Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Big, Fat, Chewy, Perfect: The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Perfect Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 4
I rarely use the word "perfect", and never in reference to my own baking (being my own worst critic and all...). It's a term too often used to describe the generic and mundane rather than the extraordinary. But it's also incredibly subjective with meaning that varies as much as the individuals that use it. So when I tell you that the GIF below is 100% how I reacted to my first bite of these thick and chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, I want you to understand that I'm not using the word frivolously =D. And lest you think this an exercise in self-congratulations, I openly admit to making only minor tweaks to an already incredible recipe by Alanna of Bojon Gourmet

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
While I'm aware on some level that multiple types exist, the only CC cookies that my brain registers are crisp around the edges, chewy in the center, oozing with melted chocolate chunks, and bursting with a flavor akin to butterscotch. All of us who share this concept of Cookie Nirvana as well as an interest in gluten-free baking owe Alanna a huge debt of gratitude. With some slight tweaking of the types/proportions of grains, she's created a GF cookie that stays chewy in the center, spreads like a wheat cookie, and is equal or superior to any CC cookie I've ever tasted (conventional OR GF)! For you skeptics out there, know that all my guinea pigs coworkers loved these, and not one could tell they were gluten-free. 

Perfect Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Perfect Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 3
In this day and age I'm willing to bet that most of you have had reason to contemplate gluten-free cooking. Whether you're baking for a friend with celiac disease or just experimenting with alternative grains, I'm confident your search for The Best (Gluten-Free) Chocolate Chip Cookie will be over as soon as you whip up a batch of these. And being a gift that keeps on giving, I wouldn't be surprised to see other GF cookie posts popping up soon using this base as the starting point...I truly hope you enjoy this "perfect" recipe as much as I have and would love to hear about your results if you try it!

Perfect Best Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
P.S. - I didn't use any ole pecans for these cookies, but Jumbo Raw Georgia Pecans I received from Oh! Nuts. Although I did receive these for free for my holiday baking, I can honestly say (and have said before on this blog) that I loved and paid for their products long before they ever offered me free samples. There's so much to love about Oh! Nuts that it's hard to know where to start. First, there's the incredible taste and freshness. These pecans are huge, fresh, and have a hint of natural sweetness that makes them addictive right outta the bag. Speaking of the bag, I love that all Oh! Nuts products come in a sturdy bags that stand upright, are resealable, and have a window in the front so you can easily identify the right product in your pantry later. Anyway, I'll stop gushing as you surely get the point by now. Oh! Nuts is a wonderful supplier of bulk nuts and candy, and I can't recommend them and their products enough! =D
Perfect Big, Fat, Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Browned Butter, Sea Salt, and Pecans
[Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Bojon Gourmet and Alice Medrich
Makes sixteen 3-inch cookies

XIAOLU'S NOTES: This dough needs to rest for at least 3 hours before baking, so please plan accordingly! It also scales up very well (I made a double batch my first time). Sweet/glutinous rice flour, such as Mochiko brand, is stickier and more finely ground than other rice flours. These qualities are important to the texture of these cookies, so do NOT substitute sweet rice flour with regular rice flour. You'll find it in any Asian grocery as well as in the Asian or gluten-free sections of many supermarkets. If all else fails, you can also order it in bulk online. I wasn't actually baking these cookies for anyone with a severe gluten allergy, but if you are, you'll want to purchase oats/oat flour that's specifically labeled gluten-free. While the current consensus seems to be that oats themselves don't contain gluten, regular supermarket oats are usually processed on the same machinery as gluten-containing foods and thus are NOT truly gluten-free.  I ground my own oat "flour" using my coffee/spice grinder. It took about 15 seconds and couldn't have been simpler. Don't give in to the urge to use chocolate chips for these -- chocolate chips have ingredients added to help them keep their shape at warmer temperatures. Chopped chocolate gets wonderfully melty and is more likely to stay that way as the cookies cool. Chopping your own chocolate will also create large chunks, thinner flakes, and even some chocolate dust that will mix into your dough wonderfully to enhance the flavor and texture even more.

1/2 cup (1 stick; 4 oz.) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (3.5 oz.) packed dark brown sugar
6 Tbsp (2.7 oz.) granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste OR pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 oz. (about 6 Tbsp) sweet white rice flour
*NOTE: Sweet white rice flour is also known as “glutinous” white rice flour. For these cookies to be “perfect”, you MUST use an Asian brand (such as Mochiko) OR at least a brand known to be ground super finely (such as Authentic Foods). But please note that Asian brands are much more affordable 8p.
2 oz. (about scant 1/2 cup) gluten-free oat flour
1/2 oz. (about scant 2 Tbsp) tapioca flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

5 to 6.5 oz. semisweet OR bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (2 oz.) toasted pecans, cooled and coarsely chopped (optional)
Flaky sea salt, to garnish

To prepare the cookie dough, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan (preferably with a light-colored bottom) over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns golden and smells incredibly fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. When the butter starts to foam up, watch it very closely. There should be brown bits (NOT black) on the bottom of the pan when it's ready. Brown butter turns to burnt in what feels like a millisecond, so remove the pan from heat as soon as it looks ready. Immediately put the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan and swirl gently until it's completely melted.

