Sunday, May 24, 2015

The BEST Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Cookies

As promised, I've been baking gluten-free all month. It has required a library of carbohydrates instead of just one. My pantry has been stocked with rice flour, oats and an array of tuber starches instead of the almighty all-purpose wheat flour.

I've learned that starch is a pain in the butt to clean up after!

You know that thing that happens when you add your dry ingredients to the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and then you are supposed to turn it back on low speed, but you somehow always switch swiftly past LOW and straight to MEDIUM? Well that means a whole lot more when working with starches. It means if you don't pay attention you will paper mache your kitchen.

The tricky thing about gluten-free baking is that to get the best results, you need to cater each recipe to the specific bakery product that you intend to make. It is very difficult to build one all-purpose gluten-free flour. The proportion of starches needs to be manipulated to suit the desired texture of the final product, such as an open texture for muffins, fine crumb for cakes, and dense moist texture for chewy cookies.

The best part about making gluten-free batters is that there is no worry of over-mixing. Win! 

And that's just the case for this cookie dough. These are the BEST as far as gluten-free is concerned.

They are crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, like every great chocolate chip cookie should be. And those earthquake crevices are the perfect mark of exactly that.

Here I've used a combination of tapioca starch and fine white rice flour to set the structure. White rice flour helps to dry out the dough and give it just the right amount of stiffness that it needs to be rolled into balls. Tapioca starch gelatinizes or sets at a lower temperature than corn starch so it binds water quickly - that means chewy - I like chewy! It also means faster structure-building when we have a relatively short bake time.

On rice flour, the type that you choose to use has a critical impact on the texture of your cookies! For great baking, use the absolute finest grind of rice flour. That grittiness does not go away when your goodies are baked, so however gritty it is between your fingers is how gritty it will feel between your teeth.

The secret ingredient is honey. Honey is a humectant, meaning that it binds water very well to give us all the moist-in-the-middleness that you see within the cracks. It also keeps things soft and chewy while helping to mask some of that powdery mouthfeel that comes with tapioca and corn starch, as well as mask the grittiness that comes with rice flour. 

This dough can be rolled and baked immediately but, for extra thick cookies, refrigerate it for about an hour. If you prefer wider flatter cookies, bake in a cooler oven (325 degrees F) for 10-12 minutes.

Other than the use of tapioca and rice flour, this recipe appears no different than your typical cookie recipe from the surface. But, it is the proportions that count! Stick to it and weigh your ingredients for best results.

Note that a laughable amount of cocoa and chocolate is involved - I hope that's OK with you.

They look like regular cookies. They taste like regular cookies. They are just damn good cookies!
Enjoy enjoy enjoy.

Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies

½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (150g) sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp (15mL) honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (120g) tapioca starch
1/3 cup (55g) fine white rice flour
½ cup (50g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (200g) dark chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Beat in the egg until well combined. Beat in honey and vanilla extract until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together tapioca starch, white rice flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix on the lowest speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Continue to mix until well combined. Finally mix in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour (this is optional). 

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on prepared baking trays, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand and bake for 9-11 minutes, until set around the edges and cracked at the surface. They will still be soft in the middle. Let cool for 3 minutes on tray before transferring individually to wire rack to cool completely. They will set as they cool and the centers should be dense and chewy.
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