14 December 2011

Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies

I make my own baking powder. It's easy, inexpensive and I can control exactly what goes into it - no concern over corn, GMOs, aluminum or gluten-contamination.

In fact, I used some to make these1:
Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies (GF/Vegan)
Baking powder is a quick-acting leavening agent (unlike yeast). Baking soda is another quick-acting leavening agents. So what's the difference, you ask?2 Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate; it requires a liquid acid to activate and create those fun little gas bubbles3 that give rise to baked goods.
Baking powder is essentially sodium bicarbonate with an activating acid (usually Cream of Tartar) and a drying agent (usually corn starch) added. Some baking powders also use aluminum4 compounds (sodium aluminum sulfate) to produce the desired reaction. Because it already contains both a base and an acid, baking powder activates as soon as it comes in contact with a liquid. It's for this reason that recipes call for liquids to be added after all the dry ingredients have been combined.

Gluten-free, corn-free baking powder always seems more expensive than it should be. Also, because baking powder is unstable, if you don't do much baking, chances are it will "go bad" before you are able to use all of it. Baking powder needs only to get damp or humid in order to begin to lose its power. The added starch helps to keep the mixture dry longer,5 but it is only slightly delaying the inevitable.

The other nice thing about making your own baking powder, is that you can mix it right before you use it. Thereby guaranteeing a leavening reaction.
It couldn't be simpler: one part baking soda, two parts Cream of Tartar. It's not even necessary to mix them together before adding to your recipe. You can simply add each one directly to your dry ingredients, and then mix.

And now the part for which you've been waiting... Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies!
This is another wonderful winter/holiday/anytime cookie. The cherries and chocolate chips add plenty of sweetness, so I've reduced the sugar in the dough. The result is an almost scone-like cookie with bursts of chocolate cherry sweetness.
They could easily stand in for a breakfast scone, enjoyed on a lazy Sunday morning with a nice cup of tea.

Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies
(makes one dozen)
  • 1/2 Cup (68g) Sorghum Flour
  • 1/4 Cup (32g) Tapioca Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Powder (or 1/4 tsp Baking Soda + 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar)
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp (20g) Coconut Sugar (if you prefer a sweeter cookie, add an additional 2tsp - 1T)
  • 3 Tbsp (42g) Earth Balance® Coconut Spread (or sub your favorite vegan buttery spread)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (45g) Chia or Flax Egg*
  • 1/3 Cup (40g) Dried Cherries (soaked overnight in 1/4 cup filtered water)
  • 3 Tbsp (45g) Chocolate Chips (I used Enjoy Life® SemiSweet Chocolate Chunks)

Oven 350F/180C

*To make a chia/flax egg, combine 1 Tbsp of ground chia or ground flaxseed with 3 Tbsp of filtered water. Stir well, and allow the mixture to sit and thicken, while you begin to prepare the other ingredients.

In a small bowl cream together the coconut sugar, Earth Balance and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl combine the sorghum, tapioca, salt and "baking powder". Mix well. Stir in the soaked cherries and chocolate chips, then add the chia egg and Earth Balance, sugar, vanilla mixture.
Stir until thoroughly combined.

Spoon out batter in 1" balls and drop onto a lightly greased (I use coconut oil) cookie sheet. Lightly press the cookies down using your fingers or the back of a spoon, so they begin to spread slightly.
Bake in a preheated oven until lightly browned. 10-12 minutes for softer cookies; 10-15 minutes for crisper cookies.

Serve with a steaming mug of vegan hot cocoa, or a (So Delicious® Coconut) Nog Latte, if you want to get fancy.

Create a Fabulous Day!

1. And countless other things.
2. Or maybe you're not asking because you already know; in which case, please bear with me. 
3. Baking soda and vinegar "volcano", anyone?
4. If you've ever eaten a metallic-tasting muffin, it's due to use of (too much) aluminum baking powder - although, any aluminum is too much, IMO.
5. The starch is not an active component and is only necessary for storage purposes.

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