Note: This recipe can easily be adapted to use regular flour, dairy, & eggs, so even if you don’t have special dietary needs you can still enjoy!
This last year of dietary changes has definitely been a learning journey for me.
Around this time last year I had food sensitivity testing done (along with a host of other tests for vitamin deficiencies and so on) to try to figure out some of my medical issues. Turns out I’m quite sensitive to a whole host of things including dairy, eggs, coffee, and more. While they didn’t test for gluten sensitivity (that requires other methods of testing), they had me cut that out too. After an entire year of elimination and several attempts at reintroducing foods, I’ve concluded I’m pretty much set on gluten, dairy, and egg free for the foreseeable future. That’s just my reality and I’ve had to find ways to work around it when cooking and baking.
The last year has included a lot of searching and experimenting to find the best baked goods that I can actually eat (because baked goods were one of the things I missed the most!).
Obviously, no gluten, dairy, and egg free cookie will ever taste exactly the same as a “normal” glutenous-maximus cookie (as I like to call them)…but they can still be really tasty! And kind of addicting….sorry about that! (I’m looking at you, mom!)
Before I get to the recipe, I’d like to comment on a few of the ingredients:
Palm Oil Shortening
You’ll notice this recipe calls for palm oil shortening. I realize there is great controversy surrounding the use of palm oil – people are concerned that it’s decimating rainforests and animal habitats. There is even controversy over whether or not there is truly such a thing as “sustainably and responsibly farmed” palm oil.
I’ve watched documentaries; I’ve read the arguments.
Consider this, however: the world will continue to use and need vegetable-type oils, whether it’s coconut oil, palm oil, soybean oil…whatever oil you choose it will require land and resources to grow it, potentially endangering whatever species happen to live in that area. Palm oil is actually one of the most efficiently produced and requires the least amount of land to farm (reference is the article linked below).
This article by the BBC is really quite interesting and provides some excellent graphics surrounding the palm oil controversy.
Ultimately it’s up to you and what you feel comfortable with. It’s not my main go-to oil, but I personally don’t have a problem with using it from time to time because it really is such a great oil for baked goods – especially for those of us that can’t have dairy. I choose to buy one that is at least Sustainable-Certified and Organic (by Grain Brain Organics).
If you’re looking for a substitute you could certainly use margarine, lard, butter (if not avoiding dairy), or coconut oil, but I’ve never tried this recipe with those and cannot vouch for how it would turn out. Check out this article for some substitution ideas.
Gluten-Free Flour Blend
NOT ALL BLENDS ARE CREATED EQUAL. I put that in all caps because it is so important! I personally am most familiar with King Arthur Gluten Free Measure-for-Measure Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour (the one that I linked which includes xanthan gum). I use either interchangeably, but tend to favor the King Arthur just a tad more. I did just buy some Kirkland brand from Costco but haven’t tried it yet (I’m hoping it’s great because it was a really good deal!).
The inclusion of xanthan gum in the blend is important because it helps give the baked good structure. Since we don’t have gluten to provide elasticity, we need something like xanthan gum to act as a binding agent.
If you’re using regular all-purpose flour, just substitute the same amount as called for in the recipe.
I’ve come to really like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks for baking. They do also make a soy-free version, which I prefer but cannot always find. If you are used to butter just realize that this won’t taste the same. It does have its own unique taste, but I’ve come to like it in everything from baked goods to cooking to just spreading it on my gluten free toast with jam.
If you’re using regular dairy butter, substitute the same amount called for in the recipe.
In this recipe we create a “flax egg,” meaning 1 Tbsp of flaxseed meal (I like Bob’s Red Mill) mixed with 3 Tbsp of warm water. This acts in place of an egg. I find that using warm water yields a better result than cold. It is important to let the mixture rest for several minutes so the flax can absorb the water and become the right consistency – kind of stretchy and gelatinous…similar to an egg! Please note that you can use either red flaxseed meal or golden flaxseed meal – either should work – but the golden has a lighter, less distinguishable flavor.
If you’d like to use a real egg, substitute one egg in place of the flaxseed meal and water.
Full-Fat Coconut Milk
If you’re worried about these cookies tasting like coconut, fear not! It is really not detectable. Neither my mom nor my 5-year-old nor I could detect any coconut flavor, and believe me my son would let me know! For this recipe it’s important to use full fat unsweetened canned coconut milk – not a “coconut beverage” that you might drink. Give it a good shake before opening the can – or a good mix after opening – as the fat likes to separate.
If you’d like to use dairy milk, substitute whole milk in the same amount called for in the recipe.
Sprinkles are one of those things you wouldn’t expect to contain gluten, but gluten seems to be everywhere these days, much to my chagrin. If you’re looking for gluten free (and dye free!) sprinkles, check out these fun sprinkles that come in a lot of different colors and shapes!
Alright, I think that about covers it! Let’s get to the recipe!
Tap the image below to download a pretty, printable recipe!
How to Make Chocolate Drop Cookies with Vanilla Frosting:
Quick Note: If you’re not gluten, dairy, or egg free it would work perfectly fine to substitute all purpose flour, regular butter, whole milk (for the coconut milk), and a real egg.
So let’s be honest – the main reason recipe-dedicated sites show all the step by step photos and give all the detail about the recipe is for Search Engine Optimization (e.g. Google will lead people to their post based on keyword detection). I suppose all that detail is helpful if you have questions, but it can also be kind of annoying to scroll through. So I’m not going to do that. However, I do still want my post to be found, so really quickly I’m going to tell you how to make these delicious CHOCOLATE DROP COOKIES WITH VANILLA FROSTING which are GLUTEN, DAIRY, AND EGG FREE! (Did you catch all that, Google?)
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a small bowl mix together flaxseed and water; let rest for 5 minutes – this will make a “flax egg.” Using an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and sugar until smooth, then mix in the flax egg.
In a separate bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture, alternating with the coconut milk until smooth, then mix in the vanilla.
Place tablespoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake approx. 9-11 minutes until centers are just set. Let cool on cookie sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add coconut milk 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing well in-between. If you desire a runnier frosting, add more coconut milk. Once the cookies are cooled, top with frosting and dip into a bowl of sprinkles, pressing lightly to adhere.
A Few Tips on Frosting the Cookies:
Rather than smearing the frosting onto the cookies, I like to pipe it on using a regular plastic baggie.
Just fill it up and snip off the corner. That way you can pipe on little swirls and it’s quick, clean, and pretty. If you don’t like plastic bags, use a reusable piping bag…or just spread it on with a knife. Whatever you like.
For ease of filling, place the baggie in a glass!
Swirl on that frosting!
Dip in a bowl of sprinkles.
It’s helpful to press lightly on the top to make sure the sprinkles adhere, especially if you kept your frosting on the thicker side like I did.