Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We've had lovely weather here in Zagreb for the past couple weeks. Sunny, warm days with a fresh spring breeze blowing gently and filling the air with white and pink petals from the flowering fruit trees and magnolias. It is beautiful.

It is going to be our 6th (!!) and final Spring here. Next year I will be writing to you from Athens where Spring is equally mesmerising. I can't wait to smell the seducing scent of the flowering lemon and pergamot trees that line the streets of the city and go for long lunches and even longer  coffee  tea and chatting sessions with my friends by the sea.

Unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of coffee. I love its smell, in fact I grew up next to a coffee grinder's and I can spend hours sniffing over cups of fresh brewed coffee, debating and analysing the intensity of the roast. But the moment the brown potion hits my stomach I get dizzy, cold sweat overcomes me and I just want to curl up in a hole and never ever drink coffee again. The only thing that can bring my old stomach some peace is a cup of milk and maybe, no definitely, cookies.

That's exactly what I was thinking before I set up to photograph these Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe No.5 in Roben Ryberg's "Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie Book", a book full of great gluten free cookies which I've been baking and photographing since the beginning of the year. 

I baked these a few weeks ago. I am a big-time chocoholic and any cookie with chocolate is arbitrarily given priority and has to be tried first.

I remember that day. It was a Saturday morning, grey and rainy. George was in, working on some Embassy stuff but I enlisted him to help me photograph the cookies. I promised him that he could eat as many as he wanted if he was willing to stand and hold the piece of Styrofoam I use as a reflector.

It feels so strange writing about Styrofoams and reflectors! When I started this blog, I knew nothing about photographing food, what a reflector was and why you need one. Now, two years later and after many, many, many hours of reading books - Helene Dujardin's "Plate to Pixel" has been my undisputed food photography and styling bible - and countless online articles and blog posts, I can say that I have only scratched the surface. There are still so many techniques to learn and implement...

But I am digressing.

Let's talk about the cookies. Lovely chocolate chip cookies made with, as most of the recipes in "The Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie Book", brown rice flour. If you have never baked with brown rice flour you should! It is made from whole grain brown rice, is rich in protein and vitamin B and has a mild nutty flavour.

Even though Roben advices to avoid any substitution of ingredients, I could not help myself and I used coconut oil instead of plain vegetable oil (I am now working on making the recipes sugar/fructose free, so stay tuned!). I think the coconut oil works great with this recipe, and brown rice flour in general. It adds sweetness and an elegant coconut flavour to the cookies.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from "The Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie Book" by Roben Ryberg
Makes about 25 cookies

1/3 cup (65gr) coconut oil
1/2 cup (100gr) brown sugar
1 cup (125gr) brown rice flour
1/3 cup (40gr) cornstarch
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160gr) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Lightly grease a cookie tray.

Combine the coconut oil and the sugar in a medium bowl and beat well. Add the brown rice flour and the cornstarch and beat very well for at least 5 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and beat again. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Gently, stir in the chocolate chips. The dough will be soft.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough (it is quite sticky don't worry) onto your prepared tray. Wet your fingertips and press the cookies to 0.5cm/0.25inch thickness. I found that the thinner I made the cookies the crispier they became.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Let them cool on a wire rack before serving them.
To see all the recipes from the "The Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie Book" I've baked so far, click here!