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~ Gluten-Free Butter-Rum Tropical Trail Mix Cookies ~

IMG_3099Trail mix, the kind chocked full of tropical dried fruits like raisins and bananas, candied fruits like ginger, papaya, pineapple and mango, along with brazil nuts, cashews and peanuts, plus, big shavings of tender coconut, is, simply stated, one of my favorite snacks.  It's not diet food, but, it sure delivers tons of flavor and crunchy texture, and, it's undeniably a healthier snack than pretzels or potato chips.  I enjoy trail mix so much, a few times a year I toss it in a bowl with some white chocolate chips and add it to cookies.  Tropical trail mix cookies -- we're talking decadent.

For the record, I do not eat a gluten-free diet, nor do I recommend that anyone for any other reason than being a bona fide celiac adopt a gluten-free diet.  Simply stated, depriving the body of gluten, meaning wheat or by-products of wheat, for any long-term length of time, causes. not cures, health problems -- Google it you idiot.  That said, I do know two bona fide celiacs, and, when either pay a visit to my kitchen, I accommodate -- which isn't remarkably hard because lots of foods (meat, poultry, fish, seafood and vegetables), pantry ingredients and meals are gluten-free, and, for the record, there are some very good gluten-free pastas available, so know, a gluten-free pasta dish or three are helpful to keep in your back pocket.  I can count the number of gluten-free recipes in my repertoire on one hand, and, for my needs that's just fine.

My criteria:  GF cookies that taste as good as they look using readily-available ingredients, &, in the case of GF, cleanliness is next to godliness -- let's talk about cross-contamination:

While baking gluten-free cookies requires no special equipment, it is important the equipment you do use be spotless -- literally.  Why?  The answer is cross-contamination -- and it is very, very dangerous.  Celiac disease can be triggered by even the smallest spec of gluten. This means if you recently prepared foods using wheat flour, the first step (and it's a must) is to fully wipe down all baking surfaces, wash all hardware (mixing bowls, beater blades, baking pans, wire cooling racks, miscellaneous utensils, etc.), and, remove any products or gluten-containing ingredients that are nearby.  For an added layer of protection, I recommend placing a sheet of parchment on each baking pan that has been used previously to bake cookies/anything containing gluten.

My result:  A Gluten-Free cookie no one will guess is GF.

IMG_30531  cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1  teaspoon xanthan gum

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (1 stick)

1  large egg

1  tablespoon butter rum flavoring

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  cup very-lightly-packed dark brown sugar

1/4  cup granulated sugar

6  ounces gluten-free tropical trail mix

6  ounces white chocolate morsels

IMG_3056 IMG_3056 IMG_3056 IMG_3056~Step 1.  In a small mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, place the butter, eggs, both extracts, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  On high-speed of hand-held mixer, beat until creamy, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Lower mixer speed and gradually beat in the flour mixture until a smooth, sticky dough forms.

IMG_3068 IMG_3068 IMG_3068 IMG_3068 IMG_3068 IMG_3068~Step 2.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the trim mix and white chocolate chips.  SET THE BOWL ASIDE AND ALLOW COOKIE DOUGH TO REST 45-60 MINUTES -- do not skip this step.  Using a 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, drop cookies, slightly apart, by rounded tablespoonfuls onto each of 2, parchment-lined, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans.  Twenty-four balls of dough will fit nicely on each pan.  Using the flat side of small glass or your fingertips (whatever works best), flatten the cookies to about half their height.

IMG_3090 IMG_3090~Step 3.  Bake cookies, one-pan-at-a-time, on center rack of 325º oven (not a typo), 13-15 minutes, until very light-golden.  My cookies baked for exactly 14 minutes per pan today.  Remove from oven and use a small spatula to transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for one-two weeks.

No time like to present to try one -- or four!

IMG_3107Gluten-Free Butter-Rum Tropical Trail Mix Cookies:  Recipe yields 3 dozen, 2 1/2"-round cookies.

Special Equipment List: hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 3, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop; small spatula; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b026bdef3d0b2200cCook's Note: While everyone has a favorite cookie, more often than not, folks declare the chocolate chip to be their favorite or a close second, and, everyone who bakes cookies has a favorite chocolate-chip cookie recipe (or three).  That said, if you're baking cookies for a celiac, you need a recipe you can rely on and mine is the one.  It's spot-on -- taste and texturally, there's no need to announce it's GF.  Try my recipe for ~ Keep-it-Simple Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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