How to Bake Chewy or Crisp Gluten-Free Cookies

6 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Gluten-Free Baking Tips and Tricks

The only issue with baking gluten-free cookies is choosing the type of texture you want. Crisp or chewy? Do you want a crisp cookie or a chewy one? And how do you make cookies that are tender and moist?

Because cookies are so small, building structure in them is easier than in other baked goods. Cookies are a balance among flour, fat, egg, and sugar, with flour the largest amount, fat the second, and sugar the third.

Making the best gluten-free cookies

A combination of gluten-free flours and starches is the best way to make the best cookies. In fact, an even proportion of flours to starches is the best way to make tender cookies. Gluten-free cookie batters and doughs are softer than wheat-based cookie doughs because more liquid is needed to hydrate the flour.

To make the best gluten-free cookies, use these tips:

  • Let the dough rest. Resting time, preferably in the refrigerator, gives the flour enough time to absorb the liquid and set the cookie’s structure. Chilling also solidifies the fat so that the cookies hold their shape in the oven.

  • Reduce the oven temperature. Overbaking cookies makes them hard and tough. A longer bake at a lower temperature lets the cookies bake through before the edges get hard or overbrown.

  • Help cookies keep their shape. Chill the dough for an hour or two before forming the cookies. Or, you can make the dough way ahead of time before you plan to bake the cookies; just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil (to prevent odor absorption) and freeze; then, let the dough thaw in the fridge until you're ready to form and bake the cookies.

  • Substitute solid shortening for some of the butter if your cookies are thin and flat and you want thicker cookies.

  • Use finely ground flours. Cookies don’t have a lot of ingredients, and using a fine flour helps prevent grittiness.

  • Use parchment paper, plastic wrap, or waxed paper to roll out the dough. Gluten-free doughs are stickier than wheat-based doughs, so these products help you shape cookies with less fuss and mess.

  • Make sure the cookie sheet is completely cool before you add another batch of cookie dough. Warm cookie sheets make the dough spread before it even gets into the oven, which weakens the structure.

Deciding between crisp and chewy gluten-free cookies

Cookies come in two basic types: crisp and chewy. Everyone has his favorite type, and each type of cookie should have a certain texture. How do you make a chewy cookie? And what ingredients make a cookie crisp?

Chewy cookies

To make a chewy cookie, your dough needs more moisture. More high-protein flour, eggs, and sugar help keep a cookie chewy. For chewy cookies, follow these rules:

  • Solid shortening makes a chewier, thicker cookie. This type of fat doesn’t spread as much as the cookie bakes.

  • Chewy cookies have more moisture in the batter or dough.

  • More eggs typically means the cookie will be chewy. Add an egg yolk to add more fat to the dough; this helps make the cookies chewy.

  • Use brown sugar. This sugar has more moisture than granulated sugar, so the cookies will be chewier.

  • Use flour with a high protein content. Because you don’t have to worry about gluten developing in these cookies, more protein makes the cookie structure stronger.

  • Underbake the cookies a little bit. They should still be done, but less baking makes a chewier cookie.

Crisp cookies

Crisp cookies have less liquid and more fat. To make a crisp cookie, follow these rules:

  • Use butter or margarine. These fats spread more in the oven, allowing more moisture evaporation, which makes the cookies crisper.

  • Choose low-protein flours. They make the cookies spread out more as they bake, which makes them crisper.

  • Use less liquid. Crisp cookies shouldn’t have much, if any, liquid.

  • Use granulated sugar rather than brown sugar for crisp cookies.

  • For crisp roll-out cookies, refrigerate the cookies right on the cookie sheet before you bake them.

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The Essentials of Gluten-Free Baking Tips and Tricks

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