March 21, 2012

I NEED that | Great cookie sheets | Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate molds
There was an article in the Dining section of today's New York Times called, Must-Have Gadgets for the Kitchen? Think Again. As you'd expect, it was about all the "fabulous" kitchen items we think will make cooking more efficient or just more fun. We buy them, then rarely, if ever, use them. I agreed that most of the items described were not useful, but a couple, like a food processor and a pressure cooker, are necessities, not frivolous extras, to me. However, I am as guilty as anyone of being sucked into buying "things I need" for the kitchen, whether I need them or not.

Cashews and dried cranberries waiting for chocolate
My situation right now is a little odd, in that two years ago we moved from the Midwest to The Pacific Northwest on a trial basis. Because we didn't know what our future plans would be, we didn't sell our house, but rented it out fully furnished and equipped, to visiting faculty, and we rented a similarly equipped house in Seattle. The house we left behind was fairly large, and the big kitchen was well-supplied with ... everything. I took only a minimal amount of stuff with me — the food processor, the pressure cooker (ahem), a couple of favorite baking dishes and pots — leaving plenty behind for the renters. After we bought a small house in the PNW, I further divided the kitchen supplies in our former home, finally admitting that yes, I could easily supply two kitchens with my "stuff." I siphoned off more cookware, flatware, bakeware, etc, and no one would know that anything was missing from the rental. I left behind things like the pasta maker, waffle iron, dehydrator, mixer, etc., though I'm missing some of them and may grab a couple more items this summer. In the meantime, though I really, really am trying to stay minimalist in my new little kitchen, it's just not in my nature to turn my back on cool kitchen items that call out to me. Some, like new cookie sheets, I really needed, and others, not so much.

Take the Silikomart silicone chocolate moulds, for instance. They are so cool, and at 4-1/4" by 8-1/4" they don't take up much room in the cupboard. I can make 1" diameter chocolate morsels with swirled tops that pop right out after cooling in the fridge. My first attempt (using 1/2 of a version of this recipe-no apricots) was delicious but not perfect, but will I ever try again to make perfect chocolates or will my lovely chocolate moulds become mere space-takers? We'll see. (They actually looked pretty cute in person, but didn't photograph well.) (I also made the fudge in another shape not needing a mould, here.)

The other recent purchase I succumbed to was cookie sheets. In my defense, let me just say that in addition to neglecting to bring any to Seattle, I really needed new ones anyway. I've had all sorts of cookie sheets — non-stick, stainless steel, insulated — and they all have their good and bad points, but after much research, I bought two 14" x 17" 10-gauge aluminum Volrath cookie sheets, and they are the best I've ever tried. (If you're worried about having food in contact with aluminum, you can use parchment paper as a liner.) On these cookie sheets, my cookies baked perfectly and did not stick. And I'm talking about notoriously prone-to-stick gluten-free cookies. The pans are so thick and sturdy that I'm guessing they may be the last I ever buy. They were easy to clean, too.

And what is the cookie recipe? It's the same one I wrote about here — the GF chocolate chip cake recipe. I recommend using well-drained canned beans for the cookies. My home-cooked beans made a looser batter, while using the canned beans (I used Eden brand beans) resulted in a stiffer cookie dough. If your dough seems too soft for cookie dough, add a bit more sorghum flour, or some GF oat flour, if you can eat oats. If you like sweeter cookies, I recommend adding 7-10 drops of stevia to the bean mixture.

I made about 30-40 cookies, slightly flattening each mound of dough into about a 2" round. The cookies spread while baking, so give them some space. Bake at 350˚F for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven and the type of pan you use. The bottoms and edges should be a nice golden brown. The cookies will get deliciously crispy if baked five minutes extra.

Although the cookies will keep for a couple of days on the counter, I think the leftovers taste much better if they are frozen. They defrost very quickly, though I usually just eat them right from the freezer. The chocolates freeze well, too, but they taste better defrosted, if you can wait.

Full disclosure: I purchased the cookie sheets on my own. I received no money for the mention of this product. I am not an affiliate of this company. All opinions are my own.


  1. Those cookies look so delicious! I wouldn't have thought about homemade beans and canned beans working differently in them. However, it makes sense since my homemade beans are often softer than the canned version.

    One danger of reading a lot of food and cooking blogs is learning about new cooking gadgets! It'd be easy to fill up a kitchen quickly after reading all of the raves! I know I prefer emptier cupboards, where I can see everything clearly and get the things I need without a lot of hassle. However, over time my cupboards have filled. Maybe I need a rental property! ;) One good thing about your situation is that you're able to see what you really need/want/use in your day to day life.

