Kicking it, and kicking it off

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was a wee sprout, the first real food I ever got to make “by myself” was chocolate chip cookies. The “by myself” is in quotes because I was performing under the hawk-like eye of my maternal grandmother, in whose company I had spent many hours in the kitchen prior to my first “solo” flight.

Chocolate chip cookies are a pretty good place for the budding baker/cook/chef to start, because the recipe on on the back of the Nestlé Semi-Sweet Morsels package is fairly bulletproof. I’ve made my own mods over the years, adding ingredients ranging from malt to orange zest to ground-up Altoids, changing the sweetening agent mix, modifying the flour — graham flour chocolate chip cookies were a remarkable failure, and maybe someday I’ll be motivated to figure that one out — but I had never made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies until the 3rd of July, 2013.

I had interviewed Chef Thomas Keller for Style Magazine, the in-house publication of The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas, and part of that interview centered around the gluten-free craze, and how his restaurants (The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc) dealt with it. Turns out, he had commissioned one of his chefs, Lena Kwak, to develop a gluten-free flour that looked, tasted, and behaved like “the real thing.” It is marketed as Cup4Cup.

The flour is not inexpensive, but Gilt.com had one of its flash sales, and I bought a 25lb. bag of Cup4Cup for $69. [Yeah, I know that seems a fairly excessive way to jump into a new product, but it was a great deal.]

Long story short, I made a double batch with my standard recipe, and the cookies came out great. Really tasty, if I do say so myself, every bit the equal of the ones I’ve been making for the better part of half a century. Nicely done, Lena. And Thomas.

You can find Alton Brown’s interesting and informative — if somewhat cornily acted — program on chocolate chip cookie variations at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MYuXRaW0B0. And here’s a link to Cup4Cup: http://www.cup4cup.com/about-us/.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies [Double Batch Style]

5 1/2 cups Cup4Cup® gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups (4 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3 cups packed brown sugar
3-4 tablespoons vanilla extract
5 medium eggs, room temperature
4 cups (24-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® Toll House® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
2 cups chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C

Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in one bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter/margarine, sugar, vanilla until creamy, then add eggs and continue beating until they are incorporated. Gradually stir in flour mixture, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown. [I turn the sheet midway through, because my oven doesn’t have evenly-distributed heat, but you probably won’t have to worry about that.] Remove from oven and put cookies on wire racks to let them cool. Eat, or serve to friends, or both.

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Temple of the Tongue is gonna be (I hope, anyway) a funky amalgam of cooking tips, restaurant reviews, interviews, links to videos, my magazine articles, all sorts of odds and sods about making — and eating — food. Friends have been bugging me to do this for years now, and I’ve finally caved. I hope this little journey we’re taking together will be enjoyable, or, as we used to say back in the radio days, “If you’ve had half as much fun today as I have… well, then I’ve had twice as much as you.”

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