Place the sugars in a large heat-safe mixing bowl, then pour the browned butter mixture in while it’s still hot and stir thoroughly. Let cool, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum (oat flour tends to be clumpy). Set aside.

Whisk the egg and vanilla into the sugar mixture until well-combined and emulsified. Use a sturdy wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until well combined. Next, continue to stir vigorously for 45 seconds. (The dough should firm up during this time, and the additional mixing activates the sticky power of the xanthan gum to produce chewier cookies.) Stir in the nuts and chocolate until evenly distributed.

Cover the dough, and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days until ready to bake (dough can be safely frozen for even longer).

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and take the prepared dough out of the fridge/freezer. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicone mats.

As soon as the dough has warmed enough to scoop (it should still be quite firm), scoop it into 1 1/2-inch wide balls (just under 3 tablespoons; this scoop in size large works well for me). Place the balls onto the prepared cookie sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Crumble a little bit of flaky salt over the top of each cookie.

Bake the cookies about 9 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. When the cookies are ready, the edges should be just starting to brown, and the tops should be puffed all over with soft centers that collapse when gently touched with a fingertip. The centers will look wet under a thin surface of dry, cracked-looking dough. They will still look underbaked at this point, but they're not. This IS how they should look -- the cookies will firm up after leaving the oven from being cooked by residual heat and then from cooling down.

Remove the cookies from the oven. If they look too puffy, slam the pan straight down on the counter 2 to 3 times to deflate them a bit. Let cookies cool on the pans for 15 minutes, then transfer them to cooling racks. Enjoy right away OR cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for later. The cookies are best within 2 days of being baked.


  1. Will definitely try these!!! I already have all the ingredients in my pantry since I love GF baking!

  2. These cookies look incredibly tempting and really divine!



  3. Hi! What a beautiful site! Thank you for the super sweet write-up of this recipe - I'm so glad you like it. Your photos are stunning, and I love the tip of slamming the cookie sheet down on the counter to deflate the cookies, and also adding some cold butter to the browned stuff to stop the cooking - brilliant! Looking forward to perusing your site some more. :)

  4. This is such a fabulous recipe! Gorgeous cookies :)

  5. So funny as I have a post scheduled to go up this weekend on my own GF recipe discovery (very different base though). Thanks from me!


  6. Oh my~ they do look like they're perfection! I'm so going to make these<3


  7. Ah, you're back + baking! I'm delighted.
    The GF cookies look delicious. I LOVE pecans in my chocolate chips too :)

  8. Thanks everyone!
    Whitney -- I can't see what your GF recipe is =D!
    EV -- please do try them and lemme know if you love them as much as I do!
    Joyti -- I actually never stopped baking but hobby baking+full time job with long commute+other life concerns didn't leave much time for blogging. It really hasn't changed much but I really want to maintain my blogging so I'm making it a priority =D.

  9. anyone having problems with the chips sticking to the dough/?

    1. Did you follow the steps exactly? I think chopping chocolate rather than using chips helps keep the chocolate from failing out. Second, if you wait at least 3 hours after making the dough, it sound firm up enough that it holds the chocolate chunks pretty well. If some chunks do fall out, simply tuck them back in or on top of the ball and it should turn out just fine =D. HTH!

    2. Ahhh, no I used bagged chips, obviously have a slightly waxy coating. Yes, I followed the steps to a T.

      I've let them set up, so maybe when I go to bake they'll be ok.

      You don't have a picture of the batter to compare it to, do you? thanks

    3. I do prefer chopped chocolate but the chips should still taste good. I don't have a photo of the batter, but my changes were minor enough that it should look pretty similar to what Bojon Gourmet's looked like: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lKvLh9IXY9s/UH5Gir7mYbI/AAAAAAAAFSQ/XTlvU7FfL_k/s1600/gf+chocolate+chip+cookies+-+2.jpg Hope that helps and please do let me know how it turns out!


    4. Ok. So the chips were a bit troublesome, but the cookies taste pretty good. Here's a pic of the batter in bowl, scooped, and completed cookies. Doesn't look as dark as yours.


    5. Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad they taste good, but the batter consistency and color different look different from mine were (mine looked VERY similar to Bojon Gourmet's).

      -Your dough looks softer than mine was for sure. Did you do the additional stirring to thicken up the dough? How long did you chill the prepared dough before baking? Also, did you measure the flours by weight or by volume? Thanks in advance!

