“It’s a Keeper” Butterscotch-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

[Note: this recipe is now available in my cookbook, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, along with over 100 more refined sugar-free, gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free treats!]

Glutenfree, refined sugarfree Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

[photo: Celine Saki]

When I first met the HH way back in 1997, he was dabbling in astrology. I don’t mean the kind of  horoscopes you read in the daily newspaper or receive each morning on twitter.  No, I mean the kind of astrology that involves a mega-detailed analysis such as casting a natal chart, consulting celestial connections, assessing trine relationships, checking the aspects of the sun, tabulating the temperature at 3:00 PM EST on Pluto, combing through the weekly sales flyer at Costco, etc.

Then, after he’d done all that, he proudly presented me with a 26-page printed document that outlined my basic personality traits, possible career moves, future inclinations, ideal love relationship, suggested pets, and so on.  It had taken him almost three weeks of his free time in the evenings to analyze, study, measure and print the thing.

That’s when it hit me: this guy was a keeper.

One detail he was very fond of repeating was how our two signs (he: Scorpio of the Eagle phase; she: Libra ), were stacked up in a love relationship: the pairing was destined to be either perfectly compatible, a shimmering, calm and crystal-clear lake on a sunny day in July; or eternally on the verge of combustion, a stack of old newspapers perilously close to the fireplace. (Personally, I think we vacillate between the two).

In explaining the different elements of my horoscope, the HH also pointed out that, according to our respective dates, times, and places of birth, his sign was  “destined” to be a “teacher” to my sign.  Well, if you count teaching me the difference between a gigabyte and a terabyte; what blacklight power is; why a  cartridge is superior to a needle; or the fact that Tazio Nuvolari once navigated his Alfa Romeo through an archway with less than an inch on each side of  his car–at 100 miles per hour–then yes, he’s taught me a lot.  But when it comes to things like expressing one’s emotions; returning phone calls; whether or not a specific occasion requires a card; or remembering to renew his passport so he can travel to Nourished in Chicago with me in April–well, let’s just say that I could teach the HH a few things as well.

Ah, yes.  Back to the cookies.

At some point shortly after the Presentation of the Horoscope, I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies to thank my sweetie for his efforts. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?  I’ve written before how I first began to bake them when I was a mere tot at my Aunt Yetta’s knee.

As you know, classic chocolate chip cookies come in myriad forms, sizes, thickenesses and textures. There are the “crispy-throughout” cookies, the “crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside” variety, or the deliberately underbaked, “chewy-throughout” style of chocolate chippers.  And let’s not forget the “not-baked-at-all-raw-cookie-dough” version, which was for decades the type preferred by yours truly. (Once I went gluten free, I was devastated to discover that my raw cookie dough no longer held its former allure; I actually found it distasteful, the bean flours asserting themselves a little too strongly in the dough).

Back then my exclusive CC Cookie was my mother’s classic recipe, which had been in our family for eons.  It represented my ideal: a perfect balance between brown and white sugar, with a little more butter than most other recipes to form a crisp, crunchy exterior and dense, soft and buttery interior studded with melty chocolate chips (not to mention a killer raw cookie dough). The HH, on the other hand, favored a cookie that was crispy throughout.  He took a bite of one of my cookies and announced, “It’s good, but it sort of tastes like a ball of raw dough. Ugh.”

And at that moment, I wondered: IS this guy a keeper?

Over the years, I kept at it.  And through it all, the HH wanted nothing more than President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies–crisp as a Toronto day in mid-January, from the first crumb to the very last morsel in your mouth.

Then I came across a recipe in Vegetarian Times that used oatmeal and walnuts plus several ingredients I don’t eat: canola oil (usually GMO), brown sugar (cane sugar) and chocolate bars (more cane sugar).  I set about playing with the recipe.  It took a few tries, but in the end, that recipe taught me a lot.  I learned that the exact measurement of water is key. I learned that the combination of both coconut sugar and coconut nectar creates a synergy resulting in just the right balance of crispy exterior and chewy interior.  I learned that psyllium husks are my new favorite binder.  I learned so much that I began to wonder if the recipe creator might have been a Scorpio.

I offered the HH a cookie.  He bit into it, chewed it enthusiastically, and helped himself to another (I think this “multiple dessert servings” business is getting to be a habit with that HH!).  He even commented on the fact that they were “nice and chewy in the middle.” And then he added, “Yep, I think this one’s a keeper.”

Well, then!  Seems the HH learned a thing or two from me as well, hmmm? 😉

[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.]

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  1. What a funny story, Ricki. I never knew that astrology was so precise. 😉 I do think that couples should be compatible in the kitchen, types of chocolate cookies aside. These look great!

