I'm a musician who cooks. It's a daily pleasure, a road back to health, and fairly cheap therapy.

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The Food Lab: The Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm entering back into the world of baking, after a bit of a health-induced hiatus, but this time as a grain-free serious eater. I've tried a couple of grain-free recipes, but both resulted in cookies that were overly soft after baking and cooling, maybe due to the use of coconut sugar exclusively as the sweetener, and generally missed the mark for me flavor-wise.

There's a new alternative flour made from whole dried and ground cassava (not the same as tapioca starch) that's becoming really popular with grain-free eaters because it can generally substitute for wheat in many recipes, especially those like cookies where gluten isn't as critical for structure. Differences I've noticed so far are that cassava flour absorbs more water than wheat flour, browns at a higher temperature, and seems to require eggs to give it structure and keep the interior of thicker-types of baked goods from being too gummy.

I've just started to experiment with using cassava as the flour for chocolate chip cookies, and on my first batch used the original Nestle tollhouse recipe. I made a half batch, and the only substitution I made, besides replacing the ap flour with cassava flour (which I adjusted for by figuring out weight measurements of each and matching to the recipe amount), was to use sucanat (an unrefined brown sugar) in place of conventional brown sugar.

The results were pretty good for a first try, though I had to flatten the cookies a bit before baking on the second tray because the first tray of cookies didn't spread on their own as I'd expected in the oven. The flavor was very good, though still lacking that ultimate caramelization factor, but still with more structure than the other recipes I'd tried. There's several tweaks I thought of trying on the next batch, but then I came across your recipe after searching for articles on how sugar works in baking, also curious about how the other ingredients effect the final product too.

Wow-what a gold mine of info this was-you are the chocolate chip cookie ninja! Just what an obsessive baker like me is looking for. I noticed you used melted browned butter and wondered what your thoughts are on using ghee. I don't have an aversion to using full butter, but since I keep ghee regularly in my arsenal of cooking fats, I wondered about giving it a shot. I'm after pretty much the same taste and texture that you achieved with your recipe using ap flour, but with cassava flour instead, if it's achievable. I'd really appreciate any further thoughts you might offer. Thank you!


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