It took me quite a while to get this recipe right, but these nut-free Paleo cinnamon chocolate chip cookies were totally worth the wait.
When I created my cinnamon chocolate chip muffin recipe several months ago, the next logical variation was to translate it into a cookie form. Since I’d finalized the muffin recipe relatively easily and quickly, I figured I could “whip up” the cookie version in no time. Umm, yeah…not so much.
Turns out that creating a “clean” Paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe was much harder than I thought. I was trying to come up with a recipe that didn’t use nuts, as there are already tons of Paleo chocolate chip cookie recipes out there that are made with nut flours or nut butters. There was really no need for me to create yet another nutty version. So I was determined to make mine nut-free, but using coconut flour alone just wasn’t giving me the texture I wanted (i.e. they were too crumbly).
I went through many test batches. Many. They all tasted good, but getting the texture right was another story. Of course, Jeremy and I couldn’t let those little guys go to waste, so it would be an understatement to say that we’ve eaten a lot of chocolate chip cookies over the last several months: good for our tastebuds; not good for our sugar intake. (But these are the sacrifices we’re willing to make.)
I eventually solved the texture issue by adding a little bit of arrowroot powder (a starch that is Paleo-approved in most circles). Although I don’t normally use any starches in my baking, this time it was necessary for a successful result and thankfully, I only had to use a small amount. In the end, it’s a win-win. By using coconut flour along with using only a small amount of arrowroot, and by using natural sweeteners like coconut sugar (which is low glycemic), these cookies will not spike your blood sugar nearly as much as traditional cookies filled with wheat flour, other starches and grains, and refined sugar. In addition to the coconut sugar, this recipe also calls for a second sweetener — either honey or coconut nectar. For the best results in avoiding large spikes in blood sugar, I suggest using the coconut nectar option instead of honey (since like coconut sugar, coconut nectar is also low glycemic) and keep your amount of chocolate chips to a minimum. If you’re not as concerned about the blood sugar part, then honey is my preferred sweetener in terms of taste and accessibility (much easier to find than coconut nectar). Either way, regardless of the type of sweetener used, please remember that it’s all still sugar, and desserts like these should be eaten sparingly and in moderation. (I know, that last part’s kind of a bummer.)
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I also found that using responsibly-harvested, sustainable palm shortening also was critical for the texture. Health-wise, palm shortening (which is derived from palm oil) is a dream: it’s a non-hydrogenated, trans fat-free, soy-free healthy fat that provides a wonderful texture for baking and is naturally shelf stable and not prone to rancidity. Environmentally-speaking, however, it’s altogether another story: the majority of the world’s palm oil production equates to the devastating effects of deforestation and destruction of the natural habitats of several species, including the highly-intelligent orangutan population (making it now in danger of becoming extinct), and the majority of food brands using palm oil are unfortunately obtaining it from these plantations. It’s important to choose a brand that harvests their palm oil ethically. Some trusted, sustainable brands are Tropical Traditions, Nutiva and Spectrum. (Note: if you are not in favor of using palm shortening at all, it’s very possible that softened — but not melted — grass-fed butter will work in its place, although I haven’t yet tried it myself.)
Finally, the use of ground cinnamon adds that extra touch that makes these cookies beyond special.
In the end, these cookies are a fantastic Paleo replacement for conventional chocolate chip cookies, and they make me feel like I’m not missing out one bit by avoiding wheat and other grains. The only problem? Not eating these Paleo cinnamon chocolate chip cookies by the truckload and remembering that they are meant be consumed as a special treat. In other words: Must. Have. Self control.
(grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free)
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup arrowroot powder
- ¼ cup organic coconut sugar
- 2 tsp organic ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp mineral sea salt
- 2 pasture-raised eggs
- ¼ cup pure honey OR coconut nectar
- ½ cup responsibly-harvested sustainable palm oil shortening (see further details above)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ - ¾ cup allergen-free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: eggs, honey or coconut nectar, palm shortening, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. (I use an electric hand mixer which is especially helpful to smooth out the shortening.)
In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients: coconut flour, arrowroot powder, coconut sugar, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix well with electric mixer until batter is smooth. Gently fold in chocolate chips until stirred in evenly.
Scoop batter with a rounded spoon (approximately 1½ - 2 Tbsp per cookie) about two inches apart on lined baking sheets (I love using this cookie scoop in size medium...makes scooping out my batter so easy!). Makes approximately 1½ dozen cookies.
Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until cookies begin to turn golden brown. Cool and enjoy!
Store leftovers (if there are any!) in an airtight container in the refrigerator.