Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gluten-Free, Vegan, Cane Sugar-Free, Chocolate Chunk Cookies -- Adapted from Real Sustenance

YUM, right?! They really are. I rarely get so excited about making SOMEONE ELSE'S recipe... but this time I genuinely am. And well, like with nearly all recipes, I have to tweak them and change them along the way. I'm not really sure why... I think it might have something to do with having a rebellious personality... my grandmother always called me defiant... so maybe these are defiant chocolate chunk cookies.. who knows!

At any rate, Brittany Angell... the amazing author of the blog "Real Sustenance" and books: "The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guides" (Part 1 and Part 2) shared these cookies on her blog a few days ago. They reminded me of cookies I had seen on Elana's Pantry several years ago, sort of combined with chocolate chunk cookies from Lauren of Healthy Indulgences, also quite a few years back. I've made both of those cookies as well and hubs (the cookie monster at our house) thought both versions were pretty good (not as good as THESE chocolate chip cookies) but ate them all regardless. He's really not that picky when it comes to cookies.

So I played. I loved that Brittany made them vegan and offered a cane sugar-free and an agave-free version... But I remembered when I tried Lauren's version I threw in a hefty few tablespoons of ground flax seeds, because I love them. Love all that extra fiber, omega-3-fatty-acid-goodness, and the tiny bit of nutty flavor they add. So I added them. And because I went a little wild and crazy with the flavor extracts (ADD the almond extract -- TRUST ME -- it doesn't make them taste like cherries, it makes them AWESOME), I had a really wet dough and decided to throw in some arrowroot starch to thicken it up.

For the chocolate, I had 70% dark chocolate (3.5 oz) Lindt bars which I chopped into chunks.(These Lindt bars do not contain gluten ingredients, and the company uses stringent manufacturing practices to avoid cross-contamination, but it is a possibility and they are honest about it -- so use the chocolate you like best, if you're not a fan of Lindt.) One bar provided about 1 cup's worth of  "chocolate chunks" so it worked perfectly for this recipe!

I've made these cookies 4 times now... and they ARE really, really, REALLY awesome. I can't believe how delicious they turn out with no eggs, no gums, and no cane sugar. Right out of the oven they have an incredible crunch on the outside and a perfect chewiness inside. I can totally see why Brittany named them "Worlds Best Chocolate Chunk Cookies" --  cuz' they TOTALLY live up to the name, especially if you are limiting sugars and trying more lower glycemic, lower carb recipes! Try Brittany's awesome recipe, try my version... either way... MAKE THEM!

Gluten-Free, Vegan, (Almost) Grain-Free Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Brittany Angell's recipe
free of gluten, dairy/casein, eggs, soy, and options for grain-free
printer-friendly recipe

Dry Ingredients: 
2 cups packed, blanched almond flour
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon baking powder (this brand is corn-free or make your own -- it works SO much better than storebought!)
2 heaping tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients: 
3 tablespoons Spectrum Palm Shortening (or butter, if you can tolerate dairy)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3-4 tablespoons almond milk (start with 3, then add 1 more if you need additional moisture)

Add In's:
1 cup gluten-free, vegan chocolate chunks or chips (I used a 3.5 oz, 70% dark chocolate bar, chopped up)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. Cut in Spectrum Palm Shortening or butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or a knife and fork until the shortening resembles very small peas evenly throughout the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and 3 tablespoons of almond milk. Using a little elbow grease, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you have a very thick, batter (it might be a bit crumbly). This may take several minutes to be incorporated well. If necessary, use an additional tablespoon of almond milk. The batter WILL be VERY thick though, DO NOT add tons of extra milk, or the cookies will not turn out right. Scoop the dough into golf-ball sized mounds and place on cookie sheet about 2" apart. Flatten lightly and shape with your hands into round cookies. Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on how crispy you want your cookies. The edges should be golden brown when done. Makes 12-15 cookies depending on how large you make them. I'd tell you to store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter or the fridge for 2-3 days and then freeze them for up to 1 month.. but seriously, there won't BE any leftovers!

Carrie's Notes: 

  • Almond pulp, leftover from making almond milk will NOT work in this recipe. I tried! It's just too moist and it makes a pile of mush for a cookie. You may be able to make it work with a dehydrator, but in the oven, it just didn't work. 
  • You can probably use another nut flour/meal to make the cookies, but I haven't tried it, so I don't know how it works. If you don't want to use a nut flour see the note below: 
  • If you are allergic to nuts, just make my regular ol' gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, they are awesome too!
  • Use your favorite non-dairy milk in the recipe if you don't like almond milk -- it will work. 
  • If you don't have coconut palm sugar: use regular sugar or even brown sugar. I don't know how it would work with liquid sugar substitutes, if you have agave nectar, try Elana's cookies

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