The real gift is, if you have anyone in your extended circle who wants or needs to be wheat- or gluten-free, you will be giving them a way to once again enjoy something that they thought would be permanently off-limits!
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, plus cooling time for the cookies
Servings:Makes about 3½ dozen cookies.
Note: Adapted from Lida Frankel. Xanthan gum is available at health food stores, select well-stocked markets, and cooking and baking supply stores. To make gluten-free flour, combine ½ cup brown rice flour, ½ cup sweet rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca flour or starch (this makes about 2 cups flour, more than is needed for the recipe; the gluten-free flour will keep, tightly covered in a cool, dry place, up to 1 month).
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for rolling
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raw, unsalted pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups gluten-free flour (see note above)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until well-blended. Beat in the vanilla and nuts to combine.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xantham gum and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and beat just until incorporated and a dough is formed.
4. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of dough and roll into a small ball. Place the dough on a prepared cookie sheet, and repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies about 1 to 1½ inches apart.
5. Bake the cookies until set and a light golden-brown on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Set the cookies aside to rest for 5 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar to coat completely. Once they are cooled, roll the cookies again in sugar to cover.