Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to get to know many of you through emails and comments. These interactions have told me that many of the people who use Free Eats have food allergies, or have children with food allergies. So I’ve got a hunch that this post may resonate with a few of you. If not, go ahead and jump to the recipe!
If you’re still listening, I’m going to warn you that I’m about to go on a rant. A jumping up and down, fit-pitching tirade. You know why? Because it’s Girl Scout cookie time!
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against troops of girls in darling green uniforms pedaling boxes of cookies. I even buy a few boxes each year to support kids I know that are working hard to reach their “cookie sales goal.” Since we can’t eat the cookies, I love giving them as gifts to lucky neighbors or people like my hardworking horse-shoer.
As a family we’ve mastered leaving the grocery store without my son, Patrick, being bothered by the table of cookies out front. He’ll say, “even though I’ve never had a girl scout cookie, I think your cookies are a million times better, Mom.” This makes me smile and motivates me to go home and bake a batch of cookies. Well-played on his part, don’t you think?
The one thing I hadn’t anticipated was Girl Scout cookies in the classroom. Patrick is in second grade and his teacher is very liberal with candy and food rewards (students should receive dental insurance when they’re assigned to this teacher!). This is making our year more challenging than usual as I scramble to have “equivalent” allergy-friendly snacks. Last Friday when I was volunteering in the classroom, I saw the kids line up for mid-morning recess. To my surprise, the teacher opened a box of Girl Scout cookies and handed them out one by one as the children exited the room. My son came over to me with tears welling up and told me that this had happened ever day that week. I had no idea that this had been going on and without advance warning I had no alternative treat. It’s hard to parse out all the feelings I had at that moment but let’s just say that I was one ticked off mama.
I find it completely ridiculous that every day for a week these kids ate cookies at snack time while simultaneously feeling a sense of smug relief that my child will be healthier having missed that. But then I feel the sadness of knowing that he had to watch 28 of his friends get a special treat from their teacher while he had no equivalent treat. If you’ve spent any time browsing recipes here at Free Eats you will understand that I’m not an anti-sugar zealot or health food fanatic. I love to bake, and we love sweet treats, but in moderation. I understand that people want to send cupcakes to school to celebrate their child’s birthday, and when notified in advance I happily send in a substitute treat. Occasionally if there’s a miscommunication, we have a container of treats at school for special “emergency” birthday snacks. In a class with 29 kiddos there’s a lot of birthday cupcakes eaten throughout the year. So at some point, I get a bit weary of all the extra days where my son’s teacher serves food.
Can we motivate kids and express appreciation in non-food oriented ways? Why yes! For instance my daughter’s fourth grade teacher has little to no food in the classroom setting. She rewards kids with free-play, extra minutes on the playground or with “chance tickets” that give them opportunities to win prizes like calendars, markers, and stickers. Needless to say I’m counting the days until my son is in fourth grade!
So what did I do when I came home from volunteering in my son’s class that day? I baked cookies, cookies that were good enough to make my Girl Scout cookie deprived little boy feel lucky. I made homemade oreos and faux nutter-butters (that recipe will be posted soon) and when my son ate them he said, “I’m glad I have food allergies because otherwise you probably wouldn’t have made all these yummy recipes.” And to a certain extent he’s right. I see food allergies as motivation to push myself to get creative and make delicious food despite the dietary restrictions. Plus, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the sweet reward of seeing my son’s smile when he eats one of these homemade Oreos.
Recipe Notes: If you are new to corn-free baking you may want to head over to my Corn-Free Cooking and Baking Information Page first. That will assist you with making sure that your ingredients are corn-free, or with making suitable substitutes such as homemade vanilla, baking powder (not needed in this recipe). I also highly recommend that you make up your own flour mix with my suggested combinations. I don’t know how store-bought or pre-prepared mixes will work in my recipes. Thanks and happy baking!
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (for best results use this one)
- 1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder(this really does matter)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (if you have fine, use 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum (for a corn-free variety from Authentic Foods click here)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water, mix and let stand 5 minutes)
- 2 ounces unsweetened bakers chocolate (Baker's brand has no corn ingredients)
- 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or milk substitute
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (click here to see the corn-free variety I use)
- 3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated palm shortening
- 1 tablespoon milk/milk substitute
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (homemade if you are corn-free) or the scrapings of one vanilla bean
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat mat.
- 2. Place the unsweetened chocolate and shortening in a small bowl and microwave (or use a double boiler) to melt. Be sure to use the microwave in short bursts (no more than 30 seconds at a time) so that you don't scorch your chocolate. Continue to do this until the chocolate and shortening are fully melted, shiny and smooth. Set aside.
- 3. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the flour, cocoa, salt, xanthan gum, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Mix for 30 seconds to evenly distribute the ingredients.
- 4. Add the prepared flax egg and melted chocolate/shortening mixture and mix on slow speed for 1 minute. The dough should begin to pull together.
- 5. Add one tablespoon of the milk substitute and mix for 30 seconds. If it looks a bit dry, add the second (or even a third if you need too) tablespoon and mix until you get a dough that is soft, but holds together.
- 6. Scrape the dough out onto plastic wrap and flatten it into a disk. Chill for 15 minutes.
- 7. Roll the dough out to 1/8 -inch thickness between two layers of plastic wrap (see photos here for an easy technique). Cut dough into rounds with a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter.
- 8. Bake on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet for 8-10 minutes (you may need to adjust time if your dough thickness or cookie size is different than what I used) or until the tops of the cookies look ever so slightly puffed and dry.
- 9. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will get nice and crisp as they cool.
- 10. Fill the cookies and serve.
- 1. Using a mixer, cream together the shortening, powdered sugar, milk substitute, and vanilla bean scrapings (or vanilla extract) until smooth.