Photo: ThinkstockBy Kate Rockwood
Gluten-free cookies can be downright disgusting--crumbly, pasty, smelling faintly of beans--but they can also be delicious. To separate from the so-so from the oh-so-tasty, we selflessly sampled more than 70 varieties to bring you our favorites.
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Best Chocolate Chip: Get Fresh Bakehouse Chocolate Chip
When Jeff Robbin's daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, he decided to try his hand at gluten-free baking. After three years of research, his New Jersey team fired up its ovens and started cranking out batches of hefty cookies in flavors like Butterscotch Walnut and Oatmeal Plus (with white-chocolate chips, walnuts and dried cranberries). The classic chocolate chip--huge hunks of chocolate laced through buttery, sweet dough--was a runaway winner in our taste test.
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Best Oatmeal: Whole Foods Nutmeal Raisin
Imagine the flavors of an oatmeal-raisin cookie--brown sugar, chewy raisins, almonds and cinnamon--minus the actual oats. We were suspect at first, too, but Whole Foods pulls it off with these dense, fist-sized sweets that are safe for people who avoid oats in their diet. The grocery chain offers a line of 30-plus baked goods out of its dedicated gluten-free bakehouse in North Carolina, but our testers fell hard for these ("scrumptious," "addictive") cookies.
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Best Peanut Butter: Pamela's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
The bad news: These delicate cookies crumble easily (nearly half our box was broken into bits). The good news: The rich peanut butter and dark chocolate that make these cookies so delightfully delicious when whole also make them a tasty topping for ice cream when broken. Fans can thank Pamela's decades of her training; she learned how to bake while working in her family's shop as a girl.
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Best Shortbread: Amy's Almond Shortbread
Long a frozen-entree and pizza staple for gluten-free diets, Amy's introduced a line of saucer-sized shortbread cookies this spring, including chocolate-chip, almond and classic. The rich, nutty taste and bits of nut in the almond option had our testers coming back for seconds and thirds, easily trumping other entrants.
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Best Sandwich: Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme
"Wait, Oreos aren't gluten-free, are they?" Nope, they aren't (the ingredients list "enriched flour," which includes wheat), but these cookies--creamy vanilla filling sandwiched between crisp chocolate wafers--are just as worthy of a dunk in a cold glass of milk. They won points for being "not too sweet" and "durable--they don't crumble when I twist the tops off!" Glutino, which has been baking up gluten-free cookies for nearly 30 years, also makes a vanilla sandwich variety.
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Best Ginger Snap: Lucy's Ginger Snap
When her child developed severe food allergies, Lucy Gibney, emergency medicine MD, hunkered down in the kitchen and developed a line of cookies that are free of gluten, milk, nuts and eggs. The subtle flavor and crunchy, airy texture of the ginger snaps won over our tasters. Bonus: You can buy them in snack-sized bags for grab-and-go eating.
--with additional reporting by Julia Ryan
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