In episode 04 we learn how to make gluten-free cookies that rival the ones you grew up on! Learn many easy, pro tips for making soft, chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies without any greasiness or grittiness. This audio recipe for gluten-free cookies will transform you into expert gluten-free baker. Join Melissa as she shows you how!
Recipes and Resources Mentioned
- Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer
- Flex Edge Paddle Attachment
- Oven thermometer
- Nordicware baking sheets
- Cookie scoops
- Flexible spatula
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Hey y’all. I’m Melissa Erdelac, host of the Gluten-Free Recipe Challenge podcast and creator behind the gluten-free website Mamagourmand. Here we take beloved recipes you thought you’d never enjoy again and transform them into easy copycat versions, just as good as the originals.
So on today’s show, we are going to talk about how to make soft, chewy, gluten-free cookies that don’t have any grittiness to them. And by that I don’t mean just edible cookies, but some really fucking awesome cookies.
Here’s some problems with gluten-free cookies and how we’ll combat that.
There can be some common problems, like they could be overly greasy, which causes them to spread and become very thin. On the other hand, they could be super dry and crumbly. The other problem that I find is that they can look good. They have a great texture, but then they have this weird aftertaste.
So for the purposes of today’s show, we’re going to talk about the Grand Poobah of all cookies. We’re going talk about chocolate chip cookies, but honestly, these tips can apply to any gluten-free cookie you make.
We are also going to talk about good general baking tips, like how to make sure the chocolate chips are evenly dispersed, how to get that ridged bakery look instead of very flat cookies. And also, how to know when to pull them from the oven, which either makes your cookies very under baked or super over baked.
So first what you’ll need. I always use a stand mixer, and then I have a Flex Edge beater, which is the paddle attachment, but it has a silicone piece around it, so it scrapes the dough and it moves it to the middle of the bowl. So you don’t have to stop and scrape down your bowl. And you’re gonna hear me talk about this so much.
So if you’ve already heard the spiel, you could go ahead and jump 30 seconds. But anyway, I feel like a stand mixer is great for gluten-free baking because a lot of times you have to mix the dough longer to make sure that the starches soften and relax. A stand mixer just does that job better instead of standing there and doing it. Also the whisk attachments on a hand beater don’t incorporate the dough as well as a paddle attachment.
The other thing you will need are good quality baking sheets. There’s two type of baking sheets. There’s the baking sheets that look like they might be in a cooking show and you won’t be embarrassed about.
And then there’s the baking sheets that your mom gave you when you went to college because she was done using them and didn’t wanna see them anymore. You need to get the good stuff. The baking sheets make a huge difference when you’re making cookies.
The quality ones are heavier and they’re aluminum, so they conduct the heat evenly, which makes their cookies evenly browned. Also, if you have those old crappy baking sheets, they generally have a lot of gunk baked on, or they’re warped, so they’re just not going to perform as well. The baking sheets I use, and I’ll link to these in my show notes, are Nordicware Baking Sheets, and they’re actually pretty affordable. America’s Test Kitchen recommends them and they are awesome.
Plus they’re not really a big investment and it’s going to immensely step up your baking game, which brings me to another handy thing that everyone should have in their kitchen, an oven thermometer. When I get comments about things taking too long to bake or the baking time wasn’t correct or it was burned, I just want to scream out a public service announcement .
It’s not my damn fault. Buy a freaking $6 oven thermometer. If you have a gas oven versus an electric oven, it makes a difference in how it performs, and I’ll say I have some pretty bougie ovens and even those lose their calibration, so I always keep the oven thermometer in there.
So if it says bake at 325, I know I’m actually baking it at 325, which in the case of gluten-free cookies makes a huge difference and I’ll go over that later. I will link to the oven thermometer that I have, and it’s, honestly, it’s no more than $7. You could get it off of Amazon. You just leave it in your oven all the time.
The other thing I use a ton for baking and not just cookies, but muffins and all sorts of things are cookie scoops. Gluten-free dough isn’t as manageable as other dough. A lot of times it’s a lot softer. With wheat flour dough, you would be able to use a spoon to put it on there or use your hands to put it on the baking sheet. Gluten-free dough isn’t like that. I always use a cookie scoop. It disperses the dough evenly. It makes the cookies round and it just makes the whole process go by quicker. I have one in a small, medium and large, and like I said, I use it for all sorts of things.
The other thing I would recommend is I have this really great flexible spatula. This isn’t like absolutely necessary. But I love this spatula. It’s really thin and it’s great for getting under things, especially for a food that has a tendency to stick to pans, like roasted veggies or potatoes, and they are able to just work under food a lot better than those thicker silicone ones.
