gluten-free spiced orange chocolate chunk cookie recipe


I nearly didn't post this recipe. At first I felt like I wanted to make it a few more times, change the ratios a little more, cutting out some of the sugar to making them less sweet.
When I made them I tasted the mix at every stage, as you do. Creaming the butter and sugar, lick. Lick. And lick. Eggs almost ready to go in, one last lick before they do. Lick. Flour etc and chocolate in. Mmm, don't mind if I do. Raw cookie dough, munch, munch. Mmm that tastes good, a little more, munch. Rolling balls of cookie dough, oh there seems to be a little bit left. Not really enough to make a worthwhile cookie out of, I'd better just eat it. Munch, munch. 

You do this right? Please tell me it's not just me...

As much as I love doing this, and more often than not I actually have no control over my hand and mouth by this stage, it does make you feel rather ill. And by the time the cooked cookies came out of the oven they tasted ridiculously sweet to me. Hrmmm. Maybe that last mouthful of cookie dough wasn't the best idea I've ever had.
I think it's called sugar overload.

So I baked off just the one tray of cookies, leaving the remaining dough in the fridge, rolled into balls all ready to go. That first tray disappeared quickly so I had no doubt that they were good, it's just that I'd had enough sugar to last me the week, in one day. So I thought it best to have a wee break. And a green smoothie or two!

A week later my sister-in-law was coming over and knowing her 4 kids are always up for a cookie, I thought now was my chance to bake off the rest and dispose of them without me actually having to eat them all! She has a sweet tooth to rival mine, so happily accepted my container of cookies and reported back within an hour of arriving home that there were only two cookies left! Now, my nephews and niece don't have to avoid gluten like we do, but not only were they loving these gluten-free cookies, they even asked for the recipe too! It was then that I decided maybe I should just share the recipe, as is.

I have no doubt that I will play around further with this recipe, it's just what I do. But I have to agree that the last few trays I baked off did taste pretty damn good (note to self, don't taste the mixture at every stage. Wait to enjoy the final product!). I chose to go with the slightly festive flavourings of subtle spices and orange zest with a good amount of dark chocolate thrown in for good measure. I used hazelnut meal thinking it might add another lovely twist to the mix, but actually with everything else going on the flavour wasn't as noticeable as I'd hoped, so you could just use almond meal (ground almonds) as a cheaper alternative. The coconut sugar lends a lovely, almost bitter molasses note that also helps to produces a lovely crisp exterior while the centre is still soft and moist.

gluten-free spiced orange chocolate chunk cookies
As noted above, the hazelnut meal isn't a major flavour. So almond meal (ground almonds) could be used in it's place. And as always please note that in NZ and Australia what we know as cornflour, the rest of the world know as corn starch. To make these dairy-free as well, simply use a natural dairy-free margarine in place of butter and make sure your chocolate is dairy-free. I used Whittakers 50 % dark block. I buy my coconut sugar in block form from the Asian grocers, it is super cheap and exactly the same thing you buy at health food stores.
Makes 4 dozen.

  • 225g soft butter or dairy-free margarine
  • 300g coconut sugar, finely grated or blitzed in the food processor until finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1 cup (110g) hazelnut meal
  • 1 cup (120g) quinoa flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (210g) fine brown rice flour 
  • 1/2 cup (50g) gluten-free cornflour (corn starch)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

In a large bowl cream the butter, grated coconut sugar and salt with an electric beater, until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and mix, then gradually add the egg, a little bit at a time. Whisking well between additions. Add the hazelnut meal, and sift over the remaining flours and spices. Mix to form a soft dough. Stir through the chopped chocolate and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F and grease trays (this makes many, so depending on how many you want to cook off at once you will need a few trays or rotate them).
Roll mixture into tablespoon sized balls, flatten slightly and place on the trays. The mixture is quite sticky so just dust your hands with extra rice flour if needed.
Bake trays for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

The cookie dough happily hangs out in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week, meaning you can bake off little batches at a time and always have fresh cookies at hand. I like to roll mine into balls before I store it, making it super fast and easy to pull out and bake. I imagine the dough freezes well too, although I'm yet to try that out.

Linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-free.

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  • Reply
    JJ @ 84thand3rd
    December 7, 2011 at 7:31 am

    yum! Like the quinoa/hazelnut/brown rice flour blend idea!

    Just be careful with the sugar "coconut sugar is different from palm sugar. Palm sugar comes from the Palmyra tree and coconut sugar comes from coconut palm"- Wikipedia. While harvested the same way through sap extraction, the Coconut Sugar is sustainable, the Palm Sugar is from the trees used to make Palm Oil (the ones that result in deforestation of Orangutang habitats) yikes! I've been using Coconut Sugar lately but the price gives me a heart attack every time!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      I've actually been doing some reading and from what I can find out sugar palm is the species of palm trees that can harvest sugar. Palm oil comes from another species of palm tree.
      So to clarify: palm sugar is made from the Palmyra tree, palm oil comes from the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis).

