Monday, June 15, 2009

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

So I had originally planned a very different review of Betty Crocker's new gluten free chocolate chip cookies.

I was going to tell you that I was disappointed by this mix. I was going to tell you that I probably would not make these cookies again. I was going to tell you that I've never had good gluten free cookies and that these were only slightly better than the dozens of cookies that have met my garbage can.

So what changed?

Well, I guess I'll start from the beginning.

Since going gluten free, I have attempted chocolate chip cookies several times, every time ending in complete FAIL. Almost everytime, my cookies tasted like I dumped sand into the batter. The flavor, texture, everything was not right. Some just fell apart. Some spread out so thin on the baking sheet, that you could even remove them without your cookies becoming nothing but crumbs. Some stayed together but were inedible. Needless to say, I gave up on cookies and resigned myself to the fact that I would never enjoy home-baked cookies again. Was I sad? Maybe a little. But I had cakes and brownies to occupy my time..

Until a few days ago. I tried the new gluten free chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery in Tempe, AZ by the name of Cookies From Home. These cookies, literally, made both my husband and I stop and say, "Wait, are we sure these are gluten free?" You could NOT tell the difference. They were soft and chewy, tasted perfect, and had no trace of the tell-tale gluten free gritty, starchy texture. They were delightful and I ate a lot (two dozen-ish) in a matter of a few days (like...two. Okay, maybe three, but does that really make it any better?)

Now I am a cookie-aholic. The Betty Crocker GF cookie mix was, by far, the mix that I was the MOST excited about trying. I eagerly baked them up this weekend.

I felt positive about the results as I was mixing it up. How could Betty Crocker be wrong? The dough seemed dry and crumbly, but the box said it would. And it wasn't nearly as bad as some other doughs I've worked with. I followed the direction perfectly--I used a cool baking sheet for every batch and let the cookies cool for at least 2 minutes before removing them from the pan.

The cookies baked out to be very thin. So thin that if you held the cookie up to the light, you could see through it in some spots. They were also very delicate; a few fell apart. But, on the flip side, some held together perfectly.

Here's why I was going to give these a so-so review: these cookies just aren't the real thing. Shocking, I know. They taste gluten free. The texture is off and despite my best efforts, I couldn't ignore at first that underlying funky taste (what was that?). When you bit into a cookie, it almost felt to your month like you were eating a bunch of crumbs that were just haphazardly stuck together--if that makes sense. To be simple--these weren't even in the same ball park of awesomeness that Cookies From Home was.

So why the change of heart, you ask? Because I ate these cookies for breakfast for two days in a row. These cookies were demolished in our house before the weekend was over. They grew on me, and frankly, they weren't bad enough not to eat. I said I wouldn't make these again, but I would. Because when it comes down to it, I LOVE cookies. Just don't expect to take these to a company picnic and have people rave over them and go back for round two or three.

Odds are, you'll like these enough as well to make in your own home. I'm just warning you beforehand, make sure your expectations aren't too high. They aren't Mom's homemade Tollhouse deliciousness. Didn't stop me from devouring them though, or from going to pick up another box....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

If there is ever a reason to eat a slice of cake before dinner, it is Betty Crocker's gluten free yellow cake.

It is no secret to the gluten free community that Betty Crocker, as of June 1st, has unleashed it's new line of gluten free mixes. There are 4 total: yellow cake, devil's food cake, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies. I have scoured the shelves for what felt like ages (what do you mean, it's only been a week??) and last night we found them at Fry's!

My local store only carried the yellow cake and brownies. So, of course, I snatched them up. They sell for $4.49 each. Today, while on my lunch break, I found the chocolate chip cookies at the Fry's across the street. Apparently Fry's does not like devil's food cake, but 3 of the 4 mixes still makes me enthusiastically happy.

Never one to have a lot of patience, I baked up the gluten free yellow cake last night.

I couldn't even wait 15 minutes after it was done before I was slathering on the frosting! We chose lemon frosting.

Here is the slice that I am eating as we speak, thus spoiling my dinner (I don't care!) :

Straight from the oven, this cake is heavenly. It is light, fluffy, and moist, with no gritty texture. The edges of the cake are slightly dry, however. But trust me, it won't stop you from devouring every last crumb. The taste is better than you can even hope for. I've had some really bad gluten free yellow cake before, so bad that I've sworn off of even trying to bake any more. But, Betty Crocker's gluten free yellow cake mix did not leave me (or my husband) disappointed.

The next day, the cake is significantly more dense. But the density doesn't ruin the cake in the slightest. The flavor is fantastic (have I mentioned that?), and exactly how I remember yellow cake to taste. This cake paired with the lemon frosting is delicious; I highly recommend it.

I am so excited to have these new Betty Crocker gluten free mixes available. I know that whenever someone in my family wants to make a gluten free dessert that I can eat at family gatherings, seeing the familiar Betty Crocker name will greatly ease their worries. I can tell you that this yellow cake will be a staple in my pantry and my first choice for birthday cakes (or even whenever cakes). :)

Can't wait to hear what everyone else thinks! I'll update on the cookies and brownies as SOON as I make them--which probably won't be long from now!