Monday, June 22, 2009
FAQ Chewy chocolate chip cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)! Yay!
Last week I did a free demonstration on cooking for food allergies at Surfas Gourmet Food & Restaurant supply in Los Angeles. Thanks to everyone who came out! In attendance were a few people who had gluten allergies, a few employees who had children with food allergies, and a few people who had no idea what food allergies were about but wanted to learn. When I present, I prefer to have interaction with an audience, so we had lots of good discussions/questions about cooking for food allergies. Some of the key points we discusssed were:
1. When making substitutions, be sure to replace both taste and function of the allergen. For example, eggs are both an emulsifier (keep liquids cohesive) and add structure to baking.
2. Specifically for replacing gluten, you must replace that chewy quality that wheat has since alternative flours have none. The current standard replacement is xanthan gum, although some people use guar gum.
3. Also consider that texture frequently gets lost in substitutions, so try to consider that as well when making replacements.
4. When cooking for others, keep the allergy-free area organized by designating cutting boards, knives, storage, etc. with either color-coding or labeling.
5. Be sure to clean your cooking surface often using vegetable-based cleaners to avoid the possibility of cross-contaminating your allergy-free food.
6. Be on the lookout for your food allergens in toiletries as well since they're not going to be labeled gluten-free, soy-free, etc.
Whew! This all sounds so ominous, but really wasn't. It was fun to share what I've learned for myself so far, and the audience had experiences to share as well. One lady who was recently diagnosed with celiacs asked if I had figured out how to make gluten-free flour tortillas, which I haven't yet, but I'll put it on my list.
But of course, the BEST part was eating warm chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven! I finally nailed a recipe to get the cookies to stay chewy and light and taste pretty darned close to the Nestle Toll House recipe. Gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free, these chocolate chip cookies are unfortunately not soy-free since there is soy lecithin in the chocolate. My BF, who is my critic/main taste tester and has no food allergies, loves these and has been eating them every chance he gets.
For those in the LA area, I forgot to mention again in the demo (DUH) that I'm teaching a full-length class of cooking for food allergies at the New School of Cooking on SAT, JULY 25. More information and registration is available at www.newschoolofcooking.com where I'll share recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner items.
Food Allergy Queen Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 72 2” cookies
Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free (not soy-free since most chocolate contains soy lecithin). I've since discovered that there is Enjoy Life soy-free chocolate chips, but have not tried them.
These are soft and chewy. My friends who are not gluten-free think they’re great too!
1 cup cocoa butter chips (available online and specialty shops), or dairy-free margarine if you can have it
3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose flour
2/3 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder (Clabber Girl or Rumsford)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce, organic if possible
1 cup agave syrup sweetener (amber to dark)
2 tsp. gluten-free vanilla (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon preferred, McCormicks is also gluten-free)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Callebaut Semi-sweet but check to ensure your chips have no dairy or modified food starch).
Silpat or parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 325°. Line cookie sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, melt the cocoa butter chips (or margarine) on low heat, taking care not to let them burn. Let cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle. Add all the liquid ingredients, including the cocoa butter, into the well and blend well. When mixed, stir in chocolate chips. (Note: as dough cools, it will become stiffer due to the cocoa butter re-solidifying, so don’t be alarmed.)
Using a teaspoon, drop 1” dough balls onto the cookie sheet leaving a little room around for them to spread. If you like your cookies super thin, flatten them at this stage.
Bake cookies for 14-16 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to let them cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.