Not-Quite-Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have the best parents in the world. I hope I don’t lose any readers by saying this—I’m sure your parents are cool, too—but mine are simply the best, and that’s that. Throughout my life, they have given me so much more than my celiac genes (sorry, I had to). They are generous, supportive, smart, caring, awesome people who taught me to laugh often. They’re also both great cooks and bake approximately a trillion batches of cookies between them for the holidays. They are most likely reading this blog post, so I will try to stop embarrassing them and move on to offending them.

Like I said, my parents have already given me a lot. And they continue to. Last week, I arrived at work to find a package I wasn’t expecting. It contained a note from Mom and Dad, a Bob’s Red Mill gift card, and two baking mixes. Oooh.

Bobs-Red-Mill-Gluten-Free-Cookie-Mix-Chocolate-Chip-039978004673Just the way for me to dip a toe into the perilous waters of gluten-free baking! I thought to myself. As I believe I’ve mentioned, I work for a publisher of gluten-free cookbooks. And I read a lot of blogs. This means I know that great gluten-free baking is a) possible, and b) really, really hard. At least, compared to “normal” baking. It involves multiple flours, the use of strange gums (or the gumption to go gumless), whole henhouses’ worth of eggs, and, above all, you really must buy a [standmixer/blender/sifter/oven thermometer/kitchen scale/other tool] depending on whose cookbook you’re reading. It’s scary!

Facing my fears, I tried out the chocolate chip cookie mix this weekend. I even bought a handmixer first! I shared the cookies with a few friends and kindly informed them that they would be required to provide a quote for my blog.

Friend #1: I didn’t want one before, and now I want one even less.
[Note: He did not in fact try a cookie. He also claimed it would be illegal for me to make up a false quote and attribute it to him, and he was unimpressed when I told him I had already done it to Abraham Lincoln. He’s a lawyer, so I won’t take any chances.]

Friend #2: I think they need more fat.
Me: More…fat?
Friend #2: You know, because they’re already gluten-free…

Friend #3: Well, I think they’re great. [Beat.] But I’m pretty drunk.

Friend #4: They’re sort of like gingerbread. No, that’s not it. Oatmeal-raisin, but without the raisins? They taste like…
Me, helpfully: Fava beans?
Friend #4: [Swallows.] Hmm. At least they’re probably really healthy, right?
Me, sadly: No.

Despite threatening my friends that I would, I didn’t take any photos. I do wish I had at least gotten one of myself trying to shape the dough (more like batter, really) into balls and instead winding up smearing fingerfuls onto the baking sheet into haphazard shapes that puffed, spread, and glommed onto each other unnervingly as they baked. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to use that “light” Smart Balance butter alternative. I also maybe shouldn’t have freaked out and dumped half a jar of cinnamon into the dough after tasting it. And I probably should have packed a real dinner for myself that night to avoid this: “You’re all getting pizza? Oh, that’s okay. I’ll just…eat half of these cookies.” Such circumstances would make it tough to enjoy anything, and would give just about anyone a tummyache. Many lessons learned, my friends.

51KSJZC7FWL._SX300_The nice thing about this experience is that, from this point in my gluten-free baking trajectory, there’s pretty much nowhere for me to go but up. So, thank you, Mom and Dad. I’m looking forward to trying the brownie mix next; I hear that chocolate does wonders for, well, just about anything.

What was your first GF baking experience like? Do you have a favorite mix or recipe? Any that really are just like Mom’s?

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27 thoughts on “Not-Quite-Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

  1. Oh Molly, this is hilarious and sad! But mostly funny. Though I didn’t taste those cookies, ha. Earth Balance light probably didn’t help, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Bob’s means well (and will most likely do MUCH better with brownies) but the bean flavor often does through. Better Batter has one of the best tasting brownie mixes, but Betty Crocker does a decent job too (no bean flours there). For me, Bob’s all purpose flour does best in dense things like banana bread where the bean flavor is masked, or brownies where as you mention, chocolate does wonders. And thank goodness for Bob, really, because he has a huge assortment of certified gluten free flours (beyond the bean) that you can buy to make your own mix some day… until then, maybe try a new bean-less all purpose blend/mix sometime to compare. And I promise, even your lawyer friend will like them – just don’t tell him they’re GF until he’s had seven.

    Your parents do sound like the best! I believe you 🙂 Mine a close second, ha.

    You work at a GF cook book publisher?! That’s pretty wild.

    • I forgot to thank you for the link to my flour post! Thanks!

    • Molly says:

      We don’t publish solely GF cookbooks, but we’ve got several under our belt and more in the works. It’s fun and means that I got to start off from a somewhat firmer knowledge base than a lot of new-diagnosees do. Thanks for the mix recommendations! I enjoy bean flours in general (love socca, for example) but was not thrilled about the fava flava in these cookies. 🙂

  2. Laurie C says:

    Hilarious! Have been trying to guess whose anonymous comment is whose. Too bad mix wasn’t so great, but have to agree that your improvisations on the recipe probably weren’t helpful. Cinnamon and chocolate just don’t go together (Sorry, Mexico) and butter substitutes are uniformly awful!

