But seriously, how amazing it is to have your best friend literally ask you to become a part of their family. They must like me. Or maybe it’s the wand. In either case, I could not be more honored.
Their recent baby shower got me thinking about my favorite children’s book. Did anyone ever read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? It is probably one of my favorite books. I have felt a bit like Mouse recently. I finally invested in some gluten-free flour and well… if you give a girl some gluten-free flour she is going to want to make some gluten-free cookies.
This was my first shot at a recipe that actually used gluten-free flour. The other recipes I have made simply omitted flour all together. It was a scary undertaking, that trip to Whole Foods, but with my trusty new cookbook How Can It Be Gluten Free by none other than Cook’s Illustrated, I had it handled.
Bob’s Red Mill products are the way to go here. Don’t go creeping around the bulk section like I did. After about my fifth Where’s Waldo attempt at trying to locate tapioca starch in the bulk line-up, I gave up and headed to the baking section to try my luck there.
Bam! Flour wall. All ingredients in the basket in about 15 seconds flat, with a slight hesitation between brown rice flour and sweet brown rice flour. The correct answer was brown rice flour.
The blend is easy. Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl (use a scale, so much easier) and whisk until combine. That’s it. Flour blend done. We forge on.
This recipe has all of the usual suspects. Except the ever elusive xanthan gum. That strange ingredient you see listed in all of the gluten-free baking recipes.
So what is it? It’s an imposter! A gluten imposter! Sort of. Xanthan gum is used to imitate the elastic properties that gluten typically provides in your everyday glutenfull recipes. It helps replicate the chewiness of flour and also helps to bind the ingredients. You can get all sciencey about it here.
*Note to self: Food Maxx carries xanthan gum for about $6 cheaper than Whole Foods. You’ll win the next round Lauren.
The dough that comes together here will be pretty soft and sticky. I also noticed that the milk powder did not initially blend smoothly into the dough, but give it some time and it will absorb into the dough.
The wait time here is very important. The original recipe from How Can It Be Gluten Free says let the dough rest for 30 min. I waited an hour and thought even then it could use a little more time. This time not only allows the butter to set making your dough firmer, but it also allows time for the liquids to absorb into the flour alleviating some of the grittiness you find in some GF baked goods.
Coming from a pretty persnickety baking snob, these cookies were pretty dang good. Of all recipes, I probably chose the toughest one to pull off, but I would have to say that you would probably have to tell someone these were gluten free for them to even know. I would say they are comparable in flavor to maybe a chewy Pepperidge Farm cookie. Edges were crispy but fleeting, softening up a bit by the next day. These cookies held up pretty well for about three days in a ziplock in the fridge (although the book says not to refrigerate them). Go figure. They may have held up longer, but they didn’t last long enough for me to know.
So be bold bakers. Step out of your flour comfort zone and give these a try. You won’t be disappointed and you will make your GF friends very, very happy! They may even ask for a glass of milk.