Monday, November 2, 2015

Gluten-Free Fudgy Chocolate Almond Cookies

Being told I can't eat something? That would piss me off.

Being told that I can't eat something that is a vital ingredient to all of the foods that I love? Don't even!

I am very happy that I do not have any food aversions because it would really piss people off. I would be a huge hazard to society since I have zero will power and would still eat everything. There would probably be frequent trips to the doctor. I would be a horrible nuisance to our health care system. 

Food is my friend, not the enemy. So for people who have to look at certain foods as pain inducers, that makes me sad! Especially when we're talking about warm chocolate chip cookies, butter cakes and flaky pastries. No! I won't have it. 

I am glad I can eat wheat. But, if you can't, I want you to still feel like you can. Kinda like vegetarians who eat fake meat - except this isn't fake. It's just good.

In honour of Christmas and the spirit of giving, I'm going to bake gluten-free for the month of November to help you prepare for your cookie exchange. Because we all know there will be someone who goes doesn't eat wheat in the bunch. Maybe you are that someone.

The tricky thing about gluten-free baking is the lack of a standardized ingredient like flour. And it's a very important ingredient too! Most of the time starches make up more than 50% of the recipe, so if we change it, we can expect a whole new kind of cookie!

Most all-purpose flours are very similar. They can vary in quality slightly depending on the protein content and type of specific wheat protein it contains. However the difference that this will make in a cookie or brownie recipe may not be noticeable to the average eater. Avid bakers, on the other hand, could probably notice differences in the texture of their dough or thickness of batters in recipes that they make on a regular basis.

Rice flour is very variable and changing brands makes very noticeable differences in our baking. It varies in particle size depending on the manufacturer and brand. Same with almond flour. This makes things challenging for the recipe writer and can be frustrating for the baker. You might have to go hunting in uncharted territory of the supermarket aisles or go to specialty food shops. It's certainly not as convenient as grabbing the all-purpose flour that you always have on hand.

You need both of the mentioned ingredients for this recipe - fine rice flour and fine almond meal. Key word is fine. You will be rewarded with a moist chewy, chocolaty cookie. My word, these are worth it. A fine texture means more surface area which means more opportunity for hydration. The dough will come together smoother, it will feel less greasy and it will set up better in the oven for thick, moist cookies. This sounds like a good idea, right?

They are also dairy free because I've used coconut oil for a tropical taste. This dark chocolate, almond, coconut flavour combo going on here is a winning one.

The method is no different to most drop cookie recipes - it starts with creaming the fat and sugar, then egg, vanilla, dry ingredients, delicious dark chocolate and a chill out in the fridge. Since coconut oil is still very hard at room temperature, you'll need to soften it up gently with short bursts in the microwave before you can cream it. Brown sugar and coconut is a simple but not-so-obvious awesome flavour combo. It's somewhat like the coconut and palm sugar combo that is deliciously embraced in most Southeast Asian cuisines. Genius.

Get ready for more recipes you can share!  The sharing part is optional. (You know... because of the will power thing...) 


Gluten-Free Fudgy Chocolate Almond Cookies
Makes 16 cookies

⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp (90g) coconut oil, softened
2/3 cup (145g) packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (100g) almond flour/meal (ultra fine)
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (65g) fine white rice flour
3 tbsp (18g) unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
Scant ½ tsp salt
100g bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped roasted almonds

In large bowl, cream together soft coconut oil and brown sugar until well combined and lightened a bit. Stir in egg and vanilla until well blended.

In a separate bowl, pass the almond flour, rice flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt through a sieve and blend well. Add to coconut oil mixture and stir to incorporate well. Fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, or until firm.

While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on a prepared baking tray, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until puffed and edges are set (the middle will set as cookies cool).

Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 
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