Each month FBC member and nutritionist, Sondi Bruner, takes a favourite recipe and shows you how to adapt it to be allergen-friendly, as well as delicious and healthy. This month she's taking the classic chocolate chip cookie and making it work for any diet!
One of the first treats you learned to bake was a chocolate chip cookie, am I right?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm right.
When I carefully measured my first batch of chocolate chip cookies in the 7th grade, I recall feeling utterly mature and grown-up (though my frizzy hair, slouch socks, scrunchie and tye-dyed t-shirt indicated otherwise). Though the slouch socks and precision measuring are a thing of the past, my love of chocolate chip cookies has not waned.
Chocolate chip cookies - a baking classic - are delicious, straightforward, kid-friendly and approachable, making them a lovely introduction to the world of baked goods. Despite their simplicity, chocolate chip cookies arouse both passion and preference in cookie eaters: do you like them soft and chewy, or firm and crunchy? Chocolate chunks or chips? Bite-sized or massive? And what about the add-ins: walnuts, cranberries, pecans, peanut butter, oats, pecans, raisins (I'm a major raisin lover - who's with me?), or must your chocolate chip cookies remain naked and unadorned? Do you chill your dough first, or bake right away?
Yes, there is a lot to discuss. And we're about to add another level of complexity: how to create a worthy batch of cookies when you're kicking it allergen-friendly. So, no eggs, dairy, gluten, soy or nuts.
A typical chocolate chip cookie recipe will contain the following core ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated Sugar
- Chocolate Chips
But if you can't have one or any of these things, not to worry. There's still an amazing batch of chocolate chip cookies with your name on it.
Substitute Gluten-Free Flours
As I mentioned in my post about gingerbread cookies, I don't get too science-y with my gluten-free baking. However, gluten-free baking tends to work better when you use a blend of flours, so you can use your favourite gluten-free all-purpose blend instead. My preference is to mix brown rice, millet, sorghum and a touch of arrowroot flour together, but that's just how I roll.
Gluten-free flours are drier than regular all-purpose flour. So if you're adapting your grandmother's old-timey recipe that calls for 2 cups, I would start off with a cup and a half of gluten-free flour and then mix in additional flour if needed.
You could also skip the flour entirely and use seeds instead. These sunflower double chocolate chip cookies are my favourite - whenever I make them they're gobbled up immediately.
Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is my automatic substitute for butter. It's luxurious, delicious and full of beneficial fats that are easy to digest. You can cream it with sugar, or you can melt it to a liquid state before adding it to your baked goods. Some brands have a stronger coconut flavour than others. That doesn't bug me, but if you're not a fan then opt for a scent-free coconut oil instead.
Some of you might be wondering why I never recommend vegan butters to replace dairy butter. I aim to eat food that is unprocessed as much as I can. Vegan butters are usually created from a number of different unsaturated oils that are liquid at room temperature, and I seriously wonder what processing was involved to transform them into a solid spread.
Also, the oils in vegan butter are of the Omega 6 variety. Omega 6s are healthy fats, but in North America we tend to consume far more omega 6s than we need, and too few omega 3s (the type of oil found in sources like flax, salmon, chia, and nuts/seeds). All in all, while vegan butters aren't the worst thing in the world, they aren't the best, either. I phased them out of my kitchen several years ago and honestly don't miss them at all.
Try an Egg Substitute: Flax, Chia, Applesauce, Banana
To make one vegan 'egg' substitute, mix 1 tbsp ground chia or flax with 4 tbsp warm water. Stir well, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes before using. I find that flax eggs are helpful when you only need to replace one or two eggs; any more than that and the finished product won't turn out that well. Picture a gooey, speckled mess and you'll know what I mean.
A quarter cup of applesauce or mashed banana can be good egg replacements too, but they tend to influence the flavour of your treats (especially banana), so keep that in mind.
Swap in Coconut Sugar
When a recipe calls for granulated sugar, I always substitute a dry alternative sweetener so I don't throw off the dry-wet ratio (does the dry-wet ratio sound dirty to you? Or is it just me?). I love coconut sugar for its mellow caramel undertones, B vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium and iron. I swap it 1:1 in recipes that call for white sugar, and if I need additional liquid in a recipe sometimes I'll add in another sweetener to complement its flavour, like maple syrup or honey.
Fold in Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
There are a number of brands making dairy-free chocolate chips these days, or you could simply chop up a bar of dark chocolate. Another option is throwing in cacao nibs, which are the broken up bits of cacao beans. They have a more bitter flavour, so they might not get a thumbs up from young children, or from grown-ups who despise dark chocolate, but they're so, so, so good for you.
Or, have you tried carob chips? Carob is loaded with fibre, calcium, antioxidants, and it's caffeine-free. Just read labels carefully to make sure your carob chips don't contain gluten or milk products.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I usually double the amount of chocolate chips called for in a recipe, 'cause you can never have too many chocolate chips in a cookie, I say.
Today's recipe can satisfy both the soft and chewy cookie lovers and the crispy cookie lovers. For a softer version, make sure you take them out of the oven at the 10-minute mark, or even a minute or two before. For a crispy cookie, let them bake for 12-14 minutes. See, we can all get along!
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- ¼ cup sorghum flour
- ½ cup tapioca starch or arrowroot flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
- In a medium bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Stir in coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla, and mix well.
- Fold in the dairy-free chocolate chips and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Using a tablespoon measure, drop the dough onto the baking sheets. These cookies spread quite a bit, so space them at least a few inches apart.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, then place them on a cooling rack. The cookies will be delicate until they cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container. Makes 16-18 cookies.
Check out more of Sondi's Allergen Friendly Remixes for great ideas on revamping your favourite recipes to make them allergen friendly! Got a favourite recipe you'd like to see get an Allergen Friendly Makeover? Let us know in the comments!
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer and food blogger. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter