Sunday, July 24, 2011

Best EVER Gluten Free Soft Iced Sugar Cookies!

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You know those super soft, frosted sugar cookies with festive sprinkles that they sell in the plastic boxes at every grocery store in the world? Yes, you know what cookies I am talking about: always decorated with colors and sprinkles to go with whatever holiday is coming up next?

I miss those cookies.

I don't usually use other blogger's posts as launching points for my recipes (that's really phoning it in, in my opinion), but this sugar cookie recipe really is just something else. I needs to be shared. It's the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever tried (gluten free or not, and that's saying something), and it's so good, it will make you cry. I mean it. It's just like the original grocery store sugar cookie, but better. (and to be fair to myself, I did adapt this recipe to be gluten-free myself, so I sort of made it up, I guess!)



It's hard to be gluten-free all the time, and to say to yourself, "I will never eat this or that ever again" (Au revoir croissants, puff pastry, sourdough bread! Perhaps we shall meet again on the other side!). It's ever harder to say to your children, "you will never even know what that tastes like." (Alas, goldfish crackers and icecream cones!) It sucks. And while I know that in the grand scheme of things this "hardship" is really nothing, try explaining that to a 2 year old when everyone else is eating birthday cake at a party or Cheerio's for snack, and he doesn't get anything at all! It's an unjust world.

My little helper assisting with dough quality assurance
Cookies 3
Cookies 5
The kids at VBS loved the cookies too!


But back to the cookies. Children love sugar cookies, and yes, the child in each of us probably gets a little pang of sadness every time we go to the grocery store and pass the boxes of brightly decorated cookies we can't ever taste again. The thing is, those grocery store cookies didn't actually taste all that great. Super soft, a little bland, very sugary, but always with that unmistakable tang of cheap, artificial ingredients. I was at the store a day or two ago, and I picked up a box of these cookies to read the label: the ingredients list was as long as my arm and full of unpronounceable words. It was like a laundry list of food you shouldn't put in your body: refined white flour, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil, preservatives. Mmm, exactly what I want to feed my children! Not that I could feed it to my children because of the gluten, but you get the point.



Are you ready to have your world rocked? You can make those sugar cookies at home. You can make them with whole, wholesome ingredients. You can make them taste better than the store bought variety. And you can make them gluten free. My inner child is doing a little dance right now! And as a mom, I love that I can make these quintessential childhood treats for my own children, and that I can give them something better than what they are missing out on.

The best part? I swear on Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, if you didn't know these were gluten-free, you could never tell. I brought them to vacation Bible school last week, and not only could no-one tell they were gluten-free, but kids and adults loved them! Even the people who don't usually like sugar cookies said they liked these cookies. Now if that isn't a compliment, I don't know what is.

Cookies 6

 Looking for some other amazing, gluten-free cookies?? I've got you covered! 

- Gluten-Free Thin Mints!
- Lil Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies - Gluten Free!
Spicy Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
- White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Toffee Bits


Best EVER Gluten Free Soft Iced Sugar Cookies
adapted from Hostess with the Mostess and Annie's Eats

The original recipe calls for rolling the dough into balls and flattening it a little onto the cookie sheet. This really didn't work with the gluten-free recipe at all, so I suggest doing the traditional rolling pin and cookie cutter thing (besides, kids love that). I rolled mine a little thick (a little less than half an inch) so the cookies would be plump, and wouldn't break during frosting (since they are so, SO soft).

Using the correct flours is really important here, if you want to get that perfect, perfect taste and consistency. Usually I say to substitute in an all purpose mix if you don't have the flours called for, but in this case this combination really is perfect. My first batch used an all purpose mix, and it was a bust. Learn from my mistakes!

NOTE: some people have said the dough was a little too soft: I think this probably means you need to add about 2 - 4 Tbs more flour. Since we typically measure flour by volume and not weight, you might have used some more fluffy flour than I did!

for the cookies:
1.5 cups white rice flour
1.5 cups sweet rice flour (mochi)
1.5 cups oat flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
3 sticks butter (1.5 cups), room temperature
1.5 cups white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract (or almond)

for the frosting:
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbs vanilla extract
7-8 tbs milk, depending on consistency desired
food coloring/sprinkles

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1.5 cups white rice flour, 1.5 cups sweet rice flour (mochi), 1.5 cups oat flour, 5 teaspoons baking powder, and a pinch salt.

