It’s an unusual week in the Bee’s Bakery kitchen – as well as our classic butter-and-flour-based cookies and cakes, we’re baking some great cakes for clients with special dietary requirements. Today we’ve been making a clever little vegan vanilla cake for a birthday girl who’s allergic to dairy, and tomorrow we start work on a four-tier eggless wedding cake for a Hindu client’s wedding.
These call for some quite specialist baking skills, including substitutions and replacements. Luckily I love learning a new trick or two, so I’m getting properly stuck in this week, with the expertise of my kitchen manager Laura, to creating these unusual cakes.
Some people are intolerant to gluten (often coeliac disease) or dairy, some follow special diets for religious reasons and, of course, there are some people who just prefer not to eat these types of food. Whatever the reason for your diet, I find experiments in the kitchen are all part of learning what might just go on to be your new signature dish!
I’ve got a feeling that our chocolate and avocado cookies might just be a new signature cookie for us, and here’s why: butter is high in saturated fat – the bad type of fat that can increase the levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream – and can put you at risk of heart disease. Replacing some of the butter you consume with unsaturated fats (usually those liquid at room temperature, like olive oil) is a clever step towards reducing your risk, and eating more foods with healthy fats (such as avocado) is another good step. On top of this, avocado is delicious, even when you smash it up in a bowl and make a cookie out of it!
Another one of the ingredients in these cookies is gluten-free flour – which can come in the form of a pre-mix, such as Doves Farm gluten-free flour which is a mix of rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat flours. I have used half gluten-free mixed flour and half chickpea flour (also known as gram flour) in this recipe, because it’s naturally gluten free, high in protein and has a subtle taste.
I don’t like to completely rule anything that tastes delicious out of my diet, but it’s a pleasure to discover something as cool as these cookies, which have turned my ideas of standard baking ingredients on their head, and prove that that there are some brilliant options for bakers (and eaters) with special dietary requirements. I’m thrilled to share my recipe for dairy and gluten free chocolate fudge cookies – these are low in saturated fat, contain no gluten at all and are dairy free too. Special thanks to Anna for squeezing a ton of avocados to find the perfectly ripe one for me!
Bee’s gluten & dairy-free avocado & chocolate cookies
Makes six large cookies
- 1 ripe avocado (when it’s skinned and de-seeded we need around 100g)
- 1 large free-range egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (optional – without this, your cookie will be crumblier)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 150g light brown soft sugar (or caster sugar)
- 50g cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 50g gluten-free flour (any combination of the following flours will work – standard gluten-free flour, rice flour, gram flour, quinoa flour)
- 100g roughly-chopped dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa solids should always be dairy free, but check the packet)
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and line a baking tray/sheet with parchment paper. Scoop your avocado into a large bowl and mash thoroughly until it’s a smooth green goo. Once smooth, add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and beat using good old muscle power with a wooden spoon, until a nice shiny consistent wet mix forms. It’ll look like a very sticky and dark coloured cake mix rather than a firm cookie dough. If you taste a little of the mixture at this point, you’ll be amazed at how “green” it tastes – it’s literally like eating raw cabbage, but after baking, all of the vegetable taste is gone – thank goodness!
Add most of your chocolate chunks, saving some of the larger pieces to press into the top of each cookie before baking. Using two metal spoons, dollop evenly sized round-shaped cookies onto your baking tray – larger is always better with these ones, and they don’t spread much when baking. If you prefer a thicker, fudgier cookie, pile the mix high and bake for the full time, and if you like a thinner chewier cookie then spread them out more and bake for less. Press a couple of chocolate chunks into the top, then bake for around 12-15 minutes – they will still be slightly soft to the touch, but do firm up once allowed to cool.
Enjoy – if you refrigerate them overnight, they’ll turn even more gooey.
Jamie has a special section of the website dedicated to special diets – you can find lots more information and suggestions here.