Sugar Crunchies and Friends

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One of the many wonderful things about doing what I do is being able to correspond with the kind, caring and interesting people who write to me. I really do feel like I have friends all over the world even though I haven’t actually met many of them face to face. The list is long and it would be hard for me to name them all here, but one thing is for sure, I know their emails as soon as they pop up in my mail box and I eagerly open them with an anticipating smile. They bring me happiness in buckets and sometimes they also send me little gifts in the way of a treasured family recipe. Joan Leforestier, a long time member of the celiac community who helps to run the CSA Sacramento Area Chapter #24, sent such a recipe to me. She said it was an old favorite and that she had to double it whenever she made it. Now I know why. It’s a tweak of a simple sugar cookie that is knock’em-out-of-the-park good.

I researched the recipe and could only find it going back about seventy years in a revised version of The Settlement Cook Book; The Way to a Man’s Heart, by Mrs. Simon Kander. Mrs. Kander calls it “Plain Cookies”; she uses a lot more sugar than Joan and no nutmeg. But that nutmeg. Well, let me tell you, the nutmeg gives this cookie that certain something that keeps you coming back for more. I also reduced the baking temperature and the xanthan gum a tiny bit from the version Joan sent and I increased the vanilla extract.

So if you’re looking for a lovely, little cookie to go with a glass of iced tea or some of the lush summer fruit that is sure to come our way very soon, try this recipe in your own kitchen. It’s a little gift that I’m sharing because it’s too good to keep to myself. Thank you Joan Leforestier.

Gluten-free Sugar Crunchies


Sugar Crunchies (Gluten-Free)

Makes 30 cookies

1 1/2 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated sugar for rolling

*Find my Brown Rice Flour Mix in the recipe section of this blog.

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Position rack in center of oven. Lightly grease cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat shortening and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until light and creamy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat until a thick smooth dough is formed.
  4. Place 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in a small bowl. Use your hands to shape dough into 1-inch balls and very lightly roll in granulated sugar. Place balls 1-inch apart on cookie sheet. Use a fork to press ball of dough to about 1/4-inch think. (Unbaked dough can be stored in refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to two months. To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap and then wrap in foil.)
  5. Bake in center of oven for about 16-18 minutes until a light golden color. Allow cookies to sit on the cookie sheet for 2 -3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container. After three days, store in refrigerator. Can be kept in refrigerator for 2 weeks or frozen for up to one month.

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9 thoughts on “Sugar Crunchies and Friends”

  1. I’m am so glad you liked the cookie, I too had to cut down on baking time. Whenever you eat one of these cookies please think of me and how grateful I am that you sent me your first cookbook. I have shared your recipes with so many of my friends.

    1. hi!
      Indeed, I will think very fondly of you. That is one delicious cookie and I am very glad you shared it with me. I’m also happy that we’ve been able to stay in touch all these many years.

      Very best,

  2. Hi! I have just ordered Gluten Free Baking Classics and Gluten Free Good Health from Amazon. I have finally begun baking my own breads after being disappointed with store bought and packaged mixes. After recent success with a good sandwich bread, I am looking forward to being more daring wiith your french bread recipe.

    I did not think I could live my life without breads and pastas, but gluten free is growing on me. Given the huge health benefits to my Hashimotos’s disease I will continue on my gluten free path in life!

    However, I do desperately pine sourdough bread. Have you had success with a recipe you would like to share with your readers?

    Thanks for all your yummy recipes. I am looking forward to more experimenting in my kitchen!


    1. hi!
      Although you will find a large assortment of bread recipes in my books (along with advice on how to tweak them to create your own versions), I have not been able to create a sour dough that I feel is good enough to share. I’m fussy because I can still remember how delicious sour dough is and I just won’t settle. I’ve been testing sour dough breads (with all kind of flours and formulas) on and off for many years; I’ve even tried other people’s gf recipes and mixes. None come close to what I’m hungry for. I will keep your contact information and add you to my list of possible testers if and when I ever get a real break through.

      I wish you much success with your baking activities. Please let me know if you have any questions as you experiment.

