Gluten-Free Trail Cookies
When Steve and I were first introduced, we exchanged stories about our backpacking adventures (we are both retired backpackers), which led to our first date, which led to lots of hiking together, and eventually to our marriage.
We rent a comfortable cabin in the Sierras each year for a week of high-mountain exploring. Our days are more relaxed than when we used to rough it, and shape up like this: While I cook breakfast, Steve builds a campfire under the pines, we eat a leisurely breakfast and read by the fire before deciding on a hike, pack a lunch, and hit the trail around 11:30—just when I start to get hungry for lunch.
I am always starving within an hour, but we have several miles of trail to cover and 2,000’ of mountain to ascend before we reach a spectacular spot for a meal—by a lake or on a peak. These trail cookies pull me through until lunchtime. They are jam-packed with high-energy ingredients: peanut butter or almond butter, oats, brown sugar, and dried fruit. And, they are bursting with good flavor.
We enjoy these treats at home too, and usually have some available in a tin or the freezer. When my energy flags in the late afternoon, I snack on one or two, often accompanied by a cup of tea. Then I am fortified for an end of the day hike with our dog, Atticus Finch.
Gluten-Free Ginger-Cherry Cookies
I first created this recipe for our wedding rehearsal dinner. They were gobbled up, and no one guessed they were gluten-free. The crystallized ginger and dried cherries can be replaced with coarsely chopped toasted almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins, and/or chocolate chips. They keep for about a week if stored airtight, and also freeze well.
Makes about 48
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, at room temperature
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup toasted almond butter or natural peanut butter
3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
½ cup chopped crystallized ginger
⅔ cup dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and sugar and beat until well mixed. Add the eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Add the almond butter and beat until smooth. Mix in the oats, ginger, and cherries.
Lightly butter cookie sheets. Spoon the dough by rounded teaspoons and place on the sheets, spacing 2-inches apart. Bake until the cookies are just firm to the touch and light brown around the edges, about 12 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on the sheets. Transfer to racks and cool.