Gluten Free Stuffed Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

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OH YEAH BABY. Just look at those cookies! Are you drooling yet? Well, trust me, they are drool worthy. I’m not kidding here, these are totally worth every single calorie in them!
While these tasty nuggets of pumpkin, spice, and everything nice, are fantastic anytime, they would also be a massive hit on your Thanksgiving Dessert Buffet. Why not think ahead? Santa would be happy to down a couple of these before dropping off presents! Do you have an upcoming Christmas Cookie Exchange? Well, these taste amazing, are a wonderful gluten free option, and probably due to the pumpkin, keep extremely well, getting softer over time. So feel free to pre-bake and take, knowing they will be even better a day later!

Gluten Free Stuffed Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

For the cookie dough:
3 3/4 cups Gluten Free Flour blend. (I always use Pamela’s Artisan Flour)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Cream of Tarter
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1/2 tsp Ginger, dried ground
1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened *see note
1 cup Sugar, white (i use organic cane sugar)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, dark
1 Egg, large
3/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
2 tsp Vanilla extract

For the stuffing:
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup Sugar, white
2 tsp Vanilla extract

For rolling the cookies:
1/2 cup Cinnamon Maple Sugar *see photo below
1/2 tsp Ginger, ground
(If you cannot find Cinnamon Maple Sugar, simply add cinnamon and ginger to maple sugar OR mix together cinnamon, ginger and white sugar to taste. Approximately 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tsp Cinnamon and 1/2 tsp Ginger)

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line baking sheets with a Silpat silicone liner or Parchment Paper

First, whisk together the dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
Then, in your stand mixer (or hand mixer) beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy, add egg, pumpkin puree and vanilla. Mix well.
(*Note: I don’t always remember to soften my butter. So I cheat: Dice up the butter, add part of your sugar, then begin to mix on low. Add the rest of the sugar and continue to beat. The sugar will ‘cut’ up the butter and soften it, along with the friction of the beaters. It’s not the ideal method, but it works in a pinch.)
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing well. (The flour has no gluten, so no worries about over mixing, they will remain tender)
Set these ingredients in the refrigerator while you make the stuffing.

In a clean bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla. Do not over mix this. You are not whipping it, just mixing it altogether.

Now is the tricky part, though not difficult. This dough is a little soft, but not super sticky, you’ll understand what I mean when you make them. They are softer than a traditional snickerdoodle, so if your kitchen is not cool, that little time in the fridge does wonders to firm up the dough a bit.

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Using a teaspoon or dough scoop (I use a small  muffin-cookie scoop which is kind of like an ice cream scooper), take 2 small wads of dough (a little under a tablespoon each) and slightly flatten. Then take a tsp of the cream cheese mix, lay it in-between the 2 pieces of dough and gently press/pinch the seams together to make a slightly flattened ball. My first batch, I rolled into a circular ball like I would a traditional snickerdoodle, and the cookies baked up too tall. When I used this flatten/pinch-to-seal technique, the end result was a more traditional looking cookie. Can you see the difference in the picture below? The one on the top was a wad of cheese that I wrapped the dough around. The flatter, more traditional cookies are a result of my modified technique.

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Roll (or flip) the dough ball in the maple cinnamon sugar. Place on your baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. They may, or may not develop cracks. The cookie will be moist but not raw when done.

Remove to a cooking rack and let cool, if you can wait that long. Half were gone before I finished baking them all!

These cookies do not disappoint. I think how many you end up with, will depend on how big of a cookie you roll. I was able to end up with just under 2 dozen cookies.
Enjoy, and as always, I’d love to hear your feedback or answer any questions in the comment section!


