No Ifs, Ands or Nuts

With the nation's growing food allergies, it is no longer unusual to see information on menus concerning nut allergies, signs announcing "nut-free zone" and meeting people who can not tolerate even the slightest nut in their food or anywhere near their food.

While I am quite a nutty girl, I do appreciate recipes that adapt to different eating styles and I am always interested in alternative recipes that taste like the real deal, but use surprise ingredients in extreme ways to produce exceptional results.

I have been making paleo chocolate chip cookie recipes that are better than the Toll House variety for several years. Some recipes call for almond flour or a combination of coconut flour and some arrowroot powder, but the cookie we always have in the freezer uses almond butter as a base and was created by Danielle Walker of Against all Grain blog and several cookbooks.

It makes a really great cookie that most people--paleo or not--fall in love with in just one bite. This cookie looks like the real deal chocolate chip cookie, too, though it's not that crunchy. And sometimes a crispy, crunchy cookie is where it's at.

While perusing Danielle Walker's newest cookbook, Meals Made Simple, I stopped and read the chocolate chip cookie 2.0 recipe, which was an update to the cookie we love. Unlike her previous recipe, this nut-free recipe calls for tahini paste instead of nut butter, for those who may be allergic to nuts.

Oh. My Gosh. Tahini paste? And my face contorted a bit at the thought of this savory paste of ground sesame seeds which I use to make a lovely salad dressing and roasted zucchini dip, a cousin to hummus without the garbanzo beans.

With a jar of organic tahini paste, dairy-free chocolate chips and an organic dark chocolate bar on hand, I was going to find out if this recipe was going to produce our new favorite paleo chocolate chip cookie. And fast.

Like a good student, I followed the recipe exactly and did not veer, but what happened was not at all what I expected nor did my cookies look like Danielle's picture in the cookbook.

Stunned as I was, in spite of their "ugly" and flat appearance, these cookies were high on the crunch factor and really high on flavor. In fact, these may be even better than the cookies we have been proclaiming as "better than Toll House."

But great crunch factor and taste aside, reality sunk in and I realized these cookies were far from the puffy cookies in the cookbook's picture. After a bit of research and tweeting to Danielle, I was informed of some tips and tricks to ensuring the next batch of cookies turned out just like the ones in the cookbook.

So I made the adjustments for batch number two and still, no dice. Again, I tweaked the recipe a bit more and boom. The third time was a charm, as they say.

What I came to learn through this three batch process was that I actually like the flat, crispy and crunchy cookies better than the real deal version. Depending on what you prefer will determine how to make this nut-free chocolate chip cookies recipe. Either way, I can assure you no one will ever know they are nut-free, grain-free, gluten-free and sugar-free. But they aren't calorie free, so don't go completely cookie crazy.

Buen provecho!
Nut-Free Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Cowgirl Gourmet thanks Danielle Walker of Against all Grain food blog and author of Meals Made Simple cookbook for this recipe that produced varying results--for which I slightly adapted it

Print recipe

If you prefer a flat and crispy cookie or a round and dense cookie, just tweak the recipe a bit and you can have either style. I enjoyed the flat, crispy version best, though both are excellent. The real trick lies in the tahini brand and stirring the tahini very, very well to make sure the bottom of the jar blends completely with the oil on the top. 

What I found was that a cookie with too much oil makes a flat and crispy cookie, while a cookie with a properly blended tahini spread and less oil makes a puffier cookie. Another trick is to add 1 tablespoon coconut flour to the dough to soak up the oil and make a fluffier cookie.

Makes 12 cookies

1 egg white
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
*1 tablespoon coconut oil (this is what makes the cookie crispy and flat, so omit this if you want a round and dense cookie)
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup tahini (here is where it gets tricky...please see Danielle's list of recommended tahini brands and be sure to stir the tahini very well so it is completely blended and not super oily)
*1 tablespoon coconut flour (if you want puffier cookies, add the coconut flour as it will thicken the batter a bit)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup organic dark chocolate bar, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup dairy- and soy-free Enjoy Life brand chocolate chunks

Using a stand mixer, add the egg white, coconut sugar, salt, coconut oil (if you want a crispy cookie) and honey to the bowl and mix on medium speed until smooth.
Add the tahini, arrowroot powder, vanilla and baking soda and mix on medium speed for 15 seconds. Then increase the speed to high for another 15 seconds until everything is well incorporated.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, add the chocolate chunks, stir well and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. The dough is thinner than the traditional cookie dough and chilling it will help it form better mounds.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a light colored baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out round spoonfuls of dough onto the sheet so you have 12 evenly spaced mounds. If you want thinner and crisper cookies, use the back of a spoon to flatten the cookie mound a bit.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place the parchment paper with cookies on a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool.

Notes: If you want a puffy cookie, be sure and eliminate the coconut oil and add the coconut flour. If you want a crispy cookie, include the coconut oil and do not use the coconut flour. The brand of tahni is extremely important as is being super careful to stir and stir and stir the tahni thoroughly to make sure the paste is well blended with the oil. Using only the oil will result in a super flat cookie.  (Stirring the tahini can be a messy process, so be sure and do this in the sink in the event of spillage, which will happen, especially if it is a new jar of tahini.)

Click here for a link to Danielle's tips on how to make this cookie.

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