Two Versions of Alton Brown’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)

From almost the moment I woke up, I was on my feet – I had a baking agenda, though I didn’t do everything that I’d planned. I baked three batches of chocolate chip cookies, three different recipes – one a variation – and gingerbread – something that I’ll be sharing next year, since I think it would be off-kilter to post a recipe for such a thing after Christmas. The smell of chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread permeated the house. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, with more than enough food, family and friends, and Christmas cheer all around.

It’s those chocolate chip cookies that I baked that morning that I’m sharing here today. The third batch I’m holding on to a bit longer since I want to play with it a bit more and fine tune it, but I can already say that they’re my Dad’s favourite.

This particular chocolate chip cookie recipe comes from Alton Brown. To be honest, I had hardly a clue about who Alton Brown is – I confess I didn’t even recognize his name – until not too long ago and I’ve since come across a number of blogs singing praises to the heavens about his recipes and how they work. It was while I was researching, once again, the chemistry of chocolate chip cookies that I came across Mr. Brown’s three recipes for chocolate chip cookies. I don’t remember how it happened or started, but lately I’ve been having seemingly an obsession, for lack of a better word, with chocolate chip cookies. I pore over articles about them, including that New York Times article with the thirty-six hour dough that had food bloggers in a frenzy, and study all the varieties that are out there that are inevitably tied to Ruth Wakefield. Sometimes, my interest is not so much in eating them but learning about the chemistry that makes a good chocolate chip cookie. Such personal quests are sometimes  a pain since I want to go right down to the very science of it and that can’t always be easily found or answered with a few clicks of a Google search.

Soon enough, I came to find Alton Brown’s recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Delving further into this recipe, it turns out that it is adapted from one of his three chocolate chip cookie recipes: the chewy, I believe. I made the cookie dough the night before, on Christmas Eve, and baked them on Christmas morning. They seemed promising, I was hoping I’d be one of the thousands standing and clapping in ovation, but once I tasted one, I wasn’t completely happy. The cookie itself was of a pleasing sturdiness, it was chewy, but all the while as I ate it I thought something was lacking. I became full after just one cookie – that in itself not a bad thing, except that this feeling of being full was not satisfied but ugh, like it was just sitting there.

Most of my gripes seemed to be idiosyncratic, however, as almost everyone else liked them. My aunt loved them – may I tell she ate four in a row? – even to the point of employing one of the oldest tricks in the book: to exclaim and point at something non-existent and, while everyone’s backs are turned, take the last cookie and run. Cheeky!

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Peanut Butter or Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)

Start typing “gluten free chocolate chip” into Google and the first search suggestion is “gluten free chocolate chip cookies”. (Second is gluten free chocolate cake.) Maybe I’ve made it obvious in my various comments on different bloggers’ posts, but just in case I haven’t, I like chocolate chip cookies. It’s one of those cookies that seems to always hit the spot and that everyone likes. Some days, I’ll get a hankering for them. In the old days a.k.a. before blogging I would just crave that cookie – sometimes it would pass, other times it would be reciprocated. Nowadays I’m on the Internet, torturing myself with pictures of all kinds of chocolate chip cookies and reading recipes, then driving myself crazy trying to figure out which ones to make with what I already have on hand. Such was the case with these cookies.

First I was looking at Elana’s chocolate chip cookies – the ones that I’ve read rave reviews about everywhere, from people who have made them to people who have eaten them, made by Elana herself, at food blogging conferences. All of the ingredients I had on hand but not enough for all of them.

The deal was sealed when my brother came along and saw what I was looking at. “Chocolate chip cookies? Are you going to make them?” Meaning, today. (This was a couple of weeks ago.) Then I remembered a gluten-free, flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookie I’d seen on Martha Stewart’s website, but that I’d first caught sight of in one of the issues of Everyday Food way back in 2005. (Really, was it that long ago?)

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Cinnamon Coffee Bars (GFCF)

An oven thermometer is the best thing to improve your baking success rate. Unless it’s the omission of some key ingredient or missed step, usually – in fact, very often – do our baking flops (and successes) depend on the correct temperature. The problem is, not all ovens are made alike – think of the oft-said snowflake metaphor – thus one temperature on your oven might not be the same as your neighbor’s, being off by as much as fifty degrees, and so on. Not to mention keying in factors of different altitudes, weather…it just gets more complicated the more you think about it.

Myself, I didn’t think much of off-kilter oven temperatures and oven thermometers until I read this from Karina Allrich, aka the Gluten-Free Goddess. Beforehand, the farthest I got to thinking about varying temperatures were the differences between gas and electric, and high altitude cooking. After finding out more about oven thermometers, and finding out that newer models of ovens tend to have off-temperatures, I was convinced to get one. Now that I have an oven thermometer in my posession, though, (thanks, Grandma!)  I’m amazed. Sometimes the temperature showing on the display is not what the oven thermometer shows. For example, these coffee bars were to be baked at 350 degrees, and according to the thermometer, the oven was off by ten degrees.

Of course, as with ovens, not all oven thermometers seem to be made equally either. Some people have conducted experiments using different oven thermometers and get different readings off them. The best thing is to do your research first before buying an oven thermometer, if you don’t have one already. Another thing is, as part of your pre-buying research, find out what oven thermometers your favourite food bloggers use and what they think (if possible). As for me, I’ll have to see if my grandmother knows what oven thermometer she got me as I threw out the packaging and there’s nothing on the oven thermometer that indicates the brandname, unfortunately.

This recipe for these coffee bars come from the Cook IT Allergy Free app (available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad), developed by Kim of Cook It Allergy Free. I’ve talked about this app before – I have contributed recipes that I’ve previously featured to the app – and now I’m excited to share one of the recipes from this wonderful allergy cooking app here. I had all the ingredients on hand for the cinnamon coffee bars, though that’s not the reason why I chose to make them. I’ve wanted to do something with coffee for a while now, and this was the ticket. As they finished baking, all I could think was that I’d walked into Starbucks.

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