      -Your dough also looks lighter than mine. I just eyeballed some molasses to add brown sugar flavor to mine, so perhaps I added more than I thought. I've changed the light brown sugar to dark brown sugar in the recipe to hopefully remedy that. Also, when I chopped up that much chocolate, I got a LOT of very small bits of chocolate that turned the dough darker when mixed in. I went ahead and changed my recipe so that ONLY chopped chocolate and NOT chocolate chips are recommended for the recipe.

      Thanks again for trying the recipe so quickly and leaving your results. I hope you'll give me one more round of feedback to try to improve the directions for others in the future =D.

  10. Ok. 1. I did it by measure not by weight. I'm going to try weight next time. Obviously more accurate.

    I don't think it was softer after I chilled it overnight, was still relatively hard, about 30min to thaw to scoop easily.

    All-in-all I'm happy with them. I think I could probably even minus soe sugar or move to a more finer sugar base as they tasted a bit sugary (I know they are cookies) and felt like I could taste the granules in some.

    Just noticed two issues that I had.

    1. I only had "Rice Flour" not sweet rice flour
    2. I had to use Oat Flour, not Gluten-Free Oat Flour.

    So, I'll have to return to the exact recipe. Didn't mean to purposefully omit those.

    1. Thanks again for the continued feedback!

      Phew -- I think the difference in consistency is easily explained with the regular (not sweet) rice flour. The confusion is totally understandable so I've edited the recipe to emphasize how important it is to use SWEET rice flour and not plain rice flour. If you've ever had Thai sticky rice and mango versus regular rice, you've experienced how different the 2 types of rice used to make these flours is. I've seen plenty of GF chocolate chip recipes using regular rice flour, and I think the sweet rice flour is one of several key differences that makes these cookies come out PERFECT. I think the sticky quality of the sweet rice flower helps make the cookies chewy and let's you use less xanthan gum as well.

      The oat flour on the other hand doesn't really make any difference in texture. I just emphasized using GF oat flour if you're cooking for people with severe gluten allergies because regular oat flour is processed on the same machinery as gluten-containing foods and I'd hate for your guests to break out in hives or need an epi pen...The taste and texture of the actual flour should be identical though =D.

      As for your comment about adjusting the sugar, you are definitely welcome to reduce the sugar by up to 3 tablespoons if you think they TASTE too sweet. I would NOT reduce more than that since sugar plays in important part in the texture of cookies, how they spread, etc.

      If you're mostly bothered by the graininess of the sugar, I want to check whether you poured the browned butter mixture into the sugar while it was still hot? I've edited my recipe to make that more clear as well. If you did this, the heat of the butter should have started dissolving the sugar and the sugar shouldn't have tasted grainy.

      If you did mix the hot browned butter with the sugar, then it's possible the graininess was NOT from sugar but rather from the flours. You didn't specify which type of regular rice flour you used, but if it wasn't an Asian brand OR labeled super-fine, it was much coarser than the Asian sweet rice flour required for this recipe. Using the Mochiko or any other Asian brand sweet/glutinous rice flour should solve this issue as well.

      Thanks again for helping me to improve my recipe/instructions to make it as foulproof as possible. If you happen to try these again, I'd love to hear and see how they go! =D


  11. ok, other questions / comments.

    I think the graininess in the sugar was from the sugar. I was using an organic variety and the granules are bigger than regular sugar. That was a known though. Just wasn't sure if the flours were causing it.

    If I use the "sweet" rice flour will that also make the cookies sweeter than they were? Since I felt they were already a little sweet, that was a concern. The store didn't have the Sweet rice flour so I just went with what they had.

    I did add the butter in while it was pretty warm.

    It was Bob's Red Mill

    I think adding rolled oats and flax may be an option as well.

    1. I love this exchange =).

      Yes, I agree the larger grains of the sugar may be due to using the organic variety. Instead of pouring the browned butter into the sugar, why don't you try adding the sugar to the pan with browned butter and reheating the mixture on low, stirring frequently, just until the sugar has dissolved? I think this should help with the graininess. Alternately, put your organic sugar through the food processor or coffee grinder to make the grain finer. HTH!

      I'm really not sure why it's called "sweet" (perhaps because they're higher in starch?), but sweet aka glutinous rice flour should NOT make the cookies taste sweeter. I think I increased the total sugar in the recipe slightly because I used a very dark bittersweet chopped chocolate. To reduce the sweet taste of these cookies, I recommend reducing the sugar used by up to 3 tablespoons AND using dark chopped chocolate instead of chips.

      I certainly encourage experimentation and would love to know how it turns out if you try adding oats or flax. But just realize both of these additions will make these cookies more distinguishable in taste from classic conventional chewy CC cookies. The texture of oats and taste of flax are both pretty distinctive.



I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu