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Gluten and the Christmas Cookie

No, I do not have celiac’s disease.  Recently, my aunt, who lives close by, was  diagnosed with celiac’s after over a year of trying to “figure out what was wrong.”  Her younger sister had been diagnosed about five years ago.  Consequently, it is in the family so I look into gluten free items when I can.

My mother always makes macaroons (meringues with coconut) for my aunt.  I just sent the following three meringue-based recipes for Christmas cookies.

Fruit-Filled Chocolate Meringues

2 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Dash salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, halved or
quartered depending on size
3/4 cup fresh or frozen whole raspberries
1 tablespoon superfine or confectioners’ sugar (for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar, vanilla and salt until soft peaks form (tips of peaks will curl over when beaters are removed).

3. Beat in sugar a little at a time until soft peaks form (peaks will remain upright when beaters are removed). Sprinkle cocoa over top and fold in gently.

4. Drop meringue by 1/4 cup portions onto parchment paper that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Indent center of each with back of tablespoon.

5. Bake 45 minutes or until dry to touch. Remove and cool. When completely cooled, store in air-tight container to prevent meringues from becoming soggy before serving time.

6. Just prior to serving, fill center of each meringue with mixture of fruit so berries mound slightly. Lightly dust fruit with sugar to garnish. If confectioners’ sugar is used, sift lightly over berries using small strainer and spoon to move sugar through strainer. This technique achieves light dusting desired.

Makes 6 servings.

3/4 cup almonds
8 ounces bitterweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons mixed  candied peel, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 extra-large egg whites
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1.  Heat oven to 300F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liner.  Put almonds and 1 ounce of chopped chocolate into bowl of food processor; process until mixture forms fine crumbs, about 1 minute.  Add candied peel and all the spices and process 1 more minute, or until well combined.

2.  Place egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl and beat with an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks form.  Gradually whisk in confectioner’ sugar, then beat 1 minute, or until mixture is very stiff and glossy.  Sprinkle the spice mixture over the meringue and gently fold until combined.

3.  Drop tablespoons of meringue mixture 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.  Use a small offset spatula or rounded knife to spread each dollop into a 3-inch disk.  Bake 15 to  20 minutes, until pale golden and firm.  Set baking sheets on a wire rack.  When completely cool, peel cookies off parchment.

4.  Melt the remaining chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set above a small pot of boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Stir gently until melted and smooth; remove from heat.  Spread the flat side of each cookie with a thin layer of melted chocolate.  Place cookies on a wire rack or lined baking sheet and leave in a cool, dry place to let chocolate set.

NOTE:  You can also melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave on medium power in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth.


Mint Meringues
Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen
Prep Time 15  minutes
Bake at 200F for 2 hours
4 large egg whites, at room temperatures
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon mint extract or imitation peppermint extract
red and green food coloring
2 candy canes, finely crushed
1.  Heat oven to 200F.  Line two large baking sheets with nonstick foil.  In a bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar.  Beat on high speed with whip attachment until whites become foamy.  Gradually add sugar, until thick, then add mint extract.
2.  Divide batter in half; with red food coloring tine one half pink and with green food coloring, tint second half green.  Transfer to two large resealable bags (or pastry bags fitted with large round tips).  Snip a 1/2-inch corner off bags.  Squeeze meringue batter onto foil-lined sheets, about 26 per sheet.  Sprinkle each with a little of the crushed candy cane pieces. 
3.  Bake meringues at 200F for 2 hours, then turn oven off and let cookies sit in oven for 30 minutes.  Remove cookies from pans and transfer to a wire rack.  Cool completely.

Per cookie:  14 calories, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs

2 thoughts on “Gluten and the Christmas Cookie

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