101 alternative flours : gluten free cookies with a scent of Christmas | water chestnut flour cookies with ginger and cloves
Cookies baked with water chestnut flour is not a usual recipe but this is not the first cookie recipe with water chestnut flour that I have done. I have been working on gluten free recipes for a long time and have worked with many alternative flours to bake cookies, granola bars and even cakes and muffins. Although gluten is not a monster for everyone, not at all to be frightened with especially in the festive season, but one needs to restrict gluten intake at all times for very valid reasons. One of the reasons is that you get to eat many more ingredients having a wider range of nutrients for the body. So start experimenting with water chestnut flour for baking cookies now. You would be pleased with the results trust me. These cookies are very crisp and crunchy, the texture would make you forget maida (white flour) cookies forever. You would wonder why you have been eating the crap till now.
Christmas season is for warm flavours, more nuts and more small nibbles if you ask me. I always need some of the other warm drink whether it is Kahva, Ginger ale, green tea infused with lemongrass or kumquats or peaches, or the good old hot chocolate during these months. Having something to nibble with such hot or warm drinks adds to the winter comfort and what else would be better than spiced cakes or cookies. While the Ginger Honey Ragi cake is my favourite, I bake a few ginger cookies, Sesame-Ginger-Honey bars and Ginger-Jaggery Energy bars too in this season. I find these flavours so rich and satiating that you don't feel like eating a lot. Just like a good quality dark chocolate that satiates in just one small bite, such warm spiced cookies and cakes satiate in small bites and make a great accompaniment to winter drinks.
I baked these ginger and cloves flavoured cookies with water chestnut flour for gifting and wanted to make them prettier but I had very restricted time and had to bake a larger quantity so I decided to bake a sheet of cookie dough and then cut it in squares for the ease and for the purpose of time management. I think it looks alright. But you can always cut the rolled cookie dough using a cookie cutter of a desired shape and bake as you like.
I am sharing the way I bake my quick square cut cookies, patting the dough into a sheet using a trick to make it smooth, baking it till done and then cut it in squares or rectangles and then let the cookies cool down and get crisp. I am sure you would feel lazy to cut your cookies using cookie cutters after seeing this quick method. No I am not trying to make you lazy ;-)
(48 regular sized cookies)
water chestnut flour (singhade ka atta) 450 gm
ghee 220 gm
milk 30 ml
natural brown sugar ( I used raw shakkar) 200 gm
fresh ginger root minced 2 tbsp (30 gm)
dry ginger powder 1.5 tsp
clove powder 1/4 tsp
mixed seeds ( I used melon seeds and sunflower seeds) 40 gm
chopped almonds 30 gm
I pulsed everything (except the chopped almonds) in my food processor to mix well and make a dough that looks lumpy. Since it is winters the ghee is solid and doesn't need refrigeration before using, but if you are making this cookie is summer months you will need to get the ghee solidified by refrigerating it for an hour or so.
If not using a food processor, you can rub everything together to make a homogeneous mass that looks like a tough dough that binds well if compressed in fist.
Now line a baking tray (size 10"X 11" ) with silpat and spread this dough evenly over it. Press it down to make a smooth compressed sheet. I have never used parchment paper to like the baking sheet for such cookies but you can try doing that and peel off the parchment paper as soon as the cookie dough is half baked, invert on a large wooden chopping board and peel off careful not to break it and then bake again till done.
Preheat the oven at 250 C.
I normally hammer it down with the help of a small rectangular wooden chopping board that I have. The idea is to compress the sheet of dough to make equal thickness throughout.
See the picture below to get an idea what kind of a wooden block I use to hammer the cookie sheet.
Bake the contents of the tray at 150 C for an hour.
Take out, invert the tray on a large wooden chopping board or work surface and make suitably sized squares or rectangles of cookies or bars. Cut the squares while the baked cookie sheet is still warm as it will get hard and crumbly once cold.
Let it cool and store in airtight container. These cookies stay well for a couple of months if stored well. The cookies taste great with warm milk, spiced hot chocolate, warm ginger ale or green teas.
And I am hopeful that you wouldn't think about baking maida cookies once you taste this Water-chestnut flour cookie and the other alternative flour cookies and bars that you must try. Please let me know if you bake these.