2. In a stand mixer, beat 3 sticks butter with 1.5 cups sugar on high, until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting for each egg to be fully incorporated before adding in the next. Beat an extra minute or two after last egg, and add vanilla.

3. With the mixer on low, fold in flour mixture, and mix until fully incorporated (with gluten-free baking you don't really have to worry about over mixing). Remove from mixing bowl, and form into a large disc. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refridgerate until firm, about 2 hours (dough can be frozen or stored in this state).

4. When you ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface (I use sweet rice flour, since it's the finest) to a little less than 1/2 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut to desired shapes, and place in cookie sheet. Cookies will spread very little, so they can be close - about 1" apart.

5. Bake cookies until just puffed and set, but before they have begun to brown around the edges. This will ensure a soft, soft cookie! Let cool, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.

6. To make the frosting: Place confectioners sugar in a medium bowl. Add melted butter, vanilla, and milk, and whisk until smooth, adding more milk to achieve desired consistency. Tint with food coloring, frost cookies, and adorn with sprinkles. Enjoy!

76 comments:

  1. Last Winter I was looking for a gluten-free sugar cookie that held up and couldn't find one. This looks great! Now I'll be all set for next Christmas

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  2. Oh my god. These look amazing. Now I won't have to be sad that I can't have these cookies anymore! <3 Thank you!

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  3. Where can I buy sweet rice flour?

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    1. We got ours at one of our grocery stores "Homeland". Maybe at Akins? We didn't look there though :]

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    2. Look in the Asian food section of your regular grocery store. That's where I find this brand - Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour. It comes in a smallish white box.

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    3. You can also look at specialty store, or maybe your store has a gluten-free section. Lots of them do, now!

      As a last resort, you can always special order it - it's the one flour I really feel would be worth it, because you can use as a substitute in so many recipes. It's great as a thickener!

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  4. You can buy sweet rice flour at many specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods (check the gluten-free flour section), but they also carry it in the regular grocery store in the "international foods" section. I think it's usually labeled as "Mochi," and it's a Japanese kind of flour. It's very sticky, so it makes gluten-free stuff stick together (but with a better taste than potato starch, and without the gumminess of xanthum gum).

    If all else fails, you can buy it on the Bob's Red Mill website!

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  5. These were my favorite as well pre-celiac! I'm also dairy free, think the cookies will come out with solid coconut oil?

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  6. I don't know - I've never tried it! If you do try it, will you let us know how it turned out?

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  7. My daughter is celiac and wanted to bake we tried these and now she is so happy with being gluten free

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  8. I'm looking forward to giving this recipe a spin this week when I provide snack for an event at a locally owned toy store.

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  9. How many cookies does this recipe make??

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  10. I think it depends on the cookie cutter you use, but I made around 24 with a 2.5" round cookie cutter. Hope that helps!

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  11. wait. actually I think it was more like 36 - it's hard to say, I kind of snacked on a lot of them! :)

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  12. haha ok, that helps. thanks!

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  13. I just made these today for a Halloween party. I didn't have the sweet rice flour, so I substituted in sweet sorgum flour. I don't think that sorgum has the "stickiness" that the rice flour has. The cookies seem a bit delicate, but they look awesome and they taste just as good. I will be looking for Moshi next time I am at the store to try this recipe again. Thank you for sharing.

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  14. My grandson cannot have milk; any suggestions
    for replacing the milk in the frosting?

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    1. soy milk or almond/nut milk!

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    2. I use coconut milk in my frosting or u can use water

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    3. Icing sugar frosting

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  15. Laurie - I you (or anyone, really) can't find sweet rice flour, you can also try potato starch, or a pinch (JUST a pinch! It's potent) of Xanthum gum. Though if you've somehow gotten ahold of xanthum gum, I can't figure why you wouldn't be able to find sweet rice flour! :)

    Anonymous: A good substitute for milk would be any other "milk" type drink he can have: soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, etc. Worst case scenario, I am sure you can use water!

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  16. how do you find gluten free oat flour? (yes, i know oats don't contain gluten, but they are not considered GF because of the cross contamination.)

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  17. Bob's Red Mill now carries certified gluten-free oat products! They have GF out flour, rolled oats, and (I think) steel cut oats. Oat flour has seriously become one of my favorite flours. It tastes great (and it tastes "normal" to gluten eaters), and it performs really well when baking! Since it's a whole grain flour, it's a little too heavy to use by itself, but when you blend it with something finer and starchy (like the sweet rice flour) it performs just beautifully. You can buy it on the BRM website, but they also carry it at a lot of specialty grocery stores. Hope that helps!

