Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookie Mix (Product Review)

We’re going through a rainy patch in south Texas.  After the past several years of extreme drought, I can’t complain about this–in fact, in spite of the fact that it keeps me indoors, a rainy day once in awhile is a welcome thing.  It gives me a good excuse to settle in and do what needs to be done:  prepare for my summer school class, catch up on email, and (of course) do some baking.

All right, all right.  If you’re going to be technical, baking probably doesn’t qualify as a need.  But I’ve had several packages of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookie Mix in my pantry for awhile, and I did need to try it out.  Nothing lasts forever, after all.  And summer is almost upon us.  Around these parts, that means the definite end of baking season.

I’ve had good luck with Bob’s Red Mill products in the past, so I had high hopes for this mix as well.  One of the reasons I’d put off trying it is that the package directions call for rolling out and cutting the cookie dough into shapes.  Had I known that before I ordered the mix online, I probably wouldn’t have bought it at all–cut-out cookies are generally  more of an effort than I’m willing to put forth in the kitchen.  But that would have been a big mistake.   After following the package directions and mixing the dry ingredients with butter, water, and an egg yolk, I had the inspired idea of dividing the dough in half, covering each portion in plastic wrap, and rolling each into a long tube.  (If I’d had pecans on hand, I would have rolled one of the tubes in chopped nuts–I love pecans in shortbread.)  Half an hour in the refrigerator produced cookie dough was firm enough to slice and bake.  No cookie cutters required. and the cookies were all relatively the same size and shape.

This method gave me about 3 dozen cookies.  The first batch, I sprinkled with cinnamon sugar before they went into the oven, to approximate the snickerdoodles that we love.  The second batch, I sprinkled with turbinado sugar, to give the cookies a bit of crunch.  And the final batch I left plain before baking, but frosted with a sunny yellow buttercream after they’d cooled.  A frosted sugar cookie is one of The Hubs’ favorite things, and the Foodie children also love their cookies super sweet.

Of those three options, I liked the turbinado-sprinkled cookies best.  No surprise, since those are the ones I made with myself in mind.

With a chai latte, they made an excellent treat to brighten up the rainy afternoon.   The texture of these cookies is very tender, which was a pleasant surprise–it’s unusual for gluten-free cookies, in my experience.  They tend toward the crunchy end of the spectrum.  This shortbread isn’t chewy, by any means, but it’s much more delicate than I expected it to be.   The Foodie children were delighted to find cookies waiting for them at home after school, and even The Girl (who is a gluten purist, when it comes to baked goods) tried a frosted cookie,  then had a second, and added a snickerdoodle for good measure.

The verdict?  This mix is definitely worthy buying.  The package directions called for 2 tablespoons of water, but because the dough looked very dry I added an extra tablespoon.  I think I might add yet another tablespoon next time I make them, to see if that helps make the cookies even more tender.  A tablespoon of lemon zest would also be a tasty addition, and if I try that option I’ll probably top the cookies with a lemon juice & powdered sugar glaze.  (Two tablespoons of juice and a cup of powdered sugar will give you a pourable glaze–add some lemon zest if you want to boost the lemon flavor.)  As I worked with the dough, it reminded me of the base I normally use for lemon bars, so I might also try a version of those with this shortbread as a bottom layer.

Bob’s Red Mill has yet to let me down with their gluten-free mixes.  I’m still learning to make the things the Foodie family likes without wheat flour, and it’s good to know I can rely on this line of products to make that a little easier.

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