Gluten Free Thanksgiving Dressing ( Grandma Nettie’s Stuffing)

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***Update: After putting my own bread in this morning, I am re-adjusting the temp to 250 and will recommend you check every 10 minutes for up to 40 minutes. Mine took 40 minutes, which hubby dutifully tended while I hit the grocery stores. DAB the bread cubes with butter, you’re not soaking here. Just adding a layer of flavor and encouraging normally difficult GF bread to dry out crispy, intact and give something for the herbs to stick to. I am including photos I took as I prepared the croutons and the mix. Hopefully tomorrow I can post a better picture than the one above! Check recipe again for any additional tips, tricks and modifications.****

This was the stuffing recipe handed down to me from my mother, who has since passed away. For many years, I stuffed the turkey with the very same version, only it was normal bread croutons, Pepperidge Farms Herbed Dressing to be exact.

With the discovery of my daughters gluten intolerance, I’ve had to come up with an alternative. Due to the nature of GF breads, it would turn to mush inside the bird, so, I have created a dressing version instead. (Dressing is what it is called when not baked inside the bird)

You can use Udi’s bread for this recipe, but I highly recommend ‘Goodbye Gluten’. It’s shelf stable and the texture is incredibly good, and the resulting dressing is light instead of dense. I use both whole grain and white for color and texture. This dish is such a favorite in our household, that I have actually taken it with me on the occasion we were invited to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving. I cannot imagine Thanksgiving without it! Here, we call it “Grandma Nettie’s Stuffing”. You’ll just call it DELISH! (Read the recipe all the way to the end before tackling. You can put questions in the comment section below!)

Grandma Netties Stuffing

3/4 loaf Goodbye Gluten white bread, cubed, 1/2 inch (crusts removed is optional. if you remove crusts, use the entire loaf, leaving out the loaf end pieces)

3/4 loaf Goodbye Gluten whole grain bread, cubed, 1/2 inch (ditto above comment)

2 cubes butter, 1 cube melted

1 tsp herbs de provence or an italian mix

1 med-large onion, chopped small dice

3-4 stalks celery, small dice

1 pound breakfast sausage (check for gluten if making GF)

1 can water chestnuts, diced (yes, water chestnuts. Trust me!)

1 tsp dried sage, or 1 tbsp chopped fresh (optional, we like ours with a good dose of sage)

1-3 cups warmed Homemade Turkey Stock (or good quality, low-sodium Chicken Stock)

extra melted butter for basting, and extra stock for adding moisture if needed.
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Lay the bread cubes out on sheet pans and gently brush with 1/3-1/2cup of the melted butter.
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Season with salt. (I use my silpat for easy cleanup) Sprinkle with the Herbs de Provence
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and bake until the cubes are dried out and crisp. Stir a couple of times, so that all sides are exposed to the heat. This may take between 20-40 minutes, depending upon the moistness of your bread. (I have done this up to a week in advance, freezing them in a ziploc freezer bag and defrosting on a sheet pan when needed.) Let cool.
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Cook sausage in a large skillet, till no longer pink. Remove from pan, wipe skillet with a paper towel and add butter to melt. Add onions and celery and cook on medium heat until tender, but still a bit crisp. Add back the sausage and the diced water chestnuts. (This step can also be done up to 3-4 days in advance, refrigerating and rewarming to melt the butter prior to assembly)
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When ready to bake, toss the warm sausage mixture with the bread cubes and sage, gently, until evenly combined. Add the turkey stock until the mixture looks moist, but not wet. This is going to take some eyeballing, just remember, you can always add more stock for moisture. You most definitely do not want a soggy mess, err on the side of caution. Start with 1 cup of stock, adding 1/2 cup increments until it absorbs some of the liquid, but are still fully intact.
Pour this mixture into your casserole dish or desired baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. The first photo is a 9×13 pyrex dish, but I doubled the recipe for this. Baste frequently with additional melted butter, and stock if needed. Your goal here is for the top to become buttery/crunchy/golden and the underneath to be moist, tender and yet still fluffy. You can check the progress with a fork, gently lifting the top layer to get a gauge on how the bottom layer is doing. When the underneath steams and the top is browned, it’s done.
If you are looking for a traditional tasting stuffing that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters, you can’t go wrong with this one. If you try it this year, or at any time, let me know what you think!
POSTNOTES:
– I wrote this recipe in this format, so that it feels like I am in the kitchen with you, walking you through the steps.
– It sounds vastly more complicated than it actually is.
– This recipe is also very flexible: If you hate sage, omit sage. If you want to trim some of the fat, cut the butter by half and drain the sausage. We don’t, because I eat this once a year and we like it just exactly this way, plus I limit how much I take. Portion control!
– You can up the ingredients to suit your taste. I believe in the photo, I used a pound and a half of sausage. What can I say? Pork and pork fat rules.
– You can make this dressing with regular old bread cubes from the bag (which I did for decades) using the liquid portions listed on the package.
– For leftovers we always, and I mean ALWAYS have a turkey sandwich on white ‘bread’ with thick slices of turkey, mayo, cranberry sauce and stuffing. It honestly makes for the BEST sandwich ever, and as I said above, it’s a sandwich I eat once a year, so I allow myself the indulgence.
– I apologize for the anemically yellow photo of the finished dish. One of my goals this Thanksgiving is to pick my brothers brain on ways to achieve better pictures. He is a photographer, and obviously I am not. My trusty iPhone has served me well on my Facebook cooking page, but it’s time to step up my game!

