Sweet Freedom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies–Gluten Free

When my sisters and I were kids, my parents used to play Poker every Saturday evening with their group of friends. They’d play from around 7:00 to 9:00 PM, stop for coffee, snacks, and a gabfest, then continue with the cards for another hour or so before everyone headed home.

The group would rotate hosts, so that our abode was Poker Central once every month or so.  I always secretly dreaded when my mom’s best friend hosted (since we kids had to tag along–babysitters were too expensive) because she always served “salmon salad,” consisting of one can of salmon that had been hastily mashed with some Miracle Whip–skin, bones, and all–and it grossed me out completely (my mom, you see, would gingerly scrape the skin off the flesh and then carefully extract the soft needle-like bones and vertebrae before mashing up her salmon salad–with real mayonnaise, I’ll have you know.  It wasn’t until years later, living on my own, that I discovered my mother, and not her friend, was the anomaly.)

Canned salmon aside, the hosts also always served a generous assortment of  desserts, and we kids took full advantage of our parents’ reluctance to berate us in front of friends, helping ourselves to at least one of each sweet when they hit the table.  And in the realm of baked treats, my mother reigned supreme.

Despite what my teenaged self perceived as a sappiness and lack of self-confidence in my mum (which, as it turned out, was actually sappiness and lack of self-confidence), I always admired her ability to whip up a Farmer’s Cheesecake (one of my father’s favorite treats), cinnamon coffee cake or her (legendary, among her friends and our family) Chiffon Cake.

Almost a foot high and with an airy, spongy crumb, speckled throughout with shards of grated chocolate, the chiffon cake became Mom’s signature dish, highly anticipated at those weekend card games, expected at every holiday dinner, even transported across borders when we visited our American cousins, loosely swathed in aluminum foil and packed between multiple pillowy layers of paper toweling within not one, but two cardboard boxes, as if she were transporting blood samples, or a bomb.

The other staple in my mother’s baking repertoire was the classic chocolate chip cookie.  Every year during the holidays our kitchen turned into a cookie lab where my sisters and I would help Mom try out a dozen or so new cookies from the pages she’d torn out of women’s magazines or from her cookbooks. But Chocolate Chip Cookies were the regular Joe throughout the rest of the year, consumed on Sundays when we ate dinner with my aunt’s family, who lived upstairs; when we got home from school on weekday afternoons; or during those weekly Poker games.

Ironically, it was my dad’s Great Aunt Yetta, and not my mother, who taught me to bake my first batch of my favorite cookie. Great Aunt Yetta (about whom I wrote here), took over our kitchen the summer she lived with us (her planned two-week visit mysteriously morphed into a month, then six weeks; of course I thought my mum was rather sappy to let her stay, but for some unknown reason, her husband didn’t seem to miss her).

I floated through that summer in Chocolate Chip Cookie nervana, baking them at least ten times during those six weeks.  I’d savor the raw dough, of course, even before placing it in mounds on the cookie sheets (still the best part of the procedure, in my opinion). Then I’d relish the just-baked treats, barely cool enough to handle, their edges crisping up even as the centers remained soft, dense and moist inside, with chips barely holding their shape, yet still warm enough to ooze onto your fingertips when you bit them.

Classically sweet and chewy, with a buttery perfume of brown sugar–what could be better than chocolate chip cookies?

Of course, there was no question that I’d include a healthier version of the childhood classic when I decided to write my cookbook, Sweet Freedom, a couple of years ago.  Lacking the original refined sugar, fat and eggs of the prototype, the cookbook version is nonetheless dense inside and slightly crispy at the edges, boasting a combination of dates, Sucanat and maple syrup to stand in for the original eggs and butter.  After many trials, I was finally pleased with the recipe–and the cookies regularly sold out in the health food stores at which they were sold.

A few weeks ago, I taught a cooking class called “Gluten Free Classics” at a local Loblaws store.  The “classic” recipes I included were Two-Bite Brownies, Hearty Olive-Onion Bread, Lemon Blueberry Muffins, and–yep, you guessed it–Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I planned to demonstrate how easy it is to adapt conventional recipes to gluten-free versions by taking the original Sweet Freedom recipe and simply swapping gluten free all-purpose flour for the spelt.  As often happens, I found that a one-for-one swap (despite the instructions on the bag) doesn’t always work out as planned. Accordingly, I added just a bit of brown rice flour, for heft–and, what do you know–it worked perfectly! I couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.

I’m happy to say these cookies are as good as the ones I used to bake, all those years ago.  The HH loved these, as did the cooking class participants. Indeed, these are chocolate chip cookies you’d be proud to serve to family and friends.

