My No Wheat Secret

I have a little secret: I’m not supposed to eat wheat. I’ve been putting off sharing this with you, and I guess it’s because I did not want my blog to be defined by it since too often people write off a wheat-free diet as strange and bland. I don’t have celiac disease, and my doctors are unsure if this will be a lifelong problem or just a phase; like some people go through phases of being lactose-intolerant, right now I’m wheat-intolerant. I was diagnosed when I was a senior in college, after suffering through several years of chronic digestive problems. I’ve always been an avid baker and eater of baked goods, so cutting wheat out of my diet was a painful process, especially at first as a college student. It’s not so hard anymore, in fact it almost feels normal now, but I do allow myself wheat treats once a week, usually on the weekend or for a special occasion (like a birthday cake). Even though I’ve stopped eating wheat, I haven’t stopped baking. I bake all the time, and have come up with some delicious wheat-free adaptations to some of my favorite recipes that I’m excited to share with you all soon. The one that I want to share first is one of my proudest, because every time I serve these cookies everyone tells me they are the best chocolate chip cookies they have ever had and they want to know my secret. My secret ingredient? Pamela’s Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix. I make homemade wheat-free flour blends that I use for other things, but I have tested lots of variations for my wheat-free chocolate chip cookies, and have found that using Pamela’s mix is the best. Pamela’s is usually available at most big grocery stores, and always at Whole Foods and my Park Slope Food Coop. They also have a website where you can buy it and check out some of their recipes. I usually make my chocolate chip cookies without nuts, but when I do add nuts I use walnuts and also a bit of cinnamon. Since these cookies are truly their best when straight out of the oven, I will usually make only what will get eaten right away and then store the leftover dough in the freezer for the next time.

The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookies

2¼ cups plus 2 Tbs. Pamela’s Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 375?F.
Cream the butter, salt, and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Gradually beat in the flour.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a nonstick baking sheet.
Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Let cool on baking sheet a few minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.