The Cake Mix Doctor’s Gluten-Free Snickerdoodles

These snickerdoodles were made with a cake mix. Yesterday I reviewed The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free and I said that there’d be a follow-up post with photos of the recipe I made from that cookbook. Here it is.

For these cookies I used Bob’s Red Mill vanilla cake mix. The original recipe uses yellow cake mix (in the cookbook Anne Byrn explains she narrowed down the kinds of cake mixes to yellow and chocolate for convenience and flexibility), which I tried looking for at all my local stores and could not find one. Vanilla was the closest I could get and to be honest, it took care of the tablespoon of vanilla extract originally called for; I ended up using 1/2 teaspoon, though in retrospect I think I could have even left it out and the cookies would still taste good. I also replaced the sugar in the recipe with 2 tablespoons of honey.

Update: I used a quarter amount of the butter (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) called for in the recipe, as I noted on Twitter, and the cookies still worked out beautifully. I weighed the amount I used, which was 2.4 ounces or 68 to 70 grams (my scale kept fluctuating between those numbers).

The dough was quickly pulled together using a food processor. I make nearly everything by hand, without the use of appliances, but for once I followed a recipe to use a food processor and it was blissful to just put everything in and pulse it until dough formed.

May I mention also that this recipe, as I’m sure with all the other recipes in The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, is very child friendly. My brother helped scoop the dough and space the balls on the pan (with a new cookie scoop my grandmother gave me for my birthday) and prompted me to take photos. Those are his hands you see in the photos above. He was also an eager participant to eat the cookies once they had cooled. I’m sure he ate most of them – which is quite something, considering that this recipe made about 3 dozen cookies!

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Crispy Crunchy Meringue Cookies (SCD & GFCF)

Two weeks ago I had been religiously checking the weather forecast – after incessant rain, there was one day that promised sunshine. Admittedly, there was more than one day that was dry but everyone was held in suspense, anxious for snow (and it did snow, becoming slush by morning). I was on a mission to make meringue: crunchy, crisp meringue that could only be worthy of praise and met with approval and always makes you reach for just one more, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Normally I am not so finicky about weather conditions and baking, but I was serious about getting my meringue right after reading and researching countless hours about meringue, which included writing a thousand-something-word article on the very subject and technique that took me a week to write, edit, and rewrite (and repeat). Yes, I am serious. As I wrote that article and the accompanying recipe, what I’m sharing here with you today and which was as of then simply a recipe in theory – not yet tested – I thought that perhaps I was getting ahead of myself and that I was starting to twist facts to suit my theory (or perhaps I’ve just read too much Sherlock Holmes). It took much personal effort to not write any further, especially recipe writing, until I had made the meringue myself.

I had decided upon an Italian meringue, in which a hot syrup is poured into softly beaten egg whites and beaten to stiff peaks. It’s similar to making marshmallows and it is now, I believe, the best way to make meringue for those of us who don’t use refined sugar since honey in its natural state does not fold well into soft or stiff egg whites.

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Almond and Vanilla Shortbread Squares (GFCF)

In this last week of December, if it hasn’t become obvious by Monday’s and yesterday’s posts, respectively, I have taken it upon myself to squeeze in a last few posts before we turn the calendar to 2011. It generally is not usual for me to blog every weekday (a reason why I don’t think I’d be ready to do something like NaBloPoMo or whatever it is just yet). I will still have lots of leftovers – as of now, 298 drafts (and growing); we’ll see how that goes over the next couple years – but these ones that I’m pushing are more or less the ones I want out of the way for the New Year.

That all said, now you’re probably wondering about my choice for today. Don’t be fooled by this shortbread’s appearance: while it may not look the showiest model to ever walk down the culinary catwalk, it will surprise you, if it didn’t already as it was baking, as one of the best shortbreads you’ll have ever tasted – and you’ll be coming back for more. Think of all those times of finding that extraordinary something or that extraordinary somebody underneath a humble exterior.

I’ve made lots of things that aren’t exactly pretty and yet taste fantastic but I haven’t shared them here strictly because of appearances. Will someone really believe that that could be the tastiest thing they’ve had in their life? This is something I’ve been learning and coming to terms with as I blog along – and I’m sure that many other bloggers before me have learned or are still learning: that just because it isn’t pretty, it doesn’t always mean that it isn’t blog worthy.

These shortbread squares I made months ago, some time after I guest posted on Iris’ blog, and are a variation on those lemon squares. I think I would have blogged them sooner but life happened and I was only reminded of them as I was going through my camera, deleting photos, and came across a batch of photos of these bars. There was also a video my brother and I did together of us making the shortbread dough. (See why this is on my list for 2010 and not Next Year?)

They came about after I was asked to make the lemon bars again and, being out of lemon juice, my Mum suggested vanilla extract and almond extract. I was skeptical but I ran with it. I used butter the first time but Earth Balance (I use the soy-free version) also works equally well. Since using the stuff, I love Earth Balance and I love using it, for whatever I’m doing.

It’s appearance is of the same nature as the lemon bars: the filling sinks a little into the shortbread, and it’s also a bit wet due to the amount of Earth Balance – or butter – so it’s best eaten with a spoon. It doesn’t matter, though, after you taste it. From the first moment I tasted it I knew I’d hit on something good. Everyone loved them. It’s one of those things I wouldn’t feel guilty to eat the whole thing, if I could – or at least half of it – standing over the counter, without sharing. Seriously. (More diligent self-discipline concurs that one square is completely satisfactory while more than one is indulgent.) I don’t think I’ve had something so buttery or so flavourful in ages that I’ve liked immediately in that way.

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