Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How to make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - A Step by Step Guide

Okay. I will admit it. When it comes to baking, I am a perfectionist. Especially when it comes to baking something that I think I am especially good at. In today's case: Michael's favorite chocolate chip cookies. This is one of my favorite recipes and one that I am very proud of. I used to make these cookies with wheat flour. When I started the gluten free diet this is one of the first recipes I converted. We love these cookies and it's one recipe I can always count on to turn out well.

I've had many, many compliments on these cookies. I think Gluten Free Steve declared me a friend for life when he made these cookies, and he never fails to make me blush by reminding me how much he enjoys them! I've had many readers of the blog to let me know how much they enjoy them... but for all the people who love them, there are many who said they didn't work.

The biggest complaint is that the cookies spread too much when baking. Another complaint was that they were too salty. Up until this experiment I've never had a problem with these cookies.

Today I will share a tutorial with you on how I make perfect gluten free chocolate chip cookies.

I ended up making 2 batches of cookies because I thought I overcooked the first batch -- they spread! Make sure to keep your eyes open at the end of the post for what happened between the first batch and the second batch of cookies, to see WHY they spread!

A revised gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe will be included at the end of this post!

One thing to remember is that: all baking is a scientific experiment! Baking is a science and the ingredients have to be measured properly and used properly for the recipe to work. It is also important to follow recipe directions exactly the FIRST time you are making something. That way you have a standard to compare too when you want to experiment!

How to Make Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • First preheat your oven to 350 degrees. USE an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is baking at the correct temperature. This is VERY important! My personal oven underheats by 30 degrees, so I have to adjust for this!

  • Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Then gather together all your ingredients. I completely forgot to take a picture of this, but here's what you will need for the dry ingredients: sorghum flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, xanthan gum, and baking powder. Now we are going to measure out the dry ingredients into our bowl.

  • Add 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder. Make sure to level your measuring spoon. This is very important in baking!

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Again, try to make sure it's close to level. The salt is important in chocolate chip cookies because it makes a perfect balance to the sweet chocolate. If you leave out the salt, you'll know!

  • Now add a level 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

  • Now it's time to measure the flours. With each flour, first OVERFILL your measuring cup.

  • Then, using the straight side of your knife, level off the cup. I pack down the flour as I level off the cup. When you are measuring tapioca flour or any starch, you may have to overfill the cup several times and level off with the knife to make sure you have the correct amount.

  • This is what a correctly measured cup should look like. Very even on the top, level with the lip of the cup. Add your measured flours to the baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Some gluten free bakers like Gluten Free Mommy, actually weigh their measuring cups for accuracy. I've never done this, but if you have trouble with your baking, you may want to look into it!

Before whisking

After whisking

  • Next, we will whisk together all the dry ingredients. This is a very important step because whisking will thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together. I definitely recommend DOING this step, if you don't: you may get a clump of baking powder or xanthan gum in one area of your dough, and you'll definitely notice! Your cookies will also bake more evenly if the dry ingredients have been thoroughly whisked together. Now at this point, you could stop and bag your dry mix. You would have a pre-made mix for a batch of chocolate chip cookies! All you would have to do is add the sugar and wet ingredients later! But, I'm hungry... so let's continue with these cookies! Set aside your whisked dry ingredients.

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer add 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco.

  • Use your paddle attachment for mixing and lock the stand mixer into place.

  • Cream your sugars and butter flavored Crisco on medium speed in the mixer bowl. You will mix these together for about 3-5 minutes. You want the mixture truly creamed. Here is what you DO NOT want:

  • Here, the sugar and cream are just barely mixed together. There are still large clumps of sugar and Crisco. This is what you DO NOT want. Often when I made cookies by hand, I thought this was "creamed." Stand-mixers are a baker's best friend!

  • THIS is what your creamed butter and sugar should look like. Light, fluffy, and really creamy. YOU should not be able to tell where the sugar and Crisco separate.

  • Next, add your egg, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.

  • Again, we want to then mix them in on medium speed, until you no longer can see wet streaks of egg. The mix should be fully incorporated like this on the paddle attachment:

  • Perfect! That's what you want! The dough should be clinging to the paddle and you should just barely see the sugar granules! Let's continue!

  • Now we are going to add in the dry ingredients to the dough, 1/4 cup at a time.

