Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Solstice Gift

Many of you may be familiar with Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef, a blog devoted to gluten-free cooking, and especially gluten-free baking. Recently, I was searching for a recipe to adapt to making piparkukas, a traditional Latvian Christmas cookie which features a formidable mixture of nine spices that makes even curry look simplistic. The key to piparkukas is that they must be really light and crispy, like a ginger snap, but even more so. As a kid, I would spend hours in the kitchen, baking piparkukas and listening to Christmas music with my mom. Needless to say, the bar was set high as I attempted to recreate them.

Considerable searching yielded this (totally fantastic) recipe. I was amazed to find a gluten-free cookie recipe that was so simple, and yet yielded such fantastic results. The taste and consistency are spot-on - you would never know that these were gluten-free unless someone told you. The recipe calls for the dough to be set in the freezer overnight, so I'm posting this a few days before the Solstice, so that you can have them ready to go on the big day.

Cookies play an integral role in the holiday season, and I ache for all of the kids who can't take part in this essential childhood experience. Not having cookies is like not playing baseball, not losing teeth, or not going to summer camp - it's just part of the package. Hopefully this recipe gives some kids some holiday delight.

And the piparkukas spices... Normally, these things are closely-guarded family secrets, but in the age of the Internet, there are no such things as family secrets. Rather than having you go out trying some of those other recipes, here's mine:

1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp cardamom
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mace

The final step to making these authentic piparkukas is to glaze them with egg white and press an almond sliver into the center of each cookie before baking.

Priecigus Ziemassvetkus!