    • Thanks, Janet! I do think the HH and I are an anomaly that way. . . he loves steak, I eat vegan. But at least our cookie style is now in sync! 😉

  2. Gorgeous cookies, Ricki! You’d never know they were so healthy. I love finding recipes that are truly whole foods based and don’t have gluten-free starches or gums. 🙂

    • Thank you, Hallie! I agree–I was so pleased to see that the original cookie used just ground oats and nuts in the base. Great idea! 🙂

  3. Oh Ricki! These sound and look delicious. (And healthy!)

    I love the horoscope story; I find astrology stuff fascinating. It’s so sweet he spent so much time on your “report.” HH is surely a keeper, and I’m sure he says the same about you.

    • HI LIZ!!! So nice to see your name here again! 😀 Glad you like the look of the cookies–they are pretty yummy. And I hope that’s the way the HH feels, too (at least, that’s what I keep telling him!!) 😉

  4. These look amazing. Since I’ve never had lucuma, I’m guessing it’s the combination of that and the coconut nectar/sugar that give these their “butterscotch” flavor? I am a sucker (like BIG TIME sucker) for butterscotch, so if those are the key players, I might just have to get more coconut nectar and some lucuma!

    • Alta, yes, those flavors together really tasted like butterscotch to me! You can do without the lucuma if necessary, but I’d highly recommend it. 🙂

  5. I think I’m going to test these cookies out using agave instead of coconut nectar! I might have to wait for a while though. I still have a baggie full of those pumpkin seed chocolate chip cookies you linked last week in my freezer!

    • Heather, I tried agave when I was developing the recipe–the texture isn’t right. They were either too soft or totally crispy. Not that there’s anythign wrong with that. . . 😉

  6. You had me at butterscotch – but I can’t resist any chocolate chip cookie recipe. Though I’m a chewy or raw girl myself, too.

    Sounds like the HH is getting a bit of a sweet tooth!

    • Alisa, the HH actually had a sweet tooth when we met, but he prefers whipped-cream, ice cream, creamy yogurt, or cream. 😉 I do think he’s getting a little more accustomed to cookies and muffins these days, though! 😀

  7. Okay, butterscotch flavor is my weakness. Have not had a real butterscotch cookie in ages now that we eat so healthy. So I am dying to try this recipe. I have never tried lucuma powder! Now you have my interest really piqued about it! And oh my goodness! Your astrology story is hysterical!! He is definitely a total KEEPER!!!!

    • Kim, I really found that these had a butterscotch taste (then again, I haven’t had it in so long, either, who knows?) 😉 And glad you agree with my assessment (of the HH, not horoscopes!).

  8. Okay, HH sounds like he’s perfect for you 🙂
    In case you hadn’t noticed, I am a total cookie girl Ricki. I think these are a good enough excuse to pick up some lucuma powder. Psyllium is the answer to our gum-free prayers, and more!

    • I agree, GO PSYLLIUM!! I can’t believe I had some for years in my cupboard after using it in raw dishes, and now here it is the perfect GF binder!

  9. As a fan of all cookies, both crispy and soft, I’d be happy with either. Maybe I’m a keeper!! But I probably wouldn’t be able to figure out all that horoscope stuff. And we’re both Libras, so it would never work out. 😛

    • Ha, ha! Yes, if I recall correctly, a Libra-Libra pairing was supposedly one of the worst ones!! Great for friendships, though. 😀 And I’m sure you’re a keeper!!

  10. I am always on the lookout for new and crispy CC cookies for my hub, too. I see that its ok to pass on the lacuma (I’ll try to pick some up – what is the flavor profile?) but I can’t do psyllium. Would xanthan work as a sub?
    Boy – spell check is going crazy with these ingredients;-)

    • So funny about the spell check! Well, I didn’t try xanthan in my trials, but I did try both flax and chia and didn’t like the results with either one. Honestly, I’m not sure how the xanthan would work, but it’s certainly worth a try. I find that lucuma is very butterscotch-y and also a little fruity. It seems to enhance the naturally butterscotch-like flavor of the coconut nectar.

  11. Ricki, I had to laugh because my husband and I had a similar situation around chocolate chip cookies when we were engaged. I cooked for him a lot, but this was my first attempt at baking. I used the toll house recipe, back before he was gluten free with me. I thought I’d get creative with adding a little water to the mix, which almost makes them like little cakes. I also used rock salt to give the cookies a little crunch. My husband hated them and we had our first big fight. He likes his cookies crunchy and I’m with you about the cookie dough. I did decide to keep him though. I’ll try your recipe on him soon and see how it goes. See you at Nourished. Jenilyn

    • Jenilyn, that’s too funny! I used to make that recipe all the time–I bet they still tasted great, though, right? (though not sure about the rock salt myself!). Glad it didn’t split you two up. 😉 And hope you like these as well!