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  18. THANKS so much for the quick reply!! can't wait to make the cookies for my GF son and GF me. :)

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  19. You can also make your own gluten free oat flour by grinding gluten free oats in your food processor or coffee grinder. Trader Joe's has affordable gluten free oats, which turns out a lot less expensive than Bob's Red Mill or other prepared flours. Keep it refrigerated, though, as it can go rancid rather quickly.

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  20. Hi! What would you suggest to use instead of oat flour for those of us who are the "special" celiacs who can't deal with oats (labeled gf or not)? I would love to make these today with my 4 year old daughter who is sitting next to me showing me every cookie cutter we have :)

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  21. If oats won't work, I think you could use another whole grain type of flour that you think tastes good. Since sugar cookies are generally most enjoyed by little people, and little people like very neutral flavors, I think an all purpose flour you like or something like brown rice flour would work. I also think quinoa flour is pretty tasty, but it might be a stronger flavor than most people expect in a sugar cookie. Hope that helps!

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  22. Thanks! I think I'm going to try sorghum for fun...we'll see how it works out! :)

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  23. okay, i just got everything at whole foods, but the mochi flour came hard as a rock flattened in a pouch... i tried baking it but it is a gooey mess. It was the only kind of sweet flour that they had. Im assuming normally this flour is ground up fine?? What do I do now? Just substitue oat flour or white rice flour??? Thanks!!

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  24. Yeah, I've always bought it ground up finely into a powder - how strange! I would just 50/50 the oat and rice flour if that's all you got, but if you have any corn starch or potato starch that would go a long way toward making the cookies stick together better!

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  25. You can get the sweet rice flour (mochi flour) at any oriental store or market. I can't wait to try these! I've been craving sugar cookies for months!

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  26. I made these cookies for my class because there was someone I know who can't have gluten, I also could not find rice flour, but I substituted it for tapioca flour and they turned out great! I got that at my regular grocery stor in the health food section :)

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  27. There is a difference between Mochi and the Sweet Rice flour that can be used for mochi. That is what Anonymous likely ran into. Premade mochi is going to get you nowhere because it's well not flour, it's a dessert already cooked - the equivalent of trying to use a cheesecake for cream cheese. So just beware when looking - you want the flour not the dessert

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  28. Is there a substitute for the sweet white rice flour? I can't seem to find it anywhere near me and I'm dying to make these. Thanks!

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  29. I really have missed baking, since finding out I had celiac's I haven't been able to get back into baking without getting depressed. So I am really excited to bake for christmas and so glad I found this recipe, random question. Have you tried different cookie cutters with the dough, like I want to make xmas trees, and maybe candy canes, I know they are delicate so any suggestions and help would be great!

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  30. Hello! I just made up the dough (yea for how easy that was!) and it is now chilling in the fridge...can you give me an approximate baking time? I'm sure it's different from oven to oven, but maybe just a general guideline? I am BEYOND excited to eat these! Thanks so much!!!

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  31. I made them tonight, excellent! Baked for 10 minutes, probably could have baked 12 with no issues. Thank you for sharing this recipe! My 3 year old GF son LOVED them!

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  32. Reading the delicacy of the cookies - I made my batch egg free - with a cornstarch/milk egg replacement - and while they were delicate when hot they were firm enough to be handle while being iced. I would say don't roll them superthin and use a good hard icing like a royal icing if you are worried about their fragility.

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  33. Made these yesterday, didn't have oat flour so i used sorghum and they turned out great! They taste just like Lofthouse soft sugar cookies. My husband went gluten free this year due to an allergy and hates missing out so I do my best to replicate everything for him. So glad I found this recipe! Thanks :)

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  34. How many days will these stay good? Do I need to freeze them today if we don't eat them? Most gf goods go bad so quickly!
    BTW, I have 2 very excited kiddos! I am vegan, so I used Earth Balance in place of butter and will use almond milk in place of milk. HOWEVER, I didn't compromise with the eggs. Wanted the kids to have a really, really good treat! The dough is in he fridge now! Thank you!

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  35. Hello and thank you for this recipe! I made it last night, using margarine instead of butter because my kids are also dairy intolerant, and the dough came out super super soft. I put it in the refrigerator, and after checking it this morning, it still feels pretty soft. I double checked the amount of each ingredient and confirmed I used all the right amounts. Is this the margarine? Or is the dough supposed to be this soft? thanks!

