Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gluten-free and Casein-free Girl Scout Cookies: Tagalongs!

Holy Virginian Peanuts Batman!

Ok... maybe that sounded better in my head than it actually looks on paper, but man do I love myself some peanuts and wouldn't ya know if Virginia, my home state, is known for peanuts. MacLeod on the other hand, though he loves peanuts like no other is always wary because his nephew has a deathly peanut allergy. So we tend to keep peanuts close to the cuff, not something we actually keep in the pantry all too often. But when you talk Girl Scout Cookies, you got to talk about Tagalongs.


I knew going into it that with this cookie the challenge was going to be the "shortbread" or "butter" cookie part of it. Additionally I knew that it was going to be the base for my final cookie as well, the Samoa, so I had to get it right. My friends, there are literally hundreds of recipes for these "shortbread" cookies on the interwebs out there and I tried TWELVE of them. I kid you not, I tried TWELVE. What was that you ask? Did the first few turn out like rocks? Indeed they did. Were some of them not even edible? Nope they certainly were not. Oh yes, indeed the gluten-free flours are expensive all get out! UGH! But I was on a mission I needed to get these darn cookies right. To my surprise I did manage to come up with one batch of cookies that I have slotted into my cookie recipe bank as "Danish 'butter' Cookies"... you know those ones that come in those blue tins with the coarse sugar on them?? OH so GOOD! Yes, I made some that taste just like that, but not shortbread.

Anyway, thirteenth time's a charm and I  finally got my crumbly delicious shortbread cookie that I wanted. And they were ah-mazing, biting into them you would never be able to tell that these cookies were absent of any butter, its craziness! From there it was all about chilling, cutting and assembly.


Shortbread Cookie:

1/2 C Spectrum Shortening

1 1/4 C Gluten-free Flour Blend

1/3 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt


Peanut Butter Filling:

2 C Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

3/4 C confectioners sugar (this is to thicken and sweeten, if you want to forgo the sweetener all together)



10 oz. Casein-free Chocolate chips

2 Tbs vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Blend together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl.

3. In a stand mixer add shortening and sugar and blend on medium-high until creamy. Add extract and egg. 

4. 1/2 C at a time, add flour mixture to mixer and blend after addition until all the flour has been added. The dough will begin to lump together which is what you want to happen.

5. Turn the dough back into the medium sized bowl and press it together and work it with your hands a bit just to get a uniform ball. It may be a little sticky, that is fine when it is chilled it will come together.

6. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, even over night is fine.

7. Cut two pieces of parchment paper, place one on your work space. Cut the dough in quarters(its easiest to work with a portion of the dough at one time)and flatten the dough just slightly and press the second piece of parchment on top of it.

8. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4" thick. I actually put a ruler to it to measure this because I wanted to get a really nice thickness for the shortbread. A thin shortbread is too crisp. Try your hardest to keep a uniform thickness in the dough.

9. With a cutter (1.5" round) cut round circles and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

10. Bake for 10-12 mins. at 350 degrees. As soon as you pull the cookies out of the oven with a spoon or ladle (as I used) push a small indentation into the cookie to create a little more of a space for your peanut butter filling.

11. While the cookies are cooling, combine the peanut butter and sugar and blend vigorously, you can do it in a stand mixer, but by fork does just fine, just be sure to blend it well enough to get all the lumps out and get a smooth consistency. When you first add the sugar it will lump together but as you continue to break it back up and mix it will thin back out and become smooth again.

12. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (a Ateco 802 or similar) OR you can use a freezer bag with the corner cut off with an ok result as well. (the piping bag is just a little neater and cleaner, but improvisation works and makes for a budget friendly kitchen!) With bag filled, hold bag upright over cookies, and squeeze enough peanut butter to spread to the edge of the cookie. With on offset spatula or knife, spread the peanut butter to the edge of the cookie.  If you don't like how the shape of the peanut butter looks (because that is what the shape is going to look like after they are chocolate coated) you can reshape a little after they are refrigerated).

13. Repeat with each cookie and place completed sheet of peanut buttered cookies in freezer (the freezer, kids, is a must. When these peanut butter cookies get dipped in the hot chocolate they NEED to be cold, do not skip this step) for at least 30 minutes.

14. Towards the end of the chilling, melt your coating chocolate at 30 second intervals being careful not to burn the chocolate.

15. If you want to reshape any peanut butter mounts, do so now or forever hold your peace. I am a perfectionist and can't help but reshape them.

 Before the                  After the Chilling                      Chilling
16. When the cookies have chilled, using a fork place the cookies in the chocolate and immerse them in the chocolate then with the top of the cookie facing up, scoop the fork under the cookie and gently tap the cookie's side at the edge of the bowl to let any extra chocolate drip off.

17. Place cookies onto a parchment lines cookie sheet to set. Once all the cookies are on the sheet, refrigerate to help set the chocolate.

18. (Again.. unnecessary step, but I do it for looks)If you want the looks to look nice, you can simply take a paring  knife to the edge to cut off any excess chocolate that puddle when you placed them after the chocolate dredge. But it's up to you, the taste great just the same!

19. Add a moderate amount of milk... or in my case a dairy-free substitute and enjoy!


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