    Love, Mom 😉

  3. My first experience was with a yeast-free/gluten-free bread. It was made with rice, tapioca and potato. It only tasted good when toasted or with butter or something else on it. Giving up gluten and yeast really changes things. I used to buy mixes from a company called MissRobens which is no longer in business. Their mixes were pretty good actually.

  4. I happen to come from a long line of bakers, so my first gluten-free baking experience was actually quite pleasurable– my brother in law (a Cordon Bleu trained chef) taught me how to make flourless lava cakes with a crème anglaise. “Mouthgasm” doesn’t even cover it…. There weren’t too many mixes out there yet, so after that I started experimenting with converting my moms recipes to use Pamela’s pancake mix, which worked surprisingly well. But like I said– I come from a long line of bakers.

    King Arthur mixes are truly phenomenal, and I highly recommend any of them for people who are um… bakingly-challenged in the gluten-free sense. (….does that even make sense???). Gluten free is a bit of a science, and these come out really nicely without any of the guesswork.

    Hodgson Mills has amazaballs brownie mix, probably the best pre-mix I have come across IMO, and my gluten-tolerant girlfriend prefers Bobs Redmill’s cornbread to any variety of cornbread she has ever had.

    I tried the whole light-smart balance in baking once, and my pie crust slipped & basically became an oddly textured puddle. You really do need the milk protein for certain recipes to come out properly…. although I have heard of people using shortening in cookies with positive results.

    • Molly says:

      Oh man, that does sound amazing! (And the flourless cakes were actually flourless? Lots of non-flourless flourless cakes are floating around out there, it seems.)

      I know some gluten/allergen-free bakers swear by shortening; Colette Martin, e.g., really likes the Earth Balance stick style. So I may try that next because I’ve been avoiding lactose starting out. (Though I guess there isn’t much lactose in butter? Would just need to not eat half the batch?)

      We have a great family recipe for cornbread, so I’ll try adapting that with a flour blend sometime soon…and keep Bob’s in mind if I fail. I went to check out the ingredients and there aren’t any bean flours in sight on that mix…which is a bit funny, because I was thinking they’d fit better in a cornbread than in cookies. But what do I know? 🙂

      • The lactose in butter is really nominal, but if you need to avoid butter for a while there are alternatives. I just posted the recipe for the flourless chocolate lava cakes, and my brother in law told me that he has replaced the butter in the recipe with 3 tablespoons of oil & it came out fine.

        I will experiment with my failproof and almost too-easy-to-be-true flourless chocolate cake (a different & much simpler recipe) and see if I can take it dairy-free, since right now we aren’t using dairy in my house… here is me crossing my fingers!

  5. thecopybara says:

    You make me sound absurd, I’m funnier than that!

  6. smes9 says:

    You can make some great things with almond flour! Your friends are mean lol although my family wont even try my stuff either. Even though its delicious! hmph!

    • Molly says:

      They aren’t too mean! (Actually, the one who commented that they were great kept the last few left at the end of the evening and wound up eating them the next day, so I guess he really did think they were good.)

      And hey, at least “more for me” is a pleasant experience when your food actually tastes good. 🙂

  7. Mary Kate says:

    I can’t comment on “normal” gluten-free baking — mine also has to be free of dairy, eggs, and soy, which means even some vegan and GF recipes don’t work for me. To be honest, I have not yet been impressed by a mix that I can eat (there aren’t many). So I’ve got the 1000 flours and a few cookbooks and the internet. And a band of co-workers who are game for anything. The only thing they truly hated was my first attempt at making my already vegan brownie recipe GF. They were… edible. But that’s all.

    The best cookies I’ve found are from Manifest Vegan — the Russian Tea Cakes, which are vegan and gluten-free, based on almond flour are truly awesome.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I love Bob’s Red Mill, but the chocolate chip cookie mix isn’t their best effort. I don’t think it’s the butter substitute, because I bake with that all the time. It’s the mix. I can’t even get my kid to eat them. On the plus, the brownie mix is one of the best I’ve ever had, GF or not. I find that I have to cook it longer than it calls for on the bag, but it’s worth it. Hopefully you like it too!

  9. […] the $50 gift card I received from the best parents in the world? No? You don’t? Why doesn’t anybody pay as much attention to the minutiae of my life as […]

  10. […] for my writing workshop and they were widely agreed to be delicious (by the same pals who said terrible, terrible things about the chocolate chip cookies). I filled them with about three times the recommended amount of […]

  11. Grainne says:

    I’m just here to say that you made my morning with this post. I followed a link from your newest one but I’m glad I did. It provided the levity required to start a dreary wednesday in the office. So, thank you! lol (I’d eat your cookies, just sayin)

  12. […] on Valentine’s Day, and drew pictures on Celiac Awareness Day. I shared a cooking mishap or two, plus a success here or […]

  13. […] Bob’s Red Mill GF chocolate chip cookie mix   We all make mistakes.   […]

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