Gluten Free, Macarons, Party Time!

a gluten free bridal shower

Back in February, I hosted a bridal shower for my best friend Deirdre, who does not eat gluten. What she lacks in the ability to digest gluten, she makes up for with her excellent taste in friends and literature.

IMG_1205One of our favorite past times is watching BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, so I knew we just had to have a Jane Austen tea party for her bridal shower. My co-bridesmaid Ashley did an incredible job decorating my condo to match the theme (as well as preventing me from losing my mind), while I provided the snacks.

Now, for my best friend’s bridal shower, nothing could really be good enough, and I would have loved to have filled tables with elegant petit fours, perfect little tea sandwiches, and every other dainty teatime treat you could imagine.

The reality of the situation, however, was that there was neither time nor enough guests to justify such a spread. Besides, my BFF doesn’t especially like cake. They didn’t even have it at the wedding. In the end, the featured treats were German chocolate macarons, wedding cookies, and lemon bars — all gluten-free.

IMG_1208The macarons were a no-brainer. Made from almond flour, they’re naturally gluten-free, and German chocolate cake has always been Deirdre’s favorite. Her mom made it for her and her siblings’ birthdays even through college (which was perfectly fine with me, as her college roommate). Now that she avoids gluten, of course, she does not have it very often, so I knew she would excited to have the flavors from her favorite cake in a GF form for her shower. I based the macaron primarily off of this recipe from Love and Macarons, omitting the vanilla and replacing some of the powdered sugar with cocoa powder. For the filling, I used the German chocolate cake topping recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.

IMG_1200The wedding cookies were completely new for me. I used the lemon snowball cookies recipe from King Arthur Flour, with some modifications. I replaced the flour with my favorite blend (a mix of brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, and xanthum gum), and also used ground pecans in place of some of the flour as well. They were so delicious. I could not stop eating them. Seriously — many did not make it to the shower, and it was with great reluctance that I took all of the remaining treats to my office the next day. I loved the tartness from the lemony coating, and the lemon zest from my mom’s harvest took these over the top.

For anyone interested in making these, I would definitely recommend chilling the dough before baking. Without this step, they spread quite a bit.

IMG_1201The lemon bar recipe is from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, and is one of my favorite recipes. It is always delicious and unbelievably easy. I swapped the flour in the crust for the blend mentioned above, but from previous experience, I knew this blend would make the filling gritty. Instead, I replaced the flour in the filling with Instant Clearjel, and it was perfect — indistinguishable from the “normal” version of the recipe.

All in all, I would call the day an absolute success. I would definitely say that this was the best gluten-free fare I’ve ever made, and my best friend seemed thrilled with the whole thing — the food, the games, the friends, the gifts. Of course, at the end of the day, she should be the star of the bridal shower, not the food, but I’d say my goods were still a hit in their supporting role.IMG_1198

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