Gluten free gingery starry starry nights & a girl crush

almond cookies gluten freeI found these almond based chocolate cookies in a book I enjoyed very much this summer. Gesine Bullock -Prado’s My Life from Scratch. Formerly known as Confessions of a Closet Master Baker, I wondered if the mass public just couldn’t take this woman’s fabulous sense of humor. It went from the first title in 2009 to the second in 2010. Maybe the title just needed to be shorter. Hmmmm… It’s her story of going from the stress of LA limelight to rural Vermont. It will be most appreciated by those who love to bake.

Her website design is cool, she’s hilarious, quirky, beautiful and an amazing baker. I’ve watched all her videos too. She has farm animals and a gorgeous house in Vermont.  No life is without stress, decisions and complications and I’m too old to idolize but well, I just think I would like her.

Back to Frog Song Farm….We moved from our octagonal gnome cabin back into our house and we’re happy campers. Love my kitchen and stove and just a little more privacy than the interior doorless cabin. What I never realized in the past (before I understood the importance of natural light and manual photography) is that the kitchen is tucked in on the northeast corner of the house. Now one might ask why is it that I never understood that? Well I just never had to consider it. It’s artificially very well lit and there is morning sun that streams through the windows into the combined kitchen dining room. But is it sufficient for photos? Not really. This will be a new challenge so bare with me.

Moving on…I really wanted to bake these cookies but by 3pm the house was already pretty dark without lights, looming clouds not helping.  I mentioned my love for our kitchen, but even the bits of natural light this time of year are basically non-existent. So you can imagine me trying to figure out where the hell to take pictures. I may have to resort to some artificial lighting on these dark winter days. If I wait for sunlight around here it could be even longer between posts- like weeks or months. I basically dragged my mixer out to the front porch and with the right settings could get something. Here’s my cat going what the F are you doing?

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Here’s how it goes…I’ve wanted to make these starry starry nights from Gesine’s (G like ‘get’) book since summer. And I’ve wanted to add ginger. I did some research also on crinkle cookies or crackle cookies and may have a go at those too but these starry starry nights will also satisfy my gluten free friends. Even better.

Please find the recipe here at Epicurious. What I did alter was the amount of salt. After making one batch, I only used 1/4 tsp of salt the second round. And I used 1 full TB of Valrhona cocoa powder. I added about 1/4 tsp of ground ginger, 1/2 cup of chopped candied ginger and a handful of chocolate chips for a little somethin somethin.  I doubled the recipe the second time and made loads of bite size cookies for the artisan’s faire this weekend. Anyone who is reading this and ate them… that batch was not dragged around inside and out in search of photo ops!

Starry starry nights

Start by  melting the chocolate and butter. Next make the almond powder/flour with almonds and powdered sugar. I used slivered almonds on hand. It’s never as fine as what you buy packaged. I’ve never tried to use home made almond powder for macarons and would like to hear from those who have. Whenever I was in Paris, it wasn’t Hermes coming home in my bags but Marguerite almond powder and kilos of Valrhona feves in milk, 61% and 70%! I did just learn about two minutes ago that you can order Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour on amazon (I confess to “one-click”). Hopefully it hasn’t been sitting in the warehouse too long as Bob’s website is out of stock. I’ll let you know how I like it. A good source for larger quantities of high quality chocolate such as Valrhona is a company in Portland, OR called Chocosphere.

Next whip up your eggs and sugar till ribbon like…

Starry starry nights-2And pour a third into your melted chocolate and butter to lighten the batter. Then add the remainder.

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I took my chocolate back outside to take photos of “folding” in the ribboned egg mix.

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Well after about ninety seconds my chocolate/butter started hardening about as fast … ok I’m not going there. Too easy. It was too firm to fold or mix anything into it. I had to take it back in and hold it over my simmering turkey soup to warm it up and then throw it back in the mixer for a little man-handling and I added some chopped candied ginger and a few chocolate chips. So much for gentle folding.

