Gluten Free at a Price
I was contacted recently by a representative of the gluten-free baking mix company, Among Friends. Rachel had seen my column, The Recipe Exchange – week of March 2, 2015 – featuring three gluten free recipes. (I’ve included the recipes at the end of this blog). She asked if she could send me one of their cookies mixes and get my opinion. After a little finagling with the shipping company, the package of cookie mix arrived at my door. The timing was perfect as I was attending a large dinner party that Friday. I would take the cookies let everyone try them and see what they thought.
On Thursday afternoon, I put on my apron and got down to baking. I admit I had to resist the urge to add a few pecans to the mix. They go well with cranberries. The directions called for the butter to be very soft. In Michigan, in March, butter doesn’t get very soft sitting on the counter, so I diced up my cold butter and put it in the microwave. I got it a little over-soft, mostly melted but it didn’t affect the final outcome of the cookies.
I found that using a mixer, per the directions, was messy and unnecessary. Mixing with a spoon or fork would’ve worked just fine. When it was time to roll the dough into 1-inch balls, I lightly buttered my hands. The dough was very sticky and it was the only way to work with it. Dropping the dough onto the baking sheets by spoonfuls would’ve been an easier way to do it. I baked up the cookies and took them to the dinner party for an informal survey.
I do want to state that I did not receive any compensation or payment, unless the free bag of cookie mix counts, for trying out the cookies. I have friends that can’t tolerate gluten so if there is a good brand out there, I wanted to pass the information along.
The Chocolate Cranberry cookies were very good. They were chewy, moist and reminded me of oatmeal raisin cookies. But, there are a few things I’d like to mention:
1) The package claimed it would make 30 plus cookies; I only got 15 two-inch cookies.
2) There were so few chocolate chips in the mix that I couldn’t taste them in the cookies.
3) I was told their mixes are carried by most chain grocery stores, but when I checked at the Meijer store in Jackson, they didn’t carry this brand. However, Among Friends assured me the mixes can be purchased on Amazon.
4) Last of all, the prices for the baking mixes range from $4.99 to $5.99.
So, while the cookies were very good, I think $5 to $6, plus the cost of your own butter, egg and vanilla, for 15 cookies is pretty expensive, but then all things gluten free are. I prefer baking from scratch anyway and that might be a less expensive alternative.
Here are the gluten free recipes that were featured recently in my column, The Recipe Exchange:
GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
3/4 c chickpea flour 1/2 c sugar
3 T cocoa powder 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda 1/8 t salt
1/4 c milk 1 egg
2 T cooking oil 1 t vanilla
1/3 c boiling water
DIRECTIONS: Into a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, beat egg then add milk, cooking oil, vanilla and boiling water. Mix thoroughly. Add to dry mixture and blend. Spoon batter into muffin cups lined with papers. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool to firm up.
GLUTEN FREE OATMEAL COOKIES
1/2 c rolled oats, gluten free 1 c gluten free oat flour
1 egg 1/2 c maple flavored syrup
2 t cinnamon 1 t vanilla
1 t baking powder 1 t baking soda
1/4 c applesauce 1/2 c raisins
1/2 t salt
DIRECTIONS: Mix oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, blend together egg, syrup, vanilla and applesauce. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add raisins. Drop cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown. Cool and remove from baking sheets.
GLUTEN FREE MACARONI SALAD
2 c gluten-free macaroni 1/4 c red bell pepper, chopped
shells, cooked 1/4 c sliced red onion
1/2 c celery, sliced 2 T dried dill weed
1/2 c silken firm tofu 1/8 t pepper
3 T sugar 1/8 t salt
1/8 t garlic powder 1 T white vinegar
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard 1 T olive oil
DIRECTIONS: Place cooked macaroni and vegetables in a large bowl. Combine tofu, dill, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sugar, vinegar, oil and mustard in a blender until well mixed and smooth. Add a little water if necessary. Drizzle dressing over macaroni-vegetable mixture and toss to coat well. Chill before serving.