Vanilla is so … plain. But it’s also, surprisingly, America’s favorite flavor - and “plain” sugar cookies are our favorite cookie. Many of those eating gluten-free have been missing their sugar cookies; here’s a new take on this classic treat.
While all but the simplest fresh fruit desserts couldn’t rightfully be termed healthy, it’s always good to try to add a bit of nutrition to even your favorite sweets. These tender, cake-like cookies benefit from the addition of nonfat yogurt, with its vitamin D and calcium; and almond flour, which has been shown to help lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.
First, gather your ingredients:
- 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/4 cup vanilla or plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cups “exact substitute” gluten-free flour*
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- additional salt, for dusting the tops
- sliced almonds, for garnish
Gluten-free baking used to involve a series of hard-to-find ingredients: tapioca starch, xanthan gum, rice flour … Happily, these days you can purchase gluten-free flour that’s a simple 1:1 substitute for the wheat flour in most recipes. Specific brands to look for include King Arthur Flour’s Measure for Measure, Cup4Cup, and Bob’s Red Mill’s 1 to 1.
Preheat your oven to 350°. Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets; or line them with parchment.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar, then beat in the yogurt, vanilla, and egg. The mixture may look curdled; that’s OK.
Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring to make a cohesive, soft dough.
Scoop out 1-inch to 1 ¼-inch balls of dough.
Place sliced almonds in a bowl. Dip the top of each ball in the sliced almonds and place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 ½ inches between them.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes, until their bottoms are light brown and they’re just barely beginning to brown around the edges.
Remove the cookies from the oven. If you enjoy salty-sweet treats, immediately sprinkle the cookies with salt - extra-fine if you have it. Sprinkle sparingly at first; you can always add more to taste, but it’s impossible to “add less.”
Enjoy! Store cookies in an airtight container or plastic bag for several days at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.
Yield: about 40 cookies.
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PJ Hamel is senior digital content editor and food writer at King Arthur Flour, and a James Beard award-winning author. A 16-year breast cancer survivor, her passion is helping women through this devastating disease. She manages a large and active online survivor support network based at her local hospital and shares her wisdom and experience with the greater community via HealthCentral.com.