As you have probably guessed, I have been baking cookies and more cookies for weeks. Nuts and flours spill on the counter. Lu is frequently reaching for a piece of dried fruit or a chocolate chip. We are making memories, she sitting on the kitchen counter, wanting to crack eggs with me, still amazed when the Kitchen Aid mixer turns on and makes that whirling cacophony.
However, I have been baking so much that I wouldn’t mind a break.
One night last week, Danny told me, “Can I bake tonight? I love baking too.” It was his day off. I had a big deadline to meet. The idea of being handed a warm cookie without putting it together? Oh yeah.
Later that evening, Danny handed me a cookie. It was wonderfully crackly with pistachios and sweet with cranberries. The cookie itself was sandy, like a sable. Lovely. Except…
“Danny, these are a little dry. I thought they’d hold together better than this.”
“I don’t know,” he said. “They taste great to me.”
“They taste great to me too. I love this cookie. But they’re dry. Did you use 11 1/2 ounces of our flour?”
He stopped, the cookie halfway to his mouth. And then he looked bashful. “I forgot. I just used cups.”
I looked at him. He looked at me. We worked together all week on that piece about baking by weight. He knows where the scale is.
“Seriously? You just used cups?”
“Sorry,” he said, and we both started laughing. I guess there’s a reason we joke that he’s the chef and I’m the pastry chef in our kitchen. We laughed for a long time, then split another cookie. It tasted especially delicious with the giggles.
At least he proved us right again. Measuring gluten-free flours by cups just doesn’t work that well.
Certainly, these cookies weren’t bad. The recipe from The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest’s Celebrated Bakery is so good that even a slightly off version will make you sigh into your pistachios. Still, use the 11.5 ounces that we specify here and these cookies will be even more buttery delicious.
And if your cookies come out dry, as these did, you can just crumble them up and make them into a crust for cheesecake. That’s what Danny made at his restaurant last week: sweet potato cheesecake with a cranberry-pistachio crust. It disappeared in two hours.
I want some. I might make these cookies again just for a bite of that cheesecake.
There are no mistakes in baking, after all. Just lessons. And giggles. And cookies.
We are giving away a copy of our cookbook to one person here. (And, we’re still too shocked to believe it, but our cookbook was named one of the best cookbooks of 2010 by the New York Times.) If you are still learning how to bake gluten-free, by weight, our cookbook will give you plenty of chances to practice.
We’re also giving away a copy of The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest’s Celebrated Bakery, which is one of the loveliest baking books we own. Not only do the recipes work, every time, but the flavor combinations will leave you wanting to make more and more cookies and scones.
Just leave a comment here about a mistake you made in baking that taught you something and made you a better baker.
GLUTEN-FREE PISTACHIO-CRANBERRY COOKIES, adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book: Breakfast Pastries, Cookies, Pies, and Satisfying Savories from the Pacific Northwest’s Celebrated Bakery
The taste of these is enough reason to make them: buttery, sugary, sweet and salty, a little crumbly, wonderful.
However, the way they look makes them even better for the holidays. Red and green, naturally. Start baking.
11.5 ounces gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces (2 US sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4.75 ounces (2/3 cup) sugar (try organic cane here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces (about 1 cup) unsalted, natural pistachios, lightly toasted
6.5 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) dried cranberries
Combining the dry ingredients. Combine the flour, xanthan gum, guar gum, and kosher salt into a medium bowl. Whisk them together, aerating as you go.
Creaming the butter and sugar. Put the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Working on low speed, mix the butter and sugar together until they are creamy, but not fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pour in the vanilla extract and mix for 1 more minute.
Finishing the cookie dough. With the mixer running, add half the floury ingredients and mix until the flour disappears. Add the remaining dry ingredients. Turn off the mixer and remove the bowl from the mixer. Fold the pistachios and dried cranberries into the dough with a rubber spatula. Make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Shaping the dough into a log. Divide the dough into half. Put each half of the dough onto parchment paper. Cover the dough, then roll it with your hands into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Refrigerate the logs of dough for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Slice and bake the cookies.Preheat the oven to 325*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Grab 1 of the logs of cookie dough from the refrigerator. Slice the cookie dough with a sharp knife, in about 1/4 to 1/2-inch-thick slices, depending on how thick you like your final cookies. Give each cookie at least 1 inch of space around it because these might spread a touch.
Slide the baking sheets into the oven and bake until the cookies have just begun to brown around the edges, about 16 to 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet in the oven halfway through the baking time. When in doubt, pull the cookies out a touch early. If you bake them too long, these will become a bit brittle.
Cool the cookies on a rack to room temperature. Eat.
Makes about 48 cookies.