DessertApril-May 2013

Vanilla Soft Cookies

MAKES 12 4-INCH COOKIES

These elegant vanilla cookies are the basis for a variety of other sweet treats. The recipe calls for rather large cookies (4 inches across) but they can be made smaller for little hands and fewer calories per cookie. Adjust baking time accordingly.

1 (15-ounce) box gluten-free yellow/vanilla cake mix (heaping 2 cups)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, or non- hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 extra-large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup almond milk or milk of choice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure lemon flavoring (not lemon juice)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Remove cake mix from box. If mix weighs more than 15 ounces, pour it into a small bowl, stirring to break up any lumps. Measure out 2 heaping cups (be generous) and place into a large mixing bowl. (Set remaining mix aside for another use.)

3. Cut butter or shortening into pieces. Add to cake mix, along with egg, milk, vanilla and lemon flavoring. Mix together on low speed just to incorporate ingredients. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute or until mixture looks smooth and all ingredients are well combined. Using a silicone spatula, fold mixture from the bottom to incorporate any remaining dry ingredients. Let batter sit for about 5 minutes to fully hydrate the dry material. Give it one more fold. Batter will be very thick.

4. Using a ¼-cup ice cream or cookie scoop, carefully place 6 mounds of batter on each baking sheet, making each one circular in shape (about 2½ to 3 inches in diameter). Using a clean, wet finger, smooth batter and flatten just slightly. Cookies will spread while baking.

5. Place 1 baking pan at a time on the center rack in preheated oven. Bake about 6 minutes and rotate pan. Bake about 5 to 7 minutes more or just until the edges start to look slightly golden. Cookies should barely have any color but a toothpick should come out clean. Repeat with the other baking sheet. Let cookies cool for a minute on the sheet pan. Then carefully remove to a rack to cool completely before adding icing or filling, if desired.

Each cookie contains 180 calories, 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 203mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 14g sugars, 1g protein, 22Est GL.

For Egg-Free Vanilla Soft Cookies, omit 1 egg. Mix 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes until thickened. Then add to wet ingredients. Increase baking time by 2 to 3 minutes, as necessary.

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