February 11, 2014

Author: Vicky Pearl

You know, I never tire of hearing stories about the past. Whether they’re stories about what life was like for my relatives in the Old Country or what travails they faced when they arrived in the United States. Many of these stories, it seems to me, also revolve around food. For example, there is a lovely story about my great-great grandmother’s jelly cookies. First, you have to understand that my great-great grandmother was famous for her cookies. Friends and neighbors would rave about them. Once, or so my great grandmother has told me, she was serving them to her guests who simply couldn’t believe that she had made themselves herself and informed her that she must have in reality gone out and purchased them at a local bakery. They were that good!!

So good, in fact, that for years, my own grandmother kept the recipe a secret. For years and years she kept it a secret. That is, until about 18 years ago, when she decided to share it with me. Since then, I deemed it my mission to replicate these delicacies for a gluten-free lifestyle. No easy matter, let me tell you. Although my grandmother recited the recipe to me verbatim over the phone, she is a “touchy-feely” baker. That is to say, she knows merely by feeling the dough and by the temperature in the room, whether it needs a bit more flour or a bit more moisture. My goal, of course, was to make the dough replicable in any kitchen using the alternative flours that were available to me. The recipe that follows is my imitation of the original dough. It is the dough that I use not only for my Hamantashen, but also for my jelly cookies and for Chanukah shaped cookies.


¾ cup potato starch

¾ cup brown rice flour

½ cup sweet rice flour

½ cup tapioca flour

1 Tbsp xanthan gum

½ tsp kosher salt (do not double when you double the recipe)

1 cup trans-fat-free margarine, room temperature (2 sticks)

½ cup xylitol or granulated sugar

1 large egg

¼ tsp vanilla extract


approximately 1 jar apricot jam


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, stir together potato starch, rice and tapioca flours, xanthan gum, and salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat margarine and sugar together for 2 minutes, or until somewhat combined. Add egg and vanilla; mix for 1 minute.

4. Add dry ingredients, mixing until well blended. If the dough is sticky, flour the baking surface and rolling pin with rice flour.

5. Divide dough in half. Roll dough, one piece at a time, between 2 pieces of parchment paper until ¼-inch thick. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter or glass to form circles.

6. Place ¼–½ tsp apricot jam in the center of each circle.

7. Bring 2 side arcs toward the center, overlapping them on top to form a point. Then bring bottom arc to center, creating a secure pocket of jam. Transfer to prepared baking sheets.

8. Bake in center of preheated oven for 17 to 18 minutes or until tips are slightly golden.

Remove pan to rack to cool completely.

Cookies freeze very well for up to 4 months.

Yield: 30 hamentashen.

Sidebar: This is a great classic cookie dough. It’s used below in the jelly or shaped cookies. It freezes beautifully and is handy to have on hand to turn into an afternoon event with your children. It’s very easy to work with and would be lovely simply baked with multicolored sprinkles on top. You’ll notice that this is one recipe where agave is not given as an option. This is because the cookies need to be a touch crispy, so xylitol (or sugar) is the ideal sweetener.

Originally published in Gluten-Free Goes Gourmet.