Sunday, May 15, 2011

Perfect Party Cookies, hold the gluten.

Something that you should know about me is that I am a carb-lover. I love all things pasta, pizza, cookies, bread, pancakes, you name it. If it's made with flour, I'm all over it. Something else that you should know is that my fiance was recently diagnosed with a gluten-allergy. These two things don't mix. When I finished crying on the floor clearing out my kitchen of all gluten, I was sure that life as I knew it, was over. I have always loved to cook and consider myself to be pretty good at it and I was having a great time trying out all kinds of new recipes when we moved into our new house. What I didn't know how to do, was cook without gluten.

To have a gluten intolerance means that you cannot have any wheat products. I only had to read one article to know that we were not just looking for "wheat" on the label. Barley, rye, oats, spelt, and modified food starch are only a few examples of ingredients to avoid. It was a bit daunting. The first week that we went gluten-free, we had grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and vegetables every single night for dinner. I was left feeling defeated and craving pasta. So I did my research, restocked my kitchen, and began cooking again.

Trial and error proved to be expensive but worth it. We figured out some brands that were so good that you couldn't tell the difference from the original and some that were so bad that you couldn't tell the difference from cardboard. I made lasagna, chicken parm, buttermilk pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, corn bread, and life was good again.

I became obsessed with turning "regular" recipes into gluten-free recipes. I was out to prove to the world that we could eat whatever we wanted and it was going to be better than the original recipe. I spend a lot of time reading food blogs and one of my favorites is Stephanie Cooks. It was Stephanie's Original Perfect Party cookies that I tried four times before I perfected them as gluten-free. I have never even tried them in their original form but I am confident that the cookies are just as good without gluten. How can you go wrong with cake batter, chocolate chips, and sprinkles?

The first time I made them, they looked like this:

Or at least that's what they looked like when Jeff scraped off a couple of "cookies". I think they were a flop for a couple of reasons.. I did not add any xanthan gum, which is a key ingredient in gluten-free baking. Gluten gives most baked goods their elasticity, and xanthan gum mocks that. I also did not let the dough chill for very long. I believe those two things are what caused them to spread out all over the tray and then burn because they came out so thin. We can't let a cookie go to waste in this house, so Jeff scraped everything off, packed it in a tupperware, and ate the whole batch within two days. That's what motivated me to keep trying. I figured if they were good with some major baking mistakes and without gluten, we have ourselves a winner.

After some tweaks in the process and products, I ended up with this:

Everything about this cookie is good. Whether you try this one or Stephanie's Original, you have to bake these. I have not tried one of her recipes that I haven't liked and I guarantee you these will be gone before they cool, which is obviously the best time to eat any type of chocolate chip cookie.

Perfect (Gluten-free) Party Cookies

Adapted from: Stephanie Cooks


1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of sorghum flour
1 cup yellow gluten-free cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 cup butter, melted, and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. gluten-free vanilla (McCormick's is gluten-free)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
4 tbsp. colored sprinkles

1. Sift together the flours, cake mix, baking soda, and xanthan gum, in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Mix together the melted butter, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, in a stand-mixer or by hand.

3. Add the dry combo to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

4. Add the chocolate chips and sprinkles.

5. Put the dough in the fridge to chill for up to a day, or at least 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350.

7. Once the dough has chilled, scoop dough onto a well-greased cookie sheet. (I've had to really grease the sheet for the gluten-free version.) Keep the dough cool until it goes into the oven.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are golden brown.

9. Let cookies cool on sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. (Or eat immediately off of the cookie sheet as we do.)

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