The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 features experiments with dietary restrictions and various ingredient substitutions, such as gluten-free and sugar-free.

CLICK HERE FOR PARTS ONE and TWO and FOUR!!
Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - shows how dietary restriction ingredients affect cookies!
Have you ever wondered what ingredients you could substitute in a chocolate chip cookie recipe for dietary needs? How to make cookies healthier, whole wheat, vegan, gluten-free, egg-free, or butter-free?
Today I’m SO thrilled to be sharing with you my Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies part THREE! We’re diving into dietary and health restrictions today. I can’t tell you how often I’m asked how to make a recipe work for special diet needs, and I received many requests to do an Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies on just that topic. As someone without any special diet or health needs, this is an area I am fairly unfamiliar with. I thought this experiment would be the perfect way to dip my feet into this world!

I used an adapted version of the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as my control and made small variations among the ingredients to show you how they affect the cookie, all with dietary restrictions and health needs in mind. I kept everything else the same in each recipe test so we could observe the differences in the finished cookie, photographing all the results for you. See the comparison photo at the end of this post.

Tools and Ingredients Used (when applicable):
OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
Chicago Metallic sheet pans
Escali Digital Food Scale
KitchenAid 5-quart Stand Mixer
Oven thermometer
-Unbleached parchment paper
-Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour
-Fine sea salt
-Light brown sugar
-Large eggs
-Unsalted butter at a cool room temperature

Control Recipe

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - Control

Ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces or 142 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350Β°F. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well to combine. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls and place onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Whole Wheat:

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - Whole Wheat
For this batch I substituted all of the 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces or 142 grams) of all-purpose flour in the control recipe with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4.7 ounces or 135 grams) of King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, proceeding with the instructions as written. The whole wheat dough was much stiffer than the control dough and the finished cookies were chewy, firm, with a nutty flavor. I was actually quite surprised by how delicious they were, I put a little smiley face on my notes. If you’re looking to add more fiber and whole wheat goodness to your diet, you can DEFINITELY get away with substitute half, if not all, whole wheat flour in your chocolate chip cookie recipes. I’m sure white whole wheat flour would be even less noticeable.

Gluten-Free:

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - Gluten-Free
To make a batch of gluten-free cookies, I substituted all of the flour with the same exact amount of Cup 4 Cup Gluten-Free Flour, as directed in the Cup 4 Cup package directions (the name is quite literal). Beyond Amazon, you can find Cup 4 Cup at Sur la Table and Williams-Sonoma. I know there are MANY blends of flours and various ingredients to create a gluten-free flour mixture but I wanted to use something streamlined that I knew you guys would be able to get your hands on, and not have to spend a small fortune on half a dozen different specialty flours and ingredients. Since those who cannot eat gluten are often well versed in gluten-free recipes, I thought this would be especially helpful to those unfamiliar with gluten-free baking who may need to serve a gluten-free guest occasionally.

The gluten-free dough with Cup 4 Cup was pale and sticky. Overall, the Nestle control recipe is a fairly wet dough to begin with so I think when substituting with Cup 4 Cup, the recipe could have used a little more flour. Despite the sticky dough I proceeded, since I was trying to gauge just how effective this gluten-free product is, if it can truly be substituted one-for-one. The cookies unsurprisingly spread fast and flat with crunchy edges. I’d venture to assume that if I were to add a 1/4 cup more of the Cup 4 Cup they wouldn’t have spread so much. When I took my first bite into these cooled cookies I was pretty impressed. If I hadn’t known they were gluten-free I probably would have never guessed. The only change besides that fact that this batch needed more flour was that the texture was ever so slightly grainy. Hardly noticeable though. Cup 4 Cup is definitely a great gluten-free option for cookies, though you may need to experiment to get it just right.

Coconut Oil:

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - Coconut Oil
I know many people cannot have dairy, so I wanted to experiment with a butter-free cookie recipe. I substituted the stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) in the control recipe with 1/2 cup room temperature coconut oil, weighing 3.68 ounces. I proceeded with the recipe as written and the resulting dough was ultra soft, pale, and slightly greasy. The baked coconut oil cookies were super chewy and moist, with just a hint of coconut flavor. I actually think the coconut scent was stronger than the flavor. These cookies LOOKED just like normal cookies, but were quite greasy. Regardless, they were delicious and had a great overall mouthfeel.

