Recipe Review: Real Deal Cookies (Against All Grain)

Coooooooooooookiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees.

Something tells me that the Cookie Monster wasn’t thinkin’ “paleo” when he said that. But these days? I sure am.

While never positively diagnosed with celiac disease, a gluten intolerance has frequently made itself very well known to me. I used to be able to cheat on the weekends and have a bite of gluten… a bite? Sorry, a plate! I would have some Chick Fil-a nuggets, a bbq sandwich (on a REAL bun!), a cupcake, etc. Only the weekends though! The biggest side effect I’d feel was sluggishness and sometimes body aches. Was it wise to do that? No, but old habits can die hard until they have to be put to death.

Some weeks ago, my husband and I went to get some BBQ with some friends. I know that a lot of BBQ sausages contain gluten, but I thought I’d be okay. I wasn’t. Not to mention, the previous night, I’d added some jalapeno crisps to my salad and had IBS-like symptoms the next morning. After this situation, I knew that I couldn’t even cheat with gluten anymore! One of the catalysts to pursing paleo, I decided that I needed to learn more methods of making gluten free treats. I usually replace the all purpose flour in a recipe with gluten free flour, but those gluten free flour blends often contain potato and rice flours. I also wanted to use alternative sweeteners. I like coconut sugar and would sub that cup for cup as well, but I really wanted a new method of doing things. More about that later.

I discovered this cookie recipe in Danielle Walker’s “Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great”. The first time I made them, I added some leftover pecan pieces. The cookies were different than the textures I was used to. They were really light, so much so that my husband jokingly called them ‘air cookies’. I only wished they were a little more moist & chewy. The second time I made them, I added a little more palm shortening and omitted the pecans. I also used a mix of dark chocolate & mini chips from Enjoy Life. Baking time was decreased by 30 seconds as well. This was a better batch! I love how the coconut sugar mimics the smell and taste of brown sugar.

I think this recipe is a great base to play with. Maybe some cocoa powder for some chocolate cookies? Peppermint extract for mint chocolate cookies? Macadamia nuts and white chocolate? Unsweetened coconut? Definitely something I am planning to get creative with!

All in all, I do recommend this recipe and look forward to manipulating it. She does have a 2.0 version of this recipe in her “Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime” book that includes tahini (not sure how I feel about that!) and only uses egg whites. Her notes state that she wanted to create a nut free, coconut free alternative that everyone can enjoy. As I do have friends with more severe allergies and intolerances than myself, I will try my hand at these in the future.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free & Delicious!)

DSC06165One of my favorite go-to recipes for my husband, for friends, and for events is Tollhouse’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. I cannot tell you how many batches upon batches of cookies I have made in the past several years with that recipe! It always gets rave reviews and I always have to confess that it is no recipe concoction of my own! After I decided to bid gluten adieu, I tried the recipe using King Arthur’s GF multi purpose flour (& no xanthan gum, mind you) and ended up making some flat cookie patties! Ha! They tasted great, but sorely lacked dimension.

A close friend of mine, Enrica, sends me a lot of great gluten-free dessert pins, for which I am so thankful! One of the recipe pins she recommended a while ago was a recipe for chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. What!? I was hesitant for a moment, breaking away from my tried & true Tollhouse recipe (I am still determined to make it work!), but I’d decided to try it. I purchased some gluten free oats, put them in my Ninja blender, and decided to try these out.

Note: Bob’s Red Mill does make a gluten free oat flour, but once I found out that oat flour is just oats ground into a powder, I decided to do it myself. It ended up being much less expensive & more economical for me to purchase a 2 pound bag of oats versus a 1 pound bag of oat flour. Tip: Bob’s Red Mill offers a $1 off coupon. Click here to access it!

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The recipe was certainly easy, didn’t call for other flours, and required no xanthan gum. And the taste of the cookies – outstanding! The texture was assuredly different from the Tollhouse cookies due to the oats, but I didn’t care – they were delicious! They passed the husband test too! I brought some to our church for our staff and they enjoyed them as well. I have made them a few of times since the first, sending some to my family and they were a hit with them too. These cookies are not ‘good for gluten-free’; they’re just good!

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The only thing I would do different is refrigerate the dough, but that’s it! Even without chilling the dough, they came out wonderfully!

A Sweet Treat: Pecan Bars

I discovered this recipe a few years ago on a show I used to watch on Food Network – 5 Ingredient Fix, a show hosted by Claire Robinson. Her show caught my attention because, as the title states, she makes various recipes (appetizers, drinks, entrees, snacks, etc.) just using 5 ingredients! The bars are so easy to make and have always been a hit every time I have made them. It’s like a pecan pie in bite sized pieces! I usually cut mine afterward with a pizza cutter. It makes it a lot easier versus using a knife to cut the individual bars.

Pecan bars

Pecan bars

With that said, here is the recipe, no modifications needed! You can view the recipe on the Food Network website as well – Pecan Bars Recipe.
Crust:

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for dish
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with foil allowing an overhang about 2 inches off the sides. Butter the foil. (Jenn’s notes: very important step!)

In a food processor, blend together flour, sugar, butter and salt until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 2 tablespoons cold water and mix until the dough just holds together. Press dough into bottom of buttered baking dish and bake in oven until golden in color, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the butter, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the corn syrup, flour and pecans and mix until just combined. Spread the filling over the baked crust and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan.

Remove from pan by pulling up the foil sides and putting it on a cutting board. Cut bars in desired size with a sharp knife and arrange them on a serving tray. Can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Recipe courtesy Claire Robinson, 2010

Behold!

Behold!