  12. Sassy Stephanie says

    Hmm…think coco sugar would work? I have all but the coco nectar.

    • Stephanie, I did try a version of this with coconut sugar-only and I wasn’t thrilled with the final texture. The flavor will still be great, though, just a little too crispy for me!

  13. Yay for psyllium! I love the butterscotch flavor, as well as unsweetened carob chips! That is so cute about the “report” he put together for you 🙂

    • Thanks, Jane! I thought it was pretty cute, too. 😉 Glad that you’ve been able to find unsweetened carob chips–what brand do you use?

      • I get the Sunspire Vegan Unsweetened Carob Chips – actually the only ones I can find! I just love them!

        • A lot of people say those are hard to find. . . or is it that they have barley malt (ie, not gluten free)? I can find vegan ones with just carob, soy lecithin and palm oil. I’m so used to them now I probably would find the “regular” ones too sweet!

  14. I had no idea the HH was into astrology. How interesting. (In a good way, of course!) I keep toying with the idea of going to the conference but can’t quite commit. I may, however, be coming to Toronto in the near future.

    I saw the cookie recipe, too, and was considering tinkering with it, but I’m so glad you did it first. Now I can just use your recipe. 🙂 I wonder what would happen if I used oat flour instead of oats.

    • Yes, the HH goes through phases when he’s very into one thing or another. . . and then it’s committed to memory forever. Drives me crazy. 😉 And you KNOW I would love to see you at the conference, or in Toronto, or wherever!

      Re: oat flour, I think I started that way but didn’t like the final texture. I preferred the sort of nubbly oaty bits in there. But worth a try. 🙂

  15. Oh Ricki,

    You’re so funny. I love reading your stories.

    And I have to say, I have each and everyone of these ingredients in my kitchen!

    Can’t wait to make these. Maybe this weekend while my sweet husband takes the kids to visit his family. A quiet house and an entire batch of cookies all to myself.
    Fuggedaboutit! 🙂

    Be Well,

  16. 🙂 these look positively delicious, Ricki! I cannot wait to try your recipe.


  17. How exciting to have a proper astrologist to do your chart! I’ve seen a good friend have her chart done and it was so spot-on but I don’t have my birth time so I can’t do it! I am with you on soft cookies – and E likes things even softer than me – he sometimes leaves packets of things like crackers and gingernuts opened just so that they can soften enough for him – which drives me crazy as sometimes his soft seems like ‘stale’.

    He does love butterscotch so the idea of a butterscotch cookie with no butterscotch chips is exciting – am a little unsure about coconut nectar and lucuma but I need to use up some psyllium husks that have been in my pantry far far too long.

    • Johanna, it was quite the document, I can tell you! And I was amazed, too, at how accurate the personality description was–we hardly knew each other at the time, so he couldn’t have known much of that info back then. And that’s really funny about E and the soft cookies/crackers! I agree, they’d seem stale to me. 😉

  18. Oh Ricki. You make my soul sing. Coconut sugar, coconut sugar! Need to stop adding to my “to make” coconut sugar recipes and get making! 😛

    • Hannah, don’t tell me you haven’t tried it yet–??? You are a woman of iron, I tell you! Given your love of chocolate (probably close to my own), I’d suggest starting with a brownie recipe, either the happy hemp or the “marry me” ones. . . but whatever you make, I bet you will be instantly enchanted by that caramely-butterscotchy flavor! 😀

  19. These cookies look absolutely scrumptious Ricki. My hubby and son are Libras–a great sign 🙂 I love Astrology-just don’t have the time to dabble in it like I used to.

  20. cute! love all the great flavors in here 🙂

  21. Yummmmmm!!! I’m not really eating grains now – so I shouldn’t have clicked on this :-). Maybe just this once.

    • I know the feeling! Since I made them, I’ve started a (mostly) grain-free regime, too. But they sure were good when I had them. . . !

  22. That HH is quite the guy … on so many levels! So glad he’ll be with you in Chicago. Will so miss meeeting you both!

    LOVE these cookies! I’m so very happy that you linked them to the kickoff of my GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group. 🙂


  23. Ok, now I have to try lucuma powder! And I too have some psyllium seeds in my pantry, just haven’t tried them yet. Almost overnight, I find myself staying away from gums, so I am anxious to try them as an alternative binder! Pinned Ricki!

