You know you’ve found a good book when you can’t put it down. As a kid, I used to cozy into my self-made corner, a small space behind a big, plush easy chair in the corner of the living room. With blankets, pillows, and snacks, I would read without interruption until it was time for dinner.
With adulthood changing my reading habits (and corners), it is much rarer these days that I have the opportunity to crack open a book of any kind. Rarer still—reading without interruption. So when my friend Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet’s new cookbook, Alternative Baker, landed on my doorstep a few weeks back, it was only upon seeing the cover that I knew I was hooked.
To say that Alternative Baker has been accompanying me all around town is probably an understatement. Tucked in my tote bag, it’s been at my side for lunch break readings, at the coffeeshop, grocery store, orchestra rehearsal, and on my nightstand. While those uninterrupted reading days may be over, making use of those spare moments here and there can be so satisfying.
Alternative Baker, as well as Alanna’s blog, utilizes an assortment of alternative flours and starches for everything from dessert for breakfast, to cookies, cakes, and tarts. The beauty of gluten-free baking is the world of flavors and textures that it opens up past all-purpose flour—one that shouldn’t be limited to those needing to omit gluten.
If you’ve been a reader here for awhile, you may have noticed my affinity for naturally gluten-free teff. The tiny grain, a nutritional powerhouse, is slightly nutty with cocoa-like qualities. Paired with chocolate or other more neutral flours, the flavors sing. In Alanna’s recipe that I’m sharing today, the flavors of teff, oats, dark chocolate, and toasted walnuts are like a full-on chorus.
Alanna provides variations to many of the recipes in the book, and this one was an optional riff on her teff oatmeal cookies with whiskey currants (those will be happening soon). Hearty, chewy, nutty, chocolatey, and downright satisfying, I promise you they won’t last long.
A couple things to note—the only deviation from the original recipe that I made was by swapping in coconut sugar for the brown sugar. It worked wonderfully, so use what you have on hand. If you are hesitant about buying teff flour, do know that one bag can last you quite some time (enough for several batches of cookies!). You can find it, as well as the tapioca flour called for in the recipe, at most grocery or health stores or online.
- ¾ cup (90 g) walnuts
- 8 tablespoons (113 g) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g) packed coconut sugar (or organic light brown sugar)
- ¼ cup (50 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¾ cup (100 g) teff flour (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
- ¼ cup (27 g) tapioca flour
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (90 g) gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
- 6 ounces (168 g) coursely chopped bittersweet chcolate (1¼ cups)
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimless cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spread the walnuts on a small sheet pan and toast in the oven until golden and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely, then chop roughly.
- Place the butter in a small saucepan and set over low heat to melt, swirling occasionally. Place the sugars in a large bowl and stir in th melted butter. Let cool slightly, 5 minutes, then whisk in the egg and vanilla. Place a strainer over the bowl and add the teff flour, tapioca flour, salt, and baking soda. Sift the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then stir vigorously to combine thoroughly. Stir in the nuts, oats, and chocolate. If the dough is soft, let it stand at room temperature to firm up, at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours. The dough can also be chilled for up to several days; bring back to room temperature before proceeding to the next step.
- Scoop the dough into 1½-inch diameter balls (about 3 tablespoons; a size 24 or 30 spring-loaded ice cream scoop makes this easy) and place them on the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them 2-3 inches apart. Bake the cookies one pan at a time on the upper rack until the edges of the cookies are golden and set and the tops are pale golden but still soft., 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the pans. they will be very soft and fragile at first, but will firm up as they cool. These are best the day of making when the edges are crisp and the centers moist. Cooled cookies can be stored airtight for up to 3 days; they will soften slightly and become more fragile as they sit.