Dr. Sparky's Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits

I’m not much given to public boasting, but I’m very proud of my cookie-baking skills and they have served me well. I started baking cookies with Mom when I was old enough to reach the counter by standing on a chair. You’d have to check with her on the precise age, but I’m guessing I was about 6 or 7 which means I’m closing in on 50 years of honing this particular skill. In years past when we lived closer together, we used to get together at the beginning of December and spend a weekend baking Christmas cookies together...all weekend. Thousands of them, no joke. We would bake about 2 dozen different varieties and double batches of each. Over the years we found new recipes, refined old ones, and even developed several of our own. Pistachio lime crescents, anyone?

As Thanksgiving would approach, I would notice people at work getting friendlier. Some would even be so bold as to ask when “cookie weekend” was going to be. Would I be sure to drop by their offices with the tins before I deposited them in the coffee room where the ravening hordes of locusts would descend on them? True story, I had a boss who claimed he put me on an important project even before he knew about my programming skills just because he noticed my cookies and figured that was a good skill set to have on his project. (That project changed my life and career, although that was due to my engineering skills.) I have one friend who refers to me and my mother as “Cookie Lady and Cookie Mom.”

Apologies for the nostalgic stroll down memory lane; I’ll come back to the point. This is the book that started it all for me.


The Joy of Cooking - 1953 Edition

My great grandmother gave my mother a copy of this edition for junior high school graduation in 1953 when it was just published. That copy is so beaten up it’s barely recognizable, but it still works. Mom found this copy of the 1953 edition for me in 1998.

The first time I ever tea dueled at
Wild Wild West Con 2013, Madame Askew had gluten free tea dueling biscuits. Sadly, all agreed that they were woefully inadequate to the task, more like hockey pucks than proper biscuits. When we attended Wild Wild West Con this year, there was no gluten free dueling because she was unable to find a suitable weapon. And then she made some rash comment about eternal tea dueling glory for the person who could deliver this elusive weapon (or something to that effect, I swear). Challenge accepted!

Over the course of a month, I baked and tested 4 different versions with 4 additional sub-versions. And you know I kept detailed experimental notes. Drake and I tested some. Thanks to the
San Diego Tea Duelists for their tests and reviews. This week, just two days before the start of Gaslight Gathering, I arrived at version 4.0.


Dr. Sparky’s Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits - Version 4.0

Yesterday, during day 1 of Gaslight Gathering, I presented a tin of 18 biscuits to Madame Askew and she tested them during Tea Dueling 101. And they worked! To show her appreciation for this accomplishment, she presented me with the coveted Tucson Steampunk Society Tea Dueling Badge.


Tea Dueling Badge of Honor

So, what about the book that started it all? I started from the Butter Thins recipe and successively altered it using the skills I learned from Mom to achieve just the right structure and texture. Oh, did I mention that they’re also tasty? So, here’s the recipe you’ve been waiting for.

Dr. Sparky's Gluten Free Tea Dueling Biscuits

Cream together

  • .5 c. unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • .5 cup sugar

Beat in
  • 2 egg yolks
  • .5 tsp. vanilla

Beat in (there’s no gluten, so you don’t have to worry about them getting tough)
  • 1 c. rice flour
  • Pinch of nutmeg (to taste)

Press evenly into a lightly greased, segmented brownie pan. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the divider while the cookies are still warm. Makes 18. Store in an airtight container once they cool. They work better when they’re fresh.

About that segmented brownie pan. It ensures that the biscuits are a uniform, proper size for tea dueling, and that all of the biscuits have “edges,” which is also important to stability. This one on
Amazon is very similar to the one I have including it makes the right number. I don’t know where mine was purchased because it was a gift from Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Cookie Mom, from the Cookie Lady who’s so very proud to be your daughter.