Alice Medrich Loves These Brownies in Cookie Clothes (That Happen To Be Gluten-Free)

December  7, 2016

We partnered with Bob's Red Mill and our columnist and cookbook author Alice Medrich to bring you a cookie recipe that'll make the holidays even happier for the gluten-free set.

Every baker needs at least one over-the-top chocolate cookie recipe (if not five). One of my favorites is a simple drop cookie that’s mixed like a brownie, in the same bowl used to melt the chocolate. I like a batter that’s rich and chocolaty—laced with extra chocolate pieces for contrasting levels of sweetness and flavor—and a sticky gooeyness when the cookies are eaten, before the chunks have time to re-solidify. I like a cookie so chocolaty that it screams for good-sized nut chunks—tiny moments of relief from the utter chocolatiness of it all.

Cookies masquerading as brownies. Photo by James Ransom

I wondered about making a cookie like this with a gluten-free flour blend instead of my usual all-purpose wheat flour. Would it taste good? Would it require xanthan, which is sometimes used to create the same batter stickiness and thickness that gluten does? (I’m okay with a little gum when absolutely necessary, but I go without whenever possible.)

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I dove right in and bought a flour blend that had garbanzo flour at the top of the ingredient list, and that also recommended amounts of xanthan gum for different recipes printed on the package. I've never met a bean I didn’t like and I adore hummus, but I worried that my beautiful cookie would be ruined by any hint of beaniness. If you're thinking that the bean flavor would be masked by all of that dark chocolate, this is what I thought: It’s better to work with a flavor than attempt a cover up.

So, I made the cookies using the flour blend but without xanthan gum, with my fingers crossed. As I suspected, the flour did add flavor—but it was a compelling nuance of savoriness that actually enhanced the flavor of the great chocolate that I had chosen. It was a whole new cookie, and delicious. The texture was perfect, too, so there was no need for gum. I tweaked the sugar measure, added more nuts, and declared a home run.

Would I make these cookies for people who eat gluten? I would and I have!

Baking gluten-free has never tasted better: Bob's Red Mill's various flours, from their 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour to their hazelnut and almond flours, are high quality and all-natural. See all their flours here.

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My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

1 Comment

Meg M. December 8, 2016
Which gluten free flour blend did you use? Depending on the type, results can vary widely. Some blends are better suited to pastry, some to bread, some to cookies, some to cakes. That's why wheat is so hard to replace, it does everything well.