Gluten Free Snickerdoodles – The Very First Thing I Ever Baked Redux

by Irvin on June 25, 2010 · 43 comments

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Gluten Free Snickerdoodles by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love | www.eatthelove.com

A couple of weeks ago, Shauna over at Gluten Free Girl sent out a tweet asking her followers what their first thing they ever cooked was. It morphed into a mass blog posting event (if you haven’t read her post, go there now, and then scroll down to her list of other bloggers who wrote about their first food making experience) with some fantastic reading of everyone’s walk down memory lane. I posted about my snickerdoodles and how I feel in love with the magic of backing in response, but I felt slightly guilty about it because I wanted to make the snickerdoodles the way they were, AND make a version of them gluten free – not only because Shauna inspired the post, but I figured there would be a few readers asking for it, bouncing over here from her site.


And, of course, there were! Kirstenlife asked me in the comments if I had made a Gluten Free version, and of course, I said I hadn’t but I had planned to and that I will…and then life got in the way.

Let’s talk a moment about the ridiculousness of my life right now, shall we?

When Shauna posted that question, I  immediately thought back to the snickerdoodles and how they were they were the introduction to a lifelong love affair with sugar and butter. She had tweeted on a Thursday and requested everyone to post on Monday about the subject but the problem was I was insanely busy and told her I would try, but I was taking Friday off to drive down to LA to pick up AJ after his momentous amazing inspiring bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

I always meet up with AJ each year at the end of the ride in LA, and this time, I decided (well, we decided) that we would not only go down there and spend a few days there, but also help host a party at our friend Rita and Damon’s house. So I frantically baked some snickerdoodles for the post, made some chocolate chip cookie batter to bake down there (that’s a post for another time), baked some dried golden fruit oatmeal cookies scented with grains of paradise (that’s a post for another time), bake up some mini cream cheese crust pop tarts filled with strawberry rhubarb curd (that’s a post for another time), and baked a few pies (strawberry rhubarb ginger with almond crumb topping, peach & blackberry – that’s a post for another time) and generally helped throw a fabulous gathering at our friend Rita and Damon’s brand new condo.

I also helped to break in their double oven (oh man, I SO want two ovens in my house) one of which is a convection oven (OH MAN, I WANT A CONVECTION OVEN!). Since moving in, they had never used the bottom oven – so I took full advantage of that, as well explained to them what a convection oven was and why it was awesome.


Though some people weren’t able to come to the party (including a dear friend who apparently decided to inconveniently have a baby instead of hanging with us – the gall!), it was fantastic to see most of our Los Angeles friends, including one who had just recently moved back from the east coast and one who’s weekend plans were put on hold because his daughter came down with a fever (I hope she’s feeling better!).

And still, in the back of my mind I wanted to create a version of the snickerdoodles gluten free. But it would just have to wait.

And wait it did. I came back, baked a trial version of the snickerdoodles and they flopped miserable, spreading flat and flavorless. That’s when it dawned on me, that I’ve made gluten free cakes, gluten free brownies, gluten free cookie bars and pies. BUT I’ve never made a gluten free cookie.

WHAT?!?

So I tried again. The second time was a little better, but the cookies tasted decent, but didn’t have the trademark crinkly top, and when they cooled they crisped up. Which is fine if you like crispy cookies, but I’m not a fan.

I like my cookies – especially snickerdoodles, soft and chewy. And I hadn’t achieved that yet. But I was onto something. I knew I was.

And then a few fires had to be put out at work, which meant staying late. And I needed, JUST NEEDED to finish up that monster post about the Meals on Wheels Gala, which was about a month behind. Go read it (or better yet, just scroll down and look at the pictures) and you’ll see what I mean when I say MONSTER post.

Then the weekend rolled around. AJ and I spent the day at the Farmer’s Market buying berries so that I could bake four pies for a pie contest that I had foolhardily entered at the last minute. I’ve always wanted to enter a pie baking contest. But I’m too lazy to actually drive to a county fair to enter. But this one was in the city, so no excuses.

