Sunday 5 March 2017

Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with...Guar Gum

Ohhhhhh Cookie Monster. You strangely flaccid blue rug with a face. Despite ONLY eating cookies for over forty years, you haven't gained a pound of fluffiness. How is that? It might be because you don't actually EAT the cookies, you just crush them up and throw them around like confetti. A practice that must make the other residents of Sesame Street super happy. I wonder if your little three fingered, fuzzy, lobster claw-like hands can hold a dust pan? I doubt it. They all must LOVE cleaning up after your bullshit behavior. Are those cookies you are throwing all over the place Gluten Free? For some reason, I think not.

As many of you know from previous posts, I have failed many times at gluten free baking. And when I say many, I mean thousands of times. Thousands of horrific, disfigured, disgusting creations have come out of my oven and I have made my husband eat every single one of them. GF baking is not for the weak. It is a practice in patience that requires the tenacity of a hyena fighting over a dead carcass. And yes, some of my baking has looked like a dead gazelle carcass.

I have given up on making gluten free bread, buns and pretzels. I have passed those achievements onto far more astute and talented bakers and simply purchase them from the store. I suggest you do the same unless you want to become the shell of a human I am.

I have though, mastered the Gluten Free Cookie. I can make GF cookies like a boss. People usually don't know that my cookies are gluten free and my friends with Celiacs often ask for the recipes. Due to my long rap sheet and many poor decisions, there isn't much I'm proud of in my life, but I am proud of my Gluten Free cookies.

 How did I do it? Well by failing several times of course and not giving up. My success is evidence to my Irish stubbornness, not due to any level of talent on my part. I have developed some hard and fast rules with my cookies and I have decided to share them with you because I'm a nice guy.

Rules for GF Cookies:

1) Use a good flour. The paler the better. I don't use any flours that have darker products mixed in, like flax or buckwheat flour. These are good for cooking or frying but I don't like them for baking. I use Robin Hood GF Flour or President's Choice Gluten free flour. Any flour you choose should be able to be swapped cup for cup. Measure your flour carefully, don't just scoop the measuring cup into the bag, this packs the flour down and makes it so you get too much. Use a spoon and ladle the flour into the measuring cup so the measurement is accurate. With most of the flours on the market these days, you can make any cookie recipe from your mom's old, yellowed, recipe box and just swap out the flour.

2) Add Guar Gum. About one or two teaspoons per recipe. If your cookies come out flat, add another teaspoon next time. Guar Gum is cheaper than Xanthum Gum and they do the same thing. Some people say that they can tell the difference between the two but I think they a crazy people. EVEN IF the flour says it has Xanthum or Guar Gum in it, add a teaspoon.

3) Rolled cookies are a pain in the ass. This has been one of the hardest things to master for me. GF cookie dough is always a little more wet than regular dough  so no matter how much flour you use, they will stick to the counter and be impossible to cut out and lift. The secret? Parchment paper and corn starch. I tape the parchment paper to my counter, cover it with cornstarch, put the dough on, sprinkle that with more corn starch and another piece of parchment paper, then I roll it out. This works great. You can also use plastic wrap but I find that it can leave those weird seams and lines in the dough. I use corn starch because GF flour is so expensive and it feels wasteful to just throw it around. If you are a Rockefeller, feel free to use as much GF flour as you like. For the rest of us peasants, corn starch is the way to go.

4) The cookie trays can be a challenge. If you are like me, you have your Mom's old cookie trays from 1960 which are probably made of lead and thalidomide so they have had a LOT of gluten on them. Plus, these jerks I live with that call themselves my family, don't have Celiacs so they sometimes use the cookie trays for their poisonous food, like chicken fingers. Losers. Anyway, line your cookie trays with parchment paper too, this prevents cross contamination and stops the cookies from sticking. I have used tin foil before and just sprayed it with non stick spray but sometimes the stupid gluten free cookies still stick and the tin foil heats up too much and causes the cookies to burn faster. So use parchment paper, it usually just comes in a roll and I buy parchment paper at the loonie store. Use something sharp to trim the parchment to the cookie sheet, a knife or samurai sword works fine.

5)  GF cookies should take the maximum amount of cooking time listed on the recipe. So if the recipe says 8-10 min, it will take 10, maybe even twelve. BUT, and here is the kicker, they burn SO FAST so watch your oven carefully. Don't leave the kitchen to build a snowman or give a presentation on the theory of relativity while you have cookies in the oven. If the recipe says 8-10 minutes, I start watching them at 8, like a hawk.

Here's the thing, you could follow all my rules and still have a result that looks like a Chernobyl experiment. I give no guarantees so don't write me hate mail when your Grandma's recipe for Snickerdoodles didn't work out. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the Gluten Free Gods did not smile on you that day and you produce bullshit. Sorry, you have Celiac Disease, suck it up, throw some icing on that shit and eat them all up anyway. I can't fix fate.

So, to my Cookie Monster, you messy, googly-eyed, sweet, puppet. I love you, I do. I would love to make you some GF cookies one day because, let me tell you, you simple-minded, sixties shag rug with arms, you wouldn't throw my cookies around pal. You would ACTUALLY eat them, because they are delicious!

You can find my recipes for GF Chocolate Chip Cookies and Sugar Cookies in the recipe section on this site.

Happy Baking!