Monday, January 11, 2010

C is for...

1. Celiac
2. Cookie
3. Champion

Last week's successful batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies contained flax, xanthan gum, and peanut butter. Convinced at least one of these binders was unnecessary, I spent the weekend experimenting.

Without flax, the cookies were flat and crispy. Without xanthan gum, the dough melted into a sheet. Without peanut butter, the dough spread too much and cooked unevenly.

Left and top: Gnarly cookies with flax and xanthan gum
Right: Plump and chewy cookie with flax, xanthan gum, and peanut butter

So in the final recipe, I kept all three binding ingredients. If I were more analytical and better at math, I could build recipes based on chemistry rather than trial and error and dumb luck. I'd probably waste less food that way.

I posted my recipe at Maine Food & Lifestyle, but I'll include it here, too. In a few months, when I've recovered my appetite for cookies, I'd like to work out a recipe that doesn't rely on peanut butter (so many people are allergic). But for now, this recipe is reliable and delicious. Give it a try—I'd love to hear how it works for you!

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup almond flour (or finely ground almond meal)
1 tablespoon ground flax
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup (1 stick) nonhydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rice or other nondairy milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter (natural and unsalted)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flours, flax, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum in medium bowl. Beat margarine, sugars, vanilla extract, rice milk, and peanut butter in large bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks.

Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.


  1. Those look Amazing!! They look like they have a great texture. It's rainy and windy outside and boy would I love one (ie half a dozen) of these!
    Eco Mama

  2. great job! i'm sure they were worth the effort! :)

  3. I love your cookie experimenting posts! I learn so much from you about gluten-free baking.

  4. Good you did it. I am analytical but lazy so I waste loads of food too. With all the sub cooking cultures that came out of veganism I am most interested in gluten free cooking and I will make these cookies once I track down all of those flours I never used before. I tried those Namaste ones and I did not like them too much.

  5. Wow! I'm so impressed with your experiment! What a great job! I'm excited to try your recipe. I've tried making GF cookies and scones with rice flour and ended up tossing most of them because nobody liked them.

  6. Nice work on coming up with a gf cookie recipe! I am sure people could use almond butter if they are allergic to peanuts! I think I will try these :)

    I hope gf-life is treating you well!

  7. This is such a fabulous post! I love hearing about the steps people take to achieve the final recipe, it is fascinating to me. And I love that you explained it so clearly, and the effects of each alteration. Thank you!

    These cookies look so good!

  8. They turned out beautifully--I need to just bite the bullet and get a bag of almond flour to play with.

  9. wow. i've totally been there w/ the one giant gluten-free cookie "pancake." pancake would be a nice way of putting it :) i've had luck with certified gluten-free oat flour recently.

  10. Congrats on the cookie success! They look good to me!

  11. I made these, and they were veeeery yummy! I subbed sorghum for rice flour, and arrowroot for tapioca. I like the texture of the finished cookie, but mine didn't spread very much at all - my dough was firm enough to easily roll into balls (maybe as a result of using sorghum instead of rice?), so next time I'll shoot for making it a bit thinner - maybe using oil instead of earth balance? Thank you for the recipe!

  12. I have had relative success in just using brown rice flour...I am far too lazy to buy all these other I just replace everything with rice flour...

    Gluten free baking is very trial and error though, one time it may work the next time it is a complete mess! I've been gluten free 6 years...and for most of those I've not bothered baking, which sucks as I was really good at baking non-gluten free...but once you go gluten free you can get disheartened! lol

    The main key I find is the liquid content...

  13. I've been following your blog since you went GF and I admire all the research you do. I take a different strategy - I've tried to emphasize the ingredients I can eat and not tried to re-create the things I used to eat. Rice, corn and potatoes form the substantive basis for my meals. I always have rice in my rice cooker, good stone ground corn meal and grits and Yukon Gold potatoes. I roast vegetables, make soups in the cold weather and salads in the warm. I put up 1/2 gallon jars of three bean salad, seek out good olives, capers, pickles and mustard. I'm not vegan, but I eat very little meat - 2-6 oz/week because I can't tolerate more. Dairy and eggs are also a problem (one food allergy begets another!). I use liquid aminos, GF teriyaki sauce, hot sauces, garlic, ginger, biryani paste for flavor. For baked goods I look for recipes that require very little flour - some steamed puddings, cobblers, Indian pudding (with candied ginger) and Gluten Free Pantry's chocolate chip cookies. I was a great baker - I own 24 pie plates - but I just can't manage enthusiasm for xanthan gum, etc.... All this being said, I'm happy to try YOUR cookies whenever they're available!

  14. Just found your blog. Those cookies look absolutely divine! I love all your knitting projects! too cute :]

  15. What seriously enticing treats- And gluten-free, too! And here I was swearing off cookies not too long ago... I may just have to change that stance.

  16. Sunbutter is a great PB-like alternative for those with peanut allergies :)

  17. We don't have food allergies but these look awesome.

  18. I can't wait to try these. I have 26 types of "flour" in my fridge/freezer/pantry from trying all kinds of crazy GF recipes. Now I'm trying to use up all that flour and when that's done, I'm picking 4 flours (probably rice/tapioca/potato/almond) and I'm just going to make do with those.

  19. hey mary, did you know that this is my all-time favorite gluten free cookie recipe? I just really wanted to thank you for making such a great cookie recipe! :)


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