This blog series, Make It … or Buy It?, is designed to help you get the most out of my new cookbook, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy. In the book, one of the ways we get to quick & easy is to make strategic use some of the most useful packaged gluten-free products. But it can be confusing, trying to decide what is worth your time, what is worth your money, and sometimes what is worth some of both.
So you can catch up, here is the first installment in the Make It Or Buy It blog series: corn tortillas. That’s where I set out what this blog series is, how it works, what the criteria are for judging both the homemade version and the packaged store-bought version of some of our favorite and most useful gluten-free foods.
Today’s test subject is Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies. I chose these cookies in this week before Thanksgiving since ground gingersnaps make a fabulous pie crust. If you already have a favorite recipe for pumpkin pie, and you just need some ground gluten-free cookies for the crust, just swap in either the store-bought or homemade version of these cookies and bake on.
The Homemade Version
These homemade gingersnap cookies are made from my recipe for Gluten-Free Gingerbread Men. Instead of rolling out the cookie dough, divide it into 75 to 80 pieces (each about 1 1/4 teaspoons), roll each piece into a ball with wet hands, chill well and then bake at 325°F for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch. They will crisp as they cool.
This homemade version isn’t as inexpensive as most cookies, to be honest, since some of the ingredients (like ground ginger, honey, and molasses) are actually more spendy than gluten-free flour, if you can believe it. But, still, the cost shakes out to be 5¢ per cookie, as compared to MI-DEL’s 10¢ per cookie. But of course, you do have to make them yourself. If you are only looking to make crispy cookies to grind up for a crust, instead of dividing the cookies and rolling them out individually, roll them into a 1-inch log, chill the log until very firm, then slice and bake. They won’t be as pretty, but it doesn’t matter when you’re just in it for the crumbs. You clearly can’t beat the taste and quality of freshly homemade cookies, and forgive my immodesty but this recipe is pitch perfect. Not too spicy, not too sweet – just the right bit of each. And one bowl, a few spoons and you’ve got the dough. With ingredients you almost certainly already have in your pantry.
The Store-Bought Version
Of course the best thing about the MI-DEL cookies … is that you don’t have to do any of that mixing and dividing and rolling and baking. You can just pick ’em up at the store. I gave them an 8.5 for ease, since you really can’t find these absolutely everywhere. At least I can’t, and I live in a major metro area. I almost always find them at Whole Foods and other specialty markets like my local organic-type overpriced-style market, but I don’t recall ever finding them in the regular grocery store. The quality & taste of MI-DEL are actually quite good. They have a bit of an aftertaste that I don’t love, but I don’t think it’s anything that screams “bad gluten-free,” ifyouknowwhatImean. Since they pack them in a bag, rather than in sleeves, many of the cookies are broken. If you need them to be pretty and decorative, these are not the cookies for you. But if you are just looking to give them a spin in the food processor so you can add some butter and press them into a pie crust, these are great. FYI, you’ll need more than 1 bag for a robust pie crust.
I chose MI-DEL because they are well-priced, pretty widely available, and quite good. We are lucky enough to have a relatively crowded gluten-free marketplace these days. I figure, let’s make use of the best of it.
My Make It … Or Buy It? GF Gingersnap Cookies Conclusion
BOTH. Make it & buy it. Make it most of the time, since it’s easy and 1 recipe makes a ton of cookies. It’s cheap, the recipe doesn’t use fancy ingredients, and although the savings are modest, they’ll add up over time if you’re eating these cookies often. And drop cookies are seriously one of the easiest things in the world to make. Buy it when you’re in a pinch, you know you have to make a quick pie crust, you happen to see these cookies in the store and you don’t have time to add an extra step to your already crowded day.
Again, if there is a particular product you’d like to see in this series, let me know! I really think this will be a useful tool, to help you save money and shop smart.
P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of both of My Cookbooks! I can’t keep the blog going without your support!