Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gluten-Free Double Chip Cookies

The Setting: A toasty apartment in the snow-strewn Midwest.

The Soundtrack: Soft snores from the sweet toddler asleep on my lap.

On the Stovetop: Chicken stock.

The Scenario: Giving gluten the old heave-ho.

Okay, so I'm not actually giving up gluten (at least not at the moment).

I recognize, however, that more and more people these days are finding better health and happier lives avoiding  gluten-y grains like wheat, barley, and rye. So I thought I'd do a little experimenting to see how my go-to chocolate-chip cookies would fair from the gluten-free treatment.

I had both brown-rice and tapioca flours in my pantry from previous endeavors, so I threw a little of each into the mix.

The results were suburb. They looked and tasted like...well...chocolate-chip cookies.

If there were any downsides to my recipe's GF makeover, they would be these:

1) For some reason the butter and brown-sugar flavors seemed to be somewhat muted compared to my regular cookies, and I was missing a slight nutty flavor from the flour I typically use. Next time, I think I'd add chopped pecans and toffee bits to amp things up a little in the flavor department.

2) I felt like there was an ever-so-slight chalkiness in my mouth after eating these cookies. Nothing major, just the feeling that I needed to brush my teeth--I get the same sensation after eating an under-ripened banana.

3) The alternative flours tend to be more expensive, so people who do not find their health improved by avoiding gluten might want to stick to wheat flour.

Nevertheless, the cookies were delicious. Hoosband, whose nickname ought to be The Glutenator for his love of all things wheat-related, went back for seconds..and thirds...and fourths.

Gluten-Free Double Chip Cookies
1 stick (8 T or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup brown-rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch)
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Make sure your oven racks are in the two center-most slots.

Beat together the butter and brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy--this should take about 4 minutes on med-high speed.

Scrape down the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is once again light, fluffy, and voluminous.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, and soda.

Add this mixture to the butter mixture and beat on med-low speed until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the chocolate chips and beat on low just to distribute (alternatively, fold them in by hand with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon).

Use a medium-sized cookie scoop to distribute dough mounds between the two prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least two inches between each mound. If, like me, you (or someone in your house) like(s) to sneak spoonfuls of raw dough, you should end up with just enough dough for two large cookie sheets, or about 24 dough mounds. If there are no dough-devourers to be found, refrigerate any leftover dough and crank out a few more cookies when you have an available (and cooled) cookie sheet.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 11-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through for even cooking. The cookies will look slightly golden around the edges and very underdone in the middles--don't worry, they will set.

Allow the cookies to cool at least 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.

Makes 24-30 cookies.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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