One year later…
Since the last time I blogged, one year ago, I have spent close to a year in Austin, TX, I’ve lived with my boyfriend for the first time, I’ve made new friends, started a new job, learned a lot about myself, and, most importantly for someone obsessed with food, have not eaten gluten, dairy, sugar, tomatoes, and corn. When I say I haven’t eaten, I do, of course, mean that I haven’t eaten those things that often. How could someone obsessed with food completely deprive themselves? I’m not allergic!
But for some reason, despite doing a very good job learning how to cook differently, to rely on fresh food, nothing boxed, nothing canned, for boxed foods almost always contain something I cannot eat, I have done very little baking. I’ve been afraid.
Shortly after moving to Texas I bought myself Babycakes Covers the Classics. I was excited to eat Babycakes at home after trying Erin McKenna’s desserts at her shop in New York. But when I got home, after reading the book voraciously, I couldn’t make it to the store. Xantham gum? Flaxseed? Coconut Oil? Really? How much am I going to spend at the store? $50? Probably! And so the lovely book sat on the shelf.
Not one to despair, or spend $50 on basics, I made attempts at baking gluten-free. I relied on a lot of mixes from Pamela’s Products. I tried to bake something homemade for our Christmas party, but it lead to a botched attempt at chocolate cake. Botched not because I cooked it incorrectly but because it was grosse. Not bad, but not good. For a dessert snob, not good was practically grosse. And things got worse when during the same Christmas party I couldn’t even pull it together to make my famous chocolate chip cookies. I felt I was losing my touch.
The wonderful thing about ourselves as people though, is that the things we are passionate about never go away.
One year later, after changing my diet drastically, moving to a new city, feeling like in some ways I’d lost myself and found myself, I finally made my way to Central Market, picked out the laundry list of ingredients (an investment, after all, like any first kitchen), and got to baking. I baked gluten-free, dairy-free, and while not sugar-free, at least healthy sugared, chocolate chip cookies. My absolute favorite food. So near and dear to me that they sometimes feel like they define who I am. I pulled the fresh cookies out of the oven, did not wait the prescribed fifteen minutes of cooling time and closed my eyes over a bite. And you know what? They are delicious.
Erin McKena’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
McKena calls for oat flour, which can be whipped up quickly by throwing gluten-free oats in a food processor or blender until smooth. Further, she calls for vegan sugar. Since I’m not allergic to dairy but I wanted better sugar, I used cane sugar. As someone who sugar doesn’t sit well with, cane sugar is the lesser of all sugar evils. Not great, but not terrible. Lastly, I splurged on real chocolate-chips. I figured, if I’m making cookies this way for the first time, I can cheat a little.
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose, gluten-free baking flour
1 cup (vegan) sugar
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted refined coconut oil
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup (vegan, gluten-free) chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or brush with coconut oil and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, flax meal, arrowroot, xantham gum, baking soda, and salt. Add the coconut oil, applesauce and vanilla and stir until a thick dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
Drop the dough by the teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for seven minutes, rotate the baking sheets, and bake for seven minutes more, or until the cookies are golden brown and firm. Let stand on the baking sheet (if you can wait!) for fifteen minutes before eating.