I ended up winning first place for one of the pies. And another blue ribbon for the other pie. But that’s a post for another time.

On top of that, the day of the contest, we had already promised a friend that we would babysit their adorable child. Luckily the baby was utterly adorable so it wasn’t a burden.

But it’s all good. It’s not as if there’s anything else going on in my life. Like, more fires to put out at work (hi fire, nice to meet you. Oh that major packaging project, the one for the giant national chain restaurant, the one that I saw everyone else doing research on but I wasn’t invited to any of the meetings, nor did I do any research for it because I wasn’t suppose to be working on it. The one that is due in a couple of weeks and was put on the backburner because there were more pressing projects? Oh now I have to help LEAD the project? And the deadline is this week for? Thanks for the heads up on that one).

And I still wanted to bake a batch of snickerdoodles gluten free. One that had the crinkly top. One that melted in your mouth with hints of sweet cinnamon and sugar. The one that makes AJ ask me with a shy grin “um. can you get me a glass of milk to go with that?”

Yep. Those.

Instead I went to a sneak peak preview of an amazing restaurant. Met some fantastic fabulous ridiculously awesome people who I want to be best friends with now.

But that’s a post for another time.

And tonight. TONIGHT was the night. I was suppose to do other work. Catch up on email. Send some thank you notes out. Bake some muffins to use up the blackberries/olallieberries/tayberries that are on the edge of going bad in the fridge. Make some lemonade with the lemons that I have with the zest peeled off because I only needed the zest for the pies, not the juice.

BUT TONIGHT. I made gluten free snickerdoodles.

And when I handed AJ a plate with a single cookie on it, he took a bite, looked up at me with his doe eyes and sheepishly said “Um. Will you pour me a small glass of milk?” and then batted his eyes in that adorable way that he does.

That’s when I knew. These were the gluten free snickerdoodles that I’ve been wanting to make all this time. Gluten free but reminiscent of the very first thing I ever made. One foot in the past, one foot in the present.

Whilst baking, I listened to a hodgepodge of music but mostly I listened to Macy Gray’s newest release The Sellout. It’s a good return to form, reminiscent of her first album. One foot in the past, one foot in the present, just like these cookies.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara June 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Yay! Well, maybe not for the craziness of life, but certainly for the cookies! When my own crazy life settles down, I am so making these!

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kirstenslife June 25, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Allow me to say I LOVE YOU! After I figure out the egg-free, sugar-free cake I've had requested (oh dear God, what WAS I thinking) I'm making these as my special Birthday treat. At 28 I'm finally going to discover what Snickerdoodles are all about.

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Katie June 27, 2010 at 12:43 am

Snickerdoodles are awesome, and snickerdoodles in the face of life adversity (or at least busyness) are doubly awesome. You are inspiring me to update my blog, because at the moment too many cooking events have become posts for another time :o)

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Rita July 2, 2010 at 6:29 am

Me loves you, too (a la kirstenslife, two comments up). And my double ovens love you (that sounds weird), and thank you for explaining to me why sometimes when I set my oven it only heated up to 25 degrees LESS than what I asked for, as I had failed to recognize that the convection function had its own set of buttons and so hit them indiscriminately. I learn so much when you come over.

I need you!! Come back!!

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Dr. Jean Layton-GFDoctor December 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Just had to come over from Shauna's blog since snickerdoodles are my husband's favorite cookie in the world.
I've created an almost perfect gluten-free version but can't wait to see how yours compare.
Great story as well.
Thank you so much

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peanutgallery7 December 9, 2010 at 5:56 pm

i don't have millet flour…only brown rice, white rice, and all purpose gf…what can i substitute?

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Mr. Jackhonky December 9, 2010 at 7:07 pm

>@Tara. Thanks! I'm so behind on my comments, but I hope you did get around to making them!

