[pinit] These gluten free thumbprint cookies in chocolate turtle flavor are either a bit late for gluten free Christmas cookies, or right on time for Valentine’s Day, exactly 10 days from today. Like most holidays, I’m happy to celebrate if there’s food. I have definitely passed that trait along to my children, who insist upon celebrating every holiday. They know that I don’t discriminate, and they also know that they might have to celebrate a bit early so that I can share the recipes with all of you. And anyway Valentine’s Day is completely made up, so, you know.
You don’t have to drizzle melted chocolate on top of the cookies, but if you do then it will automatically look fancy and like you put in way more effort than you actually did. Let’s face it: part of the love of baking comes from the oooohs and the aahhhhhhs we get upon serving. That’s why making 30 dozen cookies for a faceless group of people you’ll never meet (BTDT) is a completely joyless experience. That’s why I can’t imagine myself ever opening up a bakery. I may or may nothave a cute little gluten free bakery all planned out in my mind, with huge windows to the shop is flooded with light, and a cute little apron covered in gluten free flour. Then I remember the joylessness in all the dozens, and I wake up.
Gluten free thumbprint cookies are some of the most versatile cookies you can make (I’ve got a recipe for plain vanilla gluten free thumbprints, too, ‘course), since you can fill them with whatever you like. Melted chocolate, melted caramel, seedless jam or even frosting (fun!) are all legit fillings.
Since these are chocolate, you’ll have to judge whether they’re done or not by their texture, not a slight browning around the edges or anything. They go from glossy (raw) to matte (baked).
Substitution Questions (NOTE: I have not tried any of these, so these are just suggestions): DAIRY FREE: I would try using a mix of half melted and cooled shortening/half room temperature Earth Balance for the butter, and full fat coconut milk for the cream.
NUT FREE: Easy! Just sprinkle with something other than nuts. :)
EGG FREE: Since it’s only one egg, I would recommend using one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon chia flour + 3 tablespoons lukewarm water) as that is the most neutral-flavored egg replacement that actually adds structure instead of just moisture (applesauce only adds moisture, and eggs provide much more than moisture).
YOUR TURN: As always, if you try a substitution or have go-to substitutions for your own dietary needs, please feel free to share them in the comments. But please remember that these are substitutions, not options, and they will affect the final result to varying degrees. Let’s keep this friendly, too. They’re just cookies!
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
3 tablespoons (27 g) cornstarch (you can try arrowroot if you can’t have corn)
7 tablespoons (35 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (you can try replacing with an equal amount of natural unsweetened cocoa powder + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg (60 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
CARAMEL FILLING 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce, weighted) water
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Chopped raw pecans, for sprinkling
Melted chocolate, for drizzling (optional)
First, make the cookies. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
Make the cookie dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar, and whisk to combine again, working out any lumps. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter, egg and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will come together and be thick but soft. Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill while you make the caramel filling.
Make the caramel filling. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the granulated sugar, cream of tartar and water, and mix to combine well. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat, and cook until the mixture is beginning to turn amber in color (to ensure that you do not burn the sugar, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and remove it from the heat when the sugar mixture reaches 300°F). Remove the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, slowly add the cream. The mixture will bubble fiercely. Keep stirring until the mixture stops bubbling and is smooth. Add the butter and salt, and whisk to combine well. Pour the caramel into a separate heat-safe bowl or jar, and allow to cool while you make the cookies. It will thicken as it cools.
Shape the cookies. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, press into a disk about 1/2-inch thick, and place about 1 inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Press the moistened bowl of a 1/2 teaspoon (or your thumb, moistened) into the center of each disk, about 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the dough. If the dough begins to stick to the teaspoon or your thumb, moisten it in between each cookie.
Bake the cookies. Place the cookies in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and set (they will not glisten when they’re baked like they do when they’re raw). Remove the cookies from the oven, and press the thumbprint depressions again with the bowl of a 1/2 teaspoon if any have puffed up too much during baking. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assemble the cookies. Once the cookies are cool, fill the thumbprint depressions with the cooled caramel, sprinkle immediately with chopped pecans and drizzle with the (optional) melted chocolate. Allow to sit at room temperature until set (about 20 minutes—less if you refrigerate the cookies).