Just pass the (gluten-free chocolate chip) cookies

I’ve been trying to put together a cookbook.  It seemed like an appropriate swan song from my decade of running a kitchen store and teaching cooking classes, but it has turned out to be not so easy.  Health problems and the related medically-directed dietary solutions radically altered how I cook and, frankly, took the wind out of my culinary sails.  It took me a couple years to adjust to my new way of cooking and eating, and it was not an easy or happy transition.  Friends – and a few local restaurants – will attest to my whining as I grappled with accepting my new normal.  I lamented my fate not too long ago, dreaming of resurrecting my foodie life.

Honestly, I think that ship has sailed.  While I have learned how to cook for myself in this new way over the course of the last six years, and have occasionally cooked for friends, I don’t know if there will be a cookbook.  I left the business over 2 years ago and I have already redirected my energy to matters of sociological inquiry and social justice.  I don’t know that I can divert enough energy back to food to churn out a book.  I want to, but I just don’t see it happening.

I confess that I often eat just to survive now, concerned more with getting the nutrition I need for my health and fueling my body than with actually enjoying the food.  I’ve lost that loving feeling.  Still, every once in a while, something I make is really good and deserves to be shared.  Then it occurred to me:  Why put all that pressure on myself to write a cookbook when I can just share those exceptional things on my blog?

Like these cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies, even in the days before my gluten sensitivity, were not my favorite.  I can appreciate a thin cookie with crispy edges and a chewy center like the classic back-of-the-chip-bag variety, but I never craved them.  I prefer something a bit more substantial.  For several years after having to alter my diet, there were no good gluten-free baked goods.  Relying mostly on rice or nut flours, the texture was never right.  Now, with the availability of several really great blended flours, it is possible to swap gluten-free flours for all-purpose wheat flour in a recipe and get a very similar result.  Yay!

About those flours:  There are only two gluten-free all-purpose flours that I use because I cannot have some of the ingredients in others.  For this recipe, I used King Arthur Measure-for-Measure Gluten Free Flour blend, and my experience says that you can use the Namaste brand with a similar result.  I don’t know how they will turn out with Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour, which contains ground legumes, but they would probably be fine.  Oh, and you can make these with wheat flour, too, if you are not gluten intolerant.  I also use lactose-free butter, which is another thing that didn’t exist when my journey with health issues began.  Regular butter is fine.

These gluten-free cookies manage to have that crisp edge while being more toothsome than a traditional chocolate chip.  I added some pine nuts to the batch I made recently, but nuts are completely optional.  Add some dried cranberries and walnuts if that’s your thing or go basic – they are good no matter what!

Oh, and if you don’t tell people they are gluten-free, they will never know.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 8 ounces unsalted, lactose-free butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups turbinado sugar, brown sugar, or sucanat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Measure-for Measure Gluten Free Flour
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces nuts, optional

Beat the butter and both sugars for 3 minutes with a stand mixer on medium-high or hand mixer on high (some grains of sugar will not be fully dissolved).  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl every minute.  Add the vanilla and eggs and beat for 2 more minutes (some of the sugar may still not be fully dissolved, but the color of the batter will become noticeably lighter).  Scrape down the bowl and add the salt and baking soda and beat briefly to combine.  Add the flour and chocolate (and nuts, if using) and mix on low speed until the flour is completely blended and the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the now-stiff dough.

Note:  The dough can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated at this point for up to 5 days or frozen for a month or so.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and set a rack in the middle position.  Line a standard half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper or a Silpat.  Use a #30 scoop with a wire sweep to get perfect looking cookies, scraping up the side of the bowl to pack and level off the dough in the scoop (this is about 2 tablespoons, which you could approximate with a heaping measured tablespoon if you don’t have a scoop).  Place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet (4 across and 6 down on a standard half-sheet pan).  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container for several days…if they last!  Makes about 2 dozen.

Variation:  Reduce flour by ¼ cup for a thinner, crispier cookie, and leave more space between cookies on the baking sheet.

 

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