Anybody who is gluten-free or who knows someone with a gluten-free diet has likely thought or heard, “the thing I miss is dessert.” Even the healthiest diet includes the occasional sweet indulgence, and as more people are diagnosed with Celiac or choose to lead a gluten-free lifestyle it becomes more necessary to help them find new recipes to enjoy life’s little desserts. Luane Kohnke has put her baking expertise to the task, and in Gluten Free Cookies gives us “50 Recipes for Cookies You Crave”.
Kohnke starts with a short introduction and a comprehensive guide to gluten-free baking that not only highlights ingredients to use and avoid, but explains their purpose; discusses how to create a gluten-free baking environment; and functions as a how-to guide for even the most novice baker. Kohnke even relates the results of a test she performed with her gluten-free flour mixes (pp. 15-16) in which she had gluten-eaters test a wheat flour “control cookie” against gluten-free models of the same made with each flour blend, and provides a conversion table based on those results for converting wheat flour-based recipes to gluten-free ones.
Each recipe is accompanied by a colorful and crisp shot of what the finished treat will look like, and nearly all of the recipes occupy only one page. However, as the author points out, it is important to read the recipes all the way through before attempting — while the baking process itself is short, the preparation process for many of the recipes (especially those with filler) includes chilling the mix in the refrigerator or letting it sit for a certain period of time (e.g. the Oatmeal Almond Cookies with Dates, the batter of which needs to chill for at least two hours).
My family helped assemble a gluten-free baking party to test out some recipes. We found that many of the necessary ingredients are more expensive than your typical wheat flour, but it is definitely worth the cost to bring dessert back into the house. In order to test a variety of treats, we baked the Lemon Squares (p. 91), Double-Cherry Streusel Bars (p. 96), and the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (p. 31). The chill/store process frustrated our efforts somewhat, but we worked out a groove in which we could finish one cookie while another was prepping, and having clear and easy-to-follow recipes was a big help. A first-time baker would have little trouble following the directions as they are written.
I returned the next day for my samples of our gluten-free treats, and I was impressed by how closely they resembled the pictures! Clearly, we did something right. Each treat stood up to taste testing as well, though we observed that the peanut butter cookies tasted more heavily like peanut butter but ended on a drier note. With the proper amount of preparation, I would bake any of these recipes for anybody — even a gluten eater will love what comes out of the oven.
Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fiancé and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Sellers Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.