  • Mix in each addition of dry ingredients completely on medium slow speed. Your finished batter should look similar to this:

  • Use a rubber spatula occasionally to scrape the dough down from the sides to the bottom of the mixing bowl, to make sure it's combined evenly. Once your dough is mixed, it's time for the good part!

  • Ahh... the chocolate chips! These chips are from my assorted chocolate chip bag. The bag that gets all the leftover chocolate chips from random bags. So we have a nice assortment here! Use whatever chips you like best! Enjoy Life sells allergen free chocolate chips.

  • Fold in the chocolate chips by hand, using the rubber spatula. Now it's time to get the lined cookie sheet. Let's make some drop cookies!

  • Using a small spoon get around 1 tablespoon of dough. This does NOT have to be a perfect measurement. If you want bigger cookies use a larger amount of dough, but be aware they will take longer to cook!

  • Drop the dough about 2 inches apart on the silpat mat. This was a large pan so had 5 rows of 3 cookies each. Place into the oven for baking. DO not overcrowd your oven. If you do, the cookies may not bake evenly.

  • Keep an eye on the cookies. YOU DO NOT want them to overbake!! I baked these for exactly 8 minutes.

  • Remove the cookies from the oven, THEY WILL NOT look completely done. That's okay! These are perfect! Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before moving them to the cooling rack. If you do not let them cool, they may fall apart!! The cookies will look puffy and underdone when they come out of the oven! That's good! As they cool they will slightly deflate and harden into their shapes.

  • See the difference, now that the cookies are cool? If your husband or kids haven't eaten all the cookies yet; let them rest on the wire rack until they are COMPLETELY cool. I normally leave them on the rack for at least an hour before moving them!

  • The underside of the cookie should look like this! There will be lovely little air pockets, evenly spaced. The edges will be very slightly brown and crisp!

  • The inside of the cookies are chewy and the chocolate should still be hot and "melty." Mmmmm... Michael says thank you to everyone who had problems with these cookies... he hopes the home experiments will continue! The cookies are now done and you can move them into an airtight container for storage! I have no idea how long they will last since they don't last 2 days at our house.

NOW.... this is the fun part of what I discovered last night!

In my first batch of cookies, I didn't follow this recipe exactly. I was ONE tablespoon short of butter-flavored Crisco, so I added ONE tablespoon of Spectrum non-hydrogenated organic shortening in place. Here is what happened to the finished cookies:

Look familiar anyone?? These cookies spread and they darkened very quickly! Now, these were STILL very good cookies... but that ONE tablespoon of non-hydrogenated shortening caused this to happen to the whole batch! I imagine if you used a gluten free margarine, butter, or non-hydrogenated shortening for the WHOLE half cup called for, the cookies would spread over the whole pan and you'd have one big cookie! Notice a side-by-side difference here:

These cookies (Darker cookie is Batch #1, Lighter cookie is batch #2) were both cooked for exactly 8 minutes on the same pan at the same time. The difference is remarkable!

The only additional difference in the lighter cookie of batch # 2 is that I just used 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and skipped the baking soda called for in the original recipe. This batch of cookies used a whole half cup of butter flavored Crisco. Michael preferred this lighter, chewier batch.

Here is my slightly revised recipe of Michael's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ginger Lemon Girl's BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Before or After going Gluten-Free!)

1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco (NO SUBSTITUTES!!)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 tsp. table salt

1/4 tsp. xanthan gum

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

6 oz. GF chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl: cream crisco with sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together flours, salt, xanthan gum (opt.), baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add flour mixture to crisco and sugar mixture. Last, mix in chocolate chips. Drop dough by tablespoons, 2 inches apart on an parchment paper -or-silpat mat lined cookie sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes or JUST UNTIL edges are light brown.

(The cookies WILL NOT look completely cooked when you pull them out of the oven! That's what you want! That's part of the secret to these awesome cookies! DO NOT overbake them!)

Let cookies cool on a wire baking rack or the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. This will allow cookies to retain their shape for eating!

This recipe doubles easily!

For a printer-friendly version, click here.

** I hope this post helps people make these gluten free cookies better!! I learned a lot from this experiment and this is really what I love about gluten free baking! You only learn when you make mistakes! Embrace them and move on!
Happy gluten free chocolate chip cookie making!!**

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