Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cookie Attempt #1 - Epic fail

I'm horribly disappointed. Depressed even.

When I went to the grocery store to get carrots and celery for my soup, I detoured into the baked goods aisle and bought a box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies for $4.99. They seemed like my perfect first gf cookie - a tried and true national brand making gf tasty goodies! The flour variety includes rice and potato with some potato starch. The chocolate chips are made without any milk so the cookies are gf and lactose free (but contains soy)! The side of the box even has a really nice story about how Betty Crocker is making gf foods because two of their workers are newly gf. I applaud their work and their dedication to having a gf processing facility. Hopefully more mainstream companies will follow suit.

I'm normally a baker. It actually runs in my family - my late grandfather worked in a bakery. I can make any delicious batch of cookies in minutes with consistent success. One of the reasons a standing Kitchen Aid mixer is at the top of my wish list is so I can make large batches of cookies with ease. Since I live in a studio apartment, I have to settle for a small but reliable hand mixer. I'm a pro at cookie baking from scratch. The last time I baked cookies from a box was probably in college when living in a small dorm prevented me from keeping anything resembling a pantry - only a stock pile of ramen noodles.

This recipe calls for one stick of softened (not melted) butter, gf vanilla, and an egg. The wording says "stir" - I'm used to mixing. After all, how does one effectively stir softened butter and a flour mixture without making one's arm tired? I used my dairy free butter substitute which normally makes my cookies even softer and richer. I've had great success with the fake butter. I mixed everything together on the lowest speed of my hand mixer. As promised, "dough will be crumbly." It wasn't too terribly hard to work with - a little harder than usual but I was expecting much worse.

I followed the rest of the steps exactly and was so excited when the timer went off 8 minutes later. The cookies looked undercooked, so I kept them in there for another two minutes. I had one thin, giant blob of cookies on my sheet. I quickly worked some magic and made my cookies even smaller and more spread out on the second sheet before putting them in the oven. They looked a lot more attractive than the first sheet when they were done in 8 minutes.

Now for the taste test. In the name of accuracy for this blog, I risked salmonella poisoning and had a little bit of the cookie dough (don't tell my mom). It tasted like any other raw cookie dough (again, don't tell my mom that I know what this tastes like.) Success there! For my cookie blob (the baked cookies that I should actually be reviewing), I had to carefully scrape the cookies off the sheet and I just ended up making one giant cookie mess. The cookie is currently in an airtight container (as the box directed me) and I'm eating it in small pieces. Honestly, I think I have some great topping for my soy chocolate ice cream. This is not a milk-substitute and cookie kind of cookie. The second tray turned out better but the cookies are so thin! I could see right through some of them when removing them from my sheet. The baked cookies are a bit grainy for me and do not have that delicious melt-in-your-mouth taste that I'm used to with traditional flour cookies.
I was reading the reviews on Most people talk about how wonderful these cookies are and how these are the best gf cookies out there. That really depresses me. This is as good as it is going to get? I just had the best? Hell to the no! I can't afford to keep buying the cookie mix to try all the different possibilities of making them gf and butter free and seeing what happens if I freeze dough balls and bake them later. Although, if I bought them in bulk, the boxes would come out to $3.58 each... But if I keep failing, that's a lot of wasted money and time. And there's only a limited number of butter substitutes out there. The amazon reviews were saying that butter is key - but I'm sure I'm not the first person to stray from non-traditional butter in their cookies out of necessity. What did I do wrong? Was it the mixing rather than stirring? Or the butter substitute? Have you had better luck with Betty Crocker's gf foods? I really hate to rule out their gf cookies if I can't make them look like cookies...

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