Gluten-free, dairy-free soft ginger cookies

by Rebecca A. Watson on December 16, 2012

in food, holidays, recipes

My grandma recently passed away, and I’ve been thinking a lot about her, which means I’ve been thinking an awful lot about treats. I was asked to write about special memories of her for the funeral, and it only seemed right to share it along with a new recipe I’ve got for the holidays. If ever there was a woman who was the definition of sweet, it was Grandma Eleanor. From the soft way she’d say my name to how she reminded us not to tell secrets as they could hurt other people’s feelings, she was always gentle and kind. But what stays with me was how her sweetness bled into everyday life, most memorably the food she brought us up with. When we were younger, she would pick us up early and we’d go pick strawberries all morning. We’d make pie and jam and crisps or just eat them plain, our fingers stained for days after. And of course we’d pick raspberries from the farm and do the same. raspberries My favorite holiday item she made was her sweet potatoes. I could’ve eaten an entire pan, but she reminded me to share with everyone else. And even if you didn’t want to, grandma had a way of getting you to share even when it wasn’t your idea. She’d put out her delicious divinity and lefse, and we’d gobble it all up. A little later, someone would lament the fact that it was all gone and she’d pull out another tin, no doubt hidden among many others in the house.


Lefse, or Norwegian potato tortillas as my California friends call them.

As a tribute to my sweet grandmother, I’d like to share my gluten-free, dairy-free version of soft ginger cookies. I was never really into the snaps or the ginger bread men. I like my cookies to be oh, so soft and chewy. Ginger spice cookies So here’s how I do it:

1.5 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
3/4 teaspoon xantham gum
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons white sugar, divided
Small bowl of water
  1. Turn on Christmas music and lights if possible. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a smaller bowl, sift together (or use a wire whisk until all the ingredients are mixed) the brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xantham gum, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Place lovingly aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. You should probably blow kisses at the mixture right about now. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the sugar/egg mixture.
  3. Put 1 tablespoon white sugar on small plate. Get fingers wet. (The dough will stick otherwise!) Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the sugar. Replace sugar as necessary (it can get a little wet and won’t stick to the cookie). Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
  4. Take the cookie sheet and whirl around in a grand manner as you move toward the preheated oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes-this depends on how you like them. The longer you cook, the lighter and airy they will be. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

From the Little Debbie snacks to the root beer floats we had every time we spent the night “Going to Grandmas,” there is no doubt in my mind where my sweet tooth came from and why my sisters and I spent hours in our kitchen trying to emulate her recipes. And even now, when I’m getting my baking done for the holidays, I always feel like I am carrying on her tradition, spreading sweetness and love with my fudge, lefse and cookies.


I’m making divinity for the first time in years. Click for the recipe.

Grandma Eleanor was a special lady, and there were so many things to cherish about her, but being a grand child, I figured it made the most sense to focus on the ways she spoiled us. I’m sad you’re not on our planet anymore, Grandma, but I’m happy you no longer have to manage pain and that you’ve gone back to God.

Did you like this recipe? Don’t forget to check out my recipe page for several delicious gluten-free, dairy-free treats, dinners and snacks! 

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