Just please, promise not to serve them with canned salmon.

This is my submission this week to Amy’s wonderful Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event.  Why not submit something healthy of your own?

And a little reminder. . . Sweet Freedom is still on sale for one more week, at 30% off retail price (including taxes and shipping)!  Check this page to learn more or to order.  🙂

Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to RickiHeller.com via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”

Last Year at this Time: Feeling Snacky: Crunchy Stalks and Branches

Two Years Ago: Pre-Blog Entry Blog Entry

© 2010 Ricki Heller

[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]



  1. Yum! There can never be too many chocolate chip cookie recipes in the world – especially healthy ones!

  2. I love the addition of cinnamon in your ccc’s!! Must try them…

    also, I’m pretty sure you have just inspired me to start my own poker nights… now I just need to scrounge up some people to play with!

    • You know, I used to be mortified that my parents played POKER–I mean, what were they, con men or something??–but I’ve gotten used to it over the years. I’d love to join you in that game, in fact (if only I knew how to play) 😉

  3. Your vivid description of canned salmon skin and bones dragged up some unsettling memories. (My kids don’t know how lucky they are to have been spared such grisly adventures.) Good thing you ended on a sweet note with those delicious cookies. They look wonderful.

  4. Gorgeous cookies 🙂 Well, I can flip to the page in my newly-acquired book or give this a shot 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  5. I can’t believe I haven’t tried these yet! I love chocolate chips cookies. May need to give them a whirl with oat flour in place of the gluten-free ap blend.

  6. Ricki,

    This cookies look delicious; however, I wonder if you have the original recipe for the non-vegan cheese filling in the farmers’ cheesecake recipe you linked to. My father’s mother used to make cheese danish every Passover, and we all used to fight over them. Unfortunately, no one got the recipe from her before she died. Your farmers’ cheesecake sounds like it has the same texture and not-supersweet taste that I remember from my grandmother’s cheese danish. I avoid tofu, but I’d love to try it with the outrageous raw cottage cheese I can now buy.

    • Hi Leslie, thanks so much for your comment! I’m sorry, I don’t have the original recipe any longer. . . I don’t bake that way and just got rid of it. My sister might have it, though. . . .I could ask. 😉 Your danish sounds great!

  7. YUMMY!

  8. Now I am craving cookies…at 9am!
    They look delicious.

  9. It is always interesting to hear how others de-glutenise their baking! These look interesting – though I haven’t been baking many choc chip cookies lately – but a good healthy recipe would be welcome I am sure.

    I love hearing about your mum’s cooking. My mum baked so much and yet the only choc chip cookies I remember having as a kid came from a packet – the first ones I remember baking are when I left home and a friend wanted to make a batch like those from his favourite cookie store – of which I had never heard of – Mrs Fields.

    How could I have wasted those childhood years without choc chip cookies I know just what you mean about the dough and the gooey just cooked ones – packet choc chip cookies are horrid hard imitations that don’t come anywhere near that ecstacy!

    • Yes, I would have described that experience as a child as “ecstasy,” too, I’m sure. 🙂 My mum’s baking is probably the most intense memory I have of her. . . she did it quite a lot, and very well. 🙂

  10. My mom was the only mom I knew who made cookies and brownies from scratch! As a result I cringed at those boxed mixes long before I realized how much healthier baking at home can be.

  11. Mmm chocolate chip cookies, such a classic treat. Growing up, we always made chocolate chip cookies as bars. Like you spread the dough out in a cookie sheet, bake it, then cut it into squares/rectangles. I got so tired of eating the square chocolate chip cookies, I just wanted the regular round ones! Now of course I miss the square ones.

    • We used to bake them that way once in a while in our house, too–when we were too lazy to scoop them one at a time! I love them either shape, of course. 😉

  12. Wow, those look SO good….along with everything else on your blog…yum! Enjoy!

  13. mmmm….that says it all!

  14. I love a classic cc cookie. Can’t wait to try these out! I know I speak for all of your readers when I say how much I appreciate the fact that you post all your amazing recipes!

    • Jill, that is such a sweet thing to say, and so much appreciated! I love doing them, so am very glad that you enjoying reading them! 😀

  15. These look perfect! Yum 🙂

    ~Aubree Cherie

  16. I love that you used dates to sweeten these cookies! awesome!! Love some gf chocolate chip cookies & my husband does too!

  17. Indent have a gluten allergy but I’ve found I like the gluten free cookies & cakes better than the regular. The consistency is different and I like it better. Thanks for sharing this cookie recipe.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.