      "Palm oil is an ingredient used in a wide range of packaged food and cosmetics products such as cookies, bread, cereal, soap, and is one of the main causes of rainforest destruction. Palm oil is usually labelled as "vegetable oil" and many consumers do not realise these products have helped to destroy a rainforest as forest land is turned into monoculture plantations to grow the world's cheapest vegetable oil.
      Palm oil plantations have taken land from indigenous people, polluted air and rivers, and threatened the survival of the orangutans and other rare animals."

      It was only after the world decided that biofuel was a great idea (idiots) that the deforestation started. Sugar palm have been tapped for their sugar in Asia for millions of years, they are not the problem.

      If anyone has any further information on this issue, I'd love to hear more…

  • Reply
    ** ZEL **
    December 7, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Mmmmmm,lezizz 🙂

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Thanks for the tip on buying coconut sugar and I love your mix of flours. The cookies look great and I am sure you will come up with many more version just as scrummy

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    These cookies sound delicious! I love the combination of flours you have used…I will be on the hunt for hazelnut flour. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Wow, these sound amazing! And I also totally agree with your comment on the Palm oil! Oh, and I do the same thing when it comes to the tasting, it never fails that by the time the cookies come out of the oven I want nothing to do with them because I overloaded myself on sweet sugar. You are definitely not alone 🙂

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    LOL on the tasting – that's EXACTLY what I was doing yesterday when I made cookies with my boys 😉 all the while telling them to keep their fingers out of the bowl of course…

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Lovely idea for the festive season!
    Cookie dough is always sooo hard to resist 😉
    Thanks for the info on sugar palm.

  • Reply
    paula @ podand3peas
    December 7, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    i do the same thing, eat too much dough and by the time the cookies are out i'm over them, luckily the three boys in my house attend to them !!

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef
    December 8, 2011 at 12:21 am

    These sound so yummy, I love that sugar too, yumm…

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I'm with you, I totally eat the mixture/dough at every. single. stage. You know, to make sure it's still okay? These look great, definitely a good combination of flavours!

  • Reply
    Sugar and Spice
    December 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for posting this recipe Emma! My landlady who lives above us often babysits our cat when we're away and will be doing so again over Christmas. She's gluten intolerant, so I've been thinking of baking her some gluten-free yummies as a Xmas gift. Your blogsite is filled with such nommy gluten-free ideas! Now just which one should I choose…

  • Reply
    JJ @ 84thand3rd
    December 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for the extra research on the sugar – much appreciate the info!! Cheers

  • Reply
    Being Julia
    December 9, 2011 at 5:07 am

    This looks great Emma! Can hardly wait to make some for the grandkids!
    Thanks for doing all the "testing" to get it just right!
    : }

  • Reply
    December 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    MMM i'm gonna try these over Christmas! Emma, do you have any christmas recipes? e.g. nutloaf or other vegetarian-friendly christmas-y food. Last christmas with the 'norwegian fam' we made a nutloaf, mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and pavalova. But i'm open to new ideas!!

    In Norway over christmas, everyone eats sooo much meat (it's 'tradition'), they even have this special bacon fat which they pour over everything – it's crazy.

    Julie 🙂

  • Reply
    December 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Julie 🙂 To tell you the truth I've never really got into making the traditional-type Christmas food. I go for yummy salads with roasted veges, nuts and grains etc. And mum used to always make a mean silverbeet and feta filo pie (that I sadly can't eat anymore) and brown rice salad with loads of vege sides. If you are after something like a nutloaf type thing, you should email Louie, he's got a winner of a vegan haggis recipe. It's delicious. xx

  • Reply
    December 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

    YUM Emma! Came back from a weeks holiday to this recipe so immediately had to try it – with what I had on hand made a few adjustments (used brown sugar, and ground cashews instead of hazelnut), very moreish thanks – didn't try the cookie dough so making up for that right now – about to eat my 4th cookie!!!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    So glad you enjoyed them Rach! You must be my most diligent reader/maker. I love that you try so many of my recipes. And awesome to know these work out with regular brown sugar. I wasn't going to suggest it as a substitute until I had tried it cause I worried the coconut sugar has a bit more moisture than brown sugar. So thanks for letting me know xx p.s power to you for not eating all the cookie dough like I do 😉

  • Reply
    Cass @foodmyfriend
    December 11, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I'll be trying these for my gluten free cookie box this year. Very festive flavours!

  • Reply
    December 13, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Emma your food looks always so enticing and most importantly your recipes work! I'm hooked…

  • Reply
    December 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Love the sound of these…all those spices so festive 🙂 And so good to have some gluten free treats for my gluten free friends!

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