Baking with Almond Flour - Cookies

Baking with Almond Flour - Cookies

Recipes and Tips Using Almond Flour for Cookies

Have you ever tried baking with almond flour? Or maybe you have been wondering about what it is like specifically when it comes to making gluten-free cookies and baking with Nature's Eats Almond Flour. This blog was written to share with you some of my personal experiences and how you can make almond flour recipes out of traditional cookie recipes. Learn from my mistakes and get some great tips and tricks on how to substitute almond flour for regular flours that are in many recipes.

Many of you may have tried like I had in the past to simply do a 1:1 ratio trade out of almond flour for regular flour for cookie recipes, and have not had positive results. If you are like me, maybe you have just given up out of frustration, or just ended up going to the store to purchase pre-made gluten free cookies.

As mentioned in the Baking with Almond Flour: Muffins blog there are a variety of reasons you may be seeking to start baking with almond flour. As for me, I am not gluten intolerant nor do I have diabetes, but I do get a sweet tooth now and then. I figured, "Why not start baking with almond flour to minimize cravings and get more nutrition from the foods that I do eat?" I had become frustrated in my attempts in the past to bake with almond flour as many of the recipes I made came out burnt or crumbly, looking nothing like a cookie at all.

I have decided to make it my mission to learn the tips and tricks on how to master baking with almond flour. I decided to start the journey with cookies since they are one of my favorite treats. I must warn you, however, if you have any medical ailments like diabetes I do highly encourage you to consult with your medical team before eating cookies to make sure that you are still following their recommended protocols. I am not a doctor, nor am I a medical expert. I'm just a girl who started to get into cooking and baking from her passion for making better and more healthful choices when it comes to food and what I put in my body.

For this blog, I decided to focus on two different types of cookie recipes and see where my "Baking with Almond Flour for Cookies" journey would take me. In this experimental process, I identified a few things that can happen along the way:

Baking Cookies with Almond Flour Challenges

  1. Almond flour doesn't quite bind like traditional flour does. So I had to find ways to modify the ratios of flour as well as add in ingredients that would help make the binding happen.
  2. Almond flour is much denser than traditional flours, so it is important to make proper adjustments when baking with almond flour so your cookies don't end up flat and too dense.
  3. Baking with gluten free flours like almond flour can also require more moisture, so you may need to find a combination of gluten free flours and other agents to compensate for this.

Tips for Baking Cookies with Almond Flour

1. Blanched Almond Flour: Make sure you are using blanched almond flour and not almond meal. Be sure to verify that the almonds are processed into flour without the skin. I highly recommend using Natures Eats Blanched Almond Flour.

2. Binders: Some ingredients that are useful to help bind the ingredients well are eggs. Below I will reference my experience with a couple of recipes and how I used eggs to help with the binding. The bonus of using eggs is the additional protein you will get when baking. If you are vegan or can't eat eggs, this can become a little more challenging. Below are some ways you can substitute eggs, but I do caution that if you need to replace more than three eggs, it can get tricky. See the conversion ratio for egg replacement below.

Egg Replacement for One Egg:
  • ½ mashed banana
  • ¼ cup unsweetened pureed fruit like applesauce, pears, or prunes
  • ¼ cup pureed tofu + 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • One flax egg: 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • ¼ cup sour cream or plain full fat yogurt

3. Thickeners: Some other agents that can be useful for binding are Arrowroot Flour, Xanthan Gum, and Guar Gum. These act as a binder as well as a thickener and have been helpful in some of my almond flour experimentations.

4. Light 'n Fluffy: As mentioned above, almond flour is much denser than traditional flours like wheat flour. With some recipes, it may work to use only almond flour in the recipe. In other cases to get that light and fluffy density, you may need to use a combination of almond flour with some alternative flours. (See list below.) Also, it helps to increase the amount of baking soda or add in baking powder, but you must be gentle here with the amounts as a little too much could potentially be the ruin of your entire recipe. Here are a list of other flours you may consider working with:

Alternative Gluten Free Flours:

  • Nature's Eats Almond Flour or alternative nut flours (Almond is the best.)
  • Tapioca Flour
  • Buckwheat Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • Oat Flour
  • Rice Flour & Brown Rice Flour
  • Arrowroot Flour
  • Cassava Flour
  • All-purpose gluten free flour

Again, it will depend on what your main reason is for using almond flour in the first place. If you absolutely must make sure everything is 100% gluten free, then you will want to ensure that not only are the flours you're using gluten free, but also that the facilities the flour comes from are strictly gluten free. For most of us, this is not an issue, however, if you have Celiac disease or something similar, it is understandable that you cannot make any exceptions.

