Cooking With Kayla: Gluten-Free Sand Tart Cookies

Today, for Cooking With Kayla, we tackled Sand Tarts. These are one of my favorite Christmas cookies. We made them every single year at Christmas-time. I still remember rolling them out, making shapes with the cookie cutters, “painting” them with egg, and sprinkling them with chopped nuts or sprinkles or colored sugar. Because of Kayla’s celiac diagnosis, we have never made them together. Yesterday I decided I had to make a gluten-free version, so we borrowed cookie cutters and the family recipe from Grandma and went to work!

Of course it was very nostalgic making these cookies. I remembered every single cookie cutter shape! But it was all new for Kayla. She was very concerned that the dough was too thick and kept telling me we needed to add liquid. But that’s just the way these cookies are!

Here’s the recipe:

1) Mix together the following very well, then form into a ball:

2) Refrigerate ball of dough for a few hours until pretty hard. It will actually seem way too hard, and you’ll think you’ll never be able to make anything out of it, but trust me, it works!

3) Roll the dough out on the counter. We split the ball into 2 pieces and did one at a time.This is the toughest part. You will need to flour your flat surface as well as your rolling pin and dough. Several times.

4) Make your shapes. Squeeze as many as possible into the dough. I used a small spatula to lift the cookies out from the surrounding dough. I broke a bunch before I got the hang of it. It requires a very quick, accurate motion, no slow poking and prodding. ;) I remember when using wheat flour, just being able to grab the scrap parts and pull them from around the shapes, but the gluten-free dough of course falls apart easier so I had to be more careful. Because that’s what gluten gives…elasticity! Then, gather up all your scraps and do it all again, until you’ve used up all your dough!

5) Put the shapes on a cookie sheet.

6) Beat one egg and use a pastry brush to brush a little bit of egg over the surface of each cookie. Then, sprinkle with your toppings. We chose cinnamon sugar, but you could use colored sugar, chopped peanuts with cinnamon mixed in, or sprinkles.

7) Bake at 400 until golden. Your time will depend on the thickness of the cookie (the thinner the better) so there’s really no set time. Just watch closely!

With our first pan, we made the mistake of spilling quite a bit of cinnamon sugar, which then ended up melting and, while the cookies were cooling, then hardening. This created such a mess that I wasn’t even sure we could salvage my pan. The second pan was better, and it helps to loosen the cookies almost as soon as they come out of the oven, before they completely cooled. But still some broke taking them off the pan. The third pan was the best. I used my stoneware pan for that one, and none of the cookies broke. So if you have stoneware, that is probably what you’ll want to use!

I was so happy with how these turned out! Just a slightly different texture from the cookies I grew up with, but I would bet an outsider would never be able to tell these were gluten-free! They are crispy and melt-in-your-mouth and we loved the cinnamon sugar on top! Try them, they just might be your next gluten-free family tradition!

This recipe makes about 3 cookie sheets full of shapes!

As with all recipes, make sure your ingredients are gluten-free and meet your family’s dietary needs!

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  1. Martha Alexander says:

    My family favorite was what we called “Butterfingers” . Probably about the same recipe except no egg and the addition of ground pecans. They were shaped out in little rolls and cooked in a moderate oven. When just barely brown they were quickly rolled in powdered sugar while still hot.
    I was allergic to eggs as a child and they were the one cookie I was allowed to eat. When no one was looking however I would sneak and dip them in “Daddy’s eggnog”. Hummm!!!

  2. May I recommend a silpat. They are SO worth the price and save your cookie sheet. I look forward to trying these with my little boy.

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