But it was still good…and we went back outside, me, the cat and the chocolate, to take a photo.

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Once mixed it was in the freezer to officially get firm in order to make little dough balls. After about an hour, I made bite size cookie balls about the size of a round nickel, rolled them in large sugar crystals and popped them back into the freezer. oh and I tried some powdered sugar but that was useless…but pretty.

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And I tried some photos in the living room… on my coffee table with a wood tray for a back drop…

Starry starry nights-9Out of the freezer they came again, this time tossed in more fine sugar as I couldn’t be bothered to roll each one. And I tried a picture on a stool in the dining room next to the french doors.

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They normally cook at 350° for about 10 minutes. But I only did about 7 minutes because they were so small. And I didn’t take any more pics except with the next two rounds of cookies I made which you will be seeing very soon…mint chocolate crinkles from Martha Stewart and my Betty Crocker salted almond chocolate chip cookies. Starry starry nights, almond based and gluten free are in the middle.

Starry starry nights-12Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season…xo


I keep forgetting: Check out this time last year! New Paths at 40 aka Late Bloomers – you can even be the first one to “LIKE” it.

PS – Here’s a little view from the porch…Still a green jungle.

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56 responses

  1. I love your recount of your search for the light. It was definitely worth the extra effort, your photos turned out really nice … and I think I know what I will be reading for the holidays 🙂 – thanks for the tip.


  2. Hi Wendy ~ As one of the lucky ones who had the pleasure of sampling your cookies at the Artisan Fair, I really loved them. All my favorite things – gluten-free with ginger and chocolate! Thanks! p.s. Jay has some tricks for photographing inside…


    • Good. I’ll shoot him a mail.
      I tell you these cookies got better after a couple days too. We managed to not eat all of them in a day and it paid off. They were moist (horrible but accurate word) and chewy 🙂


    • Previously stated… we did not eat them all in one day. But you did have to eat like four to equal one normal cookie. Although I could call Nabisco to package them up in little one hundred calorie snack packs.
      I made about 150. Most went to the artisans faire. And there are still a few in the freezer for special guests…if I don’t eat all the frozen dough balls.


  3. You did a beautiful job on the photos, light or no light. 🙂 I know what you mean about the natural light. Our house was built with mostly north facing windows and we have an overhang on the back deck. It never gets much sun. It’s wonderful in the summer because it keeps the house from getting too hot, But in the winter, we never get any sunlight.


    • Ditto here. And the trees surrounding the house have grown a lot the last fifteen years. I’m ready to do some topping.
      I’ll start researching indoor lights. I’ve heard good things about the Lowel Ego lights.


  4. Beautiful! And thanks for sharing the light trials with us too. The photos just make the cookies look very tempting. I decided it was a sure thing as soon as I saw that whisk dripping egg and sugar mixture… And great to know you’re back snogging frogs again. Such a treasure of a place whichever direction your kitchen is facing 😉


  5. Hi Wendy, love that green jungle and the title of your cookies, Starry, Starry nights is perfect. It’s whimsical, it’s poignant and they really do look like little sugared stars rolled into those dough balls! I’m in awe of your beautiful jars of baked treats, truly they look gorgeous and I can tell they were made with a lot of love!


  6. How have I not been to Gesine Bullock’s website before now? Thank you so much for the pointer – I’ve read some of her stuff (LOVE), but somehow it hadn’t occurred to me to check out the web version of all things Gesine. BAH!!

    FYI, those jars of cookies have me craving a little butter and sugar this evening…


  7. Brilliant post as ever Wendy. Beautiful shot of the three cookie jars. I am glad that I am not the only one who has to drag the food around the house to get some decent light on proceedings. Our kitchen is east facing and I tend to cook in the afternoons / evenings so the light tends to be pretty poor, particularly at this time of year. I have been seen out on the street trying to get a decent picture. however, the Wife has put her foot down on that activity.