    • I’ve come to love lucuma! It really does seem to add a butterscotchy flavor to things. And the psyllium really works well–thanks! 🙂

  24. Oh Ricki – these are so dangerously good! I knew they would be a winner when I tasted the dough. Delish!! Thank you!

  25. Nicole Pelletier says

    These turned out so good! Thanks for the recipe!!!

  26. Hi, I just love your recipes!, especially sugar free ones. I have been looking for naturally sugar free butterscotch morsels/baking chips or a recipe.

    • Kelly, Thanks so much! Unfortunately I’ve never found sugar-free butterscotch chips, either. But now you’ve given me an idea for a recipe. . .! 🙂

  27. I remembered seeing this recipe when it was originally posted, thinking “that looks good!” but never making them. But I just got your new cookbook and figured the time is NOW! I made these for a group of friends and everyone raved about them! The batch made 15 cookies but there were only 4 left! They were soft and chewy with excellent flavour from the walnuts & lucuma. Definitely a winner!

    • Yay!! So glad everyone like them, Heather! And I’m thrilled that was the impetus you needed to finally make them. Thanks so much for coming back to let me know! (and, if you’re inclined to leave a review on amazon, that would be doubly amazing. . .) 😀

  28. michael phelan says

    Hi Ricki
    Love your recipes and looking forward to making these cookies today. I was wondering if I could leave out the walnuts entirely. I really don’t do very well with nuts or seeds. Would it alter the consistency of the recipe too much to leave them out?

    • Hi Michael, Yes, for this recipe, the walnuts are essential. If you’re looking for a nut-free cookie, how about this one? (Note that this is not an ACD recipe, though it is gluten-free).

      • michael phelan says

        thanks very much for getting back to me, Ricki. I really appreciate it. And thank you for sending the link to the nut free cookies. I really like the butterscotch idea with these and that you use coconut sugar and syrup as well as lucuma and psyllium – some pantry items I have been wanting to make more of a use of. I think I’ll just try it with the walnuts and hope for the best. 🙂 All the best to you and thank you for all that you do.

        • michael phelan says

          I made them, walnuts and all. Simply outstanding! One of the best cookies I’ve had in a very long time.
          Thank you ever so much.

          • Michael, I’m thrilled to hear that! So glad you liked them. And hope that the walnuts didn’t disagree with you too much! 🙂

  29. Do you think ground almond meal would work in place of the walnuts? I have tons from making almond milk. Thank you so much, looking forward to this recipe!

    • It might work, Maggie, but if I tried that, I’d add a little more fat (1-2 Tbsp/15-30 ml) to compensate–the meal has lost some of the fat, and almonds have less fat than walnuts to begin with. Otherwise, the cookies might turn out too dry. Let me know how it works out!!

      • Ricki – do you mean 1-2 Tbsp more oil than the 1 Tbsp already called for in the recipe? Or, 1-2 Tbsp total oil? Awesomely enough, I have all the ingredients necessary – and looking forward to making these! Thanks Ricki!

        • Maggie, I mean add an extra 1-2 Tbsp oil to compensate for the lower oil content without the walnuts. I’ll keep my fingers crossed! Let me know how they turn out. 🙂

          • Welp, I wouldn’t call this substitution a success, but it sure tastes good! I couldn’t get the dough to hold together, even with adding a total of a generous 1/4 cup coconut oil. I managed to smoosh a few cookies together, then determined to just roast it as granola – and it is very tastey – but much too labor intensive for granola. I think you were right – the meal left over from my almond milk making is just too spent to hold to anything – better used in fudge or something that would hold it all together better. Or, perhaps next time I will add a banana, or some apple sauce, to give it more ‘sticky.’ But fear that would upset the lovely flavor balance between the nutty, oat-y, lucuma flavor. Well, I tried! And did enjoy my granola! Thank you for helping me out Ricki – your responsiveness is greatly appreciated!

          • Aw, sorry that didn’t work out that way! I think your idea of banana for stickiness is a good one–but you’re right, the flavor would be different. Still, it would be good! 🙂

  30. I saw these with the macademia milk, and they looked really good. I’ve been looking for a way to use the huge pack of lacuma powder I bought to use in your raw cookie recipe (which is awesome.) I bought coconut syrup (is that the same as nectar?) and subbed quinoa flakes for the oats, and used Lily’s stevia chocolate chips. They turned out GREAT! My husband likes them, too, and he rarely likes gluten free desserts. This is definitely a keeper recipe. I could take them to a potluck (if I was feeling generous) and they would totally disappear. I will plan to take a batch of these to upcoming holiday dinners! Thanks for another great recipe!


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