@kirstenlife. I really hope that egg free, sugar free cake turned out for you! And it's never too late to discover snickerdoodles!

@Katie. I LOVE your blog! I hope you continue to update it! I know it's hard as life gets in the way…

Rita. I did come back! For Thanksgiving! HA! Now YOU come back here to SF!

@Dr. Jean Layton. Well I can't wait for you to compare them! AND if yours IS better, I want the recipe! Thanks for stopping by!

@PeanutGallery7. Hmm. Normally I would say the all purpose GF flour as a substitute, but it depends on who makes the all purpose GF flour. If it's Bob's Red Mill, I'd probably say no, as it has bean flour in it and that can give the cookies a really strong bean flavor. But King Arthur's GF mix is pretty neutral tasting, and if it's another one (or if it's homemade) check the content. If it's made of neutral tasting flours and starches (rice, sorgham, tapioca, arrowroot, potato) you can probably substitute that. Otherwise, try a 50/50 split of brown and white rice.

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Nancy in MTL December 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Hi, I don't know you, but I appreciate you so very much right now. This is me and my son's first year going g-free, and I stepped into December with my head hung low. See, I love to bake, and I just was overwhelmed with the idea of having to convert all my favorite cookie recipes, not to mention I am allergic to potato starch/flour, too, so even g-free recipes need to be retweaked for me.
Well, snickerdoodles are a cookie tray staple here, and I am just delighted that you took the time to get one just right and it has no potato flour!!! Yay. I just wish you all the best. May your days be merry and bright! Merry Christmas from me and my son in Montreal!!!

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Mr. Jackhonky December 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm

@Nancy in MTL. Your comment made my day! I know that going gluten free can be daunting but I'm glad this recipe was there to help you guys out!

As for the potato starch/flour issue, if the recipe calls for potato starch, you should feel free to substitute another starch in it's place. Corn starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch or sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour) will all work with on a 1 to 1 substitution.

I rarely use potato flour, but I imagine because the flour has a lot of thickening and starch in it, you should probably substitute a rice flour (brown or white), millet or sorghum flour along with another starch for the potato flour.

In other words, if the recipe calls for 100 grams of potato flour, try substituting 50 grams of white rice flour and 50 grams of corn starch or something like that. I'm not a 100% sure, but play around with the ratio to see how it turns out.

The most important thing is to not give up and have fun! Merry Christmas to you guys!

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Heather @ chiknpastry December 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I made these for a gf buddy the other night – AWESOME! I made a few tweaks since he has to have dairy-free too, and I had different types of GF flours on hand, but they really tasted pretty close to the non-GF version. nice job!

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Mr. Jackhonky December 23, 2010 at 8:42 am

@Heather. Yay! I'm so glad they turned out awesome, and dairy free as well! Thanks for making my recipe! They look great!

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Sweet Pea January 8, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hey, I gave these a try for Christmas and they were great! Thanks for the recipe! http://sw88tpea.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-first-allergy-free-holiday.html

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Laura February 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Just made these this afternoon on a snowy winter day. They were perfect…all the flavor and even the texture of the adored snickerdoodles from my youth. Thank you.

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Irvin February 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Oh I’m so glad! I really tried to create something that was as close to my nostalgic memory of them as I could, gluten free. I’m glad they turned out for you!

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fitzgerald January 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Sorry, I meant to ask if you can use butter in place of the shortening… you’ve got butter and shortening there.. can you make it an all butter cookie?

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Irvin January 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Hi Fitzgerald.

Yes, you can make the cookies all butter. They might spread a little bit more when the bake. I like the shortening, because it adds a bit of a chewy texture to the cookies. I would suggest, if you do make an all butter cookie, to put the cookie dough in the fridge for an hour before baking. This will keep the cookies from spreading as much and still give them a nice chewy texture.

