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Baking without butter is fairly easy.  Unless you’re making shortbread or pound cake or something else that relies on butter as much for its flavor as its function, non-hydrogenated vegetable shortenings make fine substitutes for the real thing.  Replacing eggs (which bind, tenderize, and leaven) and wheat flour (which provides structure, elasticity, and moisture absorption), however, can be much trickier.

A crispy oatmeal cookie is a good candidate for egg and wheat substitutions because it doesn’t need much rise and has a coarse texture and complex flavor.  Ground flaxseed cooked in boiling water is my favorite egg substitute, and the flaxseed’s nutty flavor and slight graininess compliment the oats.  Because oatmeal makes up the bulk of the dry ingredients here, substituting a wheat-free flour (anything you like — brown rice, sorghum, and even chickpea flours work well) for the small amount of wheat flour is no trouble.

Crispy Oatmeal Cookies with Currants and Chocolate

Yield: makes about 3 dozen

1 1/2 c. rolled oats

1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour (or wheat-free flour of your choice)

1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or dairy-free margarine

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. brown sugar

1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (from about 2 tsp. whole flaxseed, if you’re grinding it yourself — use your coffee grinder)

3 tbsp. water

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. warm soy or rice milk (or just water)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 c. currants, soaked in hot water to plump, then drained and squeezed to remove excess moisture

1 1/2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped or 1/3 c. mini, dairy-free chocolate chips

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Bring 3 tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add ground flaxseeds, reduce heat to low, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick and viscous, about one minute. Using a spatula, transfer mixture to a small bowl and let cool.

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In a food processor, grind oats to a coarse flour.  Add all-purpose flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, and pulse to combine.

In a separate bowl, cream butter or shortening and sugars until very light and fluffy, scraping bowl and beater occasionally, about 8 minutes.

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Mix baking soda and warm milk together in a small bowl.  Add baking soda mixture, cooled flaxseed, and vanilla to butter or shortening and sugars and beat until well combined.  Stir in oat mixture, currants, and chocolate.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll spoonfuls of dough into 1″ balls and place 2″ apart on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let hot cookies rest on baking sheets a few minutes before transferring to wire racks.  Cookies will crisp as they cool.

These cookies store well at room temperature in an airtight container, or you can freeze them.



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