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On May 25th, Katie Chandler (her real name is M Night Shamalam) challenged me to make a gluten-free version of my Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I decided to approach this in the most "science-y" way I could think of. I kept everything exactly the same and just told her that the cookies were gluten-free. Ha! Actually, if I had thought of it at the time, I probably would have done just that.

"Here you go, gluten-free!" I could have said.

"Wow, these are awesome, but somehow I'm getting all the gluten symptoms. How strange, I wonder if I've been attributing my allergy to the wrong thing this whole time?" she would have mused.

GlutenFreeCookies1That would have been fun. Oh well.

Instead, I took my recipe (well, it's everyone's recipe) and checked through all the ingredients. Turns out that All Purpose Flour includes gluten. Maybe that's why so many Facebookers are so opposed to using it? The chocolate chips don't have gluten. In fact, I found a lot of angry posts about gluten-free chocolate. Many find the concept of gluten in chocolate to be ludicrous; others point out that those first people can "suck it vigorously" (they didn't say which "it"). Some recipes online mention that you have to get "gluten-free vanilla," but my vanilla says right on it "A Gluten-Free Food." Where is this flour-y vanilla?

The big culprit is the flour. Apparently, tagging food as gluten-free is the latest thing. It's like tagging something as organic. I've had some exposure to organic marketing, and when something reads "Organic," the only safe conclusion to draw is that it has the word "Organic" printed on it. With "Gluten-Free" I think they just want to get on the bandwagon. So even if the food would never be expected to have gluten, they know they can grab some eyeballs with a "Gluten-Free" somewhere on the package.

I cruised the baking supplies aisle, looking for a suitable replacement, and happened upon gluten-free Bisquick. Actually, they call it "Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix, Gluten Free." Makes me wonder: have I been hyphenating gluten-free all this time for no reason? I don't think so; I think they're wrong to not hyphenate. If you swap it around, you'll see what I mean: "Gluten Free Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix." The "Gluten Free," "Bisquick," and "Pancake and Baking," all describe the "Mix." What kind of mix is it? It's a "Pancake and Baking" mix. It's a "Bisquick" mix. It's also a gluten-free mix, but it's not a "Gluten" mix or a "Free" mix, so those two need to be combined with the hyphen so you know that they should be taken as a pair.

With that mystery solved, I took the box of mix to the checkout. We don't have self-serve checkout in my store, so I had the opportunity to show the clerk where the missing hyphenGlutenFreeCookies2 should have been.

Here's what I intended to do: make batch-after-batch of gluten-free cookies, altering thing at a time, until I discovered a good gluten-free recipe. My plans were dashed after my first attempt. They turned out perfectly acceptable by just replacing flour with "Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix, Gluten Free." I didn't have to change anything else. In fact, one sixteen-ounce box turned out to be the exact amount needed for one batch. Crazy convenient. The texture isn't precisely the same, but I'm not sure you'll get any closer without dreaded gluten. Here's a link to gluten-free Bisquick on the intersweb.