“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
I’m tempted to write only this. After all, it’s the only phrase I hear in my head when someone says cannoli. Probably you too. (And if you don’t know what it is, look here. Watch out — you’re going to want spaghetti and meatballs after watching this movie.)
However, I want to share just this bit more.
I am constantly astonished by how much better my life is now than when I ate gluten. If you have been reading this site for awhile, you know this is true. In fact, you have been watching the story unfold — finding my health, writing here, getting an agent, meeting Danny, publishing a book, Lucy arriving in our lives, writing a cookbook, moving to our island home, going around the country talking with people about this cookbook. Add to this the fact that I don’t have to grade papers anymore? That alone would be enough, frankly, to make me say that living gluten-free is joy for me.
But here’s the other part I love. Would I have ever made cannoli from scratch when I thought I could eat gluten? No way. I would have driven to a bakery and eaten the work of other people’s hands.
That bakery cannoli? No way I would ever remember them as vividly as I will remember these gluten-free cannoli.
I’ll never forget spending the afternoon with my dear friend Nina, who came over just to make cannnoli with me, Danny, and Lucy. None of us had cannoli tubes. None of the stores we looked in had cannoli tubes. So we winged it. Nina’s wonderful husband, Booth, fashioned some cannoli tubes out of old bicycle handles. The kitchen was a cluttered mess from all the baking we had been doing earlier in the day. Lu skipped her nap, so she was cranky and clingy, the opposite of her usual self. Danny heated up the oil, then he had to leave for work. The handlebars were too thick, so we switched to something smaller. That’s why you could have found me in our kitchen, wrapping gluten-free cannoli dough around a bright blue Sharpie (pen cap on, of course). Those were too thin. So, like Goldilocks (and the Buddha), we found the middle way: the handle of an offset spatula.
How could I ever forget this?
(We’re thrilled that this recipe is being featured at Oprah.com’s roundup of holiday recipes for 2009. For more of our featured posts, visit Oprah.com today.)
No time to write a story. Pushing against the deadline, Christmas. Breathing. Still refusing to grow frantic. Instead, I will stay mostly silent here. I will simply say…
these are fantastic.
Read this, then start baking, right now.
SPICY GINGER COOKIES, adapted from Chez Panisse
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1 1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 teaspoon strong cinnamon
3 teaspoon dried ginger
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Combine all the dry ingredients together. If you have a stand mixer, use it here to mix the flours together well. Move to a separate bowl.
Put the softened butter into the mixer and whirl it around, just a bit. Add the sugar and cream the butter and sugar. Not too much, however — too much will make the cookies spread. ADd the eggs and molasses. Combine everything until has become a coherent mixture.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix them until they are just combined, and no more. Stop the mixer.
Prepare a loaf pan by placing a piece of plastic wrap on the bottom, with at least two inches of overhang on either side. Spoon the cookie dough into the loaf pan, then smooth the surface with a spatula. Cover the top with the plastic wrap. Put the loaf pan into the freezer and freeze overnight.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the loaf pan from the freezer and take the log of dough out of the plastic wrap. Carefully, cut thin slices from the loaf of dough and lay them on a silpat on the baking sheet. (If you don’t have a silpat, use parchment paper.) Bake for ten to twelve minutes. The cookies will feel slightly soft to the touch, and possibly underbaked.
Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for at least ten minutes before you try to move them. Transfer them to a cooling rack. Allow them to sit there for another fifteen minutes before eating. (Really. You have to try!) At this point, you can leave the cookies this size, or you can cut them into smaller rectangles for little spicy ginger bites.