February 03, 2008

Buckwheat Molasses Cookies - Gluten Free!

I wanted to make a good, gluten-free cookie, something that I could give as a birthday gift to friends with wheat allergies, or celiac or, for other reasons, are living gluten-free. I wanted it to be something that I would be proud to serve to anyone, something that didn't have that settling for less quality about it.

Alton Brown has published a gluten-free chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe that looks pretty good, but I don't usually have brown rice flour or xantham gum lying about the kitchen. I do have buckwheat flour, though, and arrowroot powder. I wanted something that I wouldn't have to run to the specialty store to buy (although your pantry mileage may vary).

Buckwheat flour has a more drying effect than whole wheat flour, so I decreased the amount from my usual recipe. Without gluten to stabilize the cookie shape, I added a little arrowroot powder to help control the spread and height.

Buckwheat flour has a pretty strong flavour, and not everyone grooves on it. I decided that it's best bet was a cookie that had a lot of aggressive flavours of its own. Enter the Ginger Snap, one of my favourite stir-up-and-bake recipes. With molasses and ginger and cinnamon competing for tongue-time, the buckwheat taste would be more muted, more sedate, right? Well, as it turns out, almost. It should be noted that I increased the amount of ginger and cinnamon to double the usual amount (and, heck, it should even be noted that this was an accident), but it stands as the way to go, to stand up to the strong scent and character of the buckwheat.

Texturally, they got the lovely crackled tops that I was hoping for, but the interior of the cookie is tenderer than a classic Ginger Snap. Almost fudgy, while they're still warm, and I confess I have yet to try them completely cooled.

I didn't get a perfectly interchangeable version of my Ginger Snaps, the never tell the difference kind, but I got a very, very good cookie.

Buckwheat Molasses Cookies


Makes 3 - 4 dozen

1 3/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Extra sugar for dusting

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the oil and sugar together. You don't need a mixer here, a wooden spoon is fine. Add the egg, and beat until smooth. Add the molasses and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Whisk until thoroughly combined, and then dump it into the molasses mixture. Stir slowly as the dough stiffens up into a thick paste, being sure to incorporate all of the flour. You don't want any white streaks in the dough, it should be completely dark brown.

Use a teaspoon to scoop up a walnut-sized lump of dough, and roll it between your palms until it is nice and round. Dip the top of it in white granulated sugar and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Leave a little room between each cookie, as they will expand.

Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes - they should be a little underdone when you pull them out. Remove to cooling racks immediately, and get the next batch in the oven. Try not to eat them all at once.

They smell a little bit like pancakes, while they're baking.


~M said...

These look great and I love using blackstrap molasses! Do you think they'd work with quinoa flour or teff flour instead of the buckwheat? I've got a big back of the arrowroot already.

Dawna said...

Hi ~m, thanks for stopping by.

I haven't used teff flour or quinoa flour before, so I'm not sure about their properties. You could certainly go ahead and try, though!

I really like quinoa as a grain, but haven't used it as a flake or flour yet. It has a milder taste, so you might not need as much in the way of spicing in these cookies.

The ratio of buckwheat to replace wheat flour that I used was 7/8 cup buckwheat flour plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder per cup of flour. You may want to check to see what the recommended ratio is for quinoa and/or teff before starting.

Anonymous said...

I must pass this on to Sarah - her of the wheat intolerance. Finally getting caught up with your blog! How I wish I could hire you to cater my wedding...


Dawna said...

Catherine! Great to hear from you. I've re-named these cookies "Buckies" which is just faster to say, and sort of cute, I guess. Do let me know if Sarah likes them.

I would LOVE to cater your wedding - sadly, with no guarantee that my hands will be working on any given day, it wouldn't be an option even if I could take enough time off.


But, I'll be there!

Lady Li-Lei said...

Thanks for a great recipe! I substituted potato starch for the arrowroot flour and they still turned out very nice. :)

Dawna said...

I'm not surprised that potato flour worked well, too, given the similar properties. Thanks for letting me know your results!

Stacie said...

I just found this recipe and can't wait to whip some up for the holidays! Thank you for experimenting with Gluten-Free-it is sure appreciated!

~M said...

I was given some Arrowhead Mills buckwheat flour (which is less strong than Bob's Red Mill's buckwheat flour) and so I made these for a holiday tea. :) They are great! I especially like the spice!

Holly Klarer said...

I don't have arrowroot powder! Thinking about baking in muffin tins to hold shape?

Holly Klarer said...

I don't have arrowroot powder on hand! Was thinking about baking in muffin tins to hold shape?

Dawna said...

Holly, perhaps potato flour, or cornstarch? Muffin cups sound like they would help keep them from spreading too much. Let me know how it works out.