Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 1 of gluten-free baking: Alfajores

I am now on a gluten-free diet. 

Never would I have made such a drastic (for me) lifestyle change on my own. It all happened over the course of an hour with a nutritionist: after reviewing my recent health and nutrition needs, she suggested a gluten-free diet.  I bristled at the idea: me, a bread lover, avid baker, on a gluten-free diet?  "It'll be a trial for three weeks," she said.  "Think of it as a challenge; have you ever done any gluten-free baking before?"  Try as I might, I couldn't find anything about her proposition appealing.  I continued to resist.  She then urged me to consider it.  I finally acquiesced. 

It only took overnight for me to embrace (yes, embrace!) the idea.

It might have partly been due to timing: this happened just one day after my cupcake fest with fellow food bloggers, one week after my pie-baking class, and six weeks after my Paris trip where I indulged - very heavily, I might add, and gleefully, too - in all things gluten.

So here I was, having committed to no gluten for nearly a month, on the eve of an Argentine potluck I was invited to.  Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided I would bake.  First stop, Dean and Deluca; they carry gluten-free flour that can be substituted one-for-one for all-purpose flour.  Then onto finding a recipe; I stumbled upon one for Alfajores, which is essentially an Argentinean dolce de leche sandwich cookie.  It sounded divine!

The results: the cookies were light, refreshing with the hint of lemon, and perfectly sweet.  I really don't know if using gluten-free flour made any difference in the texture or taste, never having made these cookies before. But that didn't matter; they were gobbled up by everyone.

Recipe from

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
Two egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon rind, grated
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (the Davis brand is gluten-free)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dulce de leche (I used store-bought)

Cream butter for a minute, add sugar and beat until fluffy.

Add egg and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well. Beat in vanilla and lemon rind.

In a separate bowl, sift together cornstarch, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to mixture and mix well.

Drop batter by small spoonfuls onto well buttered baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove immediately.

Sandwich the cookies together with dulce de leche


  1. wow, interesting. Glad you're up for the challenge! The first trial looks like it came out great :)

  2. Thanks, Kelly! I have a newfound respect for people with dietary restrictions who find creative ways of baking!