Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Impossible, Everything-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello, blog!!  As ever, it's been a while.  What can I say.  Life is busy and having the perfect confluence of natural light in my very dark kitchen and time to snap glamor shots every time I make a recipe... does not always happen.  Rest assured, however, that I have been hard at work mixing and baking and tweaking and inventing, and somewhere in this process, magical things have occurred.

You see, I got this incredibly awesome new job at a healthy eating restaurant/cafe and I'm basically taking the reins of the baking operation there and it has been completely amazing.  One thing I never thought I'd do, though, was make an anything-free, special diet type recipe.  Friends always asked me to and my mouth said "oh yeah, I should really do that" but my brain said "but... butter."

Then, suddenly, in a twist of irony, this became my job.  Making healthier items and sometimes ones that cater to special diets, but still as delicious as the original.  I was fairly convinced I was going to spectacularly fail.  I spent a lot of time browsing vegan and gluten-free blogs touting the "BEST ____ EVER!!!!" and tested them and usually felt... meh.  But every once in a while, I found a good starting point, took a lot of leaps of faith, and worked some serious kitchen magicks.  You know I am not into deprivation, ever.  I would not be bringing you hippy health food if it was wanting for anything in texture or flavor.  Quoth my boss upon eating this vegan, gluten free, coconut-oil-fattened and maple-syrup-sweetened cookie, "holy shit."

Friends, this is witchcraft.  You can believe that coming from me.

You may have to do an additional spell for the impact on your pursestrings, however.  No one ever said healthier or gluten free baking was cheap.

And I do have to attach one major caveat to this recipe: it works WAY better in a convection oven, and I've yet to figure out why.  I've become quite adept at adapting recipes for home and professional kitchens, but the usual temperature adjustment hasn't taken care of the issue, which is that in a home oven they come out overly soft and moist.  I mean, still delicious, but pretty flat, and they stick to each other when stacked and eventually crumble.  Not the same magical result at all.  If you're lucky enough to have a convection oven at home, though, you have to give these a try at 325 F.  And if you want to try them out anyway, I would love to get some feedback about any time and temperature changes in baking and how they turn out for you!

Adapted with thanks from Fork & Beans!

Also as a disclaimer, I generally get annoyed when I see people including a certain brand of something in their recipe as if it's a necessity - I specify Bob's Red Mill flour because it's what I used and I'm given to understand the differences between GF flour blends can be quite noticeable.  Replace away if you're a risk taker and let me know how it turns out!!


2 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF All Puropse flour blend
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup real maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 vegan egg replacer (do NOT add water as package instructs!)
1 tbsp ground chia seed meal (do not add water!)
vegan chocolate chips (I never put a volume limit on chocolate.)

Whisk together first 3 dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together the oil, maple syrup, vanilla, egg replacer and chia seed meal with a whisk.  Mix in the dry ingredients until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Then cover the bowl with plastic and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes - the longer the better for making a thick, chewy cookie.

Using a small kitchen scoop, portion out the dough, keeping a light touch when you transfer it to the baking sheet so you don't melt them with your hands. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and return to the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes if they have gotten too soft in the process. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes, or until just lightly browned on the edges. They are best when cooled to room temperature.  Hard to believe, but it's true.

The texture of these cookies when baked in the convection oven is out of this world.  The thinnest, lightest, most delicate shell of a crispy bite on the outside, and a perfectly soft and chewy center.  I promise no one will believe what's not in them.  My coworkers didn't!

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