By Carolyn Ketchum -
One of the great things about small children is that they don’t expect us to be
perfect. They expect a lot of us, but perfection is not among their list of demands. Thank goodness, because I am far from perfect (nor do I want to be). Well, maybe I wouldn’t mind being perfect… but it would have to be the sort of perfection that is completely effortless. I am far too busy and far too lazy to put any effort into being perfect.
My lack of perfection is never more apparent than when it comes to cake and
cookie decorating. I simply haven’t the patience for it. I always have these glorious images in my head when I set about making iced cakes and cookies, but the reality never quite lives up to my imagination. Sometimes they aren’t even close. My
husband teases me because whenever the decorating goes awry, which is almost always, I say, “Well, at least it will taste good!” You know when I’ve made that remark, things are not going the way I planned and I am losing patience faster than a
popped balloon loses air. Thankfully, it usually does taste good and sometimes it
tastes really, really good. If I am striving for perfection in any area of baking and cooking, it’s flavor. Appearance… well, not so much.
This is where the little kids come in and make me feel like a million bucks. They are
too young to have a true frame of reference, and they think my creations look amazing. Their eyes get all big and they look up at me with mouths half-open, as if I am some sort of decorating genius. It’s balm for frazzled, icing-thwarted nerves. (I
am wondering how long I can keep fooling them this way. My son is almost 8, and I’m
sure that I only have a few more years before that pre-teen skepticism kicks in.) It’s
the teenage years when our kids start actually expecting us to be perfect. Sorry
kids, you are going to wait a long time before your mama ever achieves perfection. Pigs might actually fly that day.
When thinking of a Halloween-themed treat for Easy Eats, my mind kept drifting to soft, rolled sugar cookies – the sort you see at the grocery store with mounds of frosting and sprinkles in whatever seasonal color scheme. I’ve never liked that kind
of cookie much, but my kids are drawn to them like moths to the flame. I suppose the lurid colors of the frosting appeal to a child’s eyes, but I am not about to let my kids loose on those horrid mounds of flour and sugar. Clearly it was time to attempt a gluten-free, reduced-sugar version. Why not? They might not look that pretty, but at least they will taste good!
And they do. They taste really, really good. I’ve developed a pretty delicious almond flour roll-out cookie and for these I just made them a little thicker and baked them a little less so they stayed soft. For the frosting, I subbed my favorite powdered
erythritol for the sugar. I used a bit of green sanding sugar to color the stems of the cookies and some Halloween sprinkles to create Jack-O-Lantern faces. That was the height of my decorating talents, but my kids were impressed and that’s all that really matters.
A few words of note: you can use sugar in place of my sweeteners, should you be so inclined. Also, try to keep the cookies on the small side. The only pumpkin cookie cutter I could find is quite large, almost 4 inches across, and as with so many gluten-free baked goods, they are a little fragile. But don’t worry if they break… at least
they taste good!
Halloween Cut Out Cookies
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons gluten-free oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup granulated erythritol OR sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup powdered erythritol OR powdered sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 drops red food coloring paste
3 drops yellow food coloring paste
For the cookies , in a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, oat flour, xanthan gum and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and erythritol or sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, and then beat in almond flour mixture until dough comes together. Turn out dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Pat into a rough circle and then top with another piece of parchment. Roll out to about 1/3-inch thickness. Place on a cookie sheet and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F and line another baking sheet with parchment. Using pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and lift carefully with a small, offset spatula or knife. Place cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Reroll your dough and cut out more cookies (if your dough gets too soft to work with, you can put it in the freezer for a bit to harden up). Bake cookies 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool on pan.
For the icing, beat together butter and powdered erythritol or sugar. Add cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Stir in vanilla and food coloring. Spread on cooled cookies.
Carolyn Ketchum is the evil mastermind behind All Day I Dream About Food, a mostly low-carb, gluten-free food blog. She has always been a healthy eater, but since
being diagnosed with diabetes, she has overhauled her own diet and is now working
on that of her family. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Facebook.