It May Be the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie…and It’s Gluten-Free (Let the Gluten Go #10)

How food, diet, and dieting affected my writing and my life.  And maybe effects yours…

How are you holding up?  Have you found stir-frys packed by your local grocery to make up quickly?  They’re great with some whole grain rice and say, sliced up chicken or temph.  Pre-packed hummus and other dips can also be a quick dinner, when it’s not too cold.  Or make your own veggie soup – if you’re not a vegetarian, you can buy Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth to use as the base.  Their stocks are gluten-free (but a couple may have potatoes, so read carefully, macrobiotic folk!)

Today I thought we deserve a reward, so I’ve been messing around with a chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Because something has to fill this niche – you gotta have a warm chocolate chip cookie occasionally.  It’s just obligatory.

Like most bakers, I have to play with the recipe – within limits.  Baking is a science, remember, and if you use an extra egg in your brownies, they will be more cake-like, and if you substitute potato starch for wheat flour, you are not going to get what you think you’re going to get because potato starch is a LOT heavier than wheat flour, or even corn starch.  It’s not po-tay-to=po-ta-to.

(Janice Mansfield over at Real Food Made Easy made a great chart of GF flour and starch equivalents.  She freely shares it, and I highly recommend you download it and tape it where you can see it!)

There are many sites out there having fun with gluten-free baking and cooking, but we’re going to start off with one particular site, Gluten-free Girl and the Chef.  It’s the brainchild of Shauna James Ahern, who discovered that she should be eating gluten-free back in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since.  She’s loving the food that loves her and found a new career, a wonderful guy who loves to cook her GF meals (the chef) and a sweet toddler who inspires her to find the fun in food.  She’s got three books out, Gluten-Free GirlGluten-Free Girl and the Chef, and Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, and I recommend them all.  The bread recipe in her second cookbook is great, and I can’t wait to try the pizza dough/cracker recipe!

My original plan was to have links to the 36 hour chocolate chip recipe, and to the site that inspired Shauna to make a great GF chocolate chip cookie (David Leite’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, which he adapted from a recipe by Jacques Torres) and then a box explaining what I changed and why.  Sort of a great chain of recipes to enjoy.  Shauna used to have a great list of other GF sites on her web site, but she moved the site.  Recipes are coming back slowly.  Her 36 Hour CC cookie recipe was from before she began measuring flours in grams, which is a more accurate way to bake.

So – For your convenience, I am going to put up her recipe.  But I highly recommend checking out her site.  She can teach you how to cook almost anything gluten free–truly.  I am also going to put up the Ahern 2010 Holiday Baking Mix, with my favorite macrobiotic substitutions in (  ) next to the various potato ingredients.  I have used the original recipe, with a crazy substitute because I had it and didn’t know about the 60-40 rule (That’s 60% starches and 40% grain flours.)  It turned out pretty good, but when I tried it again with a mix of two other flours?  Cookies that were cake-y.  Still good, but much thicker cookies.  If you want a cookie that tastes more like a toll house cookie?  Use the Ahern’s 2010 Holiday mix, which is also below.  The amount mixed up will give you four cups for the cookie recipe, and some left over for another GF baking project.

Because you need these cookies.  And if you need a cool dessert for another occasion, something a little fancier? She’s got her recipe for Mexican Wedding Cakes already up.  So – go over and take a look.  Go just for the new whole grain pizza dough!

Shauna James Ahern’s 36 Hour Chocolate Chip Cookies

(And if you’ve been wondering about that time requirement?  Gluten-free flours and starches need time to meld together.   These cookies are worth waiting for – I’ve even had a friend thank me for making them.  She hadn’t wanted to wait that long, but after tasting the cookies?  She’s gonna make them.  Don’t wait longer than 48 hours, or the dough is on its way to something else.  Still good, in my experience, but not quite so traditional.)

Shauna’s report:

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup potato starch (I used brown rice flour once, which was good – but more hippie-ish.  Half brown rice flour and half sweet rice flour, left a day too long in the fridge, is on its way to mochi…. I recommend a  mix of half corn starch, half arrowroot starch here.)
1 cup amaranth flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened  (I can use butter, which is a fat.  You may wish to substitute a vegan shortening here.)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (we used bakers’ sugar, which is extra fine)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces Dagoba chocodrops  (I tend to use 12-14 oz, because this is a VERY rich cookie)
sea salt

Sifting the dry ingredients. Sift each of the four flours, individually, into a medium-sized bowl. Add the xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir well (I like to use a whisk, to sift again, in a way). Set aside.  (Whisking is important!  Strongly encouraged!)

Mixing the wet ingredients. Put the soft butter and the sugars into a stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, mix them well, until they are just combined, and then 1 minute more. (Do not over-cream, however, because this could lead to spreading in the baking stage.) Add the eggs, 1 at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Pour in the vanilla extract and mix for a beat.

Finishing the cookie dough.
Sift the dry ingredients into the batter, about 1/2 cup at a time, and then mixing. When the all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, add the chocolate pieces and mix for just a moment. You don’t want broken chocolate here.

Refrigerating. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put it in your refrigerator. You might want to shove it to the back and arrange even more enticing foods in front of it, because you shouldn’t touch the dough for 36 hours. Really.

Preparing to bake. 36 hours later (or as long as you could stand it), pull the dough from the refrigerator. Uncover it. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.

Baking the cookies. Scoop generous balls of dough from the bowl. (You can determine the size for yourself. David suggested they be the size of large golf balls. Or you can weigh them at 3 1/2 ounces each. Mine were the size of the indentation of the palm of my hand, but I could still lightly wrap my fingers around the ball.) Place 6 of them onto the baking sheet. Poke any errant chocolate pieces into the dough. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with the sea salt.

(If you make these smaller than 2.5 oz. they will be more crisp than soft.  Still good — but this recipe is designed for big cookies, not small ones.)

Bake the cookies about 18 minutes, or until the tops have turned golden brown. The middles should still be somewhat soft, however. Take the baking sheet out of the oven. Allow the baking sheet to sit on the counter for 10 minutes. Transfer the cooling cookies onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool for a few more moments.

Eat warm chocolate chip cookies and feel grateful. Why not?

Makes 1 to 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies, depending on the size you make.”

The Ahern 2010 Holiday Baking Mix

Shauna & Danny are constantly tinkering with their all-purpose baking mix.  This was their 2010 mix.  But this is a good one.  My substitutions are in  (  ) next to the potato ingredients.  This mix made great chocolate chip cookies.  Just use four cups of this instead of the flours above.

200 grams superfine brown rice flour
150 grams sorghum flour
50 grams potato flour (millet flour)
250 grams sweet rice flour
150 grams potato starch (tapioca starch/fine flour)
100 grams arrowroot powder
100 grams cornstarch

That’s it.  You are now armed with a wonderful, working GF chocolate chip cookie recipe.  For absolute full-proof, buy the ingredients from Bob’s Red Mill, use the Ahern holiday baking mix, and go for it.  Use the best chocolate you can afford – it makes a difference.  Dagoba was gluten-free, the last time I checked.

Those of you caught in winter storms – stay warm and lay in some GF flours, so you can be ready!  Gluten-free baking can be fun – and glorious.

Go for it.  And truck over to Gluten-Free Girl DOT com, because there is goodness waiting for you.

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Cat Kimbriel is a fantasy and science fiction writer with a practical streak, a passion for great characters, and a focus on justice and compassion. Her current ebooks can be found over here.

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