|FYI: No, the elephant has not been shot. That's his eye.|
My mom and I have been making Christmas cookies together almost every year for as long as I can remember. Hold on, let me clarify the terms “making” and “together.” My mom makes the dough, rolls the dough and cuts out the shapes. I decorate.
So anyways, these are Sand Tarts. They’re like sugar cookies, but lighter (thinner), fresher (lemony) and less sweet (better). The official origin of the cookie seems to be unknown. It may have come from Normandy or from the American South or from Pennsylvania. All I know is that my grandmother and my great grandmother used to make them, but nobody decorated them the way I do.
(Adapted from the original Joy of Cooking)
1 ¼ cup sugar
¾ cup butter
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3 cups sifted Brown Rice flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum (make it a generous teaspoon)
¼ tsp. salt
2 egg whites
decorations of your choosing (cinnamon, sugar, colored sugar)
1. Sift sugar and set aside.
2. Beat butter until it’s soft and then gradually mix in the sugar.
3. Add the egg, the egg yolk, the vanilla and the lemon rind and continue beating until the mixture is very soft and creamy.
4. Combine xanthan gum, the sifted brown rice flour and the salt and sift the whole mixture.
5. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir until well blended. (This can be challenging. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to knead the dough.)
6. Split the dough into two lumps. Wrap each lump in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours. (My mom typically makes the dough a week before we make the cookies.)
7. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°F.
8. Roll the dough so that it’s as thin as possible. Use fabulous cookie cutters of your choosing to cut the dough into shapes and then transfer the shapes onto a greased (or buttered or oiled) cookie sheet.
9. Brush the tops of the cookies with egg whites and decorate.
10. Bake for eight minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack until cool enough to handle. Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.