Recipe: Gluten-Free Macaroons

Gluten-free macaroons

15 Dec Recipe: Gluten-Free Macaroons

Gluten-Free Macaroons

As a food writer, I’ve dabbled in the gluten-free world. I’ve bought guar gum and xanthan, various rice flours, teff, sorghum and nutmeals. They’re taking up a lot of room in my spiffy new pantry along with the gluten-loaded all-purpose, whole wheat, cake & pastry, bread and unbleached flours. Since everyone in my house can eat wheat, I find I rarely use the gluten-free variations. As a result, I am quickly coming to the conclusion that unless you regularly feed someone who is gluten-intolerant, gluten-free baking that requires a mix of flour alternatives might not be the best route.

So how do you feed guests who are unable to eat wheat without stocking up on specialty items?

Dinner is easy. Roasted meat and simple side dishes like baked potatoes and steamed vegetables or a salad topped with homemade dressing. You can even serve gravy if you thicken it with corn starch. Asian cuisine is another delicious and easy solution. A stir fry or curry will satisfy everyone. Steam up a pot of rice instead of hot naan bread and you’re golden.

But desserts? Oh desserts. This is where the gluten-hits the fan. While I want to make gluten-free cookies, cakes and pies for my guests, I’ve decided the most practical approach is similar to my dinner tactic. Serve dessert that is gluten-free by nature not design.

Gluten-free macaroons

These macaroons fit the bill. They’re from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free by Karen Morgan. Karen is the host of the cleverly named show Gluten Morgan which appears on Thrive, an online video series by Wholefoods. I made these snowbally cookies for a Christmas party and people were surprised to learn they were gluten- and dairy-free. I baked two variations — one religiously following Morgan’s original recipe and one replacing the dates with festive cherry-flavoured dried cranberries. Both versions had people coming back for seconds.

Ah, macaroons. Gluten-free. Always have been. Always will be.

Two blackbirds. One very edible stone.

Review in Brief

This book will appeal to people who must eat gluten-free but crave the muffins, tarts and pastries so readily available to their  wheat-eating counterparts. Many of the recipes call for glutinous rice flour but don’t panic. This inexpensive rice mix is available at Asian food stores and contains no gluten despite its name. Morgan claims this flour is the secret to light, moist baked goods.

Other flours Morgan uses are easily purchased at a health food store and include: almond, amaranth, chestnut, garbanzo bean (chickpea), millet, sorgham and tapioca. Most recipes call for only a couple of different flours, so you can build your gluten-free flour inventory as needed.

Must try recipes

  • Cashew butter ice cream sandwiches: As if cashew butter cookies weren’t decadent enough, these goodies are filled with rum and raisin ice cream.
  • Savory crepes: Wafer thin with a lacy edge, these crepes are described as a “springboard for creativity.” Apparently the vodka is essential to the success of this recipe. Okay, Karen. If you insist.
  • Pear-Cardamom Cakes: “Simple, beautiful and delicious.” What more could you ask for in a dessert?

Biggest delight: The photographs. Light, bright and utterly captivating. Some are whimsical — like the blackbird with its tail feathers caught in a set of hungry false teeth. Others will make you want to grab your fork. It’s almost a shame to eat these gorgeous desserts. Almost.

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  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 20:41h, 15 December Reply

    I had the real pleasure of eating both these macaroons. They were delicious! I loved them. Would never have thought of words gluten free in the same sentence as these delightful and delectable sweets. My vote is to keep them, even if you aren’t serving people on restricted diets.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:00h, 04 January Reply

      Thanks. Dave liked them too. Asked for the recipe and said his family gobbled them up. I’ll definitely keep this recipe for the future. Even Dad liked them, which is saying something since he’s all about the shortbread this time of year.

  • Lisa MacColl
    Posted at 13:19h, 23 December Reply

    Celiacs are often allergic to corn as well as gluten, so make sure you ask before you thicken with cornstarch. Arrowroot or tapioca starch reacts like corn starch, but are safe for people allergic to gluten and corn. Rice flour and potato flour are tricky to use for making gravy. I stick with arrowroot flour and my celiac father-in-law and brother-in-law are fine. Which reminds me…I still have to make rice bread for the stuffing for Christmas Day.
    Merry Christmas Charmian and Andrew!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:57h, 04 January Reply

      A belated Merry Christmas to you, too, Lisa. And I’ll throw in a Happy New Year for good measure.

      Fortunately, my friend with the gluten allergy can eat cornstarch. I’ve never used arrowroot flour but it’s good to know for those who can’t eat cornstarch either.

      Hope your rice bread turned out well. Your in-laws are lucky. You are really looking out for them!

  • ldk
    Posted at 14:20h, 05 January Reply

    Hi. Naan is not gluten free. It’s generally made from white flour. You would have to look for a gluten free label and cannot assume that b/c it’s Naan it’s gf.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:35h, 05 January Reply

      You’re right. I suggested steamed rice *instead* of naan. I’ve never seen gluten-free naan but I bet it would sell well since it’s such a wonderful bread.

  • ellen johnson
    Posted at 17:08h, 15 April Reply

    These were absolutely fabulous. i used unsweetened coconut and they were a big hit. i drizzled chocolate over the top to make them even more special. I would give this recipe a 4 or 4.5. ellen

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:19h, 15 April Reply

      Oh, I love the drizzled chocolate idea! That’s a perfect way to finish these off before the ravening hordes arrive to finish them off. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with the macaroons and your tweaks!

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