True story. I once begged my husband to buy me a bakery. We were living in NYC and I was searching for myself and my life’s calling. I loved to bake and so I figured that having my own bakery would be just what I needed. Looking back, I thank my husband for not buying my a bakery!
I’ve always enjoyed baking. And cooking. It’s not often that someone finds pleasure in both baking and cooking. Baking requires precision and attention to detail; cooking brings about creativity and spontaneity. I fondly remember my maternal grandma as an expert baker – she was best known for her seasonal fruit pies. Tall apple pies for Thanksgiving, blueberry and peach pies in the summertime. Legend has it that she once baked a concord grape pie, too, but I didn’t get a taste of that. I have my grandma’s recipe files, full of her stained scraps of paper, her handwriting illegible to my eyes. That’s not the kind of baking that I did as child. I was always more of a cookie girl.
My favorite cookies to bake, during my late childhood and teenage years, were a crunchy rice krispie chocolate chip cookie; the recipe came from the side of a cereal box. For many years, I had the recipe memorized, since I baked them so often. I’d learned at a young age how to cream together butter (or margarine in the 80s & 90s) with sugar, how to carefully break eggs into the bowl without getting a piece of shell into the bowl, and how to sift together the dry ingredients. The cookies were always golden brown and delicious, full of gooey chocolate chips and crunchy bits of cereal. While it has been years since I’ve last baked those cookies, I clearly remember their taste.
Back when I lived in NYC, I read The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion as if it was MY bible. I spent countless hours proofing yeast, baking breads, muffins, scones, buckles, cobblers, cookies, bars…I’m not sure who ate all of these baking experiments, but they kept me busy and entertained for quite a long time. A few years later, when I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was bake. I remember pouring through the holiday cooking magazines, choosing recipe after recipe to bake. My kitchen countertops looked more like bakery cases than my own kitchen!
Fast forward nearly a dozen years and I’m still baking. I love the aroma that fills my home when I have cookies, breads and cakes in the oven. I feel a sense of calmness when I share my homemade baked goods with others. But these days, nearly everything that I bake is different from what I grew-up creating. Several years ago, I chose to commit to eating a gluten-free diet. With that dietary change came a whole new way of baking – new rules, new ingredients.
Packaged gluten-free food gets a bad rap, and for good reason. Generally, these products are full of non-food ingredients – fillers, starches and gums to mimic the texture and mouthfeel of the gluten-containing items they are meant to replace. The sugar content tends to be extremely high, the overall nutritional profile is extremely poor. And although there are gluten-free bakeries that bake delicious cookies, cakes, muffins and breads, I wasn’t going to give up on the satisfaction of baking my own spread of goodies, just because I stopped eating gluten!
This Triple Chocolate Cookie recipe is one of the easiest gluten-free baking recipes that I’ve ever created. There are no tricky ingredients, nothing artificial, nothing obscure. I was able to use Oat flour, instead of standard All-Purpose flour, to make them naturally gluten-free. Note – if you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, it is imperative that you buy oats and oat products which are certified gluten-free. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but many processing facilities are not, and cross-contamination is a huge issue that cannot be ignored.
The delicious glue that holds the dry ingredients together is 88 Acres Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter. If you’re familiar with some of my other recipes, you know that I’m a huge fan of 88 Acres, a certified nut-free company based in Boston. Their Chocolate Seed Butter is one of my favorite ingredients to have in my pantry; I love to dip apple slices in this rich seed butter or mix it into my morning smoothie bowl. I also found that this seed butter makes the best chocolate cookies! If you don’t have chocolate seed butter, you could easily use the same amount of sunflower seed butter and add an additional 1 T raw cacao powder and 2 t maple syrup to the recipe to make your own.
I love these cookies for their subtle sweetness, they’re perfect alongside a cup of tea. Bake yourself a batch and let me know how you enjoy these cookies.
Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Triple Chocolate Cookies
made with 88 Acres Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter
Ingredients: (note – use organic whenever possible)
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C 88 Acres Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter
1/4 C maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1 1/4 C gluten-free oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 T raw cacao powder
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 C mini chocolate chips (I used EnjoyLife)
In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Use a fork to blend the ingredients together until they are smooth. Set aside.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the sunflower seeds, shaking the pan gently, until they are golden brown and aromatic. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together the oat flour, raw cacao powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the cooled sunflower seeds and toss gently. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and use a large spoon to stir the mixture together. If the mixture seems dry, use your hands to incorporate all of the dry ingredients into the dough. Add the mini chocolate chips and distribute them into the cookie dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the chilled dough in half. Roll each half of the dough into 12 balls and place on the baking sheet. Gently flatten each ball with the palm of your hand. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. (*see additional baking option in notes below)
Once all of the cookies are baked and cooled, store the cookies in a tightly sealed container.
Recipe yields 24 cookies
Cookies can be frozen for long-term storage
Substitute additional mini chocolate chips for the toasted sunflower seeds, if desired
Baking option: after the dough is well-chilled, divide it in half. Roll each half of the dough into a log, approximately 6-inches long. Wrap each log in a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper and secure by twisting the ends. Place both logs in the freezer for at least 4 hours to freeze. Cookie dough logs can remain in the freezer for up to 1 month before baking. When ready to bake, remove logs of dough from the freezer and slice each log into 12 pieces, each approximately 1/2” wide. Place on lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.