Recently I purchased a box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cookie Mix after reading several glowing reviews online. I even watched a YouTube video on how to prepare the boxed mix, just in case there were some secret gluten-free baking tips I needed to know. Oh, and I even searched for reviews on how to make it better, because that's just what I do.
Let me first confess that I was a self-proclaimed "Cookie Snob" until my snobbiness morphed into complete "Baked-Goods Snob". I can't help it that I'm extremely picky with what baked goods I'll eat. Cookies have to be almost under-baked on the inside with a tiny ring of crisp on the outside. Brownies need to be fudge-like and of double thickness....not overcooked thin bricks. That's besides the point...or is it?
Before my body decided to let me know, with a vengeance, that it could no longer tolerate gluten, I was extremely proud of my ability to bake amazingly scrumptious treats. Other people would ask me for recipes and others would just insist I bake this or that for an upcoming get together. Banana Bread, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownies (a crowd favorite!) and crisps....all wonderfully moist and decadent. Obviously, I had a talent for baking. Key Word: had
When I went Gluten-Free on July 16, 2011 I did not bake...I was scared to. Partly because I didn't know squat about gluten-free baking, but mostly because I was seeing this as an opportunity to change my horrible eating habits. Being Gluten Intolerant was a wake up call for my health and I needed to manage my weight...quickly. With this realization, I decided that I was not going to buy "Gluten-Free" processed foods or find substitutes for items I always ate. I stuck to whole foods and in turn, I've lost a little over 20 pounds and I've dropped two full dress sizes. Hip! Hip! Horray!!
But I digress, my recipes were tried-n-true. I had spent countless hours perfecting each one, complete with specific baking times that included one for 29 minutes for my brownies. Twenty. Nine. Minutes. Why not just thirty or... twenty-eight and a half? Because that one extra minute (in my oven) was the difference between ooey-gooey brownies or too dry brownies...once they cooled.
I baked when I was happy. Sad. Depressed. Angry...and Hungry. My favorite past-time was taken from me instantly and a new world of eating was plopped right in front of my face. I couldn't cheat because I would get so nauseous that I was dreaming of ways to induce vomiting. So, I just didn't bake.
When I saw the box mix, I started to crave my cookies again. I had to buy it and, honestly, I figured that if Betty Crocker was endorsing a Gluten-Free Mix, then it would most likely be pretty tasty...at least something I could work with as a base so I wouldn't have to have a dozen different flours in my pantry.
I followed the directions on the back of the box to a "T", very excited to finally have a gooey chocolate chip cookie. The dough had a "wet sand" texture and when I tasted it, felt sandy in my mouth. My heart sank for a moment. I had heard about gluten free baking and some of the issues with it, read blogs of famous gluten-free baking bloggers who have perfected the right combo of flours in order to prevent gritty dough, and I've even contemplated purchasing a well-known baking mix online...just so I could start baking again.
The cookies looked really good when I pulled them out of the oven. There were twelve soon-to-be-gobbled-up cookies with light tops and golden brown edges. I waited for just a couple minutes and then scooped them off the sheet and onto a plate. They were a bit crumbly, but I wasn't going to let that deter me. Once they cooled enough to handle, I ate one. I chewed it, swallowed it and then tried very hard not to cry. I didn't want to be too harsh a critic.....I mean, I hadn't had a cookie since July. I really wanted to like this cookie, so I broke a cookie in half and willed myself to like it. It felt like I had just eaten sand, or a few tablespoons of brown sugar all at once. I grabbed a napkin and discreetly spit it out. Then I proceeded to turn off my oven and dump the rest of the cookie mix in the garbage. My kids seemed to like it, but I think they just miss their mama's cookies.
So there you go, folks. This is my review of the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. No offense to Betty Crocker....you can't please everyone. And hey...thanks for saving me from gaining a few extra pounds.
I do want to try the cake mix though. Maybe I'll make one of my famous crisps, but use the yellow cake mix as a topping. There has to be something I like, right?!