Tuesday, September 10, 2013

As the cookie crumbles ...

Mom's Cookie Jar

My earliest cookie-eating memories date back to my preschool years. My Grandma Padgett kept homemade molasses cookies in a green hippopotamus-shaped jar on a shelf in her little kitchen. I had to climb up on the cabinet to reach them, but they were always worth the effort.

My mom’s cookie jar was shaped like a full moon. The handle on top was a cow jumping over the moon—and the cat and the fiddle and the escaping dish and spoon were poised along the bottom of the jar. This container rarely held homemade delicacies—my mom, a busy English professor, didn’t have much time for baking—but I still loved the contents: store-bought oatmeal raisin cookies, Oreos or Chips Ahoy.

My poor children, I’m afraid, didn’t find many cookies in their cookie jar, either homemade or store-bought. In fact, our family jar, which was a glass replica of a Quaker Oats box—with the Quaker Oatmeal recipe for oatmeal cookies conveniently printed on the back—was usually filled with Boxtops for Education that I had ripped off the top of their cereal boxes to send to school.

On snow days and other random occasions, however, I sometimes exposed my children to the real homemade treats—frequently those labor-intensive Quaker oatmeal cookies. (By labor-intensive, I mean they had at least ten ingredients that I was required to measure carefully. Sheesh!) I may not win any awards for being Mother of the Year, but don’t feel too sorry for them. They weren’t completely deprived.

A funny thing has happened, though. Since my celiac diagnosis, I’ve become a more frequent cookie baker. Within the first week of receiving my celiac “sentence,” my good friend Pat Baker stopped by my house to cheer me up with some fresh, homemade gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies.

Her delicious cookies, unbelievably, contain only three ingredients: 1 C. sugar, 1 C. peanut butter, and one egg. Stir them up, drop them onto a cookie sheet, and bake them for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees, and you have a quick treat that will make folks think you’ve slaved all day over a hot oven. (You can even make the criss-cross pattern on the top by mashing them with a fork. I’ve also pushed Hershey’s Kisses into their centers just after removing them from the oven to dress them up a bit.)

It’s Pat’s recipe that I turn to most often now. If I had owned it earlier in life, my children probably wouldn’t have grown up “cookie-free.”

Gluten-free cookies are pretty tasty. In fact, I’ll bet you can’t even tell the difference. Most recipes can be followed as written by substituting the flour with a gluten-free baking mix, such as Domata, Better Batter, or Bob’s Red Mill.

I’m including here a recipe that the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness posted this week on Facebook. I baked them today, and they’re pretty darned good, if I say so myself …

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1½ cups brown sugar
1⁄4 cup vegetable shortening
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs or 4 Tbsp. of egg replacer 
1½ cups rice flour
1 tsp. gluten-free pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
2 cups raisins 

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer, beat together the first four ingredients. Add flour, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda, stirring until smooth. Mix in oats and raisins until just combined.
Spoon large tablespoons of dough onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, spaced 2-3 inches apart.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Note: I used 3/4 C. coconut oil, instead of 1/4 C. vegetable oil and 1/2 C. vegetable shortening.