Sometimes, you just need some chocolate chip cookies.
For the past four or five days, I have been trying my best not to complain. I have also not been writing here, even though I have wanted to post new recipes and delighted paragraphs about the sensory pleasures of new tastes exploding on my tongue. The problem is, there haven’t been too many new tastes on my tongue. I’ve hardly eaten food this week, and what I have eaten has been bland.
Oh, I hate being sick.
A vile virus has rushed through my body and left me depleted. Raw throat, pounding head, congestion clogging every part of me, and a pounding of exhaustion I have not felt since before I stopped eating gluten. I’ve spent much of the past week either coughing from deep in my lungs or whimpering. On Wednesday, I lay in a fetal position in a corner of the couch, all day long, so delusional from high fevers that I actually spent six straight hours watching Project Runway on Bravo. (That Santino — what a twerp.) When I’m watching television for more than an hour, I’m clearly not doing well.
Last night was the low point. About 3:30 in the morning, I was awoken, again, by my sore throat, which felt like three people raking hot forks against my vocal cords. My fever forced me to kick off the covers, frantically. The lukewarm water by my bedside did nothing to mollify the tearing pain in my throat. Groggy and unhappy, I stumbled into the bathroom to search under the sink for some kind of sore throat relief. Ah! Ricola. I found five old Ricola cough drops, swollen and sticky against the wrappers. Still, they’d probably do the trick. Just as I was unwrapping one and starting to put it into my mouth, I realized, “Ah merde. I don’t know if this is gluten-free.” So I put on my glasses and fired up the internet, and searched for “Ricola gluten-free.” Thanks to the internet, I found out — nope, I couldn’t have that relief after all.
Why do cough drops need gluten?
So, in the face of this senseless suffering, there haven’t been too many lavish feasts around here. But there were chocolate chip cookies.
It seems that everyone else in the food blog world is eschewing baked goods, sugars, and starches. Well, not me. It’s still raining in Seattle, and I’m not eating much anyway. Might as well make the most of the bites I am having. On Wednesday, I made a homemade chicken soup with millet, which filled me well and fulfilled my desire to have some kind of hot liquid down my throat all day long. By the end of the day, the millet had expanded fully and became a chicken-millet stew. That was one day.
On Thursday morning, when I felt just a touch better, I woke up and knew I had to make some chocolate chip cookies. When I was a kid, I learned how to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch, based on the recipe on the back of the Toll House chocolate chip bag. Over the years, I perfected cookie baking: thin, crispy cookies with a brittle bite; enormous cookies that called for me to set aside everything else and simply savor them; chewy cookies that oozed a bit of chocolate on my tongue. My oatmeal raisin cookies were considered so outrageously chewy, tasting of hand-made love and nutmeg, that I once Fed-Exed a big box of them overnight to someone with whom I was hopelessly in love. (It didn’t work out with him, but that wasn’t the fault of the cookies.) Before I stopped eating gluten, I could wake up any morning and whip up a batch of cookies to bring to work or feed my friends, without even thinking about it too much.
After my celiac diagnosis, though, I gave up on the notion of making my own cookies again. I took my Pillsbury baking book, dusted with flour, the pages stuck together with butter, and gave it to my friend, Dorothy. Obviously, I’d never be using that again.
Watch out for never.
It took me months of cooking every night, finding my way through my tastes, until I had the heart to start baking again. Now, however, I just can’t be stopped. Fig newtons, apple pies, gingerbread, chocolate-banana bread — gluten-free baking simply doesn’t scare me anymore. Now, it’s simply baking.
Maybe, in the face of feeling foreign in my body, I needed to return to a familiar activity. The dark-grey winter seems to call out for butter, sugar, and flour, even if it is gluten-free flour. Even though I still feel fairly rotten, these cookies have been sustaining me in a way that nothing else can.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I have to go and drink some more hot lemonade.
Ooey-Gooey Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Slightly cakey, chewy and moist, chocolate arriving in melted chunks — these cookies are sure to please anyone, not just those who can’t eat gluten. Just one piece of advice: don’t forget to add the salt. For those of you who don’t know, a touch of salt is essential in baking cookies, to cut the sweetness and give each bite layers of taste. Somehow, even with all this baking experience, I forgot to add the salt into the first batch of these. My friends Anne and Rick came up with the trick to defeat the over-sweetness, however: we sprinkled sea salt on the top of the cookies before chewing them. This may sound ridiculous, but we were sighing happily as we ate.
one and a half cups sweet rice flour
one-half cup tapioca flour
one-quarter cup millet flour
one-quarter cup teff flour
one teaspoon baking soda
one teaspoon baking powder
two teaspoons salt
one stick salted butter, softened
one-half cup brown sugar
one cup white sugar
one-half cup Dagoba hot chocolate powder with chilis
one tablespoon vanilla extract
four ounces dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
Preheat the oven to 350°. If you have one, lay down your Silpat on your baking sheet. If you don’t, then you should buy one. But for now, line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together all the gluten-free flours (remember to measure them accurately, since every ounce counts here), plus the baking powder and soda. Don’t forget the salt! Set this bowl aside.
Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars, and hot chocolate powder together, briefly, until they are mixed well and starting to grow fluffy. (This should be about two minutes.) Add the eggs and gluten-free vanilla. Put in all of the flour mixture at once and stir briefly, until just mixed. Add the chocolate chunks, then chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least fifteen minutes.
For the right ooey-gooey consistency, plop large balls of dough, about half the size of the palm of your hand, onto the Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for about twelve to fourteen minutes, depending on your oven. When you remove the cookies, the tops will be ever-so-soft. Allow them to cool on a baking sheet for ten minutes before removing to a plate, or your mouth.