Maple Syrup:

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - Maple Syrup
Just like dairy, I know many people cannot consume processed sugar. My mom is actually allergic to cane sugar, so I was extra motivated to test out a sugar-free batch. Instead of the combined 3/4 cup total of brown and granulated sugars in the control recipe, I used 1/2 cup of pure grade A dark amber maple syrup. Since I was adding so much liquid to the dough, I also added in a 1/4 cup of additional flour, an amount based off some internet research I did into baking with maple syrup. I used my electric mixer to beat the butter by itself until creamy, then added the maple syrup and beat until very well combined before proceeding with the rest of the recipe as written. The dough was still very, very sticky but I proceeded, trusting my substitution research. To my surprise the cookies barely spread. Usually very wet doughs spread more (such as the gluten-free batch), but these maple syrup cookies remained small, tall, soft, and slightly cakey with a a little crispness at the edges. They definitely had a more mellow sweetness to them, but were still quite tasty.

Flax Egg:

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - Flax Egg
Eggs are a common allergen and I am frequently asked how to substitute them, whether for allergies or to make a recipe vegan-friendly. There’s nothing else in the world like an egg, so I’ve always been hesitant to experiment with egg substitutions. I actually LOVE adding an extra egg yolk in my cookies because it makes them more rich and chewy. So the thought of using NO eggs makes me nervous and unfortunately I am sad to say, it still does. It appears I have more experimenting to do though I’m not quite sure with what – vegan friends can you help me out? The most common egg substitute according to the internet is the flax egg, which is 1 tablespoons ground flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water. This is what I used to substitute for the egg in the control recipe. The resulting cookies were flat, grainy, gritty, and super sweet with no depth of flavor. These were absolutely my least favorite of the experiments. I think flax eggs can work well as a one-for-one substitute in many recipes, but to me it’s far too noticeable in a chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you had absolutely no choice in the matter, a flax egg cookie could probably satisfying a cookie craving but I won’t be using it again since I don’t need to do so.

Final Comparison:

*If you use these images PLEASE give proper credit to me and link back to this post.*Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3 - shows how dietary restriction ingredients affect cookies!

What did you think of these experiments? Have you had success with any dietary substitutions in cookie recipes? Will you be trying out any of these substitutions? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

All Three Guides in Comparison:

Ultimate Guides to Chocolate Chip Cookies Parts 1, 2, and 3!CLICK HERE FOR PARTS ONE and TWO!!

 

40 Responses to “The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies Part 3”

  1. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — April 18, 2014 at 3:26 am

    I have loved reading this series and these are some of the things I have been wondering about so thank you! I love coconut oil in cookies, but have definitely noticed they are always a little greasy! Pinned!

  2. #
    Cathie — April 18, 2014 at 8:29 am

    I somehow missed the first installments of this series, I’ll have to go back. My son has soy and corn allergies (among others) and I use the King Arthur’s Flour recipe for crispy chocolate chip cookies, which calls for both butter and shortening. Since I am nutritionally opposed to shortening, I replaced it with coconut oil. So they have 1/2 cup each of butter and coconut oil. They aren’t greasy at all, and hands down the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. I’ve been making them for 2 or 3 years now, and I am quickly becoming famous for them. They have an almost imperceptible hint of coconut flavor, which is just perfect. The other thing is that I use only Enjoy Life chocolate chips, as they do not contain the ubiquitous soy lecithin.
    Thanks for all this research – I’m going to make some whole wheat cookies now!

  3. #
    Kelly — April 18, 2014 at 8:45 am

    My favorite mix of all these is – all brown sugar, equal parts; corn starch, baking soda, and baking powder, coconut oil, and refrigerated dough overnight. What an amazing cookie. The dough is rock hard because of the oil; but I just use a knife to break it up and its fine.

