Who needs candy when you’ve got..?

April 4, 2010

…cookies!

And a new laptop because the beast finally gave up the ghost.  Oh, for you to have been a fly on the wall during the week I tried to recover the files on my hard drive – photos, ebooks galore, WordPress templates,, years of Just Not Dinner stuff…  While trying to figure out Windows 7.  And looking for the damn print icon in Excel 2007.  Fun times, I tell you.

Attempt #1: A network switch.  My theory was that the monitor port on the beast crapped out – the laptop screen went kaput over 2 years ago but I was able to get around that with an old flat screen monitor we had hanging around.  So this past Tuesday evening, I plugged in the network switch I borrowed from work and hooked it up to both laptops.  BIG.  FAT.  FAIL.  I figured, eh – no big deal yet – I did some digging around online and read about Puppy Linux, which would supposedly allow me to access my files on the beast.  I downloaded the program, burned the image to a CD, and went to bed.

Attempt #2: Puppy Linux.  Forgetting about the whole monitor problem, I popped the disk in the cd drive of the beast on Wednesday night.  It booted.  I got the dreaded blue screen of death…before the screen went dark.  OK.  GINORMUS FAIL.  I decided it was okay to freak out just a bit.  The BSOD could be software-related, could be hardware-related.  I prayed to the computer gods that it was software.

Attempt #3: Hard drive enclosure.  Hit Staples before work and bought it.  After doing the big cook for the boss that afternoon and evening, I pulled out my little screwdriver set and got to work.  I wish I’d done a bit of  research before taking out every screw in the bottom of the beast – after which I realized I could just pop the hard drive out of the side with the push of a button.  So I had the hard drive – it didn’t fit in the case I bought.  Until I realized there was a little case around the hard drive that I had to take off first (glad no one was around for any of this).  It slid into its new home, which was then plugged into the new laptop.  Holy cats – there were my files!   All I had to do was unencrypt what I wanted to see/use and I was golden.

I celebrated in the kitchen with cookies.

This recipe came to me via my sister just before Christmas, who got it from a friend.  Because I’d never eaten the gluten version, I asked her eleventy-billion questions about mouth feel, texture, etc. before tackling the recipe.   They turned out wonderfully on the first try, but the icing didn’t do much for me.

Since it was 80 degrees and sunny when I was putting the dough together again this week, I decided to make them spring-y and Easter-y all at the same time.  Because I roll like that, you know.  Why I decided to start playing with royal icing at 11:00 PM, I don’t know.  But the results were so pretty, spring-y and….technicolor, I decided it was worth the lack of sleep.

These cookies are such a taste explosion that really, they don’t need icing at all.  But what’s a cut-out cookie without icing, right?  Do what feels right for you.

It seems like a truckload of extract, I know.  Trust me on this one.

Soft & Sweet Cut Out Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen; I actually got 46 cookies with the cutters I used this time.

3/4 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup sweet rice flour (white rice flour works also)

3/4 cup tapioca flour

3/4 cup cornstarch

1 tbsp xanthan gum

1 cup cold butter

A dash of salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract (have you made your own yet?  You’ll never buy it again…)

1 tsp almond extract (making this one next!)

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp orange extract

In a mixer bowl, sift together the brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and baking powder.  Stir in the salt and sugar until well combined.  Remove the butter from the fridge and cut it into small pieces (I cut it into tablespoons, then the tablespoons into quarters).  Turn the mixer on low speed, then add the butter bit by bit, continuing to mix until all of the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks like crumbs.  Add the extracts and the eggs one at a time, continuing to mix on low speed until the dough comes together.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (shape it like a flattened disk to make it easier to roll later) and place it in the fridge.  Chill overnight.

When you’re ready to make, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Remove the dough disk from the fridge and set it on the counter.  Allow it to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before starting.

I have rolled this dough two ways – between sheets of waxed paper and also using a dusting of white rice flour on a board.  They work equally well as long as you keep the flour-dusting to a minimum to keep from adding too much extra flour to the dough.  Whichever way you choose, roll the dough out evenly to a thickness of 1/4″ or so – NO LESS.  Tap your cookie cutter edges into a bit of white rice flour before cutting cookies.  Cookies can be placed as close as 1/2″ apart on the prepared pans.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the time, until the cookies are just beginning to brown.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

Note: Leaving the dough at about 1/4″ thick gives a cookie that rises like this.  With a somewhat cakey, soft texture, eating these almost seems decadent!

Icing Recipe that came with the original cookie recipe

Not the icing in the photos

3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 tsps almond extract

3 tbsp milk

Whisk all together, adding the milk one tablespoon at a time, until combined and the desired thickness.

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