Friday, February 15, 2013

SweetLove: Gluten-free Haystack Cookies

Many people in America and around the world suffer from Celiac Disease. Without going into too much detail, it is a human allergy to the gluten protein contained in many grain products including wheat, barley and rye. Corn products are gluten-free naturally, and can be consumed without concern, unless the cornmeal or other corn product is contaminated during processing in a facility that also processes grains containing gluten.
Celiac Disease is thought to be hereditary and a blood test can be performed to confirm its presence. However, many people who do not have CD, find that reducing the amount of gluten in their diet is helpful. The gluten protein is what provides structure to baked goods, so eliminating flour from desserts can be problematic. There are substitutes that one can make, but most require items such as chickpea flour, xanthan gum and other stabilizers that can be hard to source and expensive to purchase. As a result, Celiacs and those who are gluten intolerant must avoid mainstream desserts and other bakery goodies. Fortunately, there are some options!
This is one dessert that I learned from my dear friend Chef Courtney Leckey. I have, however, made some changes to the recipe and adjusted the quantities and measuring methods for the home cook. There is no gluten and no fat, so it's a nice choice!

Haystack Macaroons
2 cups white granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 egg whites
7 cups packed or 2 1/2 14 ounce bags sweetened shredded coconut

This recipe couldn't be easier. Simply put the ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined.
Scoop with desired size portion scoop (ice-cream scoop) and bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly brown. These can be dipped in coating chocolate, and are tolerant of light add-ins like chocolate chips, jimmies, nuts and food coloring. Just have fun with them!

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