(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.)
When you choose to love someone, you accept more than one person in your life. Truly loving someone means inheriting an entire world.
The moment between two people is dear, more powerful and tender than any people outside those two will ever understand. This shared life is ineffably beautiful, a little universe of two. But if its true love, that universe starts expanding, pretty quickly.
The holidays are approaching. Family time. Your parents beam with happiness when they find out that he does not have to work on Christmas Eve, and thus everyone can have two full days together for games and food. His father sends out the Christmas letter to the four brothers and sisters, and the two of you, and he officially welcomes you into the family by including you in the gift exchange. The two of you trade tears at the way you have been accepted.
And then he tells you that his mother makes him cookies, every year. She has been making the same cookies for forty years, or so. No one has ever made them for her. So the two of you conspire, and you make two different batches, with different gluten-free flours, until they look fantastic. Late at night, he takes a bite of the last batch, and tears form in his eyes. These are my moms cookies, he says, and hugs you close.
No baking has ever felt this good.
The next day, you put together a package, and send a tin of the cookies to Arizona, overnight. All day, the two of you giggle, wondering when they will receive it. The next afternoon, as you are driving to the restaurant, the cell phone rings. He answers it ands smiles wide. After a few moments, he passes the phone to you.
His mother exhales, I just cant believe you did this! She says of the photograph of the two of you that you tucked into the box, We are going to put this out for everyone to see. Im sure that well look at it on Christmas Eve and cry. You feel more grateful than you can say, but you also love how familiar her voice is now, enough that you know she is holding back tears as she talks.
His father comes on the line, and thanks you, profusely. He asks how your book is coming, and you assure him that youll make the deadline. Of course you will. And then he says, of the cookies: These are gluten-free? Well, then I dont need any damned gluten! These are great. And you grin, because here is a man nearly eighty years old, and he is still open enough to allow himself to change. You hear the man you love in his fathers voice, and more than anything, you just hope that you have the chance to love that man until he is eighty.
It is the first holiday season the two of you share, and his parents approve of your gluten-free cookies. This universe you share together it feels enormous and beneficent.
And then you share it with everyone reading on the internet.
ROSEMARYS CHRISTMAS COOKIES, GLUTEN-FREE
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white rice flour
½ cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup each roasted hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 300°.
Cream the butter and powdered sugar in a stand mixer, or by hand. Cream them until they are just combined, and then one beat more. Over-creaming butter and sugar in gluten-free cookies makes them spread, horribly. Add the vanilla extract and mix it in.
Combine the rice flour, tapioca flour, and almond meal in a large bowl. Sift the mixed flours for a soft texture. Add the sifted flour to the butter, sugar, and vanilla mix. Mix until just beaten in.
Add the three kinds of nuts to the dough and mix until they are well integrated into the dough. Refrigerate for at least one hour before forming into cookies.
Form small blobs of dough, as large as the width of the palm of your hand. Gingerly, tenderly, roll them out to small logs. If the logs of dough form little tails, more narrow than the rest, snip those off and start again. Place them down carefully on the silpat on a baking sheet. You should be able to fit about fifteen logs of dough on the sheet.
Put into the oven and bake for eighteen to twenty minutes. The cookies will be firm to the touch, with a bit of give, when they are done. Sieve powdered sugar over the tops of the cookies, and then put a bit more on. Set the baking sheet aside for ten minutes. Do not attempt to live the cookies yet. However, the cookies might have spread, just a bit. Gently, using a metal spatula or your fingers, pat the edges of the cookies back into place. Let them cool on the baking sheet. After ten minutes, gently lift the cookies onto a cooling rack. Let them sit for at least an hour before eating. (I know good luck.) These hold together and taste best when you let them sit overnight.
Makes about fifteen cookies.