Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
The thing I missed the most when I gave up gluten was having delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies at the ready. Well, that, this, and just bread in general. But chocolate chip cookies were quick, easy, and satisfied my cravings for something sweet, chewy, crispy, and even salty – all at the same time.
When Mary and I got married, one of our favorite things to do together was to
make eat chocolate chip cookies. We used the recipe on page 212 of the Bride and Groom Cookbook by sisters Mary and Sara Corpening. These cookies were perfect. Everyone who tried them instantly demanded that we share the recipe, and we did. Mary and Sara’s recipe calls for regular all-purpose flour, but we don’t stock that in our kitchen anymore. It’s a beautiful book and was a wedding gift to us from one of our friends. Sadly, we haven’t used it much since going Paleo.
After sifting through web page after web page looking for a suitable replacement, I eventually came across Alton Brown’s highly-acclaimed recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. It only took making this recipe once to realize it would become my ultimate go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. It got to the point where every trip to the store resulted in a cart full of more rice flour, brown sugar, and pounds of butter.
Inevitably, I attempted to take on what would prove to be a difficult task – to adapt this recipe into a Paleo-friendly version. At first, things went rather smoothly. I was able to swap out the regular sugar for honey, eliminated the milk altogether, and even got rid of all the butter. I was on my way.
Then I took a more drastic approach by experimenting with applesauce and mashed avocado. Mashed avocado actually has wonderful binding properties from its high fat content, but it seemed to completely prevent the cookies from spreading on their own in the oven.
I tried a few other things, but I just couldn’t conform these eclectic independent-types. I wanted them to be Paleo chocolate chip cookies without feeling like Paleo chocolate chip cookies. Kind of like how I want to look like I work out a lot without actually working out a lot.
I gave up experimenting for a while; it was getting expensive.
Things started to look up again one night while watching Chopped on the Food Network. One of the basket ingredients was chestnuts. Just then they cut to one of the judges who mentioned how starchy chestnuts are compared to other nuts and how they can be used in baking. That got me thinking, so I did a little research.
I had previously seen a recipe that called for chestnut flour, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I figured it was just another nut flour. Boy, was I wrong.
Chestnuts contain little to no fat, which means they won’t weigh down your baked desserts or make them oily. It also means that unlike almonds, which contain high levels of fragile polyunsaturated fats, pastries made with chestnut flour are far less susceptible to oxidation .
Another reason why chestnuts are great for baking is because they can be ground into a fine powder, which means they will bind better with the wet ingredients much like regular all-purpose flour will, resulting in a lighter crumb. Paleo chocolate chip cookies made with other nut flours or butters can’t compare to the texture that the starches in chestnut flour provide.
The chestnut is soaked in culinary history. One article I read suggests that chestnuts may have been one of the first foods ever eaten by man . For good reason, the tree from which the chestnut falls is often referred to in some areas of the world as the “Bread Tree” .
After learning all about chestnut flour and experiencing its all-purpose tendencies for myself, I can honestly say that chestnut flour is a magical thing for Paleo folks. And it was just what I needed to make the ultimate Paleo chocolate chip cookies. I highly recommend you keep your pantry stocked with chestnut flour; it’s one of the few ingredients I will not hesitate to regularly order online, that is until I start finding it down my local baking aisles.
Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe, makes 2 dozen cookies
- 11 ounces by weight (2 cups) chestnut flour
- 1 1/4 ounces (32g or 1/4 cup) arrowroot flour
- 1/2 ounce (15g or 2 tbsp) tapioca flour
- 1 tsp salt (5g), preferably kosher, but fine sea salt will work
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 8 ounces by weight coconut oil, at room temperature (not melted)
- 12 ounces by weight homemade maple sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 10-ounce bag of dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips
Note: If using store-bought maple sugar, I’d recommend grinding it up in a food processor first because the granules tend to be larger and harder than my homemade maple sugar. Make sure to re-weigh the sugar after you process it.
1. In a large bowl, mix the chestnut, arrowroot, and tapioca flours together with the salt and baking soda. Then set aside.
2. In another large mixing bowl, “cream” the coconut oil with the maple sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed, about 2 minutes. The mixture should be moist (not oily), kind of crumbly, but hold together when pinched with your fingers, like wet sand. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Then mix in the vanilla, followed by the coconut milk.
3. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly incorporate the dry ingredients in three separate additions until fully incorporated.
4. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips by hand using a firm spatula or clean wooden spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
5. After the mixture has been chilling for 30 minutes, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F while the dough finishes firming up in the fridge.
6. Once the cookie dough is fully chilled and your oven is pre-heated, use a 2-ounce ice cream scoop to form six balls of dough and space them out evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
7. Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time.
8. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack.
9. Serve cookies while still warm or let them cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container at room temperature.