…(Or a how to make perfect chocolate chip cookies)
Chocolate chip cookies are great conversation starters. People are passionate about them. Some folks like ‘em crispy, others chewy, then there’s the whole “with nuts or without” debate. And don’t even get people started on their feelings about raisins in chocolate chip cookies. (I’m firmly in the no raisins camp.)
For me, as long as the chocolate chip cookie is gluten, nut, and raisin-free, I’m happy. Which is why I wanted to share two recipes with you today. One for a classic “Toll House”-style chocolate chip cookie and another for a whole-grain, vegan cookie.
Both are simple to make and satisfy the cravings only a chocolate chip cookie will cure.
How to Make Traditional Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- As you might imagine, this recipe begins with butter and sugar–a blend of dark brown and granulated. (If you’re dairy-free, replace the butter with a solid dairy-free replacement.) In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until a thick paste forms. This is key. When butter and sugar are over-mixed, the mixture acts as a levener because of the trapped air bubbles in the butter. Too much levener in a cookie equals cookies that spread. And we don’t want that!
- Then add room temperature eggs one at a time. If eggs are added too quickly, the lovely emulsion of butter and sugar can “break.” You know this has happened if the mixture looks curdled. The good news? Adding the eggs one at a time and mixing well between each addition prevents the mixture from breaking. It’s also a good idea to stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Often that thick butter-sugar mixture clings to the bowl and doesn’t incorporate correctly into the batter. When baked, butter can leak from the cookies if it hasn’t been incorporated correctly.
- Once you’ve added the butter, sugar, and eggs, the hard work is done. Stop the mixer and add the gluten-free flour mixture. Mix until a dough forms–you don’t need to worry about over mixing gluten-free dough. Since it lacks gluten, it won’t get tough. To prevent the chocolate chips from breaking up, I like to stir them in by hand with a wooden spoon.
- If you’re ready for cookies, drop the dough, using a cookie scoop, onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake. Or you could save the dough for later, creating either homemade “slice and bake” or “drop and bake” cookies.
For slice and bake cookies:
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log on a lightly white rice floured countertop. Wrap the log with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze for up to four weeks or refrigerate for three days. When you’re ready for cookies, simply remove the wraps from the cookie log, slice, and bake. You don’t need to allow the dough to reach room temperature before baking.
If you aren’t a slice-and-bake type of guy or gal, make drop and bake cookies.
(This option allows you to make only a few cookies at a time.)
Drop the cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. It’s okay if you nestle the cookie dough balls together. You won’t bake the cookies on this sheet. Put the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze the dough balls until firm. Transfer frozen dough balls to a freezer bag or container. When you want chocolate chip cookies, grab a few cookie balls, place on a prepared baking sheet and bake. That’s it! Cookies in no time.
How to Make Allergen-friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Since chocolate chip cookies really are a house built on butter and eggs, I worked hard to create an allergen-friendly recipe that tasted rich and “buttery” without actually containing dairy.
- After testing several batches with liquid oil, I realized that I missed the crisp mouthfeel that a solid fat provides. So I tried a batch with Spectrum shortening. It worked! I tried another with coconut oil. Again, success! I like to call this a “little big thing.” Simply swapping a liquid fat for a solid fat made a huge difference.
- The eggs were easier to replace. I looked to my favorite egg-replacer, a mixture of ground flax meal and hot water. Flax, like egg yolks, contains lecithin, and works as an emulsifier, helping to hold the shortening-sugar-flax mixture together. Surprisingly, the consistency of the flax mixture (kind of) resembles whisked eggs. After standing for a few minutes, it becomes viscous. And that’s a good thing!
- As with traditional chocolate chip cookies, you cream the dairy-free/soy-free shortening with sugars (dark brown and turbinado) until a thick paste forms. Then, add the flax mixture. Unlike adding eggs, you don’t need to worry about the shortening-sugar mixture breaking. Go ahead and add all the flax at once. Once it’s incorporated, stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- The rest of the process follows that of traditional chocolate chip cookies. Add the flour mixture and blend until a thick dough forms and then stir in the chocolate chips.
You can create slice and bake and/or “drop and bake” cookies with this recipe. (see above for information on how to do this.) However, this dough tends to dry out over time. This doesn’t affect the taste; it does however, change the texture. When the dough ages for a few days, either in the refrigerator or freezer, the finished cookies are less gritty but don’t spread as well as they do when they are freshly mixed. I’m ok with the texture. If you prefer a cookie that spread a little, don’t age the dough. If you don’t mind if your cookies baking up into cute little mounds, aging the dough if just fine.
Both recipes welcome change. Consider using the whole grain flour blend in the traditional cookie recipe or the white flour blend in the allergen-friendly cookies (if your diet can handle corn). For the sugar, you can replace the granulated sugar in the traditional recipe with either additional dark brown sugar, turbinado sugar, or even maple sugar. A liquid sweetener, like honey or agave does not work well in the recipe.
Of course, traditional mix-ins, like chopped nuts, coconut, and dried fruit work well. Use about one cup total of an additional mix-in. Now if you add raisins….well, enjoy them but don’t tell me.
RECIPE: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
(From Elizabeth Barbone’s Easy Gluten-Free Baking (Lake Isle Press, 2009) Shared with permission.
- 5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) white rice flour
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup) sweet rice flour
- 1 ounces (1/4 cup) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1. 75 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
- 1 (12 ounce) bag gluten-free chocolate chips
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together white rice flour, sweet rice flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In large bowl or bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until a thick paste forms, about one minute. (Use high speed on a handheld mixer or medium-high speed on a stand mixer.) Add eggs, one at a time. Be sure to mix well between each addition. Stop mixer. Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl.
4. Add dry ingredients and vanilla. Mix until a dough forms. Using a wooden spoon, stir in chocolate chips until thoroughly incorporated. Chill dough for 15 minutes.
5. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. . Remove cookies from the oven. Allow to cool on the pan for two minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes about 36 cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container or freeze.
RECIPE: Whole-Grain Allergen-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 3 tablespoons ground flax meal
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) sorghum flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup soy-free shortening or coconut oil
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar
- 3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) turbinado sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (12 ounce) bag vegan and/or allergen-free chocolate chips
1. Center oven racks in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In small bowl, whisk together ground flax and hot water. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, whisk together sorghum flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment(or large bowl), cream together shortening and sugars on medium high speed. Cream until a thick paste forms, about 30 seconds. Add flax mixture and vanilla. Cream until mixture is light and fluffy, about 45 seconds.
5. Stop mixer and scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Add dry ingredients. Turn mixer on to medium speed. Mix until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn off mixer and add chocolate chips. Turn mixer on to low speed. Mix until chips are combined, about 15 seconds.
6. Drop dough, about one tablespoon each, onto prepared baking sheet, about two inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown and aromatic, about 14 minutes.
7. Remove pan from oven and allow cookies to cool on pan for two minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
Store cookies in an airtight container for up to four days. Makes about two dozen cookies