Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegan MoFo: Gluten-free French four spice shortbreads (X is for Xanthan)

Dear internet, if you ever wondered how much I love you... I stayed home sick today but still pushed to make something for MoFo. Don't worry, I'm not that sick, and it wasn't that much work.

The hardest part of X was coming up with an idea. Which was, if you'll eXcuse me, eXtremely difficult. The only two ingredients I could think of for x were xanthan gum and xylitol. Neither of them are really foods, are they? More like food additives. I've never worked with either before and just wasn't dying to either. Xanthan gum seemed like it might be a useful tool to have in my repetoire, as I've heard it can be really handy in GF baking and I always like to know more ways to make baked goods available to everyone. Xylitol? Doesn't have too much going for it that I can tell. So I went with xanthan.


Wow, xanthan gum is EXPENSIVE. Muy expensivo! I forget the exact amount per oz but it was high, even from the bulk bins. i didn't realize how little of it I needed so I bought like a 1/4c, which ended up running me something like $3. Ouch.

I decided to make a variation on the Chai Spice Shortbread in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, as I've wanted to try those and also I already had the stuff on hand to make Terry & Isa's GF baking mix. I've used their baking mix with okay results before, some crumbling and such. Since there are 2 cups of flour in the mix, I added a total of 1 tsp of xanthan to the recipe. I had no idea when/where I was supposed to add the xanthan, so I put 3/4 tsps into the dry flour mix and 1/4 tsp into the shortening/sugar mix. Other than that (and using GF flour mix for the 1 c AP flour/1c ww flour), I replaced all the spices in the recipe with about 4 tsps quatre epices, which is a spice mixture I love.

Here are the cookies post-baking:

Gluten free quatre epices shortbread

They turned out pretty well. They have a sort of crispiness and lightness to them... yet they're not crumbly at all. I must not have gone overboard on the xanthan because they're neither gummy nor heavy. Cool. They're definitely better than my previous gluten free cookies have been. Pretty tasty.

I think I've decided that I hate quinoa flour, though. It tastes... so... quinoa-y. To my mouth, it overwhelms basically every other flavor. I love quinoa, don't get me wrong, but I want my cookies to taste like cookies, not like quinoa. Maybe someday if I make it through my entire bag of quinoa flour, I'll try millet flour.

I was curious as to how xanthan would change a recipe I was familiar with, so I also tried adding about 1/4 tsp to the Melty White Cheez from the Ultimate Uncheez Cookbook, which I like as a super easy weeknight mac'n'cheez sauce. It had a definitely effect-- the sauce ended up much stretchier. It formed visible strands when I was mixing it together with the noodles. It actually kinda reminded me of mac made with Daiya. Not quite the same, but heading that direction. Cool!

The Emperor loves the cookies. He won't touch the mac'n'cheez. (Not surprising. He won't eat noodles with any kind of sauce on them lately. This kid.) Here's a picture of him enjoying one of the cookies in our extremely poorly lit living room:

Grey in grayscale


panda with cookie said...

I had forgotten about that shortbread variation. Hello cookie.

vanessa said...

OH MY. This looks AMAZING!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the quinoa flour. I've made cupcakes with it before and initially as they were warm, you could really taste the quinoa. I'm not a fan of that in my baked goods either. Those cookies, however, look GOOD!!! *drool* And why on earth is xanthan so expensive??? I just bought some more today myself and felt a piece of my soul disappear as I paid my $8 for 4oz!

Anonymous said...

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Those look delicious!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, I may have to try adding some to my mac and cheese. Good idea! I bought guar gum because it was cheaper. I wonder if it will work as well.

I had some quinoa peanut butter cookies at the vegan bake sale for Japan that were really really good! Maybe you can try those if you have leftover flour.

Nada said...

These look great! I've been meaning to experiment with GF baking so will pick some xanthan gum up soon (if I can find it at a reasonable price).