Un souvenir de Paris…
Gluten free foods are not easy to find in France. When I was in Paris over the New Year, I found that none of the major supermarkets (or, at least, none of the ones near our rental apartment) stocked gluten free products. My first day and a half in Paris was somewhat panicked, as I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to find any staple products (like bread) that were safe for me to eat. Luckily, the Internet came to my rescue and I was able to locate a health food shop relatively nearby that sold a variety of gluten free products. My momentary panic having been assuaged, I stocked up big on breads and snacks, most of which turned out to be delicious (it is France, after all).
One of the things I bought was a box of apricot sablés (crisp shortbread-type biscuits), which turned out to have a lemony overtone. I’d never thought to put apricot and lemon together, but was pleasantly surprised by the combination, and came home determined to recreate these little biscuits. Today, I finally attempted it. I’ve been stuck at home studying for exams over the past few weeks, and haven’t had much time for kitchen adventures. It’s been a stressful period, but as of today I only have one exam left, so I allowed myself a bit of time to muck around in the kitchen making cookies.
I’ve always thought that there is a distinct difference between a biscuit and a cookie. A cookie is soft and chewy, whereas a biscuit is hard and crunchy (is this just me? Do other people make this distinction…?). The sablés I had in Paris were definitely biscuits, but (as you can tell by the title of the recipe) my version are decidedly more cookie-like. They’re a little crispy on the outside, but wonderfully soft and chewy in the middle. Just how a cookie should be.
I conducted a little experiment with these. Before baking, I pricked some of the cookies with a fork, and left the others unchanged (you can see this in the picture above). I did this because I wanted to see if it would make a difference to the way they rose. It did: the ones that had been pricked with the fork actually rose a little higher in the middle, which made them slightly more pillowy and chewy than the un-touched cookies. So if that’s the effect you’re looking for, I would recommend pricking each cookie twice with a fork before putting them in the oven (they end up looking like little buttons, which is kind of cute, too).
Enough from me now. Go forth and make cookies. I’m going back to study for my last remaining exam–at least I’ll have something to snack on!
Apricot and Lemon Cookies
makes 18-20 cookies
100g butter, softened
1.5 cups gluten-free plain flour
2/3 cup caster sugar
1tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
zest of half a lemon (approx. 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp finely chopped dried apricots
- Preheat oven to 170ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment/baking paper.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all the sugar has been incorporated.
- Sift together flour, xanthan gum and bicarb. Add to butter mixture. Stir through lemon zest and apricots, and beat on a low speed until the mix comes together as a dough.
- Take a small amount of dough in your hand (about the size of a ping-pong ball), roll it into a ball, and then flatten it into a circle. Place on the baking tray, and prick twice with a fork. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving 3-4cm between each cookie.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until just firm to the touch (they will harden more as they cool). Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Keeping time: 3 days in an airtight container.