The recipe discussed in this post is from my new cookbook Meals Made Simple. The cookies are nut/grain/dairy free and free of coconut flour. To see the recipe for my original, famous Chocolate Chip Cookie which uses almond flour, click here.
I feel like such the scientist this week! After the release of Meals Made Simple, it seemed that I was getting quite a few inquiries about the Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0 (page 280) flattening out too much. True, the dough is very runny comparatively as I warn in the book, but they are meant to be thin and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. But some of the photos of super thin cookies (like below!) led me and my awesome baking assistant Sydney back into the kitchen to do some more investigating.
All of my recipes are tested dozens of time by myself, Sydney, and then a handful of fans that I choose as recipe testers prior to the book going out. I tried a few different tahinis and played around with the amounts of arrowroot and ghee many times before coming to the final product that is published. But the photos got me worrying that something went wrong during the editing process and that some ingredient was messed up or missing and I panicked that I sent something out to you that was not perfect!
Thankfully, so many also wrote in about how much they loved this nut-free version so my fears were slightly calmed. But we still wanted to make sure that we gave you the perfect nut-free cookie and offered some troubleshooting tips just in case some of you are having problems, so we spent the last couple of weeks testing (and consuming!) tons of variations to make sure. I think we baked 12 dozen in all. Anyone want to come over and eat some? My freezer is overflowing!
What they SHOULD look like!
We tried 4 different brands of tahini because I suspected that was the culprit for the over-spreading. We also tried a few different things like pan type, parchment, no parchment, and refrigerated vs room temperature tahini. Here are our findings.
1. THE TAHINI
The amount of oil in tahini varies A LOT from brand to brand, and even jar to jar. Just like a jar of almond butter. First things first, you need to make sure you are mixing it very thoroughly before using it. Like almond butter, there's often times a large mass of tahini at the bottom of the jar and a big layer of oil on top. Make sure to get all the way down there! The thick stuff is what helps these cookies keep their shape. Otherwise you're pretty much just baking with oil.
If you can, use the brand that I recommend in the book – Kevala.
Kevala made the best product with all of the ones we tried. If you grab another brand, and notice that it is really runny – reduce or completely omit the ghee/coconut oil. That will account for the excess oil.
Aritsana was the closet in consistency to Kevala. The cookies spread a reasonable amount but still provided the slight crunch on the outside and chewiness on the inside that I was shooting for with this recipe.
Once Again was slightly less oily than 365 but more oily than Kevala. These spread quite a bit as well, so we cut the ghee to half the amount for our next batch and they turned out perfectly.
365 Organic brand (only $5.99 in stores) was much more runny and the dough spread a ton, making very thin cookies. They crisped up really nicely though! We omitted the ghee for the second batch and they turned out much better.
2. PARCHMENT PAPER
I call for this in the recipe, and it helps the dough to stay put a bit more. Don't skip it and don't use a silpat! You can see in the photo above how much they spread out with a silpat. I'm all for that handy kitchen tool for many other things, but the grease on it makes things slip and slide and spread! Parchment also helps for cleanup!
3. TYPE OF PAN
I was always taught to use a light colored pan for baking so things didn't brown as much and they had a better rise. This is especially true with nut or seed based cookies, since these toast more easily. We tested each batch of cookies on both a dark colored metal pan and a light colored baking sheet, and the dark colored one produced thinner and darker cookies each time. If you prefer a more thin and crispy cookie, go with the dark. But I love these AirBake Cookie Sheets and use them every time to create perfect cookies that are slightly chewy and slightly crispy!
The Final Word
These cookies are meant to be a lot flatter and more crunchy that my first ones, because some love a cake-cookie and some love a crunchy cookie!
If you really want more “fluffy” cookies, you can do a few things:
1. Refrigerate your tahini after mixing, then mix again before using in the cookies. This will help the batter spread more slowly during the baking process.
2. Omit the ghee/coconut oil/palm shortening completely
3. Add 1 tablespoon coconut flour to the original recipe
Happy Baking Everyone!