because gluten-free food doesn't have to be rubbish

Posts Tagged ‘cookies

36 Hours

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It’s like 157 hours, only with less gore. Aged chocolate chip cookies. This is a very strange concept to me, and yet it’s been ambling round the food circuit/blogosphere for a few years now: aged cookie dough makes for much better cookies. The science behind this is, well, erm I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps that the vanilla extract has time to really infuse the dough. Or that the liquids have long enough to form real cohesive bonds with the gluten, or gluten substitute, making for a better texture. Or something else. I’m not really sure. What I do know is patience is a virtue. This is always true in baking – opening the oven door to check if your cake is done even when you know it isn’t is always going to be a bad idea. But here, the patience required is almost superhuman. Make chocolate chip cookie dough, littered with huge chunks of dark chocolate, and tiny crystals of sugar and salt and leave to sit in the fridge for 36 hours before baking. In that time, resist the urge to eat said cookie dough, which is one of a few items that tastes almost better in its raw form, wrong though you know it is.

If you do manage to successfully do this though you’ll be rewarded with fat, hefty cookies that are slightly crunchy on the outside from the sugar (sugar alert, I didn’t really cut back in this recipe as it would affect the texture too much, so they’re pretty sugar heavy) to a soft, chewy interior that in the very centre gives way to an almost cakelike crumb. These will lift you from the deepest of mid-afternoon slumps.

36-hour chocolate chip cookies
From New York Times

The chocolate in these cookies is key. I used three types of chocolate, maybe in part because I had underestimated how many chocolate chips I had and thus had to improvise slightly. I used 100g milk chocolate chips, 200g dark chocolate chips, and a 200g block of cooking chocolate, which I chopped into small chunks. The benefit of doing this is you end up with lots of little flakes of chocolate too, which melt in the batter and provide little flecks of chocolate, along with the big hearty solid chunks.

280g butter
275g light brown sugar
220g white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
575g gluten-free flour blend
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
500g chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

1. In a large bowl cream the butter and the brown and white sugars together for a few minutes until light and pale. One at a time beat in the eggs, then stir in the vanilla.

2. In a medium bowl stir the gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together. Slowly stir these into the butter and sugar mixture until just combined. Add the chocolate chunks, stir for 30 seconds or until these are fairly evenly distributed throughout the mixture, then take the huge ball of dough, wrap it in clingfilm and transfer to the fridge to age for 24-36 hours. Try not to eat it in this time.

3. Up top 36 hours later (or even longer, though I think much more scientific tests than mine showed no discernible improvement in taste and texture after 36 hours), preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop balls of the dough onto the baking sheets. The dough balls should be roughly the size of squash balls, and they should be flattened slightly before laying out an inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden, and leave to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, before transferring to cooling racks.

Makes 36 medium-large cookies (2-3-inches wide) that last well in an airtight container at room temperature, for about a week.


Written by guffblog

1st August 2011 at 13:46

Posted in Biscuits

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Fast and slow

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Oats contain gluten. Confusingly, it’s not the same as the gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. Its structure is a little different and for this reason most coeliacs don’t react to it (though in some it triggers the same immune response as any other gluten-containing cereal). Fortunately for me, I don’t seem to be sensitive to oats, but there is still the problem of cross-contamination. Oats are often grown alongside other cereals and processed in plants where wheat and barley are used in large quantities. As a result most commercial oats on the market actually contain quite high levels of gluten. Luckily it is possible to get gluten-free oats though, produced in dedicated factories, and they can add so much to a diet nearly bereft of cereals. Apart from the obvious advantages of porridge, and its warming and filling properties in the depths of winter, they can be used to add nutritional value to a wide variety of biscuits. Full of protein and fibre oats are a relatively low GI (glycaemic index) food. This means that unlike pure sugar, which sends your blood sugar levels rocketing before slumping just as quickly, oats release their energy over a longer period of time so you feel fuller, longer. Or in my case, you don’t get a headache from eating too much sugar too quickly.

These biscuits perfectly combine the fast-release, instant-energy hit of, well, lots of sugar and some chocolate chips with the slow-release energy from oats. On the plus side this means they have the chewy, soft texture of very sugary cookies. And on the plus side (that’s the other plus side) they are quite filling, because of the oats, so you can stop at just one. If you want to. Even those who mock your strange eating habits will unreservedly declare these delicious. And given they take but a few minutes to throw together and scoop out onto a baking sheet, I think these are going to become my go-to cookies for most occasions from now on. Fast to make, fast to eat, slow to linger in the memory.

Oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies
From The Baking Beauties

Personally I found the recipe just a touch on the sweet side, and next time would reduce the sugar by an eighth or so, to about 375g. Any less and I think the lovely chewy texture would be affected.

1 cup (230g) butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar (375g) – I used a mix of white and demerara
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (280g) gf flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 cups (180g) gf oats
1 cup (200g) dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C.

2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla.

3. In a medium bowl mix together the gf flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Fold these into the butter and eggs mixture, and stir well. When completely mixed in, add the oats and finally the chocolate chips to the mixture. The dough should be quite stiff and you should be able to form balls quite readily with your hands.

4. Using your hands shape the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet a couple of inches apart and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 12 minutes, until they have spread out, are going brown at the edges and still soft in the middle. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 36 cookies.

Written by guffblog

16th November 2010 at 19:36

Twice as nice

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Most spices are very one-dimensional. You can add more or less of them to increase the intensity of flavour, but that’s about it. Fresh nutmeg tastes fairly similar to dry. But ginger. Ahh, the fun you can have with ginger. Dry ginger is hot and sweet and intense. Fresh ginger has a kick but a fruity tang to it. Crystallised ginger adds texture and sweetness. All of these can be layered together, without treading on each other’s toes. They can enhance a dish without overpowering it.

Unfortunately for me, I had no crystallised ginger in the sodding house this weekend, which irked me as I bet these cookies would be amazing with triple ginger in them, not just double. Still, they are pretty damn fine like this, with a background warmth from the ground ginger, and little bites of fresh ginger to add zing and kapow. Even better, if you eat them when they’re still warm the chocolate chips are just melty enough to be gooey. Delightful. Heidi recommends making these cookies tiny, and rolling them in a large-crystal sugar like demerara (apparently that’s what “turbinado” sugar is, so many strange terms to decipher when using American recipes, it’s a whole new language). I found these were quite sweet enough without extra sugar, though I can see that they would look amazing as little round bites covered in sparkling sugar.

Double-ginger chocolate-chip cookies
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

I didn’t use any xanthan gum in this recipe as I thought the cookies didn’t need it and they were lovely and light and crumbly as a result, in a good way. If you do want to use xanthan gum I wouldn’t use more than 1 teaspoon and increase the liquid even more by adding a splash of milk to the dough at the end.

1/4 cup (56g) butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
50g granulated sugar
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 large egg
1 cup (150g) gluten-free flour blend
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Pinch of salt
100g chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl in the microwave melt the butter. Stir in the golden syrup, sugar and fresh grated ginger. When cool enough to touch whisk in the egg.

3. Mix the gf flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the liquids, then add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

4. Scoop out balls of dough about 1-2 inches in size. Place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly with the heel of your palm. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes (mine took 11) until golden brown and crispy round the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 18. Have so far kept quite happily for 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Written by guffblog

20th October 2010 at 18:35

Posted in Biscuits

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