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fitzgerald January 9, 2012 at 2:08 am

Awesome! Thanks heaps!

willow August 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

THANK YOU for this recipe. My oldest daughter was recently determined to be gluten sensitive. These are her favorite cookie and her nickname as a small child was snickerdoodle – so happy to have a wonderful recipe to make for her. She will be very surprised when she gets home from work today.

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Katherin September 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Wow! These cookies were amazing. My husband, 2 year old daughter, and I sat down to eat these together and declared they were the best cookies we’ve ever eaten, gluten-free or not. What a fantastic treat! We truly appreciate folks like you who go out of their way to create amazing gluten-free recipes to open our GF world back up! (We found your recipe linked via Shauna’s page). Thanks!

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fitzgerald October 27, 2011 at 5:12 am

Hey, I was just wondering whether you could substitute the shortening for butter? I’m really excited to try gluten-free baking by the way! I love snickerdoodles!

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Irvin January 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Sorry for the late reply! Yes you can sub shortening for the butter, but try to use butter flavored shortening (or use a vegan buttery stick) in it’s place, because the butter does add some flavor to the cookie.

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Cindy December 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I just made them almost exactly as written – pretty durned good! Really satisfied my craving for a real honest to dog cookie. Thanks so much for sharing your talent.

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Rossana Wyatt December 10, 2011 at 11:36 am

Great recipe, may just have to add these to my Christmas baking list Thanks! ;)

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Vegan Bakerista December 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Yummy post Irvin! I love your writing style :) Any ideas on making these cookies vegan?

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Irvin January 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm

The butter is easy to replace, just use butter flavored shortening, or a vegan buttery stick (I like Earth Balance). The eggs might be a little harder. You can try substituting egg replacers like Ener-G egg replacer (just follow the instructions on the package to replace the eggs), but in truth, I don’t really like the chemicals in them.

You might want to experiment and play with two tablespoons of ground golden flax seed (flax meal) and mix it with 4 tablespoons of soy milk (or other milk alternative of your choice). Let the mixture sit for about five minute until it become gelatinous, and then add them in place of the egg. You can definitely use water in place of the soy milk, but I like to use soy milk to add back a little richness that you lose when you don’t use the eggs.

Ground chia seeds or ground psyllium husks will also work (though you’ll get a funny color with chia seeds) as egg replacements.

Let me know if you make these vegan and how they turn out! I haven’t actually done it, so the above is just suggestions on how to experiment with them. Best of luck!

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Vegan Bakerista January 10, 2012 at 11:03 am

Thanks for the great ideas Irvin! I’ll let you know when I make these vegan!

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Rebecca January 2, 2012 at 11:41 am

THANK YOU so much for converting this recipe to gluten-free! I’ve been looking for a good snickerdoodle recipe for years, but they all turned out like sugar cookies with cinnamon on top…just not what I was looking for. I just made this recipe last night and these are the real thing, chewy and sweet and delicious. My husband and I ate a round dozen hot out of the oven :) Thanks and I’ll definitely be trying more of your recipes!

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Megan @ Keeko's Gluten-Free January 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I have been working on gluten-free cookie recipes because my husband and I have recently switched completely to gluten-free. I made an apple pie one that turned out…okay. But my chocolate chip…no. It was grainy and it spread out so much that the outsides got all crisp and chewy-like. I used shortening, which I was told was supposed to keep it from doing that. Also, my flour consists of tapioca flour, potato starch, white rice flour, and xanthan gum. Any suggestions? We are seriously craving cookies that don’t spread out or act all floppy. Can you help me? Please! Oh, and by the way, your blog is awesome! Love your recipes!

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Irvin January 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Hi Megan!

So there are lot of reasons that it could be happening, and unless I’m there in the kitchen with you, I probably can’t help you fully but here are some tips.

