This week on the show, Evan talks with Shauna James Ahern about different kinds of flours you can use if you’re a Gluten-Free Girl like her. We’ve all seen recipes for gluten-free flours, but Ahern’s are more interesting, because she uses a variety of grains to create interesting flavors.
This recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts comes from Ahern’s book Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. One of the flours in the cookies is teff, which is traditionally used in Ethiopian injera bread. Ahern says that teff has notes of chocolate and molasses.
Ahern also uses another interesting ingredient – psyllium husks. Many people use gums like xantham or guar to mimic the elasticity of gluten, but some (like Ahern) are allergic to those, and she’s found that psyllium husks can be cheaper. The husks have lots of fiber and they expand in water. If you can’t find whole husks, you can also buy a powdered form.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts
(Excerpted from Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, © 2013 by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.)
There are only a few times I miss gluten at all anymore. Mostly I eat better than I ever did before I had to cut gluten out of my life. However, when friends of mine started raving about Kim Boyce’s whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, I started to feel a little mopey. And then I did what I always do—converted them into something delicious that I can eat.
Kim Boyce’s book, Good to the Grain, is one of my favorite baking books of all time. After leaving her pastry chef job at Spago, Kim set out to bake for her family. Realizing she didn’t want to give them white flour and sugar all the time, she began working with whole-grain flours. Many of the flours she discovered are gluten-free. Everything I have made my own out of this book has been tremendous. But these are my favorite.
I’ll never taste the whole wheat cookies, but I have a hunch these might be better. Teff has a slight chocolate taste to it, so it pairs beautifully with anything chocolate, as do hazelnuts. Teff + chocolate + hazelnuts = magic.
I feel privileged to know Kim. We talk about baking all the time, especially now that one of her daughters had to go gluten-free. She approves of these cookies. We think you will too.
Makes about 20 cookies
210 grams Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Mix (see below)
1 teaspoon whole or powdered psyllium husks
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
3⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1⁄2 packed cup dark brown sugar
1⁄2 cup sucanat or white sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1⁄3 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1⁄2 cup cracked hazelnuts
Preparing to bake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combining the dry ingredients: Whisk together the flour, psyllium husks, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until they have become one color.
Creaming the butter and sugar: Add the cold butter cubes to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, run the mixer on medium speed until the butter is creamy and softened. Add the brown sugar and sucanat. Blend them together on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until all traces of egg disappear into the batter. Mix in the vanilla.
Finishing the batter: With the mixer running, add the flour a scoop at a time. When all the flour has been added and all trace of flour has disappeared into the batter, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate and hazelnuts. Mix until just combined.
Turn the cookie dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface. If there is any flour, chocolate, or hazelnuts left in the bowl, mix them to the dough.
Baking the cookies: Scoop 30 grams of cookie dough into your hands. Shape it into a ball. Put it on the lined baking sheet, then flatten it a bit with your palm. Smooth out the edges of the cookie disc. Repeat until you end up with 6 cookies on the baking sheet with about 3 inches of space between them.
Bake until the edges are crisp and the center is still soft to the touch, about 12 minutes, turning the tray 180 degrees in the oven halfway through baking. Carefully move the parchment paper to a counter and bake the rest of the cookies.
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Need I tell you that these cookies are best warm from the oven? However, you do need to let them cool a bit before you eat them. Hot out of the oven, they are still a little fragile. Just warm to the touch, they are heaven.
If you can’t find hazelnuts, walnuts will do just fine.
These cookies also improve in flavor if you refrigerate the dough overnight. You can roll the dough into 3 logs, cover them in plastic wrap, and have cookie dough waiting to make a couple of cookies an evening, if you prefer.
Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Mix
More and more, I use this mix when I’m baking. Not only do I appreciate the health benefits of whole-grain baking over starchy flours, but I also love the flavors of whole-grain flours. Buckwheat has a gentle nutty taste. Teff has a faint taste of chocolate and molasses. Millet has a neutral taste, so it plays well with others. Amaranth is grassy. Quinoa is deeply savory, so it’s great in quiches. Garbanzo flour tastes like. . . garbanzo beans. Oat flour tastes like oats.
When you mix whole-grain gluten-free flours, you can really build flavors with flours. This is brand new for baking. Most people aren’t thinking about flours as a flavor builder. But when you taste the chocolate chunk cookies with teff flour and hazelnuts, you’ll understand why.
300 grams teff flour
300 grams millet flour
300 grams buckwheat flour
Simply combine the flours in equal parts by weight.
Again, you can switch in the ones you want. I can tolerate gluten-free oats, so I use oat flour often, particularly in breads. Many celiacs cannot tolerate oats, however, which is why I don’t recommend them in the basic recipe. If you can, use oat flour. I prefer the taste of raw buckwheat groats ground into a flour over toasted buckwheat flour. However, if you don’t want to grind your own flour, skip the buckwheat and switch to sorghum instead.
And that’s it. Again, mix them all up in a large container and keep it on your counter. Whenever you want to bake, simply pull the flour container toward you and pull out the scale.