February means Valentine’s Day, and Valentine’s Day means chocolate — which, if you love to bake, means fudge brownies, devil’s food cake, or even that classic standby, chocolate chip cookies.
But what do you do if you’re gluten-free — or baking for someone avoiding gluten? Without flour in your baking arsenal, you might find yourself picking up a box of chocolates at the candy store.
But that doesn’t satisfy your baking urge, the desire to create something for that special someone right in your own kitchen: a true gift of love.
Gluten, the protein in flour that provides structure to baked goods, has to be replaced with something else when you’re baking gluten-free. In this case, that something else is egg whites.
Using simply egg whites, cocoa, and sugar, you can create a moist, chewy cookie that’s the perfect vehicle for whatever you want to throw into it, from dried fruit (cranberries are wonderful) and toasted nuts to more chocolate, in the form of bittersweet chips.
Let’s see how these cookies come together.
First step, if you choose to use nuts — walnuts are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fats — enhance their flavor by toasting them first. About 6 to 8 minutes in a 350°F oven should do the trick.
I like to pair walnuts with fiber-rich dried cranberries; the berries’ sweet tanginess plays nicely with the nuts’ — well, “nuttiness.”
Mix 3 large egg whites, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa, 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. The mixture will be thick and syrupy, unlike most cookie doughs you’ve made before.
Stir 2 cups of your chosen add-ins into the batter.
Scoop 1” balls onto a cookie sheet that you’ve greased thoroughly, or lined with parchment (my favorite option: easy cleanup!) If you use parchment, grease that, too.
Bake for about 8 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven. The cookies will look shiny, and their interior, when you break one open, will be very moist. Let them cool for several minutes on the pan, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
For a very simple version, don’t stir anything into the batter. Plain cookies are lovely in their simplicity — and perhaps just the ticket for your sweetie, who may be dealing with other food allergies besides gluten.
Happy gluten-free Valentine’s Day!
See the complete recipe atKing Arthur Flour.
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Breast cancer survivor and award-winning authorPJ Hamel, a long-time contributor to the HealthCentral community, counsels women with breast cancer through the volunteer program at her local hospital. She founded and manages a large and active online survivor support network.
PJ Hamel is senior digital content editor and food writer at King Arthur Flour, and a James Beard award-winning author. A 16-year breast cancer survivor, her passion is helping women through this devastating disease. She manages a large and active online survivor support network based at her local hospital and shares her wisdom and experience with the greater community via HealthCentral.com.