Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chips II: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I continue my chip and dip obsession, though this week took a turn in the chocolate chip direction. Last week's kale chips were gobbled up by kids and house guests alike, even the crushed bits on the bottom which turn into an addictive kale-flavored salt.

Tackling childhood favorites like chocolate cupcakes or brownies from an allergen-sensitive angle brings a lot of baggage. Everyone has had incredible cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies. These are iconic treats of our childhood. Creating a version for gluten- or dairy-free diets that will also taste good to non-allergic friends is fraught with expectations.

The first version. It was just meh..
It was much harder to bake a good chocolate chip cookie than I had anticipated. I had assumed switching out the flours and butter would suffice, but I vastly underestimate how much flavor is built on butter. The butter, with brown sugar and vanilla, creates that caramel foundation for flavor and aroma. It also adds to the crispy edges and browned bottoms. My first version tasted okay texture-wise but lacked real depth of flavor. It was pretty much sugar-flavored rice flour dotted with chocolate chips. Did I eat two or three in the name of research? Yes. But, it wasn't a recipe worth passing on.

This wrinkly egg-free garbanzo-flour version turned magically into sand!
I have a visceral reaction to anything artificially buttered-flavored, especially margarine. That smell and color reminds me of cold, cheap movie-theatre popcorn. There really is no way to recreate a true butter flavor, so I tried to build layers of flavor, rich in caramel notes, with espresso powder, coconut flour and milk, and some dark cocoa.  I used just brown sugar, again to encourage a richer flavor. It worked beautifully, though it's not the buttery-caramel sugar bomb of our youth. It's a darker chocolate flavor. You won't taste the coffee, but you'll pick up its hints of caramel and bitterness.

The coconut flour is extremely absorbent so you need to add in an equal measure of liquids. I used a coconut milk beverage - the kind you buy in cartons, not the coconut milk sold in cans. I used vegetable shortening for this recipe, which suits me fine. I did try an egg-free version with just a can of coconut milk instead of both eggs and butter. They were okay right out of the oven, but as they cooled, they turned into a sandy mess. Garbanzo bean flour left a protein-aftertaste which I don't care for in sweets, so I stayed with brown rice flour and some coconut flour.

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Using a handheld mixer, blend the following ingredients:

1 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup coconut milk beverage
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup good dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's new-ish Special Dark Cocoa)

It will look like dark chocolate cake batter. Mix in the following dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xantham gum

The cookie dough will appear lighter and fluffier than conventional cookie dough. Mix in 1 to 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, depending on the generosity of your mood.

Drop the cookies by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet. I cover mine with parchment though this is not necessary with non-stick baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. These cookies will have a slightly crispy edge and moist crumb. The tops should be soft, bounce a bit to your touch. However, I ruined many batches holding out foolishly for very crispy edges and deeply browned bottoms. Cool on the baking sheet.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Gluten-, Dairy-, and Egg White- Free Chocolate Chip  Cookies

A friend of mine is allergic to just the whites of eggs, so I created a version with that allergy in mind. It's the same as the above, but just use four egg yolks in place of the two whole eggs. It will have a slightly more cake-like texture, but still very good.

I am working on a completely egg-free recipe, though they invariably turn into sheet cake. More on that pursuit later.

No comments:

Post a Comment