Our dear friend Marc came over for dinner the other night. He doesn’t live in the city anymore so my husband and I don’t see him as much as we would like to. We invited another dear friend, Lake, over as well. All four of us met while working on a puppet show that toured around for many, many years, so we have a shared a lot of meals and rituals and inside jokes. When you work together on a show for as long as we all did the members become a sort of family and learn about each others tastes and quirks.
Lake could tell you exactly what I pack for lunch and the ingredients I buy to make myself feel at home when I am temporarily cooking in an out of town kitchen. I know what she makes herself for breakfast and what she likes to drink after a hard day of work. She introduced me to the wonderful world of barbecue brisket while we were working at her family theatre in Fort Worth Texas (the amazing Hip Pocket Theatre. If you find yourself in North Texas check it out). Marc and I have a tradition of ordering steak for dinner for every opening night of every show we have done together. He made me home-made Tiramisu for my 26th birthday party, which happened on our break during a tech rehearsal in Minneapolis. I know that Marc does not care for fish or beans and that he is not much of a drinker, but he does like to eat chocolate chip cookies with a big glass of milk.
For dinner, I made cranberry brisket, potato gratin, collard greens. For dessert I made chocolate chip cookies. Marc got himself a glass of milk, bit into the cookie and said “mmmm double the butter” in reference to my long-standing stated theory on how to improve baking recipes. It made me happy, because there is something about an inside joke that makes you feel like you belong. BUT it also made me happy because I had been nervous about the cookies.
It turns out that making buttery cookies without gluten is a pain. Butter and wheat flour have a special relationship. Other grains simply cannot absorb the same amount of butter as wheat. That is a problem, because I really only like cookies that are so buttery that they will leave a grease stain on your napkin. They should be crispy on the edges…because of the butter. If they have risen or puffed there is clearly not enough butter to weigh them down. They should be a little, tiny bit salty…from the butter. If a cookie is going to be fluffy or dry, I don’t want it. So here is the crazy thing… the best gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe that I have found has no butter in it and yet it has all of the qualities of a butter soaked cookie….so much so that I was able to fool Marc!
This is a recipe from the baby cakes cookbook. It is gluten, dairy and egg free. I cannot even wrap my head around how this cookie manages to taste so good. I like to replace some of the suggested flour mix with rice flour, because it helps to fake the crispy from the butter edges of the cookie. The recipe is good either way. The original recipe also calls for coconut oil, which I find prohibitively expensive so I use sunflower oil. The original recipe also calls for evaporated cane juice which costs and is tricky to find. I have had success with plain old sugar, raw sugar, Demerara sugar and brown sugar…so just use what you have on hand! If it is important to you to maintain the vegan qualities of this recipe, make sure to get vegan chocolate chips… I obviously don’t bother.
BUTTERY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (NO BUTTER, NO GLUTEN)
adapted from Babycakes by Erin McKenna
- 1 cup coconut oil (I use sunflower oil)
- 6 Tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice or some other granulated sugar
- 2 cups bob’s red mill gluten-free all purpose baking flour ( I replace 1/4 cup with rice flour)
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (use vegan chips if you want vegan cookies!)
- Preheat the oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce, salt, vanilla and sugar.
- In another medium bowl, mix together the flours, flax meal, baking soda and xanthan gum
- Fold the dry into the wet to form a grainy dough, then add the chocolate chips.
- Scoop our heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared sheets. Space them about 1 inch apart. Make 18 cookies on each sheet.
- Bake the cookies for 15 minutes. If your oven is uneven, rotate the sheets after 9 minutes.