These amazingly chewy vanilla gluten free cake mix cookies are made with just 4 ingredients. And they're not even cake-like at all!
What's the difference between a cake and cookies?
Most baked goods have very similar ingredients, namely butter/oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla for wet ingredients and flour, baking powder/soda, and salt for dry ingredients. If you'd like to make something chocolate flavored, there will almost certainly be some unsweetened cocoa powder added—and some of the butter or oil may be replaced with melted chocolate.
So what makes one recipe into a cake and another into a cookie? The balance of these basic ingredients is typically what makes the difference. Plus, a cake will have added liquid like milk or water, and the cookies won't.
Why start with a cake mix?
During the holiday season, I make many, many dozens of cookies. But cookies are by far the easiest dessert to throw together when someone's had a bad day and needs a pick-me-up. Starting with a cake mix means that I can have cookies baked in less than 10 minutes longer than the time it takes for them to bake in the oven.
In my second cookbook, Gluten Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy, I have a whole chapter on make-your-own baking mixes. I promise I understand that the whole point of purchasing a ready-made cake mix is the convenience, though!
But it can be difficult to find a really good quality boxed gluten free cake mix, mostly because the flours tend to be gritty and the blends unbalanced (the same issue with most ready-made and available all purpose gluten free flour blends). But if you have one that you love, use that! Just make sure that it's a full 16 ounces of mix.
What other cookies can you make from a cake mix?
You can make almost any flavor of drop cookie from a cake mix. If you'd like to make chocolate cookies, you'll start with a chocolate cake mix. I haven't tried this particular recipe with a chocolate cake mix, but I bet it would work well.
My first cookie made from a cake mix is these cheesecake cookies, and they remain one of my favorite cookies of all time. With a few other tweaks, I was able to make those into chocolate cheesecake cookies, too.
Most cake mix cookies are, well, cakey since they begin with a cake mix—and a cake mix tends to have a fair amount of chemical leavener in it. But these cookies have just the right amount of butter and eggs added. Bake them just right (not too long!) and you've got perfectly chewy cookies—in 15 minutes flat. ⏱
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: The vanilla cake mix that forms the base of these cake mix cookies contains dairy in the form of buttermilk powder. If you need to be dairy-free, I have had success replacing that powder with finely ground blanched almond flour in an equal amount, by weight.
To replace the butter in this recipe, I'd try half Earth Balance buttery sticks and half Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. The miniature M&Ms contain dairy, but could easily be replaced by another dairy-free mix-in, like Enjoy Life miniature chocolate chips.
Most varieties (including plain and mini) of M&Ms are gluten free in the U.S. If they're not gluten free where you live, try using any other mix-in you like. Chocolate chips (regular or mini) would be great.
Egg-free: I haven't tried replacing the eggs in this recipe, but since there are only 2 eggs you can try replacing each with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon finely ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). Since this is such a simple recipe, though, I'm not sure how well it would work.
Vanilla Cake Mix Cookies
1 (16-ounce) box gluten-free yellow cake mix, or 1 recipe Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs (100 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 cup (6 ounces) M&Ms minis (or an equal amount, by weight, regular M&Ms)*
*Most varieties (including plain and mini) of M&Ms are gluten free in the U.S. If they’re not gluten free where you live, try using any other mix-in you like. Chocolate chips (regular or mini) would be great.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the cake mix and whisk to break up any lumps. Add the butter and eggs, mixing well after each addition. The dough will be thick. Add the M&Ms, and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout, handling as little as possible so the colors don’t run.
Drop the dough by rounded teaspoon on the prepared baking sheet (a #50 cookie scoop works perfectly), 2 inches apart. With wet fingers, press each piece of cookie dough into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Place the cookies in the center of the oven and bake until lightly browned on the underside and edges, about 9 minutes. Allow to cool until set on the baking sheet until firm. They will flatten as they cool.
Originally published in 2o12. Recipe unchanged, photos, video and much of the text is new.