I recently came out with some confessions from my childhood. Mainly about my status as a horse nerd, who went to a camp that specialized in such dorky, horsey pursuits. But even when the summers were over, I spent the majority of my time on weekends at the barn riding, cleaning tack, and, come winter, trying to get my toe warmers to work their magic in my tall boots.
There are many rituals I miss that revolved around ponies. But the one that comes to mind today doesn’t involve trying out mane-and-tail shampoo on my hair in the shower stall. It’s the ritual that involved ginger cookies.
Since I often went out to Westchester after school, most of the time when I’d finish up at the barn it was late—around dinner time. My mom and I would stop at the closest gourmet market (a suburban rip-off of Dean and Deluca) and grab some easy things for dinner, things like string beans with caramelized shallots, curry chicken salad, and lentil soup. But to tide me over until we got home, contrary to her usual health mandates, I would get a big chewy ginger cookie for the road. After all the struggle it took to take off my tall boots, which once resulted in a broken wrist, I deserved it.
Because of this special brand of nostalgia, gluten-free ginger cookies have been on my to-make list for a while. Tates makes a good crispy version that Charlie and I sometimes buy and crumble over our vanilla ice cream like true champions. But it’s the giant, pliable ones with loads of holiday spices that I crave come this time of year, even when I’m not wearing chaps.
I decided to start with this easy flourless peanut butter cookie recipe, which has the same moist, chewy quality I was after. I swapped in almond butter and all the necessary spices, and upgraded the sugar from light to dark brown to give the cookies that rich, molasses flavor.
I actually was not going for giant cookies, since knowing my history with these bad boys, I predicted a severe lack of self-control when eating them. But I forgot how much they spread and ended up with these big, chewy cookies anyway from just 2 tablespoons of batter.
You can easily pre-roll the cookie dough into balls and freeze them for later use, especially if you have a few cookie swaps on the calendar and want to do all your gluten-free friends a solid. I’m so excited to have gluten-free ginger cookies back in my life for this holiday season, especially since now I don’t have to muck out any stalls in order to earn one.
Gluten-Free Ginger Cookies
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the almond butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- Add the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and salt and stir to incorporate. Transfer the dough to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 5 days, before baking. Refrigeration is key.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
- Using a 2-inch ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons of dough for very large cookies), form the batter into mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart (6 per tray). Slightly flatten the mounds before baking so they don't stay too domed.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are set and the cookies are thin and chewy. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, until firm, before removing to a plate.
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.