Today I want to talk a bit about my adventures with allergy-friendly cookies. This is something that’s pretty important to me, as you may have noticed in earlier posts where I brought up my own allergies, or those of my research group. I think it’s important to note that when I say allergy-friendly, I automatically include nut-free even if it isn’t explicitly mentioned, because everything that I bake is nut-free.
I feel like my best allergy-friendly successes have so far been in my chocolate cupcakes (including the s’mores cupcakes you can see in my “Custom Cupcakes” post from March 17). However, since I’ve already spoken about my cupcakes, I thought I’d highlight another success, which is cookies.
Before I started Sprinkle & Dot, I brought homemade goods into work on a fairly regular basis. This habit started when I was working in a graveyard over the summer of 2013 (that in itself is an interesting story, but perhaps for another time). Most of my coworkers had birthdays over the summer, so I brought in baked goods to celebrate. It was a way to help cheer up after a tough workday, because things didn’t often go smoothly in the graveyard.
When I finished at the graveyard, I went back to University, and was now confronted with more allergies than my own. I spent a lot of time researching gluten-free substitutions, egg substitutions, and dairy-substitutions. I’ve had a few failures, but I’ve also had many successes.
The first success was a recipe for dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free chocolate chip cookies, made with oat flour (I know some people who cannot have gluten also have problems with oats. This isn’t the case within my office, but these may not be right for everyone depending on your sensitivity). They disappeared in seconds, and I had a few requests for the recipe afterwards, not just from people with allergies (speaking of which, the recipe is here).
I don’t have a very nice picture, but I’ve included it below anyway (I also baked some delicious black bean brownies, which you can see in the picture as well):
This picture does not do these cookies justice – they are really tasty! And because they are made with oat flour, they don’t get the chalky taste that can plague gluten-free baked goods. They just taste like a nice, crispy, oatmeal cookie. It’s important to note that the lack of butter does make these a bit less chewy than some might like, but however you feel about cookie texture, the taste of these is fantastic.
My next cookie adventure was with shortbread cookies. A shortbread seemed daunting at first, because butter is such an integral part of this cookie. But coconut oil actually makes a very good substitute (my supervisor even said “there must be a lot of butter in these” before he knew they were dairy-free).
The first recipe is quite heavy on the rice flour, and makes a small, somewhat dense cookie that still melts in your mouth. I’ve tried these in a few flavours – lemon (pictured below), orange-cardamom, and mojito (lime and mint).
More recently, I’ve moved on to a new recipe that looks a bit more like a traditional shortbread (rectangular with those distinctive fork pricks on top). I used this recipe (which is also refined-sugar free) with the Sarah Bakes Gluten-Free flour blend. These turned out even better than my first shortbreads, and you can see that lovely “buttery” texture they get from the coconut oil:
I tried these in rosemary and lemon-cardamom. I think the rosemary shortbreads are my best gluten-free vegan cookie yet, and the rosemary adds a great unexpected flavour to a cookie.
The next cookie I want to highlight is a gluten-free vegan sugar cookie with an eggless royal icing. I’ve been doing a lot of decorating with royal icing lately, but this was actually my first attempt. The eggless royal icing recipe I used is composed of icing sugar, corn syrup, and water, so it has a slightly different consistency than a regular royal icing (and I found it dried a little softer as well).
These cookies are a pumpkin spice sugar cookie. I haven’t yet tried a vegan and gluten-free sugar cookie without the pumpkin, though I have been eyeing a few recipes to use in the future. The pumpkin replaces the egg, and keeps these cookies nice and soft and chewy (I find also that gluten-free goods can sometimes have a slightly different taste because of the different flours involved, so a more flavourful cookie draws your attention to the spices and away from the flours).
I’ve had a lot of practice with royal icing since these, so some of the decorations are a bit less skilled than what I’m doing now, but they were a big hit at work (and, most importantly, everyone could eat them!).
I’ve also had some success with a gluten-free chocolate crinkle cookie. For those not familiar with crinkle cookies, these are a fudgy chocolate cookie that’s rolled in powdered sugar, so you get a crinkled effect with the powdered sugar and the expanded chocolate cookie underneath. The recipe I used is here, and it produces a lovely, fudgy cookie (though, as you can see, these didn’t expand quite as much as I would have liked, so the crinkle effect is lost a bit on these cookies):
I’d like to come up with a dairy- and egg-free version of these, but this may not be the best recipe to adapt (replacing the chocolate chips with dairy-free chocolate would be easy enough, anything that relies heavily on eggs makes it difficult to swap in egg substitutes). Until I do, these are a great rich, fudgy cookie for anyone who can’t tolerate gluten.
My latest adventures in allergy-friendly baking have centered on macarons. I’ve had a few successful nut-free macarons (made with grated white chocolate in place of the almond flour), but I’m currently working on a nut- and egg- free version. I’ll post more of my macaron adventures when I’m successful in this venture. Macarons are already a very finicky cookie, so it takes some work to make them come out right when you replace two of the main ingredients!
I’m always looking to try new things, and I love experimenting with gluten- and dairy-free baking. Do you have a favourite cookie you wish was gluten-, dairy-, egg-, or nut-free? Let me know in the comments and I’ll give it a try!