Sunday, 12 May 2013

Oat Choc Chunk Cookies

This week it is Coeliac Awareness Week which runs from the 13th to 19th May 2013. Awareness week is centred around raising the awareness and understanding of Coeliac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH), - autoimmune conditions which are often genetically linked, the ill-effects of which are triggered by eating gluten containing ingredients (wheat, barley and rye). The chances are that even if you do not have a diagnosis, you know someone who does have to live with one of these conditions, which means they have to avoid gluten in their diet.

Each year Coeliac UK dedicate a week to high profile campaigning on a particular aspect of Coeliac Disease. This year the campaign has been named 'Gut Feeling Awareness Week' and is focussed on  improving the diagnosis of Coeliac Disease and helping to find the estimated half a million people who have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed.

We were lucky...... really lucky. We have a fantastic GP who is obviously knowledgeable about the condition and when we first took my daughter to see her because she was having the very typical and non-descript childhood complaint of 'stomach aches', we were asked just a couple of further questions about symptoms before being sent for a diagnostic blood test. One of those questions was about 'whether there was anyone in the family who we knew to have Coeliac disease?' My father had, but it never crossed my mind that it was genetic or that it might reappear somewhere else in the family. When the blood test came back positive for the offending anti-body, we were surprised, but grateful to the alertness and awareness of our GP. I know people who have children who have suffered terribly and are still struggling to receive a formal diagnosis and adults with symptoms which indicate they could well be in that half a million, but have not been referred for a screen. For us, diagnosis was astute and efficient.

As a family we have embraced eating gluten free whole-heartedly. We have no gluten in our cupboards and do everything we can to ensure life is as normal as possible. We don't feel deprived of any particular food, as there is almost always a way to create an alternative without gluten. If it isn't obviously available, then I set about finding a way around the problem.

My daughter sees her Coeliac status as a bit of a virtue and she is very confident (at just 7) in telling people why she can't eat gluten. She already knows how to read food labels and has no hesitation in asking shopkeepers if she can do so before she buys an ice-cream or a bag of crisps. She never complains and accepts that this is her normality. I am really very proud of her!

One of the things I do for my daughter is to provide puddings to go with her school dinners......... Yes, we have been incredibly lucky there too and have school kitchen staff who work with us to adapt the lunch menu and let me wander freely round their larders checking their labels and reading their recipes. Sometimes there are cookies on the menu. The recipe below is one of the favourites that I send in with her.............

It does contain oats, to which some people with coeliac have an additional sensitivity. Even if they don't, it is always important to make sure gluten free oats are used to avoid cross-contamination risk from other gluten containing crops grown or milled in the same space.

This recipe mix has been through a number of adaptations over the last few months, but we are all now happy with the balance of creamy oatiness alongside smooth sweet chocolate and biscuit bite. These cookies need no dressing up. They are delicious just as they are.

Ingredients (makes about 22 cookies)

100g GF oat flour (instructions on how to make in this post)
90g GF oats
60g tapioca flour
1 teaspoon GF baking powder
pinch of fine sea salt
135g butter (room temperature)
120g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg (room temperature)
100g dark chocolate chunks/chips
100g white chocolate chunks/chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4
  2. Line 2 to 3 baking trays with baking paper (or if you only have one, you can batch-bake the cookies).
  3. Weigh and mix the oat flour, oats, tapioca flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat until light in texture and well mixed.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and using a wooden or silicone spoon, stir together firmly until fully combined and the dry ingredients have become moist. 
  6. Add the chocolate chunks/chips and stir again until fully and evenly combined.
  7. Divide the mixture into small balls either by hand, or I prefer to use a cake pop scoop (as this results in cookies which are more even in size and shape). Place each ball on the baking sheet leaving space between for them to spread in the oven.
  8. Using your hand, gently flatten each dough ball slightly to form a disk about 1 cm thick.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes until the cookies are pale golden on top and beginning to darken around the edges.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes on the trays before transferring to a wire rack.

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