Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts

Shine's going gluten-free this week for National Celiac Awareness month. We'll be serving up smart ideas, solutions, stories, and of course, super-delicious recipes to help you eat sans gluten––without feeling like you're missing a thing.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Hazelnuts | Photo: Penny De Los Santos

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.

chocolate chip cookies with hazelnuts

210 grams Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Mix (recipe 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.

Makes about 20 cookies

FEEL LIKE PLAYING?

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 in this cookbook, 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.

why you need a scale to bake out of this book

You will notice that the recipes are written in grams. Before you panic, as some of you will, let me explain why.

* I want your baked goods to work. Baking by weight means the measurements will be accurate. Each gluten-free flour has a different weight. One cup of teff flour is far heavier than one cup of potato starch. If you bake by weight, you can replace the potato starch in the recipe with the accurate amount of teff flour, if you wanted a different taste or to use whole-grain flours instead. If you did this with cups, your cookies would not bake well.

* Since I want to give every one of you as much freedom as possible to play with the flavors and flours you have, a recipe that calls for 350 grams of a flour mix will work with your favorite combination of flour. A cup of a different gluten-free flour mix would have a different weight and the baked good would be too dense.

* Many people have other allergies besides gluten. If I use corn flour, but I put it in grams, someone who can't eat corn can still make the recipe successfully by replacing it with the same weight of sorghum or millet.

* People outside the U.S. bake by weight. In many places in the world, a cup holds more than a U.S. cup does. I want to make sure that everyone can make these recipes.

* A kitchen scale costs about thirty dollars. You would spend that much in flours making recipes that don't work.

* Measuring flours by weight means fewer dishes. Trust me-that alone makes this worth it.

* Every single person who has made the switch from cups to grams has written to tell me that she is thrilled she did. I have not heard from one person who bought a scale, tried to bake by weight, and then felt that it was worse than measuring by cups.

I know that baking by weight might be different for some of you, but believe me, it's worth the try. Eating gluten-free is new too, right? Might as well change it all in one fell swoop.


Shauna James Ahern, creator of the website Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef and a cookbook of the same title--named of the best cookbooks of 2010
by the New York Times--returns with a new volume for busy people who still love to cook. Gluten-Free Girl Every Day features food you'll want to make each day: fresh, satisfying, and filled with great flavors. The inspired ingredient pairings of these recipes come from the collaboration of Ahern and her husband Danny, a professional chef.