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  36. Hey Heidi! My dough was firm enough to roll out and cut with a cookie cutter, so it sounds like yours is more soft than it should be. My guess as to what went wrong is that there isn't enough flour in the batter (which can happen easily enough - flour is so tricky, even if you measure it carefully it can get packed down or fluffed up so easily). I would try scooping a test ball with a cookie scoop or a spoon and seeing how it comes out. If it comes out yummy, great! If it comes out flat and sad, I'd bring the dough back up to room temperature and mix in another 1/4 cup of flour. That's my best guess, let us know how it turns out?

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  37. PS - any by "comes out" I mean bake it at the normal temperature :)

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  38. I made these tonight, and they looked great, but the texture was very dry and grainy. I followed the recipe exactly. I'm not sure what went wrong!

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  39. I made these today and they are amazing. Better than the gluten kind.

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  40. I have mixed the dough and ready to chill in fridge but it is really sticky to make into a disc form to wrap in plastic is this normal or do i need to add extra flour tell it forms easily or does this happen when it is chilled? I am new to this gluten free stuff and want to make sure Santa amd my sons cookies cone out good. Thanks. And if i need extra flour do i need one flour or mix all together.

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  42. @Becks - Wow, this is the most awesome recipe - thanks so much! I've made these several times now, and each time people say they're the best sugar cookies they've tasted, even compared with gluten varieties. One thing I've had to change is the quantity of the frosting - for some reason I ended up with way too much the first time. I cut the frosting ingredients in half (2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, 1/6 cup butter, etc.) and I get just the right amount for me.

    @cmgraham - Yes, the dough is really sticky, especially at room temperature. What really helps is sprinkling a little flour on the dough and the surface where you're going to roll it before handling it. Also avoid handling or rolling it at room temperature. After I mix it, it goes straight from bowl to plastic wrap. If you do need to add more flour, I'd stick with 50/50 oat/rice.

    [Edit: fixed typos]

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  43. These cookies were fantastic! All I had was Namaste GF Flour Blend, so I took a chance and used it. The dough was VERY wet, I had to freeze it for a few hours to be able to roll it out, but they baked up PERFECTLY. Delightful, seriously delightful! I've never had a gluten free cookie that delicious!

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  44. just made these, turned out great! A little grainy in texture, but still tastes good. Thanks for posting this!

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  45. These cookies are delicious! THANKS FOR SHARING

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  46. These are AMAZING. I can't believe they are gluten free. My kids are gonna flip for them. Thank you so much for posting!

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  47. I know this was posted a long time ago, but I was just looking for a recipe to use and reading your blog post made me want to choose this one (for making fruit pizza). I can totally relate to your post. It kills me to walk past those displays with my kids ogling over them and I have to tell them they can't have it. I can relate to the birthday part thing too. I wanted my kids to feel a part of things so badly! I even wrote a children's book about it to help them and others! So I'll try this recipe out and take it to the family reunion tonight so my kids won't feel left out. (My family serves a lot of desserts!)

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  48. Okay, I tried it and you were right. They DO taste just like the grocery store cookies! I adapted the recipe so I could use it to make fruit pizza and linked it on my blog. I don't get much traffic because I usually just use my blog when friends ask me for my recipes, but hopefully it can bring a few people over. Thanks again for the great recipe! http://foodmakeshimsick.blogspot.com/2012/06/amazing-fruit-pizza-dairygluten-free.html

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  49. I haven't iced mine yet but OMG BEST. COOKIES. EVER.

    I am not 100% sure I got the right 'Mochi' flour but I am happy with the results I have so will used up what I've got then enlist the help of an Asian speaking friend person and go shopping again.

    I didn't roll mine out, I rolled the dough up into a rough log in greaseproof paper before I put it in the fridge then I sliced 'rounds' off, was really easy!

    I have made about 4 dozen from one log, have a little bit left over in the fridge and another log in the freezer. SO so so good!

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  50. We aren't a GF family but I am Room Mom for my 4 years olds Autism preschool class and there is a little boy who is GF. We are having their Thanksgiving class party this afternoon and I just pulled these out of the oven. One cracked a little so I of course had to eat it. They are FANTASTIC! Thanks so much!!

