Experiments in Gluten Free Cookies

by Jenn on August 2, 2009

in Cookbooks,Desserts,Flops,Gluten Free


Remember the peach “cobbler” I made that I said tasted like a cookie on top?  Well, it gave me the idea to experiment a bit.  Ok, not experiment in the true sense.  I am a scientist by trade, and typically experiments involve well thought out, meticulously recorded tests with only small changes in each one.  This was nothing like that.  This was more along the lines of “hmm, let me try to make cookies out of this!  I’ll just throw it together and see what happens!”  That’s mostly how I cook anyways, maybe because I am a scientist.  I need to throw a little chaos and randomness into my life, and I choose to do that with my food.  Everyone needs an outlet, right?

Well, it turns out baking is not like cooking.  When I cook, generally I can just throw stuff together and magically it becomes a tasty meal.  Baking though, is actual chemistry in action in your oven.  If the ratios of ingredients are slightly off, you will no longer be making what you thought you were making.  A simple error is hard to fix, and TWO errors make it near impossible.  But despite that, in the end, I still came up with cookies.  Just not what I expected.

When I first pulled these out of the oven, they were crunchy on the outside, and chewy in the middle.  My husband and I had to do everything we could to keep from devouring them.  They seemed perfect!  But once they cooled I quickly realized that things didn’t go the way I had planned.

This was the recipe from the “cobbler” that I decided to use for the cookies – no changes, just as is:

For the cobbler crumb:
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 cup sugar
4 tbs. butter, melted
pinch salt
1 egg

Everything mixed together great, just like last time.  I noticed that the dough seemed a bit drier than before, but silly me thought nothing of it.  After all, they worked very well when I rolled them into 3/4″ balls of cookie goodness.  I sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar and they were ready to bake in the oven:


I did only 9 to a sheet because I wasn’t sure how much they would spread.  I think 9 worked out really well.  Right after I took them out of the oven, I sprinkled yet more cinnamon sugar on top.  So far so good.  But once they cooled, no more chewy center.  They were just rocks of cookies.  They looked pretty though.

What went wrong? Well two things.  1.  I wasn’t paying attention and used only half of the butter by mistake.  Thinking about this though, they would have spread too much if there was more butter in them.  So I’m not sure if this mistake is necessarily a bad thing. 2. This recipe is for cobbler goodness.  It’s meant to be sugary and rich and mix with baked fruit.  Soft chewy cookies were never meant to have that high of a sugar to flour ratio.  And so, when they cooled, the sugar in the cookies hardened and thus, so did the cookies.  Thinking about it, it was really kind of silly to think that I could just take the recipe and magically bake them to become cookies.

But not all is lost!  I may try this again, as a bar cookie instead (thinking more height will make it more cake like and chewy), and I will cut down on the sugar.  There is a really interesting book I want to get sometime called Ratio by Michael Ruhlman – it’s all about what ratios of ingredients are needed to make certain dishes.  As a totally novice baker, this knowledge is not inherent to my kitchen skills, and I could use some study here.

What to do with these cookies?  Well, being that they are so crunchy, I decided they were perfect for grinding up in my food processor and storing in my pantry. They will make the perfect GF cookie crumb crust for a pie!


Erin Swing August 2, 2009 at 2:49 am

Ahh, a fellow chemist after my heart! Yes, I have my recipe development lab/kitchen notebook, too. Most importantly, I make notes on the results and next steps for further development. Yes, I’m a nerd. But we find out some of the best, most simple solutions are as a result of a mistake. Think the Grignard Reaction which ended him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry…. Pfizer had Viagra…..

Hopefully our GFree recipe development mishaps revolutionize the sandy, tasteless GFree world…..

Dee/reddirtramblings August 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Experimentation in baking is always good. Perhaps a bit of some sort of milk? I like hemp milk myself. And, a teaspoon of xanthan gum. It helps things to be a little more flexible. Just my thoughts. Your photos are beautiful. I wanted to eat that dough.~~Dee

Ariane August 2, 2009 at 11:28 pm

I vote that all is not lost if you can make another very tasty cake :-)

Woman with a Whisk August 3, 2009 at 2:53 am

Great idea to turn it into a pie crust! Looks like the flavors are spot on. Can’t wait to see the next iteration of this recipe!

brannyboilsover August 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I love this post! Ratio is an awesome book and will help you in the future, I am sure.

Argentum Vulgaris August 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Jenn, I finally got round to using that info on Limoncello, check it out. I also linked your blog there and on Blogger’s Cafe:

Have a nice day


Jen @ MaplenCornbread August 3, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Great job!!! GF baking has been quite the learning experience for me too! These cookies sound great!

Lauren Mitchell-Lawson July 24, 2010 at 3:18 am

Just discovered your blog – love it! We have just become GF in our household and it is a bit intimidating. Any thoughts on whether this might make a chocolate crumb base by adding some cocoa to the recipe… and about how much???!!! Thanks!

Jenn July 24, 2010 at 8:56 am

Oh thanks! I have never tried adding cocoa to it but you can always try! I think I might experiment by first adding in about 1/4 cup cocoa into the mix and see what happens – the dough might end up being too dry so you might have to compensate with a little more egg or something, but if you do try something I’d be curious how it comes out and what your experience is! Good luck!

Alison May 6, 2011 at 4:48 am

How long did these cook for? Sounds like the perfect thing for my cheesecake crust!

Gorgeous pics, by the way! :)


Jenn May 6, 2011 at 4:51 am

I honestly don’t remember how long they cooked for – I’m pretty sure I didn’t even measure, I just took them out when they were done… baked at 350F…

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