I was invited to a Cookie Exchange party this weekend by my lovely friend Molly. The rules were to bring 5 dozen cookies (no chocolate chip) and an empty box so that you could take home some of the cookies everyone else brought. I was excited to have an excuse to make some cookies even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to take anyone else’s cookies home with me.
Since the party was on Saturday I decided to spend Friday night at home experimenting in my little gluten free kitchen. It was 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside so I couldn’t imagine a better way to avoid exposure to the elements.
When I bake gluten free versions of cookies, cakes, pies etc I do not accept anything less than delicious. I don’t see any reason to waste the calories or effort on gluten free substitutions if they are just “so-so.” I decided to try a new flour mix with a tried and true recipe. That said, it takes patience and experimentation to develop the correct formula with gluten free baked goods.
Here is the recipe I started with:
Gluten Free Orange Vanilla Dream Cookies (adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)
2 cups gluten free flour mix
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly backed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 cup vanilla chips (I used Guittard brand)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugars until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the orange zest and vanilla chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper or aluminum foil leaving several inches for expansion. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Move the foil or parchment paper to a rack to cool then remove the cookies from the foil or paper once the cookies are completely cool.
The “gluten” version of the recipe calls for slightly more flour but the gluten free flour blend I had been using needed to be cut to 2 cups. So this time, experimenting with Pamela’s baking mix I tried baking a test cookie after adding the dry ingredients but before adding the zest or vanilla chips.
It tasted great but flattened out completely. So I added more of the gluten free mix and stirred in the zest and vanilla chips. Well, it wasn’t quite the right combination because this is what I how my first tray turned out.
Ok, so I knew I needed more flour. When I confirmed that I had enough flour, by testing one cookie rather than a whole tray, I had to add an extra egg white for texture and more orange zest and vanilla chips to balance out the flavor. I like the flavor and convenience of Pamela’s baking mix. The final version turned out great. The cookies were light and crispy, as good as any of the other cookies at the party. (or so I am told since I could only have the gluten free ones!)