Fall in Love with Cookies Again!

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I’ve always enjoyed baking, but I’d never really craved desserts…until going gluten free.  All of the sudden, desserts were forbidden and I not only wanted them, I needed them!  I would dream about cakes, cookies and drool over dessert counters. Gluten free tends to be lumped into the health food category, but let me tell you, my biggest cravings are anything but healthy! I miss my sweets. I eat healthy most days, but I believe a little treat every once in a while is a good thing. You don’t need another salad recipe, so bring on the butter, eggs, oil and full fat and indulge yourself again on things you don’t have to live without.

I was afraid to make desserts again. I thought they could never be the same.  The desserts I’d bought seemed so dry and didn’t taste the same. Cakes were overly dense and cupcakes felt like they weighed 5 pounds each. Many had a grainy texture that was quite the opposite of enjoyable.  If you have great bakery and product suggestions please share because the ones I tried missed the mark.

The biggest lesson I learned was not to spend money on all those new types of flour you’ve suddenly just realized existed. I swear, I never saw them down the baking aisle until I went GF. Consider my money wasted on your behalf with regard to these flours. Plus everyone claims to have the perfect mix that seems to contain yet another flour you inevitably need to run back to the store to get. One rice flour is just not enough, you need white rice, then sweet white rice and don’t forget brown rice.  Sadly I was disappointed with every mixture. It’s overwhelming looking at all these different cookbooks or blogs with so many ingredients. It felt as though baking would never be simple again and those thoughts robbed me of my joy for baking.  Luckily my cravings won and I didn’t stop trying to find a way to make delicious and satisfying desserts again.

I was going into this whole GF life blind. After making my mistakes I found bags of premixed flours. My best advice for you is to skip the gluten free recipes that force you to buy 5 flours and gums. Go for the premixed bag of all-purpose gluten free flours, my favorite is Cup 4 Cup™.  There may be a time and a place when you want to experiment with the other flours, but certainly try the recipe with a pre-mixed bag first.

Luckily my husband let me experience away. He even tried a few himself.  Brandon has been my biggest supporter and agreed right away to go gluten free in all our dishes and meals at home. If your family isn’t so on board, hopefully I can teach you some recipes to help sway their votes to the GF side.

We were hesitant about using Cup 4 Cup™ at first, thinking it’s too good to be true. Our first experiment was with sugar cookies. I used my usual sugar cookie recipe substituting Cup 4 Cup™ in place of the all-purpose flour and they turned out perfect!  Cookies work and they are wonderful!  Next we went to chocolate chip cookies and again success.

Before going GF I rarely ever bought cookies. Cookies were always a treat for us, so being able to make them, and make them well, was a big deal for me and my family. A few times a year I make frosted sugar cookies. I love making them for any holiday.  I have the giant container of 100 different cutouts.  I believe you can never have enough cookie cutters. In my house it’s always best to wash the cookie cutter first before using lest my two year old has made his way into the pantry to play with them since they’ve last been used. He would tell you they make great Play-Doh shapes or bracelets.

I claim to make these cookies for the kids, but they are really for me.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!  It’s a simple recipe, but I believe gluten free desserts shouldn’t be so complex.

Set the butter and eggs out on the counter ahead of time to bring them to room temperature before starting.  When baking it’s always best to plan ahead and ensure you have all necessary ingredients.  Read through the recipe before starting.  The milk may or may not be needed. It just depends on the softness of your dough. I typically just have skim milk in my fridge, but use whatever percent fat milk you have on hand. Cooling the dough in the fridge for a half hour before hand will help with rolling and cutting the dough. Roll out the dough in portions and keep excess dough wrapped in plastic wrap, so it doesn’t dry out. Watch these cookies like a hawk. Every oven is a bit different and they can go from perfectly baked to browned and burnt really quickly. The thicker the cookies the longer they will take to bake. Thin cookies will bake quickly so really watch out. I prefer to roll the cookies to about ¼ inch thickness. The royal icing can be flavored with any extract you’d like. I prefer to use egg whites, but you can substitute with 5 tbsp. of meringue powder. If you need multiple colors, you can portion the icing in separate bowls before adding food coloring.

Sugar Cookies

2 ¾ cups Cup 4 Cup™ (or preferred all-purpose GF flour mix)

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking powder

2 sticks room temperature butter

1 ½ cups sugar

1 room temperature egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp. milk (if needed)

  1. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk to combine.
  2. In a medium bowl add butter and sugar. With a stand mixer or handheld mixer, mix on medium high until creamed.
  3. Add egg and vanilla. Mix on medium, until fully incorporated.
  4. Add flour mixture in three even portions, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between additions and at the end to ensure all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. If the dough doesn’t feel soft or is too dry add 1-2 tbsps. of milk.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°
  7. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. (Dough can also be frozen and used at a later date. Freeze up to one month.)
  8. Separate dough into 3 portions for rolling. Cut out your desired shape.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Let fully cool before frosting.

Royal Icing

2 large egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract (or preferred flavoring extract)

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Desired food coloring

  1. Beat egg whites and extract until foamy.
  2. Add sugar and mix on low until fully incorporated.
  3. Turn mixer up to high and beat for 5 minutes. You should have a glossy and stiff frosting.
  4. Add desired food coloring. Stir until color is even throughout.
  5. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag. Cut a small tip on the end or use a fitted tip.
  6. Frost cookies once fully cooled.

 

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