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Some of my favorite recipes are those where I take an existing recipe and convert it to a gluten free and dairy free version as opposed to coming up with a new recipe from scratch. These aren't my favorite because they're easier - trust me, it can go both ways. Especially when it comes to baking! I just enjoy learning how different ingredients work compared to what the original recipe calls for. I was surprised at the difficulty of converting this recipe for chewy chocolate chip cookies but I learned so much!
My friend Patty from Pattymac Makes told me about these incredible chocolate chip cookies she was working on. They are supposed to be similar to the "famous" DoubleTree cookie recipe which I had never even heard of. I just HAD to try them. Patty suggested I try converting the recipe into something I could enjoy so she sent over her recipe to work with.
Patty is a big proponent of weight based measurements in recipes as opposed to volume based. I was too at one time. I guess I still am but it was too intimidating to figure out with gluten free baking! However, I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and figure it out. And what better way to learn than on a simple, harmless little chocolate chip cookie recipe, right? Ha! Well, it was certainly a learning experience but in a very enjoyable way. Not only did it allow me to learn about weight measurements for gluten free recipes, but it also taught me how each ingredient functions in a recipe.
For instance, the shortening I used messed everything up. The last time I checked, Crisco was potentially cross contaminated with gluten so it's unsafe for me. (Now it looks like they're claiming it to be gluten free on their website but they don't provide any details so I'm still proceeding with caution by avoiding it.) Store brands of shortening don't have enough allergen information available to determine their safety. Therefore, I always use non-hydrogenated Spectrum vegetable shortening and if you've ever tried it, you've probably noticed it almost has a whipped airy texture to it. It's much less dense than traditional shortening.
So, say you need a quarter cup of shortening. If I'm using the Spectrum version, it's going to weigh less than a quarter cup of traditional shortening. So when I add shortening to a recipe, is it for moisture purposes? For structure? If a recipe says to use 113 grams of traditional shortening, do I need 113 grams of Spectrum which results in a greater volume or do I try to match the volume which results in less weight?
The answer, hands down, was to match the volume measurement on the recipe, not the weight. For the shortening anyways. Now, to be clear, if you're not converting a recipe and making something already tested, you will get the most consistent results going off weight. Every. Single. Time. However, when I swapped the different types of shortening, my cookies melted into giant puddles. I knew something was off as soon as I started creaming it with the dairy free butter and sugars because it looked wet as if I had already added eggs. When I matched by volume, it worked!
Using some shortening combined with butter can help keep the butter flavor in your recipe without the need to chill the dough in most cases. However, more than that was required to keep these from spreading into pancakes.
I think it had to do with swapping the butter for dairy free butter. Additionally, the original recipe is pretty different as the cookies are large and bake at only 300ºF. I think the lack of gluten (structure) in my cookies didn't allow enough hold for a long bake like that and they collapsed under their own weight. Easy fix, I just made the recipe more like my usual cookies by using a regular sized cookie scoop, upping the oven temperature, and lowering the baking time.
The other thing I found interesting was that the mix-ins help prevent spreading too. I made my husband some plain chocolate chip cookies using the exact same dough and they ended up paper thin while the regular ones were almost perfected. I don't like as much chocolate as the original recipe calls for but I learned how much to leave in for structure. I also learned I enjoy a tad more chocolate than I thought :)
I learned more but now I'm rambling so let me tell you the best part. You know that chewy texture you get from adding some oats to cookies? I was pretty disappointed I was going to miss out on that when I saw it in Patty's recipe. (I personally only consider purity protocol oats safe which are hard to find these days.) Then I got the idea to try to replace the oats with coconut flakes. The texture turned out awesome and coconut is such a mild flavor that I'm guessing they still taste similar to the real recipe.
These definitely looks similar to Patty's cookies. Actually, we were both shocked to see how similar they look. I really can't tell the difference visually! Definitely check out her version of the recipe so you can see the changes made. I find it so interesting! You may give hers a try too if you don't need a gluten free, dairy free version.
A gluten and dairy free conversion of a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe with nuts. Uses coconut for a chewy texture you'd normally get from oats which are not always truly gluten free. Based off a recipe by Pattymac Makes.
- 141 g Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour, see notes
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 56 g softened dairy free "butter", (I always like Earth Balance soy free baking sticks)
- 48 g Spectrum non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
- 76 g sugar
- 73 g dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 144 g dairy free chocolate chips
- 20 g coconut flakes
- 75 g roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- In a bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar.
- Add the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice and mix again.
- Add the dry ingredients you had set aside and mix until combined.
- Fold in the chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and nuts.
- Place balls of the dough onto a baking sheet leaving some room between each one to allow for some spreading. Use a cookie scoop for convenience and consistent sizing. You should have around 20-22 identically sized cookies.
- Bake 12-13 minutes. Let the cookies set up about two minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Good served still warm or completely cooled.
Potential allergens contained in these cookies may vary due to brands of ingredients used, product reformulations, etc. Please verify that all your ingredients are safe for you to consume and always be mindful of allergen cross contamination while cooking.
Flour: I’ve tried several different 1-1 gluten free flours in cookie recipes and have had many cookies fall apart and crumble. Unless you have another reliable 1-1 gluten free flour that contains xanthan gum, I would stick with Bob’s Red Mill since that’s what these were tested with. Note that this is made in a facility with tree nuts and soy according to the package I had.
For dairy free butter, I usually recommend Earth Balance soy free baking sticks. Note that they also carry a similar product containing soy. You can also use coconut oil as a substitute