  8. I am always on the hunt for great light in my home as well. I have a little table set up next to a window and I set stuff on there. The sun is on a strange angle this time of year.. and of course, it sets too early for supper photos. I’ve taken to making dinner one night and photographing it the next morning, which sometimes require reheating.. and reeating:D I’m just not sure I have room for a big light stand. These look yummy, a perfect Christmas Cookie I think! xx


    • That’s a good idea. Or we just start making dinner for breakfast. I discovered the back patio is pretty good around 1pm if it’s not too cloudy. I just have to get in the swing of the winter light. And I am going to research some indoor lighting.
      x wendy


  9. I too have a major crush on Gesine since I also left my toxic TV exec life in Hollywood, Only I moved to Germany not vermont and didn’t become a professional baker, just a hobby one. Also Gesine has such a strong connection to her German roots. I loved that book. I’ve made many of her recipes but only admired her starry starry night cookies from afar. LOL about the run around to find good light. Had the same problem when we bought our Pennsylvania house. The cookies look divine!


    • You too really are on a similar path. How has it been for you being back in NYC?

      Time for you to make these cookies up close and personal. They are really good.. I did especially like the addition of the candied ginger- you can take or leave the chocolate chips- might be a little over the top.
      I’ll get a handle on the lighting eventually.
      bis später x wendy


  10. I’m chuckling as I read your comments (and Smidge’s) about lighting. I was lucky that it was warm enough to take my little table outside to photograph my cookies on the weekend. I don’t have a cat looking at me strangely, but I did have a prospective buyer at the house next door watching me photograph my dinner once and looking at me like I was nuts! I have a friend who I’ve just discovered must eat only gluten free, so I’m going to forward her this recipe. She’ll be thrilled as she’s really struggling.


    • She’ll love them. Tell her too they get even better after a couple days.
      The light thing is funny. The first few months it didn’t occur to me to care and I took pictures anywhere on auto. I get a little caught up in it now but it’s fun. I still have no sense of styling though 😉


  11. Great cookies, Wendy! The best light in my shared house is in an un-insulated little sunroom, and this time of year even there it’s rather low, despite the windows on two sides. My downstairs neighbours and everyone who passes on the sidewalk may-or-may-not find me, on any given day, dressed like a lumberjack to combat the cold, negotiating bikes, recycling, and beer kegs (my housemate runs a local brewery), standing on a chair with one leg propped on the window sill, the camera in one hand, and my elbow/armpit/teeth holding my white foam core reflector board, photographing a display of whatever USED to be warm-from-oven, begrudgingly increasing my ISO to get the shot I’m looking for. But I love every shivering second of it!


  12. intriguing with the ginger in combination with chocolate – very good .. like the read of it. And you are truly living in the jungle *smile – some dangerous animals too I can see. *laughing
    Wendy, no little white envelop yet ????


  13. Wendy, I am so glad you stopped by my website so that I could find yours. This is the perfect little cookie for the holidays. I too am always on the hunt for natural sunlight. I live in Hong Kong and we do not have alot of it as we have so much smog, so I have to depend on accessory lighting. I love that picture of the little kitty and his tail in the background. Looking forward to keeping in touch. BAM


  14. I loved the book and have also wanted to make these cookies. Yours are beautiful and perfect for winter. I was following her blog for a while then stopped so thanks for reminding me. I’ll start again.


  15. Pingback: Salted Almond Chocolate Chip cookies… « Chez Chloe

  16. It was a pleasure reading your blog and the recipe for Ginger starry night cookies has further fuelled my desire to start a baking marathon 🙂 I checked out Gesine’s website and her blogs as well….you’re right she is wonderful!!…and you’re never too old to idolize someone 🙂
    I love the way your cookies look in their jars…so quaint!! We added some international food recipes and pictures as well on our blog :….enjoy!! I look forward to your future posts 🙂 Happy new year!


  17. Pingback: Cheesecake, Cranberry, Port… yes darling it’s true. « Chez Chloe

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