I hadn’t really planned to post these cookies until I was on Apartment Therapy/Kitchn and saw, to my astonishment, shortbread cookies that looked like the chocolate chip cookies I made with Carrie’s (Ginger Lemon Girl) recipe. It was an entirely different recipe but the texture looked just the same as these gluten-free cookies. When I adopted Carrie and made her chocolate chip cookies, you may recall this:
I doubled the recipe once and my measurements must have been a little off, as I ended up with a dough that was pliable and suitable for rolling for cut-out cookies. (It must be said, though, that I often eyeball some ingredients such as honey and sometimes my sense of a particular measurement can be a little more or less than the actual measurement.) I rolled the dough into logs and chilled them in the freezer for about 15 minutes, before slicing and baking in the oven for the same amount of time. What resulted was a cookie with a delicate and soft, sandy shortbread-like crumb. They puffed a bit, but did not spread since there was no baking powder used, I imagine. The cookie itself was mildly sweet; most of the sweetness came from the chocolate chips. No xanthum gum was used. I replicated it again, that time writing down the measurements (in weights) and they’re beautiful.
I’ve made those cookies again and again. I love that I can freeze the logs of dough so that there’s always something whenever someone needs their chocolate chip cookie fixing or just wants to munch on a cookie with substance. I had a log of cookie dough in the freezer for up to two weeks and they were still good. I’m sure it could have lasted even longer, perhaps a month.
The first time I doubled that recipe, I used cup measurements but I don’t generally fill the cup all the way to the top, sometimes I don’t even level it. I like and prefer preciseness to a scientific degree, though I won’t deny that I can be romantic and intuitive as well: a pinch of this, adding something until I feel it’s the right amount. I usually use a spoon to measure the flour into the cup, gently shake it to slightly level it off and it’s generally just short of the very top; it’s not packed – not exactly a scant cup but it isn’t what Fannie Farmer would call level either. I don’t sweep.
Anyway, I was able to replicate it again, remembering how full I measured the cup. Now I know that a visual memory of how full the cup looked is not an entirely accurate picture since it doesn’t account precisely how much flour could be in the cup but it’s good enough for me. After spooning the flour into the cup, I’d measure it on the scale, write down the number of grams, and proceed with the next.
Now every time I’ve made these cookies with the weight measurements, it’s been the same cookie: same consistency, same texture, every time.
While this post is really about this shortbread version of Carrie’s chocolate chip cookies, when I started to write this post I ended up writing a lot about using weights and scales versus measuring with cups. I wrote too much to delete it and simply give you the recipe, as this is something I have been thinking about for a while and I want to voice it here. If you just want the recipe and don’t want to read my commentary, click here to skip it.
Recipes in grams used to scare me. If there wasn’t an equivalent in cups, I would put that recipe aside and move on. I only started to use weights when I began to learn that different flours weigh differently. I initially started with ounces but I’ve found myself leaning with a preference towards grams. (Previously the only ingredient I would weigh in a recipe was chocolate.)
While I like using weight measurements, I think one major possible problem of baking with weights is that you are relying on the accuracy of the scale you’re using unless you are experienced enough to gage that amount by simply eyeballing it. One day I almost went into a quandary because I saw 1 cup of cornstarch as 130 grams and I’d used 150 grams, which I had measured as a scant cup. Different recipes but it was enough for me to begin doubting the accuracy of the scale I’m currently using (I want to have a new one, one day) and began to wonder – hoping that I wasn’t misleading any of you, my readers, with my gram measurements and cup equivalents.
(If you’ve made any of the recipes on this site that has measurements in grams listed and you used grams, I’d love to read your comments telling me how it went for you.)
That being said, however, in hindsight I think that while I could still call into question the accuracy of my scale perhaps the better question to ask would be how was the cornstarch measured into the cup? Was it scooped up with the cup, or was it spooned in? Leveled and swept off the excess? (This is important because while in that recipe I had initially measured 1 scant cup of cornstarch as 150 grams, for this cookie recipe it’s 120 grams). I try not to think about these factors too much because, one, it gives me a headache and two, suddenly everything is too serious and there’s no fun in it anymore and I worry too much if I’m getting it right or not – and that gives everyone a headache.
While measuring with cups have been recently scrutinized for accuracy, it’s less to do with the actual cup measurement but more so about how a person is measuring her flour with it. Standard cup measurements (how much it can hold) varies by country, but the argument of measuring with cups and how much has really been measured is essentially an idiosyncratic problem.
Though I’m measuring more with grams (and praying to the gods that my scale is not just being truthy), I still use cups sometimes in my baking whether I decide to post it on the blog or not.
I think that it’s fair to say that there will still be variable factors – if it’s been sitting in the bag for a long time and it’s compact or if you’ve loosened it up, temperature (from the freezer or room temperature? I’ll tell you that any flours I have in the freezer I don’t usually let it warm up to room temperature), etc. – in how much you’re actually using when it comes to measuring flour, even when using a scale and measuring with grams; not to mention that consistencies of flours can vary from brand to brand or if you’ve milled or ground your own flours: that, too, can affect weight. Recipes in grams does not necessitate that they’re fool-proof.
While baking with weights is predominantly European, I know of Europeans who prefer to use cups rather than haul out a scale. More than anything, for the home cook/baker, this is a personal preference. While baking with ratios may have a higher success rate towards accuracy (especially in gluten-free baking) than volume measurements, my philosophy is that use what works for you. We should not be afraid of the kitchen; as Julia Child said, “Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
Do you bake with weights or volumes, or do you alternate between the two? Which is easier for you?
I understand that this weights versus cups and vise versa can be a hot topic for some, so if you decide to weigh in – no pun intended – on this matter please be polite and courteous to others, and respectful of their opinions. Any comments that attack people because of their opinions will be deleted.
128 grams (4 1/2 ounces or about 1 scant cup) millet flour
60 grams (2 ounces or scant 1/2 cup) brown rice flour
120 grams (4.2 ounces or scant 1 cup) cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt (omit or reduce to 1/4 tsp. if using Earth Balance)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 large or medium eggs
55 grams unsalted butter at room temperature or Earth Balance
2 tbsp. (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tbsp. (40 to 50 ml) honey
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips (use a brand such as Enjoy Life)
Replace half the chocolate chips with chopped, good quality white chocolate (make sure it has cocoa butter in the ingredients, which gives it that chocolaty taste; I use Green and Black’s)
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the flours with the salt and baking soda in a small or medium bowl. Separately, cream the butter and olive oil together and add the honey. Crack in the eggs, mixing well, and add vanilla.
Gradually add the flour blend to the wet ingredients, stirring with a rubber spatula, until a pliable, stiff ball of dough forms. Mix in the chocolate chips into the dough until completely mixed and there aren’t any loose chips clattering in the bottom of the bowl. Cut the ball of dough in half with the spatula. Shape one half with your hands on a piece of wax paper and roll into a log shape with your hands. Wrap the log carefully in plastic wrap, chilling for 15 to 20 minutes or until firm. Repeat with the other half of dough.
Unwrap the dough and slice into cookies. Place cookies on prepared sheet and bake for 9 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Enjoy!
Cookie dough can be frozen for up to 2 weeks to possibly 1 month. Thaw the frozen dough for about 5 to 10 minutes so that it’s easier to cut.