Whenever I cook for my family, I tend to disregard recipes. Not to thumb my nose at cookbooks, but I cook from my heart when I’m surrounded by my family, especially when I’m making cookies with my niece.

nieceMaking cookies in my family is never a one shot deal, mainly due to dietary restrictions. As you may know, I am gluten intolerant, my niece and nephew are both allergic to peanuts (and one to tree nuts too), and my father is diabetic. I have had years of experience working around all of these restrictions, and lots of professional pastry experience as well. It’s hard to make something that all of us can eat that doesn’t taste like a cardboard box (I’ve made a few of those too!) but I have mastered the gluten free, sugar free, nut free, and peanut free cookie. But if someone develops an egg allergy, I’m out!

My mother recently attempted to make sugar free cookies for my father with my niece. I got a lengthy text from my mom wondering what went wrong. No one would eat the cookies, including the kids! We went back and forth about what could have went wrong, when I finally asked what she used for sugar. “I used the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag” says my mom, but she substituted Splenda for the sugar, thinking that this was all I did. As she found out the hard way, this is not the case. Splenda is a great ingredient for sugar free cooking and baking, but I always do some “tinkering” with the recipes.

cookiesSo, how do I know what I’m doing? Other than my experience, I don’t always! I have made a lot of mistakes, and I’m sure to make many more. That cake recipe that your Grandma gave you is the result of someone making lots of mistakes to get to that perfect recipe. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes that one day could be family masterpieces.

What kind of allergen-free recipes would you like to see in upcoming baking classes at The Chopping Block? Let me know how I can help here.

Read more: Rethinking Dietary Restrictions