This is the joy for me! …
– Oprah Winfrey for Weight Watchers commercial, 2016
Happy MONDAY all! Today I am so excited to introduce an awesome gluten-free Nutella cookie recipe with you with our very first guest post written by LeeZy Babe Oven owner Andrew Lee. He is talking baking and Celiac disease, making sure to reach everybody’s needs on his baking journey.
Hi. My name is Andrew and I too love bread.
Well, not as much as Queen O loves it, because she would probably bite your head off if you made a pass at some challah or a scone before she had her chance but I do appreciate all fine baked goods.
I love to bake, usually to show off what I can do as a guy who seeks the simple pleasures of sweet carbs and flaky goodness. My coworkers enjoy when I share my baking exploits (i.e. bring stuff to eat). I also bake for social events where beer is consumed and a red rubber ball is kicked.
But sadly there are those other friends that can only admire or smell the aroma that comes off the baked good. It’s because their body will fight them if they eat it. Celiac disease is very real. The body simply attacks itself at digestion. The lining of the small intestine is damaged and there’s a lack of absorption of nutrients. What results are a slew of ailments, regret for eating the food, and intimate knowledge of how many tiles are on the bathroom floor.
I’ve met people who can’t stop talking about gluten free diets. Maybe you know that person at happy hour or maybe at that party who wouldn’t stop talking about it. They said their complexion is better or that they lost weight. They might not have Celiac.
If you google gluten free health benefits, you see the same thing however not that positive. Most of the articles say it’s not healthy because you don’t get the nutrients your body needs. A diet in whole grain foods helps your digestion which is something I definitely remember hearing during health class when I was 8 years old. I swear bread is one part of that food pyramid.
Then I’ve have heard that cutting out gluten helps some people deal with intestinal issues. They feel that cutting out gluten made them feel better and have more energy. Some even report having too much gluten can cause bloating and cramping. Ramona Flowers knows what I’m talking about.
I don’t claim to be an expert on living with this. Whatever the reason for taking this step towards being free of gluten, I really hate excluding people. When some people can’t enjoy something, I make it my goal to learn more about it. In this case it’s gluten free recipes so that everyone can enjoy the fruits of what I like to do: bake.
I am a scientist and an engineer. Baking is a science and a chemistry. Gluten free baking is a specific chemistry. When wheat flour and water are mixed, gluten is formed. Gluten is a long, stretchy, and sticky protein that gives the structure of baked goods that we know and love. It gives the garlic bread its texture. It makes bread chewy so Oprah can torture me in all of her Weight Watchers commercials. Gluten free preparation needs to recreate that texture or glue to form something resembling that iconic structural integrity.
There are many ways to recreate this. It’s the challenge of gluten free baking. It’s not going to taste exactly the same, the texture might be a little off, but if you can’t have these foods usually, it doesn’t really matter. You’re eating carbs with none of the regret.
Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix
Gluten free flour is usually a blend of garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain white sorghum flour, tapioca flour and fava bean flour (at least that’s what Bob’s Reed Mill Gluten Free flour is). This is for those bakers that want to replace the standard all-purpose stuff with the gluten free variety. But using this will probably require you to use thickening ingredients. So let’s get a little sciencey.
Xanthum Gum / Guar gum
These two ingredients sound like something out of an ice cream commercial, that speak of unnatural flavors and preservatives. But these two ingredients (each used separately or together) help your gluten free baking mixture from becoming a sloppy mess. They keep oil from sticking together and separating and clumps from sinking to the bottom of your mixing bowl. Remember you don’t have gluten helping keep your mixture thick, airy, and flaky. If you want something that resembles a traditional carb, it’s going to be necessary. Usually the chewier your item, the more xanthum gum or guar gum you’ll need.
Almond and Rice flour
Depending upon the type of item you want to make, it’s not necessary to use the gluten free all-purpose flour. Other flours have enough natural binding properties to hold a mix for baking. Almond flour is commonly used to make French macarons with the help of egg whites as a binding agent. Rice flour (sweetened or unsweetened) is used for making pancakes, crepes, mocha, and snickerdoodles. All of these items can be used interchangeably for all-purpose flour and most don’t need xanthum gum or guar gum to help bind.
Oh the cookie, a baker’s most perfect food. They’re round, more than one can be held in your hand. If you’re still hungry, you can have another one. This is also the easiest way to make gluten free treats without being overly complicated.
I am also a fan of Nutella. So when I came upon this recipe for a gluten free Nutella cookie, I was all over it. All that’s required are 5 ingredients. Egg, brown sugar, Nutella, sea salt, and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free flour (Granted the flour might not be 1 ingredient).
Some flavorings help hold shape and provide rigidity to the dessert (i.e. Nutella, peanut butter, banana). Sometimes an egg is needed. Sometimes 4 eggs are needed. Most of the time the binding ingredient needs to be heated to have the fat (in this case the egg) be incorporated.
But alas the Nutella cookie represents how if you have Celiac, you don’t have to compromise much for a solid cookie…
Andrew Lee is a foodie, cook, and co-owner of the LeeZy Babe Oven a San Diego based two-person business that creates personalized cakes and custom themed baked goods for various events. When he is not using science to bake, he is using science and his engineering degree to do innovative work in the San Diego Biotech Scene in La Jolla, CA. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup Nutella (mixed well so oil is not separated and then measured)
- 1/2 cup and 1 Tablespoon Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour
- Several pinches of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
- Mix the brown sugar and egg in a medium mixing bowl and beat for 30 seconds.
- Add Nutella (make sure Nutella is well mixed and hasn’t separated when measuring). Add the flour and continue beating until combined. This dough will be thick.
- Cover with cling wrap and place dough in freezer for 15 minutes.
- When ready, remove from cold storage and roll dough into 1-inch diameter balls.
- Place balls a couple inches apart on your cookie sheet with silicone mat or some parchment paper.
- Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until just set. Cookies will be soft.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Let cool on the baking sheet.
- Carefully remove cookies from baking sheet before moving to a cooling rack.
- I have started to use my kitchen Aid mixer for everything but the following can be done with a hand mixer. There are many variations of this recipe online.
- Try not to eat all of the cookies in one sitting. Or better yet, pack them for a friend who eats gluten free things. They’ll love you for it.