School just started yesterday for Braden (third grade already!), and we will soon learn what allergies are accounted for in the class. So far, I know there is at least one child with a peanut allergy. But I’ll be well taken care of if I want to take cookies to class, no matter how many allergies there are, thanks to the new cookbook from Enjoy Life Foods, Cookies for Everyone! All of these recipes are gluten-free, and free of the top 8 allergens: wheat, milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, as well as sesame and sulfites to round out the Canadian top 10. There are even options given to make most recipes corn-free or potato-free.
I just love when a cookbook gives weight measurements. It is so much easier to make sure you have the right amount of the ingredient then trying to make sure you’re scooping or spooning the same as the author. Cookies for Everyone! has weight measurements for all the dry ingredients (in grams – much more accurate than ounces).
Throughout the book there is some great information about food allergies, including personal stories and little facts (like on little note papers). For instance, did you know that the FDA is now identifying coconuts as tree nuts? I find it interesting, and a little strange, since I think of coconuts as a fruit.
According to page 221, and taken from the Food Allergy Initiative, “Since 1960, the odds of having food allergies have grown from 1 in every 100 children to 1 in every 20 – thus, there is likely to be a food-allergic child in every classroom in the United States.” Braden’s first grade class beat that, with 2 severe peanut allergies, a chocolate allergy, and a citrus allergy.
I do have to disagree with something on page 36. In discussing the various types of gluten-free flours, the author says that tapioca flour and tapioca starch are different, and to never confuse the two. In all my reading and ingredient-buying, I have never heard of such a thing. Every other source I’ve seen says they are the same thing.
I really like the way the book is formatted. Each recipe has a corresponding picture, but it is just the cookie against the white background of the page. It makes for a very clean look, with a few exceptions. There are a few cookie pictures that have powdered sugar, crumbs, or chocolate shavings sprinkled around the cookie and I always feel like I need to brush them off the page. :) But I love it. Carter, my 3 year old, says “I like your new cookbook.”
So, how do these cookies turn out, without any of the top allergens and without any xanthan gum? (I don’t think there’s any xanthan gum used in this book.)
Well, Andy conducted the first cookie experiment, the Easy Eatin’ Oat Drops, which is sort of like the infamous no-bake cookies. The ingredients and directions are a little different, and Andy wanted to see if it would help cook the oats better. However, this recipe was designed for sunflower butter and Andy used peanut butter. It didn’t really work. If you want to make this one, follow the ingredients exactly.
Carter helped me for our second experiment: Chocolate Chip Harvest Cookies. I was amazed at how simple the ingredients were, with the exception of superfine sugar (we ended up finding extra fine sugar in the coffee aisle). It was when I was making these that I realized there’s no xanthan gum in the recipes.
My cookies stayed in the exact same shape as I had placed the dough on the sheet. When it was time to add the chocolate drizzle, I found myself having a hard time. I added just a bit of shortening to thin the chocolate, to make it drizzle in a thinner line. Also, I found that you just need to let go and make a mess. If you move the spoon continually, instead of stopping and starting at every single cookie, it will look much prettier.
Andy said the cookies were not sweet enough and he really liked the chocolate on top.
I think Andy’s eaten too many Cocoa Pebbles.
Everyone else agreed with me that the cookies were not too sweet, but sweet enough. Now imagine a 3 year old’s angelic (at the moment) voice: “I like these cookies. I like sugar in these cookies.”
These cookies had a cakey texture. On the second day, the texture had changed a bit, and Melissa described it as biting into a powdered sugar donut. It felt (and tasted) a bit like powdered sugar, and how it dissolves as you bite into it. My dad enjoyed them, even after I informed him that they had pumpkin in them (he doesn’t like “surprise” ingredients). I don’t think you can bite into one and say “that’s pumpkin!” It is more of a very subtle undertone.
My third experiment was the Hearty Chocolate Chippers. These are pretty excellent, are fairly nutritious, especially if you use the brown rice flour (whole grain) and not the white rice flour (just starch).
I used Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil when making these. I’m not sure if it affected the way they baked (and/or if my oven was off that day – it’s been known to happen), but I found that the 25 minutes in the directions was too long, and 15 or so was about right for these. They held together really well, if cooked long enough (I did the last few for 9 minutes, and they did not hold together very well).
I’m not even going to tell you how many I’ve eaten. Let’s just say I’ve had my daily allotment of 1/2 cup of gluten-free oats…
Wow. If you’ve managed to make it through that long post, then you deserve a prize! Well, at least a chance to be entered for one.
Would you like a copy of Cookies for Everyone!? Leave me a comment about multiple allergies – how do they affect your life (or do they not)? Just to be clear, you do not have to have multiple food allergies to enter this contest.
For me, I have a very close friend whose daughter has a milk allergy and her son is allergic to cinnamon, and they sometimes come over for dinner.
The contest closes at 9:00 pm central on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009. Good luck!