  4. #
    Sew Create It - Jane — April 18, 2014 at 11:55 am

    We are a no-egg family and I have found that 20g of instant potato (flakes) and 60-80 ml of yoghurt makes for a wonderful egg replacement. I use it in cookies, cakes and muffins that have an oil base as opposed to a butter base and the results are fab! For chocolate chip cookies that use butter I use margarine and it works great.

    • #
      Tessa — April 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      What an interesting substitution! Thanks for the tip πŸ™‚

  5. #
    Alicia — April 18, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Just an idea if you don’t like coconut taste in the dairy free cookie you can use refined coconut oil. It’s the unrefined coconut oil that has the coconut taste.

  6. #
    Perrin — April 21, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I’ve been enjoying this cookie series, and I have some suggestions for future cookie experiments. I’d love to see these tested: less flour, replacing brown sugar with a combination of white sugar and molasses, replacing a small (e.g. 5-10%) amount of white sugar with corn syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup, browned butter (like the Cook’s Illustrated recipe), and the Cook’s Illustrated mixing method where you rest the dough a few times during mixing.

  7. #
    Meredith — April 25, 2014 at 2:20 am

    For egg substitutions, I’m not a huge fan of flax eggs, either. It does work better if you blend the flax meal and water in a blender then let it sit for five minutes, than if you simply whisk them together. But my favorite egg substitution is chickpea flour. I add two tablespoons of chickpea flour to the dry ingredients and two tbsp of water to the wet (usually with the vanilla). This is a substitute for one egg, and in a recipe like chocolate chip cookies, the flavor difference is very subtle. You’ll probably want to increase your leavener by a 1/4 tsp, but the high protein content in the flour is very similar to the binding properties of egg white!

  8. #
    JenL — May 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Love this installment!
    For eggless cookies:
    http://www.egglesscooking.com/2009/01/23/best-chocolate-chip-cookies/
    It uses Ener-G Egg Replacer.

  9. #
    kate foran — May 16, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Oh my gosh, just found this blog on pintrest and I am in LOVE!!! i would love to do this but i dont have the time! Also my waistline would soooo not appreciate it! So i just love reading all your “experiments”! thank you….I cant wait to try some of the recipies!

    • #
      Tessa — May 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Kate! Thank you and welcome πŸ™‚ I’m so happy to have you as a new reader! I hope you enjoy my recipes.

  10. #
    Amanda — June 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks for experimenting and saving me some time (and! truthfully, calories)! Great pictures and instructions.

    I have used flaxseed replacements in several baked goods before, and typically find there to be some grainy texture. I will have to try Meredith’s suggestion to blend first! I usually add two tablespoons of hot water to one tablespoon of flaxseed meal, though, and that seems to work much better for me. More like an actual egg.

    Thanks again!

  11. #
    Sarah — June 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Wow, I guess I’m not the only cookie fanatic, I’ll inform my husband πŸ™‚ the other day I made the toll house recipe but swapped the regular butter for brown butter. After melting and browning the butter I poured it into a measuring cup, added a few tablespoons of water back to the butter (since it was
    Cooked out) and stuck it in the fridge for about 2 hours so it could solidify. Still soft but not a liquid. Aaaaamazing cookies. The dough almost tasted caramel-y but the cooked cookie was just a slight variance in flavor. Also I have used Splenda instead of white sugar. Good too. Thanks for your research!

  12. #
    Alexia — June 20, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I was always curious about using honey in a cookie recipe, would that work just as well as the maple syrup, or would that produce a different result?

  13. #
    Kamariah — July 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Hi Tessa, Love all the details in your blog. I am from Malaysia. Looking forward to read more. I will surely very eager to try your recipes and take note of all the info given… Thanx so much Tessa.
    Nice to know you..

    • #
      Tessa — July 4, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Welcome and thank you!

  14. #
    Eshaana — July 21, 2014 at 4:16 am

    Hi Tessa

    Try substituting buttermilk for the eggs. I use 1/4 cup of buttermilk for each egg. It gives your baked goods a wonderful, creamy/buttery texture and adds extra moisture to any cakes and muffins.
    I substitute eggs in all my baking as I am vegetarian and although I do eat eggs my family don’t and they look forward to eating homemade baked goodies at my house as you can’t find eggless stuff in the shops very easily.

    • #
      Tessa — July 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  15. #
    Dana @ 3boysunprocessed — July 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    This is brilliant!!!

  16. #
    Tacoma Basil — July 29, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Flax eggs done right:
    1) Use whole golden, not brown, flaxseeds. Purely aesthetic to avoid discoloration. Do not use pre-ground brown flaxseed unless you want gritty ugly flax eggs.
    2) Grind 1 Tbsp. flaxseeds extremely finely until floury. A spice grinder will yield better, and faster, results than a mortar and pestle.
    3) Add 3 Tbsp. water and stir well.
    4) Refrigerate for at least 5 – 10 minutes to allow the flax egg to set. Don’t skip this step. Exposed to water, the flax seeds will release a viscous, protein-rich mucilage — vegan egg white! Tip: Prep flax eggs ahead of time so they’ll be ready when you need to add them to your recipe.
    5) Sub for 1 chicken egg. Whip your gloriously slimy pale-yellow flax eggs into any baked good recipe and enjoy.

    For additional eggs, simply increase the recipe amounts, keeping a ratio of 3:1, water to flaxseed. A large batch of flax eggs can be made all at once in a pinch. You can even make extra flax eggs and freeze them for later use. Check out this guide for a more advanced technique: http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/egg-replacers/flax-seed-egg-replacer

  17. #
    JEn — September 14, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Try substituting the egg for a mashed ripe banana. It adds a nice subtle banana flavour, and who doesn’t love the combination of Chocolate and Banana! I love your breakdown of how each ingredient can change a cookie. I am always on the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie and I will try some of your suggestions!

  18. #
    Nami — September 23, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Friendly vegan here. I love that you’ve done this, soo helpful. I wish I could remember where I read this to give her credit, but this tip really, *really* made a difference in my cookie bakes; Use 3 tablespoons HOT water with 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds. I’ve read the oil goes rancid VERY quickly when you break the seeds up, so I’ve never used the pre-ground stuff, I grind a bunch in my coffee grinder and freeze leftovers. it freezes very well. Anyway, mix it well with a fork just like you would beat an egg, and refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes (or longer, I’ve left it overnight) before using. I’ve tried adding it right away and it worked out similar to what you’re describing. Not too good. 20-30 minutes makes all the difference. The flavor of flax I’ve read can be strong, not sure how it would taste with white flour, but when I use it with whole wheat flour it just adds more of a nutty flavor imo.

  19. #
    Alisa @ Go Dairy Free — November 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Tessa – this is a fun post! I know dairy-free best, and almost always make my cookies with oil, so thought i would weigh in on that one. Think about nutritional ratios – butter has 11 grams of fat per tablespoon while oil has 14! If you use the exact same amount (8 tablespoons) – that is the equivalent of adding 24 grams of extra fat or over 2 tablespoons – hence the greasy results! You need to use much less oil to get suitable, non-greasy cookies πŸ™‚

    As for the eggs, I’ve done a lot of subs for those, and agree that flax isn’t my favorite for cookies. Often a “sub” isn’t needed, but just a little more moisture. My favorite in cookies though, is actually dairy-free yogurt. I use just 3 tablespoons per egg.

  20. #
    evy — November 4, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I wonder if the flax egg would work ok with some psyllium husk? πŸ™‚

  21. #
    Tai — November 12, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Try using chia seeds in place of flax meal for the vegan version, holds up and tastes much better. I personally only use the flax eggs for savory preparations and the chai seed eggs for baking. Try it out!

    • #
      Tessa — November 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks for the tip!

  22. #
    Teffy @ Teffy's Perks — December 9, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I cannot tell you how much I love this!!
    Chocolate chip cookies are one of my all time favorite things, and since avoiding gluten, dairy, and sugar it’s been such a mission to find one that works. Just the fact that you’ve experimented with so many variants including gluten free, maple syrup, and coconut oil makes me feel like I’m one step closer to finding my ultimate cookie!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  23. #
    Eliana — January 15, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I know this was posted a long time ago but I just read it and tried some of them they turned out good. Except I did not like the egg-less. Then I did research and found our you can use 2 Tbsp of water, 1 Tbsp of oil, and 2 tsp of baking powder in replace of an egg. THEY TURNED OUT AMAZING!!! Just like the original recipe did.