  2. I am a sucker for all kinds of moulds and pans, but I try to keep myself in check (which reminds me that I've still yet to use that mini bundt pan I bought 4 years ago). However, that chocolate mould is now on my list; I'm thinking homemade rice crispy treats? Pretzel balls? Vegan chunkies? Thanks a lot!

  3. Those molds look like fun! My mother in law is usually buying me Gadgets so I don't buy them. She bought me some donut pans which was awesome!

    Regarding canned beans, not all brands are alike. Those cookies look tasty.

  4. Cadry,
    A rental property — haha! When the time comes to sell the rental property we're in big trouble. We try to clear stuff out each summer, but it's so hard to do.

    My mini bundt pan, which I thrifted for $2.99, got use a few times before settling into a permanent state of rest. I can't get rid of it because it's so pretty. The mould is much smaller than it looks in the photo — rice crispy treats might be too big! Ditto pretzel balls. Still, it's very cool.

    Oooo donut pans. I have a mini donut pan which I never use but I still love it. And I have a recipe to try for GF donuts!

  5. You are lucky you are not so sensitive to wheat that you need all new equipment, which I did, a huge expense. And can use thrifted stuff, a bonus. I do know that wheat and gluten stays in plastic tupperware, so better to use glass (for other reasons too).

    I wouldn't expect the average renter to really expect to have a pasta maker and dehydrator; I am sure they wouldn't miss it at all.

    The cookies are making me drool. Bean cookies, yum!

  6. Our kitchen is pretty minimalist, but we really do need to replace essential things like cookie sheets. I'm glad you found some good ones and will be keeping them in mind when we finally get new ones!

  7. Bitt,
    I didn't know about gluten and plastic. Though we usually store things in glass, sometimes I use BPA-free plastic in the freezer. How can you ever go out to eat if they use the same dishes and cookware for all the food?

    I really only want the dehydrator and waffle maker, though not sure if it's worth bringing the waffler.

    I've come to believe that it pays to invest in good quality. I know you reached the same conclusion about bedding. I can't believe the difference the new cookie sheets make. Though I also liked the air-insulated ones I used to have, the cookies didn't brown as well or get as crispy on the outside while staying chewy on the inside.

  8. I have too much kitchen stuff for such a small kitchen, so I really shouldn't let myself be tempted by those chocolate moulds.

  9. I use my only silicone mini-muffin pan for exactly that same purpose--candies and chocolates! Thanks for trying the fudge. Your morsels look perfect to me! And the cookies do, too.

    So. . . did I hear something about you coming to Toronto?? ;-)

  10. Jac,
    Easy to say, harder to do. :)

    I was amazed how easy it was to pop the candies out of the cups. The cups are quite small, though, so I think they would work best with just the chocolate. BTW, I've made the fudge before.

    I may come to Toronto with my husband in June, but it's not certain. He hasn't decided if the timing will work for him to do a guest speaker gig. So I don't know. I will email if anything transpires.

  11. Oh, I am right there with you, sistah! I am not a big purchaser, not a big browser or shopper, but I do have a weakness for kitchen gadgets big and small. I'm also in need, desperately, of new cookie sheets! I have several, and I think they are all on their last cookie leg. I love the chocolate molds - did you use simple dark chocolate?

  12. Thanks. My daughter will love these.

  13. Blessedmama,
    Those darn kitchen gadgets will get you every time. What is it about cool kitchen stuff that's so mesmerizing? The cookie sheets are so heavy and great — the best. I'm not reviewing them for anyone — bought 'em myself.

  14. I love eating frozen cookies. I buy the Heart Thrive bars in bulk and eat them straight from the freezer :) Cannot wait to try these! Do you think sprouted cannelini beans would work?

  15. I've been trying to limit the amount of kitchen gadgets as well. Doesn't help having a food blog that's for sure. :-)

  16. Ashlae,
    I'm pretty fond of frozen cookies, too. I think if the beans are cooked, it shouldn't matter if they are sprouted. The problem may be that the cooked beans are too juicy, so try to keep the texture firm and drain them well. If the batter is too soft, add a little extra flour such as gf oat flour, if you can eat that. One or two tablespoons should do it.

    BTW, the waffles are killer. I'm reclaiming my waffle iron for sure this summer. Yeah.

    Chow vegan,
    Might as well give up and give in. Kitchen gadgets aren't so bad, considering. We could be accumulating worse things. Maybe.

    Chow vegan


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