Baked Good / Dessert

Gus’s Homemade Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies & The “Dog Food Sandwich Solution”


The underlying current of what could be a trilogy (don’t worry, it won’t be) is that necessity is the mother of invention. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, and an image might not come to mind if I describe Dad as from the cast of Mad Men:


The last time I told this story a 7th grade hockey player in the back seat asked “What drink did your dad put in the bag?  Was it… was it… “lemonade?!” As you can tell by the photograph taken around the time Dad created “Dog Food Sandwich Solution” Rubbermaid sippy cups hadn’t been invented, so no, no “lemonade…”

Setting the stage: The summer between 6th grade and junior high school I elected to have my long hair cut so short that Mom’s hairdresser recommended we go to a barbershop. Twiggy was sporting the do in London, but salons in Palo Alto weren’t practicing. In addition, Mrs. Mansfield taught me to sew, a skill I took to the bank by designing and sewing some of my clothes.  Also, economy and principle dictated that we take our lunch to school instead of eating at the cafeteria.

During the second week of 7th grade my brown-bag lunch started disappearing from my locker. Too proud, too new, too adolescent, too too, I told no one.  Obviously a (9th grade boy, probably handsome, definitely mean) knew the combination to my locker.  The truth sputtered out one evening when Dad came into the kitchen to canvas my siblings and me about our day as we finished dinner. Dispassionately, he took off his hat and suit jacket, rolled up his Brooks Brothers sleeves, and instructed one of my brothers to get an unopened loaf of Pepperidge Farm Wheatberry. Another was sent to the pantry for a fresh can of dog food.  Dad went to the refrigerator for mayo and crispy lettuce. He took two slices of bread from the CENTER of the loaf, made a beautiful dog food sandwich, wrapped it in fresh waxed paper, and put it in a lunch bag. Next he took a banana from the fruit bowl, cut a hinge at the top and inserted a straw down the length to pull out a narrow tube of fruit. Dad filled the channel with ground pepper, plugged it with a little piece from the straw, and popped the banana in the bag.  By this time the five of us were fist pumping and chanting: GO! GO! GO!  Next, he made a narrow slice near the top of a snack-pack bag of BBQ chips and shook in a teaspoon cayenne powder: into lunch sack. By this time the five of us were up and helping. Last we baked a batch of Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies, substituting salt for all the sugar. The cookies cooled, two were wrapped and put in the the brown bag, and the rest got tossed, a supreme nose-thumb at economy and principle.

I took that lunch to school the next day, the last ever to disappear from my locker.  In honor of my dad and the extravagance of a salty batch of homemade cookies I offer you:

Gus’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies  – A dozen 3 oz. cookies


In 75 minutes you’ll need an oven preheated to 350F and a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.


1/2 cup – 1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (7.5 oz.)  firmly packed light brown sugar (Substitute dark brown or white depending on the flavor you prefer.)

2 tablespoons molasses (or enough to make your sugar weigh 8 oz.)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/8 cups (7 oz.) GF flour mix (yours or ours)

1/3 cup (2 oz.) chestnut flour (Dowd & Rogers makes a nice product.)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

1/4 teaspoon salt

9 oz. chocolate chips (We prefer the flavor of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips; their slightly larger size seems to make a minor difference with respect to the shape and cookie pattern of the cookies.)


1.  Melt the butter over  medium heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.

2.  Add the sugar and molasses and blend until it’s creamy.

3.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.

4.  Combine the dry ingredients; whisk to blend and add to the butter, sugar, egg mixture, mixing well and stirring down to incorporate the wetter dough at the bottom.

5.  Add the chocolate chips and mix on low to incorporate them evenly.

6.  Cover and CHILL for at least an hour.  Two or over night would be better. (You can use this hour to shop for a food scale if you haven’t yet started to measure by weighing….) The dough needs this time to rest for it’s performance in the oven.

7.  Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

8.  While you’re waiting for the oven to heat, weigh 3 oz. portions of cold dough and roll into (12) balls.  Place the dough balls on the cookie sheet(s) and bake for 14-15 minutes, rotating the pans half way through the cooking time. Size matters: you can go small (1/8 – 1/4 oz.) or large (3-4 oz.) – in between seems to produce less satisfactory results.

Enjoy!  Cookies are great hot out of the oven, slightly warm, cooled and made into ice cream sandwiches. We’ve even made GF cookie dough ice cream, freezing little bits of dough before folding into almost firm ice cream batter.  These are best stored frozen.


39 thoughts on “Gus’s Homemade Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies & The “Dog Food Sandwich Solution”

    • I’ve had good luck substituting coconut, quinoa, and sorghum flours, in that order. Still I prefer chestnut for the “body” it gives the texture and the (nuttiness) it contributes the flavor. It’s expensive, but worth the investment. Good luck with your first batch!

  1. That is an amazing story!!! I LOVE it. The cookies look fantastic too. I have a box of King Arthur’s Gluten Free flour and have been tempted to use it. My husband has a gluten intolerance. We generally eat low carb, so no chocolate chip cookies for us. But this might be a nice treat! Looks amazing!

    • Molasses adds flavor, moisture and body to the batter, helping to imitate the elasticity/chewiness of cookies made with conventional wheat flour. You can use honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, or dark corn syrup as replacements. Honey would be my first alternative, but will add a little “honey” flavor to the batter. Corn syrup will be the most effective replacement, but many don’t like to use it…. Good luck!

  2. Cute story! My mom used to pack me brown bag lunches everyday and would always dry fun little pictures on the front. My friends were alway jealous of the pictures, but not the lunches. A standard salami on white bread and some carrots meant a good day. Oh how Times have changed!

    Anyways ill have to try out the cookies! They look great

  3. I absolutely love the story. I was totally the underdog in middle school, and I would have loved it if my parents served a dish of revenge. Thanks for posting all of these recipes…being GF can sometimes seem monotonous.

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  8. These were divine cookies, all Gf! Loved them a lot,!!! I used vegan butter instead of real butter &’used vegan chocolate chips instead of normal ones! Great with a vegan café latte! MMMMMMM!

  9. It is the third time I used this recipe, with little variation. I am not a regular GF baker, but this one works every time, and is popular even with people who don’t eat GF. I make these for my boyfriend’s little brother who also has celiac disease, and the other kids at school are always so jealous 🙂

  10. I literally was laughing out loud reading this thinking how victorious it would be to see the look on the kids face when he ate it!! The only problem was that it was during my nap time at school with 20 kiddos 😁 I can’t wait to try the recipe! Thanks.

  11. I love the story of the dog food sandwich. Sometimes revenge is salty instead of sweet!
    The cookies sound great. Do you know if they can be made without the xantham gum or with something else instead? I actually have all of the other ingredients, even the chestnut flour, but unfortunately for me, am also allergic to xantham gum,

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