  24. #
    Scarlett Pflugrad — February 18, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I enjoy articles like this. It will take me a little while to digest every thing in the 4 parts. I stopped using the dark cookie sheets a year or so ago. I still have several; what if I put parchment on them? I assume that the dark metal will still affect my cookies. I will use your guidelines as to what happens on all kind of cookies. I have some cook books from America’s Test Kitchen that covered some aspects that you have — never never have I seen as comprehensive a job. Thank you.

  25. #

    That is really interesting, You are a very professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post.
    Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

  26. #
    Kirsten — January 24, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Snowed in this weekend and craving something sweet, as well as needing something to do! Since going to the store isn’t an option, this series was a great way to bake cookies with whatever I had in the cupboard! Used maple syrup instead of sugar, used half butter and half coconut oil, subbed baking powder for baking soda. Coming out of the oven, they look like little ice cream scoops- round in the middle and on top, but with a flatter edge that spread while baking. Now it’s the hardest part, waiting for them to cool enough to taste! Thanks!

  27. #
    Dragonslayer — January 25, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    Is there significant deference if I’m using salted butter as opposed to unsalted.
    Thanks. Monte

  28. #
    Sandy — February 24, 2016 at 7:41 am

    This post inspired me to combine many ideas into one recipe for my family! I used half all purpose flour and white whole wheat, replaced butter for coconut oil, replaced granulated sugar and brown sugar for 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. maple syrup, used 2 tbsp water, 1sp canola oil, and 2 tsp baking powder for the egg (my son has egg allergy), ground 1/4 cup walnuts (to hide them), ground 1/2 cup old fashioned oats. All 3 of my young kids like the cookie, thank you. The cookies didn’t spread out very much, but were flavorful moist and crisp.

  29. #
    Julianna — March 23, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Hi, Tessa – Love this series, and have recently stumbled on something called “Aquafaba” as an egg replacer. I think I ran across it on Facebook— there seems to be an active community there where they swap recipes for everything under the sun with eggs replaced. Aquafaba is actually Chick Pea Brine (yes, the liquid in the can or what’s left after cooking the beans). I haven’t tried this, but I notice that not only do people swear by it, but they make *meringues* out of the stuff! I just thought I’d pass that along. Here’s a website dedicate to it. http://aquafaba.com/index.html

    • #
      Tessa — March 23, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      What what! I’ve never heard of this. Fascinating. Will have to do some research πŸ™‚

  30. #
    Katherine @ Simple Plant Based Life — October 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Hey Tessa,

    I just came across your post, and it’s great! I’ve been experimenting with coconut oil in my chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I’m having mixed results. It’s not consistent batch to batch, and I don’t like the greasy texture like you mentioned. The flax egg has been perfect though.

    Flax eggs are great, but not in every recipe. If you don’t want a nuttier taste, then chia eggs are better. I’m using nuts in my cookies, so the flax is not noticeable at all. Also, I know some people grind the flax seed fresh, but I’ve had the best results with buying Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal. Most grocery stores sell it in the natural section, and it’s not expensive. I store the bag in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

    The important thing about using flax eggs is making them properly. Many people only let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. It really needs 1 full hour to thicken and set. After you make the “egg” cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using. After it’s ready, I set it on the counter while the oven is preheating,. You can store flax eggs in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (You can get away with 15 minutes for chia eggs though.)

  31. #
    gina — October 23, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    I live at 6300ft above sea level. I have tried for a long time to come up with a recipe for drop cookies that aren’t fat. I want my baked cookies to look like the 24hr refrigerated cookies. I have tried Crisco (doesn’t work) less baking soda (to hard) Is there anything else I should try because of the altitude? Thank You for the help.

    • #
      Tessa — October 25, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Sorry Gina, but I have zero experience with high altitude baking πŸ™

  32. #
    charmaine — November 10, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Hi Tessa
    how can I replace the brandy in the fruit cake.

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