlogShare

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  10. They look and sound delicious!! I can't believe I haven't found you before! I blog over at The Free From Fairy and it looks like we have very similar reasons for doing so! Glad I have found you now!

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    1. Thanks Vicki. So pleased you've popped over to check me out... I love your blog and have been following it for a while!

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  11. I agree with you about gift buying and you definitely can't beat a homemade or home baked gift. However, I have previously been told that I would be breaking diets with the gift of home baked goods - you just can't please everyone! Love the look and flavour of these biscuits. I'd be thrilled to receive a box of these.

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    1. Thanks Ros. Some people don't know what's good for them....... sweet present treats AND someone to blame the broken diet on!!!!

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  12. I think a home baked gift is worth 5 shop bought ones! Especially these - So beautifully presented. Thanks so much for joining in with #Bakeoftheweek - great to have you on board. Roundup and new linky will be posted in the next hour x

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    1. Thanks Helen! Thanks for hosting..... I will try and join again soon!

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  13. Hi I have shred this on Twitter but didn't know your Twitter handle to tag you in - sorry x

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    1. That made me smile! I love the typo....... and the idea that it has been 'shred' on Twitter..... Sadly I have still to drag myself into 21st Century Twitter world!

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  14. These look gorgeous, I love the drizzle of chocolate and glittery decoration! Thank you for entering into Treat Petite :)

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    1. Thanks Kat and you're welcome! Drizzled chocolate is always so quick, easy and effective....

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  15. How pretty and how very clever you are. I just love, love, love the way you've presented these and your thoughts for gift wrapping. Edibles are my standard Christmas present now and are always appreciated, but I certainly have a thing or two to learn from you on presentation.

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    1. Thank you Choclette. That's very kind of you. I love dressing presents up with bits and pieces and always keep my eyes peeled for pretty stuff which makes the present stand out just that little bit more!

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  16. I'm feeling all Christmassy now! Thanks for entering into Treat Petite Kate.

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  17. Nice looking recipe. But what is xanthun gum and what role does it play. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks Chazs. When you use gluten free flours you need to use something to substitute for the gluten so that the flour binds properly and the bake doesn't crumble and fall apart. Xanthan gum is a gluten replacer which is widely available in supermarkets, although you can also use guar gum, modified cassava starch or ground chia seeds (and probably several other things). I tend to use xanthan as it is easy to source. I hope that makes sense!

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  18. Just found these while searching for edible gluten-free Xmas gifts - how long do they keep for? ALso, if making a non-gluten free version would you just use regular flour and leave out the xanthan gum? Thanks

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    1. Thanks for popping over. They should keep for a good couple of weeks (if you can avoid eating them for that long)!
      I have never made a non-GF version as I can't eat gluten, but I can see no reason why they wouldn't work with regular flour (and yes.... leave out the gluten too).

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