Category Archives: Baking

His First (Flourless) Peanut Butter Cookie

I wasn’t sure about posting flourless peanut butter cookies. There are countless other sources online and in print and one can only do so much with a basic recipe. My decision to post the cookies anyway, though, came about when my brother had his first ever peanut butter cookie. In fact, the first time he’d ever had something with peanut.

I’ve mentioned before about my brother’s peanut tolerance here, when I posted these flourless almond butter or peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. When my family was SCD for a year, he never ate peanuts in any form since they can be hard on the digestion and at that moment in time we wanted to help him clean up his gastrointestinal system without distressing. Peanuts can also cause problems for some children who have autism. As those of us with dietary issues know, or have loved ones that do, though, this is not across the board since every child is different. (Peanuts are considered safe in general on the SCD.)

I’d made a batch of flourless peanut butter cookies and set them on the table. I didn’t have almond butter or another nut butter to make cookies for him. Although we’re no longer strictly SCD, he has refused to try whenever we offered him something with peanut, as he has been very specific with what he allows himself to eat.

He asked if they were peanut butter, and I said that yes, they were. Then, as my Mum took one, he asked if it was okay for him to try one.  When she said yes, he took a cookie from the plate and had the smallest bite. It could have been a nibble. After this, he took another small bite and told us that he liked it and he finished it.

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French Sand Cookies (Sablés)

Sablés are French shortbread cookies, although more delicate than, say, Scottish shortbread. They’re also known as sand cookies, due to their texture and they can crumble easily. These cookies cannot take a bashing without ending up as a pile of crumbs. I first made them when my family was SCD, using almond flour – so if you’re grain-free/paleo/SCD/GAPS, head over to that recipe!

I’m getting back into my groove – aside from one recipe that still isn’t working I almost feel like things are back to normal again in the kitchen of Z, particularly in the baking department, after making these cookies.

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“Chewing gum is really gross, chewing gum I hate the most.”

The use of xanthan gum and guar gum in gluten-free baking is almost ubiquitous, both used together or one gum used to mimic the binding and thickening qualities of gluten. I have little experience with using either gums, though I decided to write this post about what I do know and what I’ve learned so far.

When you read the title of this post, you were probably thinking I was going to go on a tangent about chewing gum, perhaps recalling once a time when I expounded upon the fascinating history of chewing gum during my sister’s birthday dinner when we were all eating sushi. That’s for another time and place. In this case, I’m merely using a Willy Wonka quote.

This is not a xanthan/guar gum 101 or any sort of guide about how to use them in gluten-free baking. This is a post simply about my experiences with it, from which possibly some wisdom may be gleaned. I am not an expert, as you’ll find out.

I’ve wanted to write a post for a long while about how I use these gums, xanthan and guar, in my baking and I’ve been spurred to do so now after some tweets yesterday. There’s this magic about Twitter that I’ve read about on other people’s blogs, in which you ask a question and you’ll get answers, but I never had experienced this myself – until yesterday.

As you may know, I’ve been regulating my tweeting to the evenings to allow myself the time to focus more on my studies during the day and accomplish other tasks. This has mostly been a practice in discipline – not that I was a tweetaholic, which I’m not – and it’s been really good so far. I had to tweet yesterday morning, though, to ask a question about if guar gum could be used instead of xanthan because I was planning for pot stickers. (I don’t know these things, so I ask!)

This was my tweet:

I got answers! Two minutes had not even passed.

I am extremely grateful to Caneele, Jeanne, and Laura (the author of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, from which the recipe for pot stickers come) who answered and provided input. I learned that guar can be used instead of xanthan, but it is less elastic – and, I learned from Laura, she tried using guar gum for the pot stickers but it didn’t work. I was so glad I’d asked instead of deciding to just wing it and hope for the best.

I got more xanthan gum, for the first time in almost two years.

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