Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Cookies - Chocodiles

For most of us, the whole point of baked goods is comfort.  We associate a lot of specific items with a particular feeling or time or place.  Which sort of sums up the phenomenon of Christmas cookies, I think.  Most families, mine included, have a number off cookies and goodies that only really come out at the holidays.
If you're a regular reader, you'll have figured out that I get most of my baking mojo from Mom.  Magnify that by several powers of magnitude at Christmas.  Mom makes insane numbers of cookies at Christmas.  Remember the Schwann's ice cream tubs?  She'd fill multiple tubs with cookies and candies when we went to visit my grandparents.  Among the "core collection" (and we'll get to some of the others later) were her Chocodiles.
Mom made them at other times of the year, but I still associate them with Christmas.  They're easy, they're tasty, and they store well.  Now, Mom mentioned at one point that it was an old Pillsbury recipe that she had "tweaked."  I did finally find the old recipe, and Mom's version is quite a bit different.  So, here I give you the gluten-free version of Mom's Chocodiles (only loosely related to the vintage Pillsbury version).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter + 1/3 c. peanut butter, divided
1 c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
2 c. GF AP Flour OR my Fancy Flour Blend OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1/2 c. tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch

1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 12oz. pkg semisweet chocolate chips
3 c. gluten-free Rice Krispies
Cream together butter, 1/2 c. peanut butter, and brown sugar.
In another bowl, sift together flour(s), baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.
Gradually add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, beating well until a dry, crumbly batter comes together.  This is a very dense, shortbread-like batter.  If you're going to use a hand mixer, it needs to have a lot of power.  This dough is likely to burn out the motor on a low-end discount model - you've been warned!  It is more than possible to bring it together by hand (especially with the help of a burly assistant) or with a stand mixer.
Now pour the entire bowl of crust mixture into a 9"x13" pan.  You don't need to grease the pan, as there is enough fat in the crust that it is in no danger of sticking.  Really.  Trust me.
Gently distribute the crust mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan - then tamp it down firmly into place with your hands.  It doesn't need to be perfectly even - just packed down well.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set and golden.  Remove and set aside to cool.
Near the end of the cooking time, place the chocolate chips and remaining 1/3 c. of peanut butter in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat.  Measure out the Rice Krispies and set aside.
Stir the chips and peanut butter until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies.  Spread this mixture over the crust (which is now out of the oven, but still warm) and smooth into a relatively even layer.
Let cool completely, until chocolate is set.  Cut into 24 bars and serve.
There is a slight tendency for the crust and topping to separate, but nobody usually minds.  This is also less of an issue as the bars become completely cool.  They can be stored in the refrigerator if your kitchen is particularly warm.
I'm a big fan of the sweet/salty combo - and these bars hit that spot delightfully.  Make some for your holiday gifts, brew a nice pot of coffee..  and nobody will even notice that they're gluten-free.

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