My childhood is told in a recollection of biscuits, cookies, and shortbread. Kingston biscuits dipped in china cups of sweet black tea. Almost damp Monte Carlo’s carefully wiggled apart so that the filling would stick to one side and you could nibble around the sweet jam and coconut until you had a perfect section of biscuit and filling to savour for as long as your patience lasted. Chocolate Marie biscuits that Mum would pack into my school lunch box. Shortbread fingers that Dad would break out on the weekend; we would sit outside with him during one of his breaks from tinkering about in the shed and enjoy them while sitting in the sunshine with cold paving stones pressing against the backs of our summer-tanned legs. The custard creams and orange creams that would linger a little longer in the biscuit barrel, but by the end of the week would surely have disappeared into hungry after-school bellies and Dad’s lunchbox. The store bought gluten free versions of these look similar, but are never as satisfactory. So, in need of a saucer-side cookie I ventured into the Thoroughly Nourished kitchen to create my own.
These coffee and vanilla biscuits are perfect for afternoon tea, or for packing into lunch boxes. They would sit elegantly on a tiered cake stand for the most formal of occasions, and are just as at home in a container in the refrigerator that is the source of midnight snacks and little illicit nibbles. They are also particularly delicious alongside a cup of tea and a dusty old novel on a cloudy spring afternoon. And, because they are gluten free, everyone can enjoy them.
Coffee-Vanilla Sandwich Cookies (gluten free)
These biscuits are gluten-free so be sure to check the ingredients in items such as icing sugar and cornflour are free of gluten-containing substances too. Some companies use wheat in their cornflour or icing sugar to help with thickening and stabilisation. You will need a 4.5cm fluted (or other shape) cookie cutter for this recipe, and a rolling pin.
- 120 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 100 grams icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 100 grams buckwheat flour, and extra for dusting the bench
- 50 grams hazelnut meal
- 25 grams cornflour
- 35 grams brown rice flour
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- Preheat fan-forced oven to 160C (320F) (this would be about 170C/340F in a conventional oven) and line two cookie sheets with baking paper. Mix milk with coffee granules and set aside to dissolve fully.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl beat together butter, icing sugar, and vanilla essence with electric beaters until fluffy and light in colour.
- Weigh out the buckwheat flour, hazelnut meal, cornflour, and brown rice flour. Add to butter along with the milk. Mix in gently with a wooden spoon until fully combined.
- Dust the bench and rolling pin with a light shower of buckwheat flour. Gather dough into a ball and place on the bench. This is a very soft dough, so if it appears to be too delicate to handle just wrap in two layers of plastic and place in the fridge for half an hour.
- Roll dough out to 0.5mm-0.8mm thickness. Using a 4.5cm round or fluted cookie cutter cut out cookies and place on lined cookie sheets. Leave about 4cm between cookies.
- Place cookie sheets in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. Rotate the sheets halfway through cooking time. Be careful as they may burn on the edges if left in too long.
- Remove cookies and place on a cooling rack until completely cooled. Fit a piping back with a star tip and pipe approximately half a tablespoon of frosting onto half the biscuits. Top with remaining biscuits and press down lightly to ensure they stick together well.
- Serve and enjoy. These cookies will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
For the vanilla frosting:
In a medium-size mixing bowl beat together 1.5 cups icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 50 grams softened unsalted butter, and 1 tablespoon of milk until light and creamy. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up, and once cookies are cooled use to sandwich them together.