Okay, so let’s get to the ingredients. I will go through all the ingredients, explain any notes or suggestions, but I first want to talk about the most important ingredient in gluten-free, baking, the flour. We all have personal preferences based on what’s available, your allergens, the cost. But my number one brand I will always recommend is Cup4Cup.
And recommend it based solely on that it mimics wheat flour the best. if you’re only going for making something taste exactly how it used to taste, then I highly recommend Cup4Cup. I will say it contains milk powder, so sometimes people can’t have it if they’re dairy free and you may have other stipulations to consider, so it might not work for you. But when I’m developing recipes, I’m only thinking about how to make the taste and texture exactly how I remember that.
I’ve done some personal experimentation with this, and specifically around cookies where I’ve made my cookie recipe with Cup4Cup. I’ve made it with King Arthur. I’ve made it with Bob’s Red Mill, um, Pillsbury and I took all these cookies. I did it with breads, with pie crusts, with cookies, with biscuits. I took these things to my family and friends , and they gave me their thoughts on it.
Across the board, everyone preferred Cup4Cup. I will link to that post as well where I show the different baking experiments and you could kind of see how the different flours stack up.
Okay, so let’s get to making the cookie. First of all, besides a great gluten-free flour, you will need eight tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted. And the reason why we melt the butter in gluten-free cookies , instead of using softened buttered is because it coats the starches more.
Gluten-free starches are grittier, ricer. They’re generally made with brown rice or rice flour or tapioca starch and things that are just not as soft as wheat flour . So when you use melted butter, it kind of coats those starches and makes it softer, which is one way we combat the grittiness.
The other thing you’ll need is light brown sugar and white sugar. I do that because the white sugar builds up the structure while the light brown sugar adds to the chewiness. If you just did all brown sugar, then the cookies might be, they would be very chewy, but they might be flat. The white sugar builds up the heft and then the light brown sugar adds a chewy factor to it.
You’ll need one egg and you’ll need a tablespoon of vanilla extract.
And I am going to blow your mind right now about the type of vanilla extract I use.
Okay, are you ready for this? I actually use in a lot of my baking recipes imitation vanilla flavoring. I would never have thought to use this unless it wasn’t suggested to me from Cooks Illustrated. They tested a bunch of vanilla extracts, including pure vanilla extracts, and then this imitation vanilla flavoring, which is made by Bakers, and they actually preferred this over a lot more expensive ones. In my baking cabinet, I have the real shit that I use for like heavily reliant vanilla flavoring. Like if I’m going to flavor a whipped cream or creme brulee or something that you really need to infuse that flavor in. But most of the times I use Baker’s Imitation Flavoring, which is literally like, $2, and you get a big thing of it. I go through a ton of vanilla extract and when I’m baking it into things like cookies or brownies, and you just need that hint of flavor. I use this all the time, and specifically for this recipe, you need a tablespoon of vanilla extract. Save yourself some money and get the Baker’s Imitation Vanilla Flavoring .
Okay, so you also need the gluten-free flour, which I recommend Cup4Cup. You’ll need one teaspoon of baking soda. When you’re making cookies you should use baking soda. Not baking powder. They both assist with leavening the cookies, but baking soda gives it that chewiness, where baking powder is more of a cakey rise.
You’ll need salt and chocolate chips. And here is my other chocolate chip cookie tip. Anytime I put chocolate chips in a recipe, I never use straight regular size chocolate chips. I always use a mixture of regular chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips. That is how I get all the chocolate everywhere, all dispersed because the mini chocolate chips kind of go in the nooks and crannies of the bigger chocolate chips.
Let’s talk about how to make the cookies. And in here I will also add any tips about the method. In a large bowl or stand mixer, but seriously get a stand mixer. You beat together the melted butter, the brown sugar, the sugar, the egg and your super cheap vanilla until it’s well combined.
Mix all that together and then after that, I know a lot of baking recipes say, whisk together the dry ingredients and then add them to there. I just feel like that’s making another bowl dirty, and I’ve never found any difference in doing that. So honestly, I always just throw the dry ingredients in there with the wet ones.
So right to the bowl I add the gluten free flour, the baking soda and salt, and mix that on low speed until you do not see any flour remaining. Once all of that is mixed in, you mix in the chocolate chips on low speed too, and I mix the chocolate chips just with my paddle attachment because if some of the chocolate breaks, then who gives a shit? There’s more chocolate everywhere.
Now your dough’s done. You’ve done all the things . When you look at it, you’re gonna be like, this isn’t right. It’s super soft and sticky, but guess what? It’s right. That’s exactly how it should look. It’s a lot softer than regular cookie dough. Which brings me to another mistake people make with gluten-free baking. They will look at the dough and they will think, this doesn’t look right. This doesn’t look like the cookies that I used to make. And they will add more flour and it will start to look like the cookies that you used to make. At least the dough will.
