Saturday, August 16, 2014

GFCF Chocolate Chip Cookies

The first batch of GFCF chocolate chip cookies I made were a bit of a disappointment. Merry and the Gaffer had no complaints, but I thought they were greasy, flat, slightly gritty and had a starchy taste. But with help from America's Test Kitchen I was able to tweak the recipe and the second batch was a huge improvement. Excellent structure and texture, soft and chewy, wonderful chocolatey goodness. If you didn't know ahead of time, you'd never guess they were GFCF. Below the recipe I give a blow-by-blow of my changes.

GFCF Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook.

8 oz (1 3/4 c) GF Flour Blend (I like Pamela's or King Aurthur)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp xantham gum (1/2 tsp if your flour blend has xantham gum in it already)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs canola oil
5 tbs coconut oil, melted
3/4 c light brown sugar
1/3 c granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tbs almond or coconut milk
1 tbs vanilla extract (slightly less if using vanilla-flavored milk)
1 c chocolate chips
1/2 c toasted pecans (optional)

Whisk flour blend, baking soda, xantham gum and salt together, set aside. Whisk oils and sugars until smooth, then whisk in egg, milk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture with rubber spatula and mix until a soft homogeneous dough forms (dough will be sticky). Fold in chocolate chips and pecans, if using. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and rest for 60 minutes.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper, drop about 1-2 tbs of dough 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown, with set edges and soft centers, 11-13 minutes. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking.

GFCF cookies do not last as long as regular homemade cookies, I usually freeze most of the batch and leave a few out to eat that day. You can also freeze the dough as individual cookie lumps and bake a few at a time, straight out of the freezer (increase baking time by 2-5 min).

  • My original alterations were to substitute refined coconut oil for butter, almond milk for regular milk, and Namaste Foods GF flour blend instead of the recommended ATK flour blend.
  • To correct the greasiness I thought about cutting back on the amount of fat, but I found that in other recipes ATK calls for a combination of butter and vegetable oil to prevent greasiness, so I tried a combination of coconut oil and canola oil.*
  • The purpose of the milk in the original recipe is simply to provide more moisture, so I kept the almond milk as it was.
  • ATK recommends a 30 minute resting period for the dough before baking in order to let it hydrate and stiffen in order to prevent grittiness and give the cookies better structure. I noticed that the last tray of my first batch turned out the best, and the dough had been sitting considerably longer while the other cookies baked, so for the next batch I increased the rest time to 1 hour.
  • Because the flour blend I was using already included xantham gum, I decreased the amount in the recipe from 3/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon. No idea what happens when you get too much xantham gum, but I assume the minimum amount necessary for structure is best.

*I'm slightly confused as to why this worked. ATK's scientific explanation for the difference in baking with butter vs vegetable oil is that butter gives baked goods a greasier feel because butter's combination of fat and water does not combine evenly with flour proteins but remains in small clumps and pools. This problem is worse with GF flours because of the lower protein content. Oil, on the other hand, has no water and combines with flour particles much more evenly. There shouldn't be a difference between water content for coconut oil and canola oil, so I'm wondering if saturated vs unsaturated fats are important too.