First off, the reason you might be getting grainy cookies is that your white rice flour is probably not ground fine enough. Pour some in your hand. If you can feel a grit, then it’s not fine enough (it should feel powdery – like regular flour). A lot of rice flour is gritty – which leads to gritty and grainy cookies! So see if you can source a superfine ground flour. Asian grocery stores often times have rice flour that is ground way more fine (and also cheaper) than conventional grocery stores. I’ve been told you can just pour some of the grittier flour into a blender or food processor and try to grind it finer, but I’ve never done that so don’t take my word for that.

Secondly, I personally like to use butter instead of shortening in my cookie recipes because they have a richer flavor, but shortening, in theory should help you from keeping the cookies from spreading. Either way, try refrigerating the dough before you bake it, and see if that helps. A soft cookie dough will usually lead to a soft cookie when baked, and a firmer dough will lead to a firm cookie.

You also might want to try playing with some other flours. There are a myriad of gluten free flours, including sorghum, millet, teff, buckwheat, mesquite, brown rice, glutinous/sweet rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, and arrowroot, not to mention the bean flours and the nut flours. They all have different properties and add different things to the recipe. Some absorb more liquid than others, some create a nice softness and some add a crispy snapness to the final baked good. To make a chocolate chip cookie, I might use equal parts superfine brown rice, sweet rice, corn starch, almond and mesquite. All of these will add something to the mix (brown rice, an earthiness, sweet rice a softness, corn starch a crisp snap, almond will add richness and moisture and mesquite will elevate the chocolate). Try picking flours that work with the final product. Obviously that’s a ton of flours to have, but once you get a sense of what the flours do, then you can start picking the flours based on what you want.

Finally, if the cookies are acting floppy, you might want to add a little more xanthan gum to it. It’s possible you aren’t using enough to bind the cookies. Or ditch the gum and try using something natural like ground chia seed or flax meal. They also work, in a more natural way. I usually add the ground flax meal or chia seeds to the egg and beat them together. The water in the egg helps activate the flax meal/chia seeds.

Best of luck! Let me know if any of this helps and how they cookies turned out.

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kerry macLeod February 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

You have me dancing a happy dance this afternoon! So glad to have found this recipe and your fantastic blog. My blog since 2008 is Snickerdoodles and we’ve recently gone off gluten here at Birch Hill so I needed someone to figure out my cookie without wheat in a bad way. I pinned you and of couse will share the recipe and your blog brilliance on Snicks. all the best,
kerry

http://www.snickerdoodles.ca

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Carol Ziogas February 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

I made these last night with a few modifications, and they turned out AMAZING. My family thanks you for making Mom’s cookies taste like “real” cookies!

My modifications were based on not wanting to go shopping, and using up what I already had on hand, so:

Used all butter, no shortening. Chilled dough and it worked out beautifully.
Didn’t have millet or sorghum flour, so used 3/4 c brown rice, 1/2 c almond meal, 1/4 c corn starch, and 1/2 c potato starch instead. I like the small addition of almond meal because of the flavor and texture.

ZOMG. Even the raw dough tasted like “regular” dough to my ultra-fussy/foodie son, and he’s not gluten-intolerant like I am. He ate the stuff by the spoonful.

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Katie June 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Found your blog via Gluten Free Girl just a few days ago. My husband just went GF and this is his favorite cookie of all time. Hard to live up to….or so I thought. Just finished baking the first dozen and he’s eaten 3 already! Thank you so much for converting this wonderfully classic cookie for us!

Enjoying reading and sure to try lots more recipes!

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Marianna July 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

Wow! These are delicious!! I just baked a batch and they turned out just like the picture. I can’t wait to take them to a gathering tonight. I subbed an Earth Balance “butter” stick and the texture is still excellent. I kept the dough chilled until baking and they didn’t spread flat. I am also out of parchment but that didn’t seem to matter.
My hubby requested snickerdoodles last night so I went to Shauna’s page and found the link here. Thanks so much!!! I look forward to trying some of your other gf recipes.

