These look more “Happy Birthday” than “Merry Christmas”, but I’m rarely accused of being traditional. ;-)
These are this year’s new addition to the Christmas cookie tray. If you read last week’s eNewsletter, you know what I mean (and what last year’s new cookie was). If you didn’t, you should sign up here so you’re up to speed. (This is especially important for the new project and new website updates for 2018!)
I learned to make cake mix cookies in my early 20s when my older daughter was a baby. That was before celiac disease and gluten-free living. When I needed a quick treat, I would take a box of cake mix, toss in a couple eggs, some oil and bang out several dozen cookies in no time.
When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, it was all scratch baking for me and very few nutritionally void treats. I wanted to heal my gut, since I finally (after 25+ years) figured out what was going on with my health. There just wasn’t room in my diet for junk food, heavily processed foods or lots of sugar. As a general rule, 90% of the time, that’s still the case. However, when special occasions roll around, you better believe I bake!
Up until this year, that was always from scratch. But I decided I wanted to revisit some simple old favorites. In certain cases, that means a mix is involved. These cookies are a great example. A mix plus a few other ingredients that are likely already in your pantry mean quick cookies that taste delicious!
Let’s talk about the ingredients so that you can adjust them to your liking and needs.
Gluten-free cake mix – I used this one, which does contain xanthan gum but does not contain dairy. (By the way, that link is for 6 boxes, and the price there beats my local store’s per-box price.) You can use any gluten-free cake mix you like but for this recipe, I recommend a yellow cake mix with similar ingredients to the one I used to ensure best results.
Eggs – I have not made this egg-free and I don’t recommend subbing a flax or chia “egg” because of the texture. I’m not a fan of the seedy texture in this type baked good. It’s just too far from the original for me to enjoy.
Fat – You have options with the fat you use. You can use oil, and if you do, I recommend organic sunflower oil (or other organic neutral tasting oil). For a more flavorful option, use real butter (if you eat dairy) or dairy-free butter substitute (if you’re dairy-free). Make sure the butter (or sub) are soft, not melted. If you really want to make these next-level and very close to tasting like homemade, use a really high quality organic ghee made in the traditional method.
Ghee is something I keep meaning to write about here to help you understand the “is it dairy-free?” debate a bit better. I am very picky about the ghee I use. There are some great products on the market, but the ghee I keep coming back to is this organic, cultured ghee. The reason is because it is made exclusively from milk from grass-fed cows in small batches in the traditional Indian method. I feel confident it is free from any milk solids or dairy proteins. It is batch tested for those, as well as for gluten. You can buy the same ghee that is organic but not cultured, which costs a bit less, if you prefer. I promise to get that informative article on the site soon to help make sense of all this.
Chocolate chips – Just like with the ghee, I’m picky about my chocolate chips. For years, I used Enjoy Life brand because they are top 8 free plus gluten-free, but the truth is, they aren’t the best quality chocolate. They taste a little waxy and if you love chocolate, you want to eat the good stuff, right?! The same goes for the chocolate we use in our baking – good quality ingredients in our recipes mean good flavor and good results in general. Since 2015, I stopped using ELF products and opted for better quality chocolate for baking. I always bring some back from Europe but I tend to reserve it more for serving “as is” than for baking. For the past year, after much searching and chocolate sampling, I am using these bittersweet morsels. The price (linked) on Amazon is far better than what I find in my local Whole Foods on this product, which is where I buy them if I forget to order. Someone told me they are available at Wal-Mart, but I don’t shop there so I have no idea.
Rainbow sprinkles– So, we’re talking about the tender, colorful strands, which some of us also call jimmies. When I lived in Australia, I learned they are hundreds-and-thousands (and used to make Fairy Bread for the littles, which both my girls would still eat if only I would make it). Regardless what you call them, let’s be clear we are not talking about nonpareils (tiny hard candy balls, which incidentally, some people refer to as sprinkles). I almost can’t believe this is a necessary conversation, but I just realized recently Dreamy is clueless in the sprinkles/jimmies/nonpareils department, so I thought maybe he isn’t alone. Feel free to use something besides rainbow if you prefer. We keep a giant vat of rainbow and chocolate on hand at all times because really, you just never know when you’ll need them.
And let’s also talk about why we’re using such pricey ingredients in this cookie.
I mean, it seems odd, don’t you think? I’m telling you to use cake mix, which is the epitome of processed junk food, but I’m recommending cultured organic ghee, fair-trade organic kosher chocolate and I’m getting mighty specific about the sprinkles situation. Truth be told, I use organic eggs from grass pastured, never caged, chickens.
So, here’s the reason: Regardless of what I make, I use the very best ingredients I can find/afford. I encourage you to do the same. Quality ingredients are critical to achieving the best results in your baking. That is perhaps more important when we use ingredients like a box mix. The richness of pastured eggs, the deep rich flavor of the high-quality ghee and the true chocolate flavor really do make these cookies more delicious. But, as always, these are my best suggestions based on my experiences and training. The final decision is always yours to make! :-)
Gluten-Free 3-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Sprinkle Cookies
1 box (15-ounce) gluten-free yellow cake mix (I used this one.)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup organic, cultured ghee, soft but not melted
1 Tablespoon water (straight from the filter/faucet is fine)
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use dairy-free, fair-trade, vegan certified, GF certified chips)
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (You can use an all-natural product like this to avoid dyes, etc.)
**Extra chocolate chips and sprinkles for finishing cookies prior to baking**
Preheat your oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Add the cake mix, eggs, ghee and water to a mixing bowl and stir to mix into a stiff dough. (You could use a stand mixer for this if you prefer.)
Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles, then spoon out level 1-tablespoon portions of dough.
Dip the top of each dough ball into a bowl of sprinkles, then place the balls of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared pan.
Top each ball of sprinkled-covered dough with 2 or 3 additional chocolate chips, if desired.
Bake cookies 9 – 10 minutes, until they spread to a traditional cookie shape and the center no longer looks like a pool of raw dough. Be sure you don’t over-bake these, so keep an eye on them at the 8 minute mark. And remember, if you change the amount of batter used for each cookie, you will need to adjust your baking time. For example, you can make more, smaller cookies, but you would want to bake them less. Alternatively, you can make jumbo cookies, but those will need more time time in the oven.
Cool the cookies on the pan for at least 15 minutes before transferring to a serving tray. I cool my cookies completely on the pan.
Makes about 4 dozen.
Here’s a great make-ahead tip!
Scoop your dough, roll in sprinkles and add a couple extra chocolate chips on top, then place the dough on a wax paper lined baking pan. Freeze until balls of dough are solid, then transfer to a freezer container or a freezer zip top bag. That way you can take out as few or as many as you need and bake as directed. You may need to increase your baking time since you’ll start with frozen cookies. You can also eat raw cookie dough if you like, but that would be horrible, wouldn’t it?? Don’t do that! You could get sick.
If that pesky raw egg issue bothers you, by all means either (a) don’t eat raw cookie dough with eggs in it, or (b) use pasteurized eggs to eliminate the issue altogether. And if you plan to just eat the cookie dough raw and not bake it at all (yes, believe me some people email to ask me about this!), simply prepare the recipe as directed, omitting the eggs and adding a bit more water to achieve the semi-firm cookie dough consistency you are after. Freeze the dough as directed if you wish.
Note, you can place the dough close together on the pan for freezing since you won’t be baking the cookies and there’s no issue of spreading.