Spotlight Recipe: Gluten-Free Almond Drops

by in Cookies & Other Desserts, Healthy Recipes, December 2, 2009

Gluten-Free Almond Drop Cookies
These gluten-free drop cookies are a soft holiday sweet that you can make now — or give as gifts — and be confident they’ll taste great. Sweet, spicy and fragrant right out of the oven, they still taste as fresh two weeks later. Store them in a tin for best keeping and beautiful presentation. –Linda Simon, Kitchen Therapy

If you are new to gluten-free baking, here is a little background information that might be helpful. Gluten is naturally found in wheat, rye and barley. So, when cooking gluten-free dishes, you can’t use ingredients made from these grains. That includes wheat flour, the main ingredient in most baked goods.

An Evolution in Gluten-Free Baking
Gluten-free baked goods used to be dry, gritty and crumbly. They hardly seemed like treats. To get a lighter texture, food manufacturers relied on highly refined starches to replace enriched wheat flour. They often added large volumes of sugar and fat to improve flavor, too — not exactly healthy! A gluten-free cookie or cake often has many more calories, carbohydrates and fat then the regular wheat version. That comes with little or no fiber or nutrition.

A Baking Savior: Xanthan
Then xanthan was introduced to improve the texture and give structure to many gluten-free baked goods. Breads, muffins, cakes, and pizza crust rely on xanthan so the dough can rise. Size matters — for little treats like these cookies, you don’t need xanthan.

Boosting the Nutrition
So the experts mostly solved the problems with the taste and texture, but nutrition remains a challenge. Enter gluten-free whole grains. Many creative cooks are developing recipes with some gluten-free whole grain flour. These recipes combine multiple flours and those old refined starches, which means ingredient lists are very long. Who wants to buy several flours for one recipe?

When I’m baking gluten-free, I like to use a single whole-grain, gluten-free flour, for three reasons:
1. It tastes great!
2. It is easier.
3. You get more nutrition when you leave out all the starches.

So What Are Some Gluten-Free, Whole-Grain Flours?

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat — despite the name it is wheat and gluten free.
  • Oat — they are naturally gluten free but are often contaminated with wheat during processing, so be sure to chose only certified gluten-free oats.
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Montina
  • Timtana

Each of these flours has a distinct personality. Some play well with others; some are picky partners. A common one, sorghum is easy to work with and that’s why I use it here. Look for it in the health or special diet area of most mainstream markets.

almond drops
Making the Cookie
These drop cookies feature one nutritious flour, no xanthan, no special equipment, no hard-to-find ingredients and no huge time commitment investment in time.

I adapted this recipe from Almond Crispies on the Bob’s Red Mill website. The original version used their gluten-free flour blend, but I prefer mine with just sorghum flour. A little almond extract goes a long way, so I have reduced it. Also, the original cookie was not crispy, so I changed the name.

Sorghum Almond Drops
Makes 18 small cookies

1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a baking sheet. In a medium bowl mix together sorghum flour, almond meal, slivered almonds, dark brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl stir together honey, oil, water and almond extract until thoroughly combined.

Add the honey mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until all the flour is mixed in. Shape by hand into 1 1/2-inch balls. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and roll in powdered sugar.

Nutrition Info (per cookie):
Calories: 110; Total Fat: 6 grams; Saturated Fat: 0.5 grams; Total Carbohydrate: 15 grams; Protein: 2 grams; Sodium: 45 milligrams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Fiber: 1 gram

Linda Simon is a registered dietitian, personal chef, gluten-free blogger and owner of Kitchen Therapy — helping you overcome your gluten-free kitchen issues!

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Comments (29)

  1. Susan says:

    For those needing or wanting to be gluten free and sugar free I can suggest a sugar alternative that is zero glycemic and good for diabetics or others wanting to avoid refined sugar, brown sugar, honey etc. It's called Lakanto and can be substituted one for one for refined sugar. It looks like light brown sugar but with the consistency of refined sugar. I've tried it in a number of recipes – all with tremendous success. It is rather expensive but then again we should be limiting our sugar in take anyway. : )

  2. Lisa says:

    I just made the cookies and they are very tasty! The only thing though is that mine are totally flat. I can't roll them in powdered sugar, so I'll just sprinkle some on top. I followed the recipe except for the slivered almonds. I don't think leaving those out would cause them to go flat. The sorghum flour I used is called "sweet white sorghum flour" made by Bob's Red Mill. The cookie dough was trying to flatten as I placed the dough on the cookie sheet. Maybe I should refrigerate the dough first? I heated the honey slightly in the microwave to get it out of the bear. Maybe that caused the issue.

  3. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing your results. I agree, I don’t think omitting the slivered almonds, or warming the honey slightly caused them to be flat.

    I tried the cookies with Bob’s Red Mill sweet sorghum flour today and got the same results you did. My husband preferred them this way. He thinks “they look more like cookies”.

    This is part one of two comments. Please read the next comment too.

  4. Part two. (I could not post as one long comment).
    I had previously made the cookies with an Indian brand of sorghum flour, also called juwar flour. I weigh flours in addition to using cup measurements, and the Indian flour is heavier. It appears the Bob’s Red Mill flour is fluffier, with less flour in a cup.

    But the Indian company does not guarantee that their flour is gluten free. It is processed in a facility that also processes wheat. And they do not test the final product. So it is safer to use Bob’s Red Mill sorghum flour.

    There are two ways to approach this, both using Bob's Red Mill sorghum flour..
    #1. Go for a flat cookie, and make the recipe as written. You could dress them up by rolling in granulated sugar and topping with a whole almond before baking.
    #2. Add an additional 1/3 cup sorghum flour to the recipe above. You will get a nice snowball shape. I think this still looks like a cookie. :)

  5. Farmmiss says:

    I am excited to try this information I share with you all:
    Here is a Stevia conversion chart for baking:

    1 T. stevia (powered) = 1 Cup Sugar
    1 tsp stevia (liquid) = 1 Cup Sugar
    1/2 tsp stevia = 1 Tbsp Sugar
    6 drops liquid stevia = 1 Tbsp Sugar
    1 pinch of stevia = 1 Tsp sugar
    2 drops liquid stevia = 1 Tsp sugar

    The bulk or consistency that sugar normally would add can be replaced with applesauce, fruit puree, canned pumpkin, fruit juice, yogurt, or any ingredient that will taste right with your recipe and add moisture.

    For every 1 cup of sugar that is replaced by STEVIA, 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of the bulk should be added.

    * * * * * * * *

    Stevia has been said to have many health benefits, such as: weight control (it controls cravings), can be used during pregnancy, it is known to be beneficial to the pancreas, does not contribute to tooth decay, can reduce high blood pressure, assists digestion, and so on.

    Unlike most artificial sweeteners, Stevia does not break down and can withstand high temperatures while cooking and cold temperatures when frozen. It is also compatible with salt and organic acids and natural sweeteners such as barley malt, honey, fructose and sorbitol.

    Stevia can be used safely and effectively as a substitute for sugar in all recipes where sugar and low calorie sweeteners would be normally used.

    Stevia can be purchased in either powder or liquid form and can be found in flavors. Liquid is easier to use for baking because it can be measured easier.

  6. Snappy cooker says:

    Isn't almond extract made from Grain Alcohol?? I did not think if you have celiac disease you could any kind of grain. I make my own vanilla with vanilla bean and potato vodka.

  7. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.Keep working ,great job!

  8. Judy Luxton says:

    highlight the recipe, and then right click somewhere in the white area, select print and then
    select selection and then print. this works for me.

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