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Jenifer September 15, 2012 at 5:49 am

Irvin, thank you, thank you, thank you! I love snickerdoodles, to the point that I would drive 20 minutes to a little town with a bakery that made perfect ones… but had to give that up when I gave up gluten. My version of your recipe was made without the sorghum flour, since I didn’t have any. I substituted half sweet rice flour and half millet flour. The taste fresh out of the oven was slightly other-grainy and I wasn’t pleased, but wow, when those babies matured! A day or so after backing, they were divine. I brought some in to work and an employee enthused that they were the best snickerdoodles he’d ever had.

One curious thing… my first round stayed very ball-shaped and didn’t spread at all. I was concerned about the taste/texture/getting done inside, so I flattened the next round with my hand before baking. Turns out it didn’t matter, both versions tasted great. I actually dug the mouth feel of the poofball ones. I’m going to try making some and freezing them in ball form to see how they work. That way I can pull a few out when the craving strikes rather than give away half the batch before they go stale ;)

Thanks so much for your gluten free recipes… you are marvelous!

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Christina November 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Awesomeness! Just made them and followed the directions (no subs) and they are great!

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Vita December 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Hey, Irvin! Greetings, and Seasonal Ones, too! Just adapted your recipe for xylitol, and halved it, basically. The TASTE is perfect (except for the slightly cool post-xylitol mouth, which I’m quite used to), but the texture… Xylitol (or “X” as I call it) doesn’t behave like sugar in recipes, if it DOES tasted the most like it. So these are delicious, but not at all chewy, as I’m sure yours are. Any thoughts on what – besides sugar (I am definitely not going ‘back’!) – would give me a chewier texture? More egg white? Appreciate your thoughts on this, and send my best to you and yours for a fabulous 2013 – Year of the Water Snake!

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Catherine Schreiber January 5, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Irvin, my daughter is both gluten and lactose intolerant, and also allergic to eggs (but can have them in baked goods because they magically change their chemical nature in baked goods, or some such confusing thing), so I am forever substituting shortening for butter in baking. I notice here that you’ve got both shortening and butter in the recipe; have you ever used goat butter in your baking? I have on several occasions and have had success, but I’m wondering if anyone has tried it with snickerdoodles. We are a fan of these cookies and, while Udi’s makes some killer ones, there’s nothing like warm ones out of the oven.

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GFnewbie March 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I found this recipe and decided to make this my FIRST attempt at GF Snickerdoodles. So very glad I did! They are absolutely perfect and might I add: foolproof. I didn’t have millet flour and substitued Almond Flour. I also ran out of Tapioca starch/flour while mixing and substitued (around half the amount) with Potato starch/flour. They still came out BEAUTIFUL! And the taste… 5 Stars! THANK YOU! I will checking on this blog in the future for more GF delicasies. Mindy

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Leslie April 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

These did not work for me. My first batch of cookies did not spread at all. I flatten the second batch with the back of a glass. There was still very little spread. They still tasted great though!

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Irvin April 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I’m so sorry about that! I’ve never had a problem with it not spreading. In fact, usually with gluten free cookies they spread more… You butter may be too cold. Make sure to use room temperature butter and shortening. Otherwise, I’m not sure what else to tell you. Glad they still tasted good though!

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Jennifer April 20, 2013 at 5:14 am

These were so delicious and got rave reviews from everyone at work. I used King Arthur GF flour mix for all 3 1/2 cups in the recipe with no problem. I did chill the dough for about an hour to make it easier to handle. They did spread quite a bit but they were still fantastic! Thanks for the great recipe!

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Shelley August 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm

These were simply *awesome*
used all butter, chilled the dough for a couple of hours prior to baking and they turned out beautifully! Only baked them for 8 minutes = crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Thank you so much for the recipe! My 4 GF kiddos couldn’t believe their eyes or their mouths :)

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Steve November 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Two thumbs up! Absolutely phenomenal cookies. The holidays will be complete… I have Snickerdoodles!!! Thank you SO much!

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