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  51. My family uses a generations old tea cake recipe as our secret sugar cookie recipe for holiday treats. It always receives rave reviews and is one of my favorite things to make. Our creative icing is legendary (especially for my daughter's classmates). The harsh reality of gluten intolerance, that you so eloquently described above, hit me hard. I haven't made the cookies in a long while, because I lost all of my motivation as a baker, and I am a damn fine one. Your recipe gave me the boost I needed. It is still very sticky, but that is most probably because I live in a humid climate. I am working with it, but at first try last night, they turned out rather well and held up to my icing recipe (I use a slightly different one than the buttercream you have listed above). Thanks for a push in the right direction. I may just feel like baking again!

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    1. Goldgoggles, you should try your secret family recipe using the oat/rice/sweet rice blend and see how it comes out! You might be pleasantly surprised!

      BTW, if the dough is sticky, there probably isn't enough flour (it's hard because the recipes are by volume, not by weight so they can be inaccurate)

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  52. Hi, nice post. I have been wondering about this topic, so thanks for sharing. I will certainly be subscribing to your blog.teddy bears for babies

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  53. Really though, 3 sticks of butter and three eggs? How about a recipe that is vegan too, fat free, heart healthy?

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    1. With gluten free it is hard to cut out butter and/or margarine. The flours are different then wheat flour. Maybe you should try something like this if that is what you are looking for and post back.

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    2. Though cookies can be made healthy..... this is meant to replace the classic sugar cookie recipe we grew up with as kids. Becks is going to for a legit, classic sugar cookie recipe. She describes her motivation for developing this recipe. She isn't touting this as a "healthy sugar cookie recipe". There are plenty of "healthy vegan cookie recipes" all over the inter web. Thank you Becks for making this recipe!!!!!!

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  54. Wonderful! These are the first cookies that look good, taste good and hold together. By far the best sugar cookies ever.

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  55. Thanks for sharing! I make regular sugar cookies all the time, but have had a few requests for gluten free. To be honest, I thought they wouldn't taste that great and would need the icing to taste good. Well I was pleasantly surprised they taste great and that's without the icing!

    Have you (or anyone) ever tried cutting down the baking soda? I do find they puff out a bit too much for my liking as I use some pretty detailed cookie cutters.

    Thanks again!

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  56. I loved this recipe!!!!!!!! I have tried others and they are not all that great. But I could goble these up, even the dough is fantastic. Thank you soo much for sharing! Now I can go back to making sugar cookies for the holidays with my daughter :)

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  57. I always thought I needed to use xanthan gum in recipes. Do I not need it in this recipe???

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  58. Sweet rice flour may also be labled as glutinous or sticky rice flour. The glutinous label does not refer to gluten (as found in wheat flour) but to the fact that it is gooy or sticky in texture when liquid is added to the rice and cooked.
    There is a "black" sticky rice (often a southeast asian (thai)import) rice that has a wonderful taste. I have ground it to flour using a coffee grinder (very tedious as you have to pause frequently so as not to burn out the motor) but what can you do if you do not wish to buy a grain mill just for that use). Using that flour might make for an intresting plain cookie. Coconut, black sticky rice and palm (or brown) sugar is a popular desert combination.

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  59. Can I use only oat flour? I don't have the rest D:

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  60. Thanks for sharing! I make regular sugar cookies all the time, but have had a few requests for gluten free. To be honest, I thought they wouldn't taste that great and would need the icing to taste good.Just wanna say thank you for the information that you have been shared on your site. well it is more betterÂ

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  61. My Dad is celiac so I always look for recipes for food he could eat before. But, one of the things that make him sick is oats and oat flour. There is a small amount of gluten in oats. My question is: Can you buy gluten free oat flour?

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    1. Oats don't have gluten. They have avenin. Some celiacs can't have avenin, and some oats are cross-contaminated, either one of these could be making your dad sick. Try sweet sorghum flour, or a mix of millet and amaranth, which are better than bean flours for cookies. I use my own AP mix plus the mochi flour for these cookies, and my whole family LOVES them. I'm baking a batch of them right now, for my wife's birthday!

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  62. I got a rockin' gingerbread cookie kit with ninja cookie cutters. I'm hoping to try using the cookie cutters with a sugar cookie so I'll see how this turns out :-)

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  63. Would gluten free flour work just as well as all of the flours listed?

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  64. Made these the other day and they are amazing! I brought a few to work and people were complimenting me on how good they were, then I told them they were gluten free and they were very impressed, as am I.

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  65. Any suggestions of how to get around using the eggs? My son has an egg/peanut allergy...These are soooo yummy though!
    Thanks!

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