These gluten free waffle cookies are super crispy, crunchy, and buttery. No special equipment or ingredients needed!
Are these Pizzelles?
Over the years, many of you have asked me to develop a recipe for gluten free Pizzelle cookies, which are sweet Italian waffle cookies made with a distinct shape and pattern. I've always hesitated to say yes (even though I adore eating them!) because you absolutely have to purchase a special Pizzelle iron if you want to make that particular cookie.
I have plenty of gadgets and appliances in my kitchen that serve just a few purposes (hello, Air Fryer ??), but a Pizzelle iron seemed a bridge too far. It is so distinct that it only makes Pizzelles.
So, are they stroopwafels?
No, they're not! It seems to me that stroopwafels, the Norwegian treat made from two crispy waffled wafer cookies sandwiched around a delightful caramel filling, seem to be everywhere lately. Maybe it's because Trader Joe's sells those stroopwafel ice cream sandwiches.
But stroopwafels are made with yeast and have a deep dark color that they get from a generous amount of molasses in the dough. These crispy waffle wafers are light and crispy and intensely buttery, but not deep, dark and rich like (I imagine) stroopwafels (to be). (I've never even had a stroopwafel!)
How to make the waffle marks
Cooking the dough in a traditional waffle iron like you would classic, fluffy gluten free waffles was not an option. It would require a thicker dough, or the iron would overcook the dough very quickly. But if you have a grid-style wire cooling rack, you can make the waffle marks very easily.
I happen to have nonstick wire cooling racks (affiliate link—feel free to shop around!). As long as the rack you have is grid-style, and not just one parallel set of lines, try spraying it with cooking oil spray and it should work just fine.
The rack will pull right off of the rolled-out dough as long as you hold the parchment paper down with one hand, and slowly pull the rack off with the other. Then, all that's left to do is brush the dough with a bit more melted butter, and place it in the oven.
Score the dough right out of the oven
This simple cookie dough (made with little more than flour, baking powder, salt, butter, and water) is pliable and soft when it first comes out of the oven. The easiest way to cut rounds out of the dough is to score the dough after about 12 minutes in the oven when it is still soft.
To brown the cookies a bit more, return them to the oven for about another 3 minutes. Then, let the cookies cool completely, undisturbed. Once they're cool, the dough will be very crispy and you can break out the rounds.
The dough must be rolled quite thin for it to crisp properly after it cools. It's too fragile to cut shapes out before it's baked. I just break up the scraps and store them in a mason jar, and my kids help themselves throughout the day.
What else can you do with this cookie dough?
If you skip the waffle marks (or simply make them very shallow so the cookies don't tear along any of the perforations), I think you could cut larger circles and bend these cookies into ice cream cones. Just be sure to work with the dough while it's still hot.
Similar to Pizzelle cookies, you could almost certainly make these into a baked cannoli shell. I'm dying to try that next. You need thick skin (literally, not figuratively), though, since you'll have to handle the dough while it's hot.
You can always use this cookie dough for its original purpose: layered with milk chocolate, as gluten free Kit Kat bars. That was the only way my son was ever going to taste that perfect chocolate candy!
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: I haven't tried this recipe with anything other than dairy butter, but I think you might be able to substitute Melt brand vegan butter. The right moisture balance is crucial since it's such a simple recipe that comes out of the oven soft and then crisps completely as it cools.
You might also try using 4 tablespoons (56 g) Earth Balance buttery sticks and 5 tablespoons (60 g) Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. For the butter that you brush on top of the dough right before baking, I'd use Earth Balance buttery sticks.
Sugar: The granulated sugar in these cookies is a large part of what makes them crisp and airy. If you'd like to try using a sugar replacement, I'd recommend Swerve granulated sugar replacement.
Gluten Free Waffle Cookies
1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour, plus more for sprinkling (I used Better Batter)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
11 tablespoons (154 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) lukewarm water, plus more if necessary
Preheat your oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine. Add 8 tablespoons (112 g) of the melted butter, vanilla, and 1/4 cup water to the bowl, and mix to combine. The dough will come together and be soft. If you’ve used a higher starch flour blend, the dough may be stiff. If it is, add more water by the half-teaspoonful and mix until the proper texture is reached.
Divide the dough into thirds and place one piece on a large sheet of unbleached parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour and pat it into a thick rectangle. Dust lightly with more flour and roll the dough into a rough rectangle that’s a bit more than 1/8-inch thick (no thinner), sprinkling lightly with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Press a nonstick grid-pattern wire cooling rack firmly onto the top of the rolled out dough to create a grid pattern on the dough. Hold down the parchment paper with one hand, and slowly peel away the cooling rack with the other hand. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the dough generously with some of the remaining melted butter.
Place the rectangle of dough, still on the parchment paper, flat on a half sheet pan. Have a large, round, metal cookie cutter (I used a plain 3 5/8-inch cutter made by Ateco, but even a metal mason jar lid will work) ready to score the dough as soon as it comes out of the oven. Place the dough in the center of the preheated oven and bake until very pale golden all over, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, and immediately use the cookie cutter to cut as many rounds as possible into the dough. Twist the cutter a bit to cut all the way through the dough, but leave the dough otherwise undisturbed. Return the baking tray to the oven for another 3 minutes or until the top is more evenly lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before breaking away the scored cookie rounds from the surrounding cookie. Crumble the scraps and use as an ice cream topper or crush completely into crumbs and use in a graham cracker-style cookie crust. Repeat with the other two pieces of dough in turn.
Adapted from this recipe for homemade gluten free Kit Kats.