      Very best,

  3. Hi Annalise,
    I have been a reader of your blog (Food Philosopher) and your cookbooks since I learned of my gluten intolerance in 2010. It has taken me over three years of experimenting and getting comfortable with gf baking; and I was still battling with hit or miss results. In the past 6 months I have been using your blend from Authentic foods and your absolutely fabulous recipes and have finally found a place of peace in my life where I no longer regret my diagnosis. Your hard work – and believe me I do know how difficult it is to test and cook and rework recipe after recipe – has made such a difference in my cooking. It has made such a big difference in my family life as I can safely go to any of your recipes and know it will turn out the way I expect it to. With five children and being expatriated in Beijing China, this has been the biggest blessing to me.

    I will continue to follow your blog and look forward to any new books you many have coming out.

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I will soon! I was wondering if I could substitute real butter for the shortening or if this would not be recommended.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share what you have learned with others.

    1. Hi!
      It’s wonderful to hear that my recipes are working so well in places so far away from me. I’ma also happy to hear that you are able to get ingredients to make them where you live (in Beijing!).

      As you those Sugar Crunchies: although the recipe Joan so kindly sent me was a shortening based recipe, I see no reason why it shouldn’t work with butter. My sugar cookie recipe in Gluten-Free Baking Classics uses butter in a similar proportion. My instincts tell me that you should really beat it well; with the sugar, after you add the egg, and then again after you add the flours and other ingredients. I’d also try to make sure your dough isn’t too warm when you bake it.

      Please let me know how you make out!!

      very best regards,

      PS. With five kids, I’m wondering how long one batch of cookies will last. If it works with the butter, you may find yourself doubling the recipe (which you can do without any problems, depending on your mixer).

      1. You are so right! With five kids my recipes do not last. Of course I rarely have to worry about storing my baked items. 🙂

        Thanks for the tip on using butter. I recently purchased some shortening for an icing project I was working on with a friend of mine, but when I later tried to use it to bake with, the soybean smell was overwhelming. It seems to have been remade since I last used shortening.

        Finding gluten free items and flours here is challenging and just to give you an example I purchased brown rice flour (before I started using your blend) and could not find it again for another year. Fortunately one store imports Bob’s Red Mill but these supplies get bought up very quickly and they only sporadically restock. I have to order your Classic Blend and have it shipped from the states. It is not the ideal situation, but I hope you can see how much I have enjoyed cooking with it finally. I still experiment with other options here like sorghum flour and tapioca/cassava and grinding my own millet, but in all honesty I was getting exhausted testing and failing and going hungry.
        To me, it is well worth knowing I have a fail safe option I can depend upon.

        I will try these with butter and let you know how they turn out. And by the way I am throughly enjoying working my way through your GF Baking Classic’s book. The pumpkin muffins I made this weekend were the biggest hit.
        Thanks again for your kind reply.

  4. Hi Annalise!
    I tried the Sugar Crunchies recipe a couple days ago, using butter instead of shortening. They came out tender and crunchy, with the wonderful flavors of butter, sugar, and nutmeg being most prominent. What I found is, like you suggested, it’s best to work quickly so that the dough doesn’t become too warm. The first batch I baked at 375 degrees, but I found the edges came out darker than I’d like. I turned down the oven to 350 and the rest of the batches came out with golden brown edges. Sweet, crunchy…they were a hit in our house. Also, they looked a little different than the ones in your blog photo in that the impressions made with the fork were not distinct after baking. With butter, they look more like traditional sugar cookies. I have a photo that I will e-mail to you, Annalise.

    Thanks for everything. Hope you’re enjoying your summer!
    Mary Buckley

    1. hi!
      Good to hear from you!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the cookies. I’ll bet they taste delicious made with butter, and yes, you’d have to chill the dough a bit, and/or turn down the oven temperature so they don’t melt before they bake (if you’re baking in this heat and especially with butter in this heat). My house was cooler when I was testing the recipe so that would certainly have affected their more ridged look (the dough was cool before I baked it). I also used medium weight shiny pans. Not sure what you are using. But in any case, it’s good to hear that the recipe works well with butter!

      I am enjoying my summer thank you- except for the really hot days. Hope you and your family are as well.

      very best,

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