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The Power Of Home Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Emotional Side Of A Chocolate Chip Cookie

I will never forget my first success at gluten-free baking. Chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they were yummy. Yes, they tasted “normal.” Yes, I cried. Yes, the recipe was a keeper. And yes, I will share this recipe with you. But, as you will see, this isn’t really about the cookies. 

As I’ve shared through my series, The Emotional Side Of Gluten Freethere can be a lot of emotions connected to food.

I often remind myself of where my gluten-free journey began: The joys of having answers  combined with the struggles of diet change and even of the sense of loss. And through that journey of seeking answers, finding answers, and making that answer work, there remained three reasons for my need to be the best me I could be: My kids.  

An Answer That Includes A Family Kitchen Challenge

When I was finally diagnosed with celiac, I was thrilled to have an answer to a lifetime of health issues. But just a couple weeks into my gluten-free journey, I started to mourn the foods I didn’t think I’d ever be able to eat again. And more than for myself, I mourned for what I felt I couldn’t offer my family any more.

My kids were 17, 14, and almost 11 years old at the time I was diagnosed. And, of course, they were all still living at home. I liked to offer balanced, yet fun and enjoyable meals. But, just as it is in any home, pleasing everyone, all the time, doesn’t happen. I provided one family dinner. If someone didn’t like it, they were welcome to make a PBJ for themselves. My kids knew that our kitchen was not a restaurant where they could place an order.

So here I now was, making two separate meals, (or portions of the meal that I made separately for myself). And I quickly discovered that I didn’t want to have to prepare two meals. I didn’t do it before and I didn’t want to do it now.

  • It was too much work.
  • There was too much risk of contaminating myself with gluten.
  • And mostly, I didn’t want my kids to feel sorry for me. I didn’t want to separate myself from them. I didn’t want them to feel guilty about enjoying something they didn’t think I could have.  

My Goal

My goal was to find the right recipes, brands, and methods to prepare everyday meals we could all enjoy together. And I have to say, I’m grateful for starting this journey before the availability of all the products that are now on the shelves. Learning how to cook and bake and feed my family with a minimal amount of processed foods benefited us all. 

Love Makes All Things Possible

This was a process, this learning how to cook and bake with all these new flours. But for the drive to make it work, I thank my children. They never complained about the less than wonderful meals I would at times prepare. They didn’t complain about the extra time I now spent in the kitchen. And they didn’t belittle me for the meltdowns I would sometimes have over the frustration of it all. 

One dinner in particular offered a memory I will forever cherish.

Gluten-free pasta wasn’t what it is now. The brands I first tried were not the ones I currently use. I remember putting a bowl filled with a starchy blob on the table next to the spaghetti sauce (and salad). I felt horrible for serving this to my family. My kids, bless their hearts, looked at it, slowly served themselves small helpings, and said, “This isn’t so bad.” 

“This isn’t so bad.” That phrase chokes me up every time and is forever embedded in my memory. That gift they gave me was better than anything anyone could ever unwrap. Their love was reflected in those words, and possibly even more, in the words they didn’t say. Not one single complaint. 

Yup, I still tear up. 

It was this, more than anything, that fueled my drive to find and to provide meals that were safe for me and that were edible (and enjoyable) for everyone. 

The Discovery Of Gluten-Free Replacements

When I was first diagnosed, I had no idea there existed replacements for wheat flour and baked goods or for pastas and for pizza. Remember, this was the year 2000. 

And then I discovered a recipe that turned my world around. Carol Fenster’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thank You Carol Fenster!

There are some things we take for granted and there are some things that may appear to others as no big deal. But not being able to bake chocolate chip cookies for my kids was a BIG deal. So I gave it a try. 

The first batch came out of the oven with all the smells of home—and apparently, all the tastes of home. Those cookies disappeared before they even had a chance to cool.

I cried. I literally cried. I cried over a simple batch of chocolate chip cookies. 

Of course, this wasn’t really a simple batch of cookies. This was the moment I knew I would be OK. I would be OK because my kids could still have the mom who could give them home-baked chocolate chip cookies

Tried and True and Forever

This is my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies still, 18 years later (with some tweaks here and there when I feel like experimenting with different flours).

As I shared in another post, Food Is A Memory.  The memory, the taste-of-home, and that amazing you-can-do-it message makes this recipe the most important gluten-free recipe I will ever use. 

Thank you Carol Fenster! 

Here is the recipe I found through one of the online support groups I had joined to help me understand my new diet, (back in 2000). I do not know which one of her many cookbooks this recipe came from. I am sharing it as I discovered it (along with one of my own photos). This is posted with permission from Carol Fenster.

Gluten free chocolate chip cookies

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (Carol Fenster)

Shared with permission from Carol Fenster

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 3/4 cup white or brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (I use a touch less for flatter cookies)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
In large mixing bowl, use electric mixer to beat butter, sugars, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Beat in egg. In separate bowl, whisk together flours, soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Beat into egg mixture on low speed until incorporated. Dough will be somewhat stiff.
Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly puffed and slightly browned. Cool on rack. Store in airtight container. Makes 24.

*I double (and sometimes triple) this recipe and freeze them.  


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Debbie Simpson

    Oh I remember those loaves of bread that worked better as a doorstop! ha It certainly wasn’t funny then, but thank you for that reminder that gave me a little chuckle now. Yes, the tears over bread were certainly real. Thank you for sharing that chocolate chip cookies was your first success as well! Life does go on. And because of your efforts (and my efforts) and the efforts of so many, life goes on in better ways for others as we increase testing and diagnosis. 🙂

  2. Sybil Nassau

    YUP, I too remember feeling the same way! I remember crying while watching my husband enjoy his pizza at a local place while I struggled with a grilled chicken breast on a salad. I remember spending $8 on a loaf of bread only to use it as a door stop before throwing it out. Even the dog wouldn’t eat it nor the birds- the chunks we threw onto the back lawn ended up like concrete- we couldn’t even dig those blobs out of the grass. Then came Carol Fenster’s book and many others Betty Hagman) I hungrily devoured searching for recipes we could both eat. Then came that first batch of chocolate chip cookies and that was the beginning of my growth as an person who happened to have NCGS, and a new life was born. Grieve we did but, these days, there is nothing to give up- everything we used to miss can now be prepared gf. Life goes on!

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