Look Mum, I’m a grown up blogger! I thought these cookies would make an ideal Mother’s Day afternoon tea treat, and I’m telling people about it, a WHOLE ten days before Mother’s Day! Crazy, right?! I’m semi-organised! It feels a little odd, but I’m kinda liking it. And I’m liking these cookies too….
Up until now I’d never had much luck with gluten free sugar cookies. For the last five years or so I’ve done decorated cookies as presents at Christmas, but I’ve never been able to make gluten free ones that hold together well enough to flood with royal icing. (And by flood I really mean ‘flood’, a master cookie decorator I am not.) But after coming up with this recipe, I reckon I’ve at least nailed the cookies. My Dad will get ‘proper’ cookies this year, instead of hearing “there are some cookies for you in that reject container, they keep falling apart.”
But back to Mother’s Day, these cookies don’t need fancy piping or anything. Unless you count cutting the corner off a snap-lock bag and drizzling white chocolate, then piping a quick swirl of buttercream as fancy. In which case, I’m telling you it’s not fancy. It’s easy!
The only slightly fancy thing about these cookies is that the pink buttercream has freeze-dried raspberry powder in it. But that isn’t at all difficult to get hold of; even one of our local supermarkets sells it. And if you’re reading this post, then obviously you have the internet, and you can order yerself some fruit powder online. You don’t have to use raspberry, there are so many yummy flavours – strawberry, plum, pineapple, mango, blueberry, passionfruit… feijoa (which I don’t recommend as I don’t like feijoas, but I won’t judge you if you do.) And if all that seems a little too difficult, just use lemon zest, I did half with lemon and half with raspberry.
These don’t have to be gluten free of course, just use your favourite sugar cookie recipe instead. Just like you don’t need to make a meringue buttercream, you can use an icing sugar buttercream if you prefer. And you don’t have to use mascarpone either, you could swap it for cream cheese or leave it out altogether. But if I keep giving you options then I may as well send you off somewhere else for recipes and tell you to forget this one altogether. And I’m certainly not gonna do that.
The mascarpone in the Swiss meringue buttercream doesn’t give the icing an overly cream-cheesy type flavour, it just cuts the sweetness a tad and helps bring out the fruity flavours. Bear in mind that if you add the mascarpone then you will need to keep your iced cookies in the fridge for food safety reasons, and therefore your cookies will soften a bit. So I would suggest icing the cookies the day you plan to eat them, unless soft cookies are your kinda thing. I usually make Italian meringue buttercream, but I had a case of the ‘dropsies’ that day and didn’t trust myself with a pot of boiling sugar syrup. I have to say I kinda liked making the Swiss. I may start cheating on IMBC occasionally.
The cookies are almost a cross between a sugar cookie and shortbread, they have the softness of shortbread with a little of the snappiness of a sugar cookie. Pretty darn perfect if you ask me. And the bonus of gluten free cookies? No worries about overworking the gluten, you can keep re-rolling and cutting cookies ‘til your last scrap of dough.
And speaking of perfect, I so loved the setup for these photos that I have to share. My Mum and my Aunty gave this teacup to my Nonna when they were little, and I scored the silver cake stand from Nonna’s garage when we were clearing it out for her.
My mother never thought she’d see me clean silverware. She underestimated my love of cake stands.
Using my Mum’s Mum’s stuff in photos for a Mother’s Day post = perfect.
So here’s what you’ll need for these cookies…
And for the buttercream….
Quick drizzle of white chocolate, a swirl of buttercream… and voilà
- 300g gluten free flour (I used 150g brown rice flour, 100g tapioca flour, 25 potato starch & 25g white rice flour)
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 125g unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 100g white chocolate bits/chips/chopped chocolate
Mascarpone Swiss Buttercream
- 5 egg whites (approx. 190g)
- 225g sugar
- 275g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 150g mascarpone
- lemon zest and/or freeze dried fruit powder to taste
- Gel food colouring to match fruit flavour (optional)
- Preheat oven to 160°C.
- Sift together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the dry ingredients (finish mixing by hand if necessary.) Tip the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to shape the dough into a rough disc. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper that has been dusted with flour. The dough should be approximately 5mm/ ¼” thick. Place the rolled dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until pretty firm. Cut out flower shapes and place on a baking paper lined baking trays. (If making different sizes, place each size on a separate tray) Re-roll dough and chill again as necessary.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on the size of cookie) or until lightly golden around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking trays.
- When the cookies are cool, arrange them about 1cm apart on a piece of baking paper. Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat on medium power in 20 second bursts until melted. Place in a piping bag or snap-lock bag with the corner cut off and drizzle the chocolate back and forth over the cookies. Carefully pick up each cookie and transfer to another piece of baking paper to set (this avoids any chocolate joining two cookies and snapping when the chocolate has set and the cookies are moved.)
For the buttercream:
- Thoroughly clean the whisk attachment and heatproof bowl of a stand mixer, and wipe with a paper towel dipped in lemon juice or vinegar.
- Combine the egg whites and sugar in the mixer bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of just-simmering water. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 155°F/68°C.
- Place the bowl on the mixer and whip on medium speed for one minute, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the meringue is stiff and glossy. The mixer bowl should be cool to the touch. Remember if your meringue isn’t cold enough the butter will melt when you add it, so make sure it’s cool! Switch to the paddle attachment, and with the mixer on low speed add the butter a piece at a time until fully incorporated. If the mixture seems to curdle or separate, don’t panic! Just keep the mixer going on low speed until the buttercream becomes silky and smooth. Add the mascarpone and vanilla extract and beat again to combine.
- Split the buttercream into as many bowls as you have fruit flavours. In my case I did two, and mixed lemon zest into one bowl and raspberry fruit powder into the other. Add gel food colouring if desired. Transfer the buttercreams to piping bags fitted with a star tip (I used a Wilton 1M) and pipe a small swirl in the middle of each flower cookie. Store decorated cookies in an airtight container in the fridge. Un-iced cookies can be stored airtight at room temperature.
This recipe makes more buttercream than you will need for these cookies, so transfer the leftovers to airtight containers and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for 4-6 weeks. Bring to room temperature and re-beat on low speed until smooth before use.