Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Cornmeal Cookies

These cookies aren’t cheap to make.  I have to throw that out there before I tell you anything else.  Why?  Because of the almond paste.  The gloriousness and expensiveness that is almond paste.

No one besides real chefs have as much almond paste in the cupboard as I do.  I cleaned out the store shelves one day a few months ago because of some miscalculations I did in my head while standing in front of the display at Target.  Yes, I was by myself.  No kids to blame it on.  I had almost as much trouble with the math in my head as I did trying to spell miscalculation two sentences ago.

That’s how I ended up with an embarrassing amount of almond paste in my cupboard.  The girl at the checkout said, “Wow.  I’ve never seen anyone buy this much before.”  Then I realized my receipt was about $100 more than I thought it would be.  Ah, those miscalculations.  Not so good for the pocketbook either.

Don’t worry, you won’t drop 100 bucks on these cookies.  And if you can’t find almond paste at your local grocery store, chances are I’ll still have some I can lend you. :)

(p.s. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that Target sells Odense almond paste for $5.00 as opposed to twice that in some stores.  I know.  That’s what I’m here for!)

Let’s talk about these cookies.  How many failures would you like to estimate I’ve had trying to make good gluten-free cookies.  Anyone?  I don’t want to think about it.  But if I’ve learned anything from my failures, it’s sure to be that you need to add a bit of xanthan gum to your GF recipes.  Not too much.  It ain’t called xanthan gum for nothin’.  Not that I ever made GF molasses cookies that resembled hoppy taws or anything.

After Christmas I picked up tubs of candied lemon peel for $0.99/tub.  That’s like $3-4 off.  I get so excited when I get a deal like that.  And I realize that not everyone would get as excited over dried, candied fruit peels, but I’m kinda special that way.

So I started with the candied lemon peel and wondered where to go next.  I wanted to use raw sugar just because.  Almond paste was in abundance.  I love the way cornmeal in cookies tastes.  I added some eggs to help bind it.  And one vegan buttery stick.  (Not your thing?  Use butter instead.)

A quick whirr in the food processor and the dough was ready to be formed into balls, rolled into sugar, and popped into the oven.  The best part?  You’d never know they were gluten-free.  (Take that, husband dear.)

The only other thing I think these cookies need is some lemon ice cream.  And in fact, why don’t I run into the kitchen and put my Cuisinart bowl in the freezer right now.  You do it too, mmkay?  Ice cream loves company you know.

These cookies are tender, not too sweet and would be the perfect companion to the aforementioned bowl of ice cream, a tall glass of cold lemonade, or a warm cuppa.  Tea, that is.

***EDIT 04/14/11***
Be sure to use gluten-free almond paste.  I just realized that my Odense almond paste is made with a glucose syrup derived from wheat.  Solo brand almond paste that comes in a can/tin is gluten-free and is a better choice if you are avoiding gluten.

Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Cornmeal Cookies
from the amazing brain of Lindsey Johnson

7 oz. gluten-free almond paste (not marzipan), such as Odense Solo
4 oz. Earth Balance vegan butter (or 4 oz. butter)
2 large whole eggs
1/2 cup raw or Turbinado sugar
1/2 cup candied lemon peel (homemade or store bought)
1 1/4 cups fine brown rice flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
a few drops almond extract, optional
extra sugar and candied lemon peel for rolling and decoration

Place first 5 ingredients plus the almond extract, if using in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture comes together into a paste.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Turn the food processor on for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth. It will still be a little grainy, but it will be thick and mostly smooth.  Scrape down the sides again.  Add the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Pulse a few times until the dough comes together, adding more cornmeal as necessary so the dough is neither too stiff or sticky.  (Think: play-doh.)  Roll small balls of dough in sugar and top with a few pieces of candied lemon peel.  Flatten tops with the bottom of a drinking glass.  Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Rotate sheets mid-baking.  The longer you bake, the firmer and drier the cookies will be.  If you like them softer, bake for a few minutes less.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen 2″ cookies.

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  1. You’re so fuuny. I don’t know how many tubes of almond paste you bought in order to exceed your budget by $100, but at least you came up with this recipe :-)

    The candied lemon peel looks like crystalized ginger. very pretty.

  2. My favorite gluten free vegan cookies (my son has a lot of food allergies) are the chocolate chip cookies from Veganomicon. They are sooooo yummy. Well, at least I think so. If you don’t like oats, then you probably wouldn’t like them.

  3. Hi These look great! I had a question about the almond paste. Does regular or gluten free make a difference in how the cookies taste or the texture? Thank you!

    1. Hi Laura! Not at all, as far as I can tell. The issue with the non-GF paste is simply that it’s made with wheat glucose syrup. The resulting cookie will be the same with either kind.

  4. Hi Lindsey,
    What is the difference between the Fine Cornmeal you listed & Corn Flour (i.e.- Masa, used to make tortillas, etc.)?
    If they are similar, could I just use the Corn Flour (which is common here)?

    1. Hi Vickie, where do you reside? Are you in the UK by chance? Fine cornmeal is a little more coarse than corn flour. I have some corn flour (not to be confused with cornstarch) that is almost powdery. I find it in the baking section of Whole Foods. I think you could certainly use that in these cookies. Masa is treated with lime and I’ve never seen it used, nor have I used it myself, in anything other than tamales or tortillas, and sometimes as a thickener for sauces or chili. It’s different than traditional cornmeal that we use here in the US. I have cornmeal of various grinds too. It’s a little confusing! And to complicate things even more, there is also “polenta,” which I have used in cornbread and other recipes before, but typically only use to make polenta, the porridge.

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