I’ve been a bit obsessed these past few years with making the perfect gluten-free chocolate chip cookies; or, heck, something gluten-free even mildly resembling a chocolate chip cookie.
I tried converting my favorite all-purpose recipes; I tried other peoples’ gluten-free recipes. They came out with a variety of problems: oily, gummy, nasty. The most common problem? Too flat and crispy.
I know some people prefer a flat and crispy cookie—these were so beyond that. They spread out like lace cookies (which I wouldn’t mind making gluten-free, but even a perfect lace cookie is no substitute for a chocolate chip cookie). I should have just dipped the bottoms in chocolate and gone with it.
My husband, ever the good sport, would just smile, happily eat another one. “I like these,” he’d say.
“But they’re not chocolate chip cookies,” I’d say.
You have to understand, my husband was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of five, in the dark ages of gluten-free: the 80s, when pre-made gluten-free products simply did not exist. He ate rice cake sandwiches. He has no memories of cookies and milk after school, no concept of whipping up a batch on rainy days and Saturdays, no concept of what a chocolate chip cookie should even taste like.
Whenever I’d browse a new cookbook, gluten-free or otherwise, and see a chocolate chip cookie recipe, my eyes would glaze over. “What do you think about chocolate chip cookies this weekend?” I’d ask.
Jarron would shrug, thinking of my wafer-thin, cracker-crisp previous attempts. “I’m a little over chocolate chip cookies,” he’d say.
He changed his tune once I perfected this recipe. “These are the best cookies I have ever had in my whole life,” he said, licking his fingers. “I think this is my new favorite dessert.”
Even my mom, who is a dyed-in-the-wool, all-purpose flour, baking traditionalist, gave these a nine, with ten being her idea of the best ever made in the entire world wheat flour chocolate chip cookie. But even she admits she has never baked a ten in her own kitchen.
To get this recipe, I had to start completely from scratch; as in, with a blank Excel spreadsheet. I realized there is a lot more chemistry to a chocolate chip cookie than you would think.
Take for example the flour content: I know the amounts are weirdly specific. Usually, I’m a lot more flexible in my baking, substituting and exchanging for what I have on hand. But these flours were specifically chosen for their individual properties of flavor and are carefully balanced for protein content. When it comes to cookies, protein is vital for chew.
You may have seen different versions of Jacques Torres’s chocolate chip cookie recipe floating around the Internet. These recipes use a combination of bread flour (high protein content) and cake flour (low protein content) to achieve a specific texture; the same principle applies for these cookies. So if you substitute the flours, I can’t guarantee your results. The nice thing about this flour mixture though, is that it is almost completely whole grain, without tasting that way. And, of course, free of weird gums.
I hope you enjoy the recipe, and that you like it enough to make it a part of your family traditions, as we will. I want all of my children, gluten-free or not, to grow up with chocolate chip cookies: after school as a snack with milk and on rainy days, Saturdays, and Sundays.
A not-at-all-gratuitous side note: This chocolate chip cookie dough is delicious as well. I’ve tried recipes for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies that had so much leavening in them, the dough tasted like a science experiment—blegh! In my opinion, eating cookie dough is one of life’s great pleasures, so this is an important element for me. This dough is caramely, buttery, and tasty—perfect for eating raw right out of the mixing bowl. Try some before you slip it into the fridge to chill (and then try not to eat all of it before it makes its way to the oven).
On chilling: You chill the dough for two reasons: to keep the batter from spreading in the oven and to let the ingredients meld, contributing to flavor and consistency. A lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes floating around the Internet as “best,” have the 36 hour chilling time as their secret weapon. I like to use the 36 hour chilling time, which contributes to an excellent flavor and consistency, and I highly recommend it. The next most acceptable chilling time is at least overnight or twelve hours, which is the chill time for the original chocolate chip cookies at Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Inn. But if you want cookies NOW, Alton Brown says you can go as low as four hours. Totally up to you.
Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Active time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 4-36 hours
½ cup each buckwheat, millet, sorghum, and brown rice flour
2 tbsp potato starch
1 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1. Take your eggs out of the fridge to come to room temperature. I’m usually always in a hurry, so I put my eggs in glasses of hot water to come to room temperature faster. (bonus: if your eggs sink, you know they are still good; if they float, toss them out).
2. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk, aerating and blending until cohesive. In a second smaller bowl, combine white and brown sugars, and whisk until cohesive.
3. Work quickly: it’s important that the butter does not get too warm. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut into pieces (about 8 pieces per stick, or the size of a tablespoon). Immediately place in the bowl of a stand mixer with sugars and cream at medium speed until the mixture pulls away from the sides and comes together in a ball.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla; scrape down the bowl.
5. Add the flour mixture in three installments, adding on low, and then turning up the speed just until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the chocolate chips, mixing by hand until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill.
8. After chilling, set your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the middle of the oven (I like to bake one sheet of cookies at a time for most even heat flow and best consistency). While the oven is preheating, you can even place your bowl of cookie dough in the freezer to make scooping easier.
9. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the oven is fully heated, take the cookie dough out of the freezer. Shape cookies with a tablespoon measure, scooping like ice cream to make fully rounded scoops.
Use another spoon to dislodge cookie dough onto parchment paper. The balls of dough will be slightly smaller than golf balls. Space six balls of dough evenly, in two rows of three.
10. Place on center rack in oven, and bake for 9-11 minutes (I bake mine for exactly 10), or until center has dropped and edges are golden.
11. I like to bang the cookie sheet on the counter immediately after removing from the oven; this makes the centers drop even more and contributes to a chewier, gooier center. Immediately remove cookies from cookie sheet and place on cooling rack, away from the oven. You can move the cookies individually with a spatula, or pick up all six at once, transferring parchment paper to cooling racks. Cool at least 5 minutes before eating, and store in an airtight container once completely cool.
12. Use a second, completely cool cookie sheet for the next batch. Makes 24-30 chocolate chip cookies.