Food & Drink

Gluten-free baking

Gluten-free baking is a challenge but— delicious is possible!

Dodi Newman

The wonderful texture, taste and aroma of breads, pies and cookies depend on flours from wheat, rye, and related grains. Unfortunately, all of them contain gluten. Mostly, I find that gluten-free substitutes (rice, corn or nut flours in combination with various starches) are wanting and really cannot replace wheat. True, flour-free cakes and cookies are superb, but how many macaroons and rich confections can one eat day after day?

I have learned to leave bread-baking to the experts and to do without pie, but I do have a delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe, based on one developed by American Test Kitchens. It is best made with their ATK all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (find the recipe on the net), but Bob’s Red Mill flour works almost as well. The secret is in using lots of butter and the result is a minor triumph.

GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 ounces semisweet chocolate

8 ounces gluten-free all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 ounces butter, melted

5 1/4 ounces light brown sugar (3/4 cup, packed)

2 1/3 ounces granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the chocolate into more or less 1/8” squares; this will be impossible to do without creating a lot of chocolate crumbs—not to worry, they’ll melt into the cookies. Reserve.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Reserve.

Beat together the butter, the brown and the granulated sugar. Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract and beat until well blended. Stir in the flour, add the chocolate bits and stir into a cohesive dough. Cover the dough and let it rest for thirty minutes.

With a teaspoon, scoop up enough dough to make a walnut-sized oval and drop the dough onto the cookie sheets, spaced 1 1/2” apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookies are a golden colour—do not overbake.

Let the cookies cool on the parchment for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack until completely cooled. Store in a freezer bag and freeze immediately. Thaw only as many as will be eaten right away. I like them best when they are still slightly frozen—delicious!