Apricot, Dark Chocolate, Pecan Cookies

gluten free cookies

“Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy…doesn’t try it on.”
~Billy Connolly

There’s something comforting and calming about a hot cup of tea and freshly-baked cookies. Perhaps for some it’s purely nostalgic; surfacing memories of childhood. For others, it may allow the chance to escape from everyday life, if even for a moment.

gluten and dairy free cookies

Although neither of my parents are the baking kind, it seems that baking and cookies are a bigger part of my ancestral makeup than I could have imagined. After a recent discussion with my father, I pleasantly discovered that my grandparents’ 60 year-long romance first blossomed in no other than a cookie manufacturer plant. This plant was owned by Peek-Freans and was located in Bermondsey, South-East London. The even more ironic (or stereotypically British) thing is that my Grandfather would then move on to work at a tea division warehouse as an engineer. The company was located close to London’s notable Tower Bridge where he would continue his work for 47 years!

Wedding

Doris & Fred in 1937, London, England

My Grandmother, Doris, was famously known for saying the following about my grandfather: “Never place cookies close to Fred because he’ll eat them all!” While he might have had a bit of a sweet-tooth, he must have done something right as he lived well into his eighties with few health problems. Although he probably wouldn’t have tasted a dairy or gluten-free cookie in his time, I sure hope that if he had tried these, he wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between this cookie recipe and the “real” thing.

Apricot, Dark Chocolate, Pecan Cookies  (Dairy & Gluten-Free)

Prep Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 7 – 8 minutes     Yield: 25 – 30 cookies
Author: Milk & Marigolds (Adapted from Roben Ryberg’s You Won’t Believe it’s Gluten-free!)

Ingredients:
½ cup of all-vegetable shortening (or butter)
½ cup of brown sugar, packed firmly
1 egg
1 tablespoon of rice or almond milk
1 cup (125 g) of cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ cup of pecans, partially crushed
½ cup of dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup of dried apricots, diced

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
2. Combine the shortening (or butter) and sugar and mix until smooth. I used my mixer on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add the egg and mix until dispersed and until the dough becomes thick.
4. Add all other ingredients except the chocolate, pecans and diced apricots. Beat until creamy. I used medium speed for 2 minutes.
5. Mix in the chocolate, pecans and diced apricots.
6. Using a teaspoon to measure, place rounded amounts onto the cookie sheet leaving 1 ½ inches between each cookie.
7. Press cookies down to a  ¼ inch thickness. Moist fingers are helpful.
8. Bake for 7 – 8 minutes, set aside to cool.
9. Enjoy with you favourite beverage.

Tips:
These cookies are fluffy and soft in texture. If you prefer a cookie with extra crunch, leave them in the oven for an extra minute. Substitute dried apricots for dried cranberries, mango or pineapple. I find that by adding dried fruit, it helps to keep g-free baked goods moist.

Wondering what in the world xanthan gum is?  I was too!  According to Bob’s Red Mill, “Xanthan Gum is a plant-based thickening and stabilizing agent…In the world of gluten-free baking, xanthan gum plays the crucial role of imitating gluten. In baking, gluten is what makes dough “doughy.” It gives the dough elasticity, as well as viscosity. Those properties help to hold a cookie together while it bakes on a sheet in the oven, and they enable cakes and breads to hold onto the gas bubbles that form inside them – this allows them to rise and take shape. Xanthan gum helps replicate these properties in recipes that do not contain gluten.”

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