This recipe started out with the idea of creating a master cookie recipe that you could substitute whatever you have in your house (X amount of any kind of starch, Y amount of any kind of nut or seed butter, Z amount of any kind of cooking fat). Cool, right? But, I quickly realized that the baking chemistry of different nut and seed butters, different starches, different fats, and different granulated sugars were so vastly different that this type of master recipe just could not be created. With quantities fixed, I had one version where the cookies were flat, dark around the edges and crumbly; another version where the cookies were round cakey balls; and about four different results in between these two extremes. It’s too bad, because developing a master cookie recipe would have been really awesome.
But, there’s a substantial silver lining. As I was experimenting, I stumbled upon probably the best paleo-friendly cookie recipe I have come up with to date. A basic chocolate chip cookie recipe that is so perfectly delicious no one would ever know that it was grain-free and refined sugar-free. You could feed this to your non-paleo company and all they would say is “wow, these are great cookies!”.
Another bonus: these are also (finally) a crisp cookie! Crisp-textured cookies are surprisingly challenging to make with paleo-friendly ingredients, so this is a total victory for me. I also made the wonderful discovery that cooking them for a shorter period of time yielded a cookie that was a little more shortbread-like both in flavor and texture (but not too crumbly), whereas cooking a bit longer yielded a cookie that was more crisp. They’re both amazing and I can’t pick a winner, so I’ve included directions for both (which only vary by cooking time) in the recipe below.
I have tried this recipe with both homemade raw cashew butter and with store-bought. They worked out identically. Cashew butter is actually one of the easier nut butters to make at home because cashews will release their oils fairly easily. And the benefit of making your own is that it’s about one third the price. It would take about 10 minutes in a food processor (you might want to add 1-2 Tbsp melted coconut oil to help it along and then reduce the coconut oil in the cookie recipe by whatever amount you added to the cashews). I make homemade cashew butter in the twister jar of my Blendtec in two batches (1/2 lb cashews each time), which each took about 3 minutes.
Substitutions: As I mentioned, I have tried a number of variations and substituting one ingredient for another with these cookies have yielded dramatically different results. I do know that substituting one quarter of the cashews with macadamia nuts works very well. I do know that butter and can substitute for ghee (I use cultured grass-fed ghee which has no trace proteins and even my super sensitive younger daughter is fine with it). And I’m confident maple sugar would substitute for evaporated cane juice, and probably coconut palm sugar too. Everything else I tried was no where near as good either in flavor or texture, so if you want to play with this recipe I really can’t give you any guarantees or suggestions. If you do make a substitution though, please comment on this post and let everyone know what you did and how it worked.
Yield: 24-30 cookies (depending on how much batter you eat!)
- 1/4 cup ghee (or substitute butter but increase to 1/3 cup; I think palm shortening and lard would work too)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
- 2/3 cup evaporated cane juice (aka sucanat)
- 1 egg
- 1 lb raw unsalted cashew butter (or 1 lb raw cashews made into homemade cashew butter–this yields a little over 2 cups of cashew butter)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup arrowroot powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (or substitute semisweet)
- Preheat oven to 350F. There’s no need to line a pan with a silicone liner or parchment paper, but you can if you want to.
- Cream ghee, coconut oil and evaporated cane juice (your coconut oil can be solid or liquid for this). This means you mix just these three ingredients together until it starts to lighten in color, which takes 2-3 minutes. You can do this by hand or in a mixer.
- Add egg, ad mix to fully incorporate. Add vanilla and cashew butter. Mix until a smooth batter forms.
- Combine arrowroot powder, salt, and baking soda. Add to the wet ingredients and mix to form a uniform thick cookie dough. Fold in chocolate chips. Resist the temptation to eat it by the spoonful.
- Roll 1 1/2″ balls of dough and place about 2″ apart on a cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers (optional-this just helps them spread a bit more).
- For light more shortbread-textured cookies, bake for 13-14 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
- For darker, crisper cookies, bake for 22-23 minutes. Cool on pan or on cookie cooling rack.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature. They also freeze really well.