|Crunchy outside, chewy inside, gluten-free vegan chocolate cookies.|
I have a new cookie recipe to share today. A cocoa infused cookie studded with semi-sweet chocolate chips. A cookie that tastes like a brownie- if a brownie was slightly crispy and crunchy on the outside, and chewy soft on the inside. You could say, it's a brownie with a cookie texture.
Texture is a big deal in gluten-free baking.
It's no secret that giving gluten the boot also means giving texture, stretch, and structure the old heave-ho, right along with it. First timers bite into gluten-free goodies and pause. They chew. Their eyes widen and dart to the side as they search for a word to describe exactly what it is they are chewing.
The word most often used to describe something gluten-free? Gummy. Or worse. Cardboard. Attributes one does not necessarily associate with pleasure. With nourishment. With flavor.
Which is why I am here.
It was nearly
Our love affair had been a passionate, tumultuous ride. Thrilling and deliciously seductive. From twirling garlic laden Italian pasta to rustic bread baking, we had nurtured a decades long love affair. Four and a half decades, in fact. And I'm not embarrassed to admit, I was deep into it. Head over heels. And dizzy in denial. Until symptoms could no longer be ignored.
And it turned out I felt better without gluten. Not just better. Transformed.
So I bought a gluten-free cookbook and started baking (and no offense to the wonderful woman who was- literally- a gluten-free pioneer and wrote several best selling gluten-free cookbooks, but). I determined quite quickly that rice flour and starches do not a gourmet treat make.
Truth is, ten years ago, baking gluten-free meant using rice flour and starches. We didn't have the higher protein, whole grain choices we have today. Oh, they were there, lurking. Buckwheat flour and almond meal have long, delicious traditions in the old country (I loved the cookbook Fabulous and Flourless). But packaged blends and gluten-free mixes favored cheaper rice flour and starches (and even today, most g-free mixes rely on this old school stand-by, with predictably gummy results). So the cardboard moniker stuck. And me?
My hopes for baking without gluten deflated like a sad little souffle.
Until Bob's Red Mill brought us whole grain gluten-free grains. Grains with protein and fiber. Grains with nutrition. Grains with flavor. And yes- texture! Milled with artisan care in a gluten-free facility. And no, this is not a sponsored endorsement. This is personal. By now you should know I'm not the kind of blogger who can be seduced by a coupon offer. Or a free t-shirt. I've been doing this awhile.
I have an opinion.
An informed opinion. Based on nine-plus years of gluten-free baking.
Which ought to be worth more than a coupon or a sample.
So I tell it like it is.
Readers sometimes ask me for recipe substitutions. These can be grouped into a handful of popular themes:
- I use too many different flours- they want to use one.
- I use buckwheat flour- they wouldn't touch buckwheat flour like they wouldn't wear Crocs.
- I use sorghum flour- they can't find sorghum flour (for that, I am truly, sympathetically sorry!).
- I use almond meal or coconut flour (fabulous protein and fiber)- and they are allergic (once again, profoundly sorry!).
So they sub. They use rice flour and starches in my recipes. And return to tell me the texture is gummy. Or as dense as cardboard. Exactly. Flour choices matter. And so does execution. So I thought I'd address this today, and offer some quick, short advice on gluten-free baking- and substitutions.
Gluten-free baking is more of an art than a science.
What this means- there is no one perfect, preset formula for a recipe. Why?
There is weather, Bubela. There is humidity. Winter heat dryness. There is how you store your flours (in the humid fridge- or in the cupboard next to the stove?). Dampish flours need less liquid added. There is temperature. The temperature of the ingredients themselves. The ambient temperature of your kitchen (is it drafty and damp, or hot and humid, or do you use air conditioning?). And then, perhaps the most influential of all, there is the temperature of your oven (which, surprisingly, can vary, especially for those of us using cheap stoves in rental apartments). Which is why I recommend using an oven thermometer. Temperature influences baking time.
With gluten-free baking, the relationship of dry ingredients to wet is crucial. Even two tablespoons more/or less liquid can make the difference between a gummy center, and a fluffy crumb. Here's what I do- I add my liquid to the whisked dry ingredients slowly, a little at a time, and beat until it comes to the right consistency. Don't dump all the liquid in at once. Sometimes you need a tablespoon less liquid. Sometimes, a few tablespoons more.
How to judge the right consistency?
Intuition and experience helps. But in general, cake and cupcake batters are slightly thicker than wheat based cake batters. You're not looking for thin ribbons of batter like the old days. I find the best gluten-free cake batters tip toward a muffin batter consistency.
Bread dough and pizza dough is more like muffin batter.
Cookie dough is stiff and sturdy and a wee bit sticky (except in a cut-out recipe, which needs to be more pliable).
For baking substitution help (because of course, I know how hard it is to bake gluten-free with allergies- you know I love you, my multi-allergic sisters and brothers, I'm one of you!) please use my post on Baking Substitutions and Help as a guide to subbing problematic ingredients in my recipes.
And for vegans, and non-vegans, I have found my recipes perform well with eggs and without, using an egg substitute. For a powdered egg sub I use Ener-G Egg Replacer- if you use a different one, you may need to adjust starches/liquids. Many readers report good luck using flax seed gel- though I have no expertise with flax. And yes, for dairy and non-dairy, I find it's an easy one-to-one sub. I am dairy-free, so if you prefer using butter and milk in my vegan recipes- that will work just fine. Choose cruelty-free organic eggs and dairy whenever possible.
For detailed info on gluten-free flour choices and how to make your own g-free flour blends that don't suck, see my Gluten-Free Baking Tips post.
Finally- to repeat it--- experience counts.
Even our failures bring us one step closer to better results. They teach us. Baking gluten-free is a process. It is not a finite, closed experiment. It is more like jazz than strophic form. Learning an intuitive sense of improvisation is worth the effort.
So, go bake some cookies with whole grain flours and share them with someone you love, okay?
|Chocolate cookies that remind me of brownies. Vegan and egg-free.|
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies - A Vegan and Dairy-Free RecipeOriginally published April 2011.
I used a mild organic cocoa in these chocolate chocolate chip cookies. The cookie's flavor is subtle, like cocoa, with lovely bittersweet bites of dark chocolate chips. The men in the house like these babies straight from the freezer, ice cold.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or an Exopat liner.
1/2 cup GF buckwheat flour or certified gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup sorghum (jowar) flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch or potato starch (not potato flour!)
1/3 cup organic cocoa
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light olive oil or Spectrum Organic Shortening
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla rice milk, coconut milk, or almond milk- more as needed
As you beat the dough pay close attention to the consistency. Add more rice milk a tablespoon at a time, and beat to combine, until you achieve a smooth but sturdy cookie dough. I added two more tablespoons of rice milk to my dough.
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
Stir in the chocolate chips as best you can (the dough is stiff).
Roll a golf ball sized wad of dough between your palms, and place the ball on the lined baking sheet about two inches apart. Repeat this process to make 18 balls. Use your palm to press down on the dough and flatten slightly- not too much- unless you like your cookies thin. Press a few extra chocolate chips into the tops of the cookies, if you like.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 15 minutes until the cookies are set. They will still be slightly soft in the center. If you bake two pans at once, rotate the pans half way through baking.
Remove the pans from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool and "set" for a few minutes; then use a thin spatula to move the cookies to a wire rack. The cookies will get crisper as they cool.
Cook time: 15 min
Yield: 24 cookies
Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
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Enjoy sugary treats in moderation. Gluten-Free Goddess advises consuming no more than 2 tablespoons of sugar a day.