Gluten-free baking mixes are more readily available than ever, and newcomers to baking without gluten often fall back on them, since it takes time to come up to speed on a new set of rules. For example, gluten-free flour is heavier than wheat flour, so you can’t just swap them cup for cup in your favorite recipes — you have to get your scale out. And xanthan gum does the gluten’s work binding ingredients together, so don’t skip this or your cookies may crumble. But these three recipes do the math for you and are sure to please all palates, gluten-free or not.
GLUTEN-FREE FUDGY DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
Makes 40 brownies
1 cup gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/8 teaspoon for garnish, optional
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, xanthan gum, and kosher salt, and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder. With a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla and the 4 eggs, 1 at a time. Add the chocolate chips. Add the dry ingredients, stirring until the mixture is homogeneous, scraping down the sides of the pan. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. For more adult palates, sprinkle the top with coarse kosher salt.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick. A slight amount of batter should cling to it, but not look raw. Cool the brownies completely and cut 8 squares on the long side by 5 squares on the short side. Store in an airtight container.
GLUTEN-FREE CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes 32 cookies
2½cups gluten-free flour
1¼ teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
Line 2 large sheet trays with nonstick pan liners. In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed (or with a hand mixer or by hand), combine the melted butter, shortening, and sugars for about 30 seconds, until the mixture is homogeneous. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, combining again.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir until they are just incorporated. Using your hands or a small ice cream scoop, form a ball with 2 tablespoons of dough. Press down on the ball gently to form a thick disk. Repeat until dough is used up; you should have about 32 disks. Place 16 disks on each of the sheet trays, at least 2 inches apart, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
To bake, heat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions. For soft cookies, bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, switching the tray positions halfway through. The cookies are done when the shiny area in the center of the disk has almost disappeared. They will seem barely done and look very pale with no browning, not even on the edges. If you prefer a crisp cookie, remove them after 14 to 15 minutes total when the edges are beginning to turn golden brown.
Allow the cookies to cool 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
GLUTEN-FREE LEMON-ALMOND MACAROONS
Makes 20 cookies
8 ounces (a generous 2 cups) almond flour (or almond meal)
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch kosher salt
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons pure almond extract
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Optional toppings (½ cup total in any combination): slivered almonds, sanding sugar, pine nuts, coconut flakes
Heat the oven to 325 degrees with racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line 2 large sheet trays with nonstick pan liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle and on low speed (or using a hand mixer or by hand), combine the almond flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Add the egg whites, almond extract, and lemon juice, and combine until the mixture is homogeneous. It will have a texture like wet sand.
Using 2 spoons, scoop 1½ tablespoons batter and drop onto a prepared sheet, leaving 2 inches between the mounds. Sprinkle on the topping, if using, and press down batter slightly to form rounds. Repeat until the batter is used up; you should have about 20 cookies.
Bake for about 25 minutes, switching tray positions halfway through. The cookie edges should be lightly browned. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in airtight container.