But then after you bake them, that’s when you get those really dry crumbly cookies because there’s too much flour in them. So, don’t be a sucker for adding more flour. The dough is fine. It should be slightly sticky and soft.
At this point, you’re going to cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. When you do this, the butter will re solidify, which will make the dough easier to work with, and it also gives time for the gluten-free starches to relax and hydrate, which is another reason why these cookies are so freaking awesome.
It will take away the grittiness because the butter will coat the starches and the cookie softening them, and it’ll give time for the moisture to be absorbed in the starches as well. Gluten-free starches don’t absorb moisture as easily as regular wheat flour. So you need some extra time to let the dough relax and let that moisture absorb into it.
While you’re refrigerating it for 30 minutes, and if you want to, you can refrigerate it for longer, but I suggest minimum 30 minutes, you are going to preheat your oven to 325.
So why 325? Generally, cookies are baked at 350. This is something I’ve been experimenting a lot with lately. Doesn’t work well with cakes, but it works really well with gluten-free breads and gluten-free cookies. I find that baking them at a lower oven, it’s going to extend the baking time, which gives the baked goods more time to absorb that moisture and make it softer and less gritty.
You could try this experiment when you bake them, you could bake one pan at 350 and one pan at 325 to see what I’m talking about.
The ones at 350 are still amazing, but they have this like, chewiness to it. Not like chewy, like you want your cookies chewy, but almost like something stuck in my teeth kind of chewy, if that makes sense. Where the 325 cookies are also soft and chewy, but they kind of, the dough melds together more and replicates a regular cookie.
I hope I did a good job explaining that. Just do the experiment and see what I’m talking about.
Now shaping your cookies. And this is another trick you could use for gluten-free cookies or not gluten-free cookies that make your cookies the shit. So you’re gonna take your cookie scoop. I use a medium cookie scoop . Or if you don’t have a cookie scoop, you’ll need about two tablespoons of dough per cookie.
Scoop up the ball of dough, and after it’s a ball, what you’re going to do is roll it between your hands so it becomes a very tall cylinder.
It almost looks like, remember those toys, they’re, I think they’re called Weeble wobbles. It’s like that shape. You want it in a weeble wobble shape, but you want to flatten the bottom so it doesn’t wobble over, so you could stick it onto the baking sheet.
When they’re baked, instead of flattening out in a perfectly round circle , the dough undulates down and it bakes into soft ridged layers, kind of like what you would see at a bakery. And if you want to know what that looks like, you could go to the post and you could see from the image on the post.
Put the pants in the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pants halfway through.
This is another thing. I, like I said earlier, have some bougie ovens and I still take out my pans, r otate them and I switch racks halfway through. It’s just to make sure that the cookies are baked evenly.
They will be done when the edges are set, but the middle is still a little soft.
And I’ll say the middle should be slightly under baked. The most common mistake home bakers make is they over bake them. You’re not going to die if your cookie is slightly under baked. Don’t quote me on that. I’m sure someone has died from under baked cookies. But seriously, live a little.
Don’t bake the cookie until it all looks completely done. Otherwise, when it cools, you’re gonna have a hard, crunchy cookie. And that is like the worst thing in the world.
Take your baking sheets out of the oven after they’re slightly under baked, and just leave them on for 10 minutes. This will help set up the cookie. They’ll bake a little bit more as they’re sitting on the hot pans, and just let ’em sit there before you transfer them to a wire rack.
If you don’t house these cookies all at one time, what’s the best way to store them?
The drawback of gluten-free baked goods is they do not stay fresh very long. Like I said, they have a harder time absorbing moisture, which means the moisture evaporates quickly and they become dry and crumbly. If I’m not going to eat something that day, I freeze it.
You can make these cookies the day before, but honestly, even if I made them the day before, I would still freeze them. One other tip about freezing unbaked cookies. If you don’t know this, put them on the baking sheet like you’re going to bake ’em and stick the whole baking sheet in the freezer until all the dough is frozen. Then you could transfer the frozen dough balls into the freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake, just put ’em back on the baking sheet and bake directly from frozen. And you’ll probably need to add one minute to the baking time.
So that’s all the things I need to say about gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Gluten-Free Recipe Challenge. And remember, you could always find the full printable recipe on the link show notes page right under the podcast description. Or you could go to my recipe website, which is mamagourmand.com.
That’s MAMAGOURMAND and click on the podcast tab. The show notes page includes the full recipe along with any tips I mentioned and the recommended ingredients and equipment.
And one more super important favor. Since the show is just starting out, I would be so appreciative if you could rate and leave me a comment on your podcast app. Also, don’t forget to follow and subscribe to the show so you never miss a new recipe.