Baking/ cookies/ Desserts

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hibiscus-Spiraled Ginger Cookies

cookies on white plate on red cloth

Day Five of my Advent Cookie Challenge stopped me in my tracks while pondering the word “hibiscus” in close proximity to the word “cookies.” Hmmmm.  I nosed around my supermarket until I found organic hibiscus tea made of only hibiscus flowers, which I used in this recipe.

These cookies are supposed to look like pinwheels, but mine resembled flat tires. You mix up the dough, chill it, roll it into a rectangle, paint it with egg, sprinkle it with hibiscus flowers, and roll it into a pretty jelly roll shape. Mine would not cooperate, and the roll flattened in the fridge.

My cookie dough may have been too soft because I added vegetable glycerin to the recipe to keep the cookies from drying out. Gluten-free cookie dough needs sugar to keep the cookies moist, but the non-nutritive sweeteners I use don’t add moisture. Food grade vegetable glycerin is a humectant (it attracts and holds water), so I thought I’d give it a try. The cookies were moist enough, but the dough was too soft, hence the flat tires.

I baked the cookies for 22 minutes, as the recipe directed, but it was too long. They turned dark brown instead of golden brown. Bake them for 12-15 minutes, and they’ll brown lightly.

The misshapen cookies tasted, well, unfamiliar and interesting.  Hibiscus flowers and orange zest gave them a distinct flavor that grew on me after a few cookies. I think the cookies are fine for a tea accompaniment, but not quite  the showstopper The New York Times suggested they would be. So, this cookie gets a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Springhouse Turtle

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hibiscus-Spiraled Ginger Cookies

Orange zest and hibiscus flowers give the filling in these pinwheel cookies a distinctive tangy flavor.


  • 1 cup dairy-free butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup erythritol or xylitol or allulose
  • 1 tablespoon food-grade vegetable glycerin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • 3 tablespoon xylitol, erythritol, allulose or organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hibiscus flowers, finely ground (about 1/4 cup dried flowers)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest



Beat the butter, coconut sugar, 1/4 cup erythritol or xylitol or allulose and vegetable glycerin in a mixer until fluffy.


Stir in 1 egg until blended.


In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, salt, ground ginger and candied ginger.


Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture, and stir together on low speed until blended.


Wrap the dough in waxed paper, and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.


In a small bowl, stir together the 3 tablespoons sweetener, hibiscus and orange zest


Remove the dough from fridge, and roll the dough between sheets of plastic wrap into an 10" x 13" rectangle.


In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water.


Brush the egg onto the rectangle of dough.


Sprinkle the hibiscus mixture evenly all over the dough.


Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough, and press the hibiscus mixture lightly into the dough.


Starting from the shorter end of the rectangle, roll the dough into a tight log, using the plastic wrap to help lift the dough as you roll it.


Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment, and refrigerate for at least an hour.


When ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Remove the log from fridge, and slice it into 1/2" slices.


Place the slices on parchment covered baking sheets.


Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, turning the baking sheets halfway through, until edges of cookies are light brown.


Cool completely on a wire rack.


Store cookies on the counter in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Springhouse Turtle


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