Cranberry Clusters

What is Christmas without a cookie exchange or two to go to? I’ve hosted my share of them in the past, but this year it is a welcome change of pace to go to a cookie exchange and let someone else take charge. Due to a bible study, I missed one of my favorites, hosted by a lovely woman who truly has the gift of baking. I’m not complaining cause there is a bright side, another friend is hosting one next week. So out come the cookbooks, pouring over and contemplating which treat to bring.

These little gems are my oldest daughter’s absolute favorite. They combine that perfect balance of sweet/tart, crunchy/creamy, juicy/dry. I cannot describe fully enough how delicious these glistening ruby delights are, you will just have to make up a batch and judge for yourself.

They are a little putzy to make, but trust me, they will be the first to fly off that cookie laden table. As I’ve mentioned all to many times before, its cold here. But, cold is only one aspect of living in a place where ‘cold’ is a runner up to the North Pole cold, its bitterly dry also. So, here in my environment, these babies will keep on a cookie platter for a few days at room temperature. Since you are in essence ‘candying’ the berries, humidity is your enemy. If you are in a moist environment, eat them quickly (trust me, not a problem) or store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 5 days. They will get soft, but the flavor will remain.

Cranberry Clusters
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate (a good quality white melting bark will do also, and sometimes works better than white chocolate which can seize easily)

Combine the sugar and water together and cook to a hard-ball stage, 250-265 deg.
Remove from the heat. I put my pot on a heat pad to retain its heat for as long as possible.
Working quickly (but carefully, hot sugar burns, badly!) drop 3 cranberries in to the syrup and using 2 forks clump them together and flip to coat. Remove quickly and put on a piece of waxed paper or siliconed parchment. (a silpat mat will also work)

You will likely get about 7-8 clusters out of this batch, the first ones will be clear like glass, the last ones will start to look frosted. Stop when the sugar starts to crystalize. Now, at this point, I suppose there is a way to reheat the sugar and continue on. I have not found a way to do that effectively. I have found, in my experience, that you never get that shiny clear result when you try reheat the sugar. For me, because I’m sort of picky, I just make another batch or two of the sugar syrup, depending on the quantity I need. Play with it yourself and decide. Using a non-stick pan makes all the difference in the world as far as clean up goes!

While your candies are hardening, melt the white chocolate (or bark) in the microwave or in a double boiler. (It is advisable when dealing with all chocolate to be sure not to let any moisture get in to it, as it will cause it to seize)
Then dip the flat side of the cooled clusters in to the white chocolate, leaving the tops uncoated. Set aside on the parchment to harden.

I put these in small candy cups when I give as gifts, but they are just as beautiful scattered on a cookie tray.
Trust me, you want to have all your treats leave first? Make these.

Whether for dessert, cookie exchange or a party, these will please.

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