With all that said, here is a summary of my experimentation. I decided to try out two different recipes. I made a handful of variations until I found a combination that worked to get the results I was seeking. The two recipes I worked with were Berry Thumbprint Cookies and Chocolate Goji Berry Cookies. Keep in mind that with both of these recipes I not only wanted to make them gluten free, but I was seeking to make them with the healthiest alternatives I could find.

With the Berry Thumbprint Cookies, the original recipes I looked at were shortbread cookie recipes with a berry jam filling. They called for lots of all-purpose flour, white sugar, butter, and milk. The task at hand here was to make the cookies, substituting flour with almond flour, honey in place of sugar, and coconut oil instead of butter. The first couple of batches I made were not awful, however, just like with most recipe conversions the cookies were coming out crumbly and it was tough to make the circles in the center to put the berry jam. Another item I decided to add was a tablespoon of guar gum which seemed to help with the binding. I found that by adding in the guar gum, arrowroot powder, and egg, the crumbly cookie problem was solved. They came out so well that I could easily add the jam in the middle. Rather than using my thumb to make the centers, I used a ½ teaspoon measuring device to make the imprint. This seemed to do the trick! Another important key was to allow the cookies enough time to cool off, so they didn't fall apart when I took them off the cooling rack.

With the Chocolate Goji Berry Cookies, I was emulating a double chocolate cookie recipe with added Goji berries. Again, I was seeking the most healthful version of this recipe. So the main thing was making almond flour chocolate cookies, and then the goji berries were just a bonus. I knew I was facing many of the same challenges mentioned above when converting recipes to almond flour recipes and baking with almond flour. The main ingredients I was looking to modify were the all-purpose flour, butter, and sugar, the ingredients we most commonly find in cookie recipes whether you are baking with almond flour or not.

With this recipe, I was looking for that light and fluffy cookie texture, one that would almost be more like a brownie. In my first attempt to make these cookies they turned out gooey, and although they didn't crumble, they did have a tendency to fall apart. In this cookie adventure, I was successful in the second attempt. Since this was the second cookie I was baking with almond flour, I had learned a few things in my first attempt with the Berry Thumbprint Cookies.

The original recipe called for two cups of all-purpose flour, so instead, I substituted with a variety of gluten free flours. I did a combo of buckwheat flour, coconut flour, almond flour, arrowroot flour and tapioca flour. I also worked with xanthan gum. I decided to use brown sugar instead of white sugar, although I am sure you could also substitute with a coconut sugar or even a xylitol or Splenda if you wanted to make an almost sugar free variation.

If you are looking to make these almond flour chocolate cookies because you are following a paleo diet, I am not intimately familiar with the do's and do not's of a paleo diet. I recommend making modifications necessary to make this paleo diet friendly if need be. These alterations may also apply for those of you that are following a diabetic friendly diet. You may need to use sugar-free chocolate chips and xylitol or Splenda, again recommending that you consult with your medical professional.

I used coconut oil rather than butter, and since the recipe already called for eggs there were no modifications there; however, the addition of xanthan gum and coconut milk also helped with the binding of the cookie dough. The final batch was perfect; you couldn't even tell that the recipe had a modification which was a complete success. I will be making these again.

Of course, anytime I am experimenting in the kitchen, especially when baking with almond flour or developing almond flour recipes I use my outside peers to assist me in the taste testing. Both of the recipes above were an absolute hit. Not only did everyone love them, they were impressed and of course begging for the recipes! If there was one recipe that people favored over the other, it would have to be the Almond Flour Chocolate Cookies. After all, who doesn’t love chocolate?

When baking and incorporating almond flour into recipes, one of the most important things to do is to have fun. Be willing to get a little creative, and make modifications when you desire. One of the best ways we can learn is through practice, so if your first run at baking with almond flour is not a complete success keep some of these tips in mind and don't be afraid to try again.

I hope all of this was helpful. I won't be stopping with cookies because there are so many other things you can make when you're baking with almond flour. Be sure to keep your eyes open for more on this series of baking with almond flour as we explore baking muffins, biscuits, pizza dough, funnel cakes, and more!

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