Confessions of A (Cookie) Monster:
I Ate A Gluten Free Cookie....And I Liked it!
-Jean Marie McCormick
Folks, I had a snack altering experience and I need to share it. Recently, I was at work, and that 3PM snack craving rolled in (you know the craving I’m talking about). I could not stop thinking about sweets and specifically- my favorite PM snack- chocolate chip cookies. There were none in my office, but that wasn’t going to stop this cookie monster.
I jumped into my car and drove to a delightful sweet eatery, The Red Barn Bakery. (If you are ever in or near Irvington/Tarrytown, NY, definitely visit!) I walked in, looked around and VOILA- a table FILLED with individually packaged bags of cookies. I grabbed two bags of chocolate chip, paid, and floored it back to my office. Back at my desk, I tore into a bag, took a bite and immediately knew something was different about these cookies. The taste was that right level of sweetness mixed with slight bitter of chocolate chips. But the texture was…different. Not in a bad way- just different. I picked up the bag to investigate. And there it was- I had totally missed it in my haste to satisfy my craving. Right there on the label: Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.
*Insert Long Dramatic Pause Here*
Well, I’ll be honest- the first thought that went through my mind: ‘UGH FAKE COOKIE’. But then I caught myself. Why did I think that? Because it says gluten free? Did I even know what that meant or why that makes a difference? And I quickly realized – I had absolutely no idea what gluten free really meant aside from the fact that there was no gluten in the cookie. So- the researcher/nerd in me shoved the rest of the cookie into my mouth and I immediately visited Encyclopedia Google, where I learned some interesting facts:
- What is gluten anyway? I found a lot of boring scientific definitions, but the best one I found is this: Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. (Read more at org)
- But wait a second- if gluten is the ‘glue’ that holds our foods and especially, delicious baked goods, together, how can you bake anything gluten free and not have it taste like a hockey puck? Well, baking is an art and a science. So, it is a matter of identifying the right ingredients you can use to supplement the ‘glue’ nature that gluten adds to cookies and cakes. One example, the addition of xanthan gum (a natural thickener, emulsifier and stabilizer) and eggs to this recipe built by the baking gurus at King Arthur Flour allows the baker to use gluten free flour while still creating a delicious confection.
OK- lesson over- back to my gluten free experience. The taste was exceptional, the aroma was perfect and as I continued to eat, the texture was really growing on me. The additional crunch offered by the ingredients that substitute for gluten give this treat a fun ‘snap’, while still maintaining a moistness that is needed in a great cookie (otherwise it is a sandy mess and you end up wearing more cookie than you eat, amiright?). But one thing that would have made this experience even more complete? An ice-cold glass of milk- plain or chocolate milk (I love both)- so I could dunk my cookie and soften it up just the tiniest bit. I had no milk at work, but at home was another story. I set up my glass with my Dunking Buddy and had five one more cookie. For each one, Dunking Buddy allowed me to get that perfect ‘dunk’ every time without losing the cookie, or it getting too saturated and falling apart. Truly a perfect combination!
So dear reader- the moral of the story? First- gluten free is not bad or even average. When done right, it is as delicious of a baked treat as ones using traditional flour. Second- if you are a gluten free cookie monster, be sure to get your hands on a Dunking Buddy to preserve the snap with the benefit of that perfect dunk!
Jean Marie McCormick is a Stamford resident, with a piece of her heart permanently residing in the Bronx. She is a full-time market researcher, part-time thespian, and lifelong fan of cookies and milk. She lives with her dog-daughter Emma and looks forward to sharing more cookie adventures!