Cookies are my ideal treat, and one of the fastest ways I know to knock a sweet craving on the head. With kids hanging off my legs 99% of the day, making elaborate desserts like I used to is just not a realistic goal anymore! Cookies however, can be mixed up in minutes and the kids can pitch in with the mixing and rolling of the dough. Bonus.
On Friday, Ada and I had a few hours without her little brother around, moments Ada treasures let me tell you! I have had a hankering for something sweet lately...okay, so most days I do, but it has been a week or so right? We settled on the good ol' New Zealand family favourite, chocolate afghans. Here I've made them not only gluten-free, but dairy-free and vegan also, keeping everyone happy 🙂
To my delight, my darling lemon thyme got a lovely little mention in the latest issue of little treasures magazine, as part of an article on coping with gluten and dairy allergies. So with that in mind I wanted to post a cookie recipe that is nice and simple to make, uses readily available ingredients and one that the kids (and parents) will absolutely adore!
If you are not familiar with this moreish kiwi favourite, Afghans are a rich chocolate cookie, spiked with crunchy cornflakes then topped with generous dollops of silky chocolate icing. Traditionally they are garnished with a walnut half, but feel free to ad-lib; pecans, sliced almonds or even slices of fresh strawberry as we have done here make for a nice change. Ada had the genius idea to top them with strawberries, and while they did go down a treat, if you are wanting them to keep for any longer than 10 minutes, stick to using nuts 🙂
This recipe was adapted from the quintessential guide to traditional New Zealand cuisine, the Edmonds cookery book.
gluten-free afghan cookie recipe
These are gluten and dairy-free but if you eat wheat and dairy simply use 200g butter, 1 1/4 cups plain flour and omit the guar gum. Too easy. I use unrefined raw sugar, but caster or brown sugar is fine too. Find glutinous rice flour at Asian supermarkets, or replace with corn starch (known as corn flour in NZ). If you are strictly gluten-free make sure you source gluten-free cornflakes (most supermarkets stock them). Regular cornflakes (breakfast cereal) contain barley malt, which has gluten. Icing sugar is also known as powdered sugar in the U.S, check that it is gluten-free also. Makes 30 mini cookies.
- 200g dairy-free margarine
- 1/2 cup (100g) raw unrefined cane sugar
- 3/4 cup (90g) brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup (25g) tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup (25g) glutinous rice flour (sweet rice flour)
- 1/2 tsp guar gum
- 1/4 cup (25g) cocoa powder
- 2 cups gluten-free cornflakes
- 1 1/2 cup (185g) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp dairy-free margarine, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 Tbsp boiling water
- walnuts or pecans to decorate
Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Grease 2 oven trays and line with baking paper.
Cream margarine and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy, using either a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Sift over brown rice flour, tapioca flour, glutinous rice flour, guar gum and cocoa powder. Mix using a wooden spoon until fully combined. Add cornflakes and continue to mix to incorporate (I usually use my hands at this stage, so much easier!). The mixture will be really wet and sticky, that's perfect.
Using your hands, gently roll tablespoons of mixture into small balls. This will be really sticky work, so just do your best. Place onto oven trays about 2cm apart. Slightly flatten each using a fork or your fingers. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set. They will firm more on cooling. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray. Ice once completely cold, by dolloping a generous spoonful of chocolate icing on each cookie, and top with walnuts or pecans.
To make the icing, sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add the melted margarine, vanilla and just enough boiling water to form a thick icing.