Discovering your child has food allergies is hard. As a new parent, I was aware food allergies were a possibility. I even know several people with allergies, so it was definitely front of mind. Yet it somehow seemed impossible that my baby would have any issues. I guess like any serious health condition, you feel immune – until you’re not.
Food allergies are very poorly understood. Doctors do not know what causes them or why the rates of allergies are increasing. As it stands now, our child has allergies to peanut and egg, as well as a different kind of allergy to avocado. Her testing suggests nothing else should be an issue, and that she may be able to “outgrow” some of these, but only only time will tell.
I love food: making it, eating it, sharing it with those I love. I thought trying new foods with our baby would be joyful. The idea that there are foods that can seriously hurt, or even kill, your child is terrifying. We are struggling to get adjusted to a new normal of thinking carefully about all the food in the house, watching her closely as she tries new food, etc. But I also don’t want to strip all of the joy out of eating, for her or us!
She is still too young to actually be eating baked goods, but she is growing up fast and that day will be here before I know it. So I have been thinking about how I can adapt my favorite recipes to make them safe for her. I find the more a food is labeled as “free” of things (fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free), the more likely it is to also be taste-free. I don’t want my child missing out, even if she is unlikely to know the difference. Plus, I have to eat whatever is made too!
I discovered Joy the Baker’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies about a year ago and it became my new go to, with a few modifications. Browned butter just makes everything better. So I experimented with how I could remove the eggs from that recipe and keep the cookie tasting as close to the original as possible.
To remove them, I had to think about what eggs might be doing in the recipe. Unlike in cakes, eggs in cookies are not often used to provide lift; that is usually achieved by creaming butter and sugar. They are mostly there as an emulsifier (to help the other ingredients come together), and to provide some additional fat/richness. Thinking about that, I looked at suggested egg replacements online and decided on applesauce and oil.
I was pleasantly surprised by how good the egg-free cookies came out. I had some cookie dough in the freezer that I had previously made with egg, so I baked a few of those for a taste test. My husband, our resident cookie monster, agreed to help. Visually, we could barely tell a difference between the cookies, with the egg-free cookies being only slightly less brown (the protein in egg helps with browning). And best of all, both cookies tasted delicious! We agreed that the cookies with egg were a touch richer, but only slightly, and texture was nearly identical. We would both happily eat the egg-free version, which was exactly the outcome I was hoping for.
If cookie dough is your thing, I highly recommend making the egg-free version. The dough was absolutely amazing and, without egg, it’s much safer to eat raw. You could make the dough, roll it into balls, chill them, and dip them in melted chocolate. Or make my husband’s idea, a “cookie dough cookie sandwich,” which is like an ice cream sandwich but with raw cookie dough in place of ice cream. Yum! Or just dig in with a spoon, no judgement here.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes approximately 36 cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; half cold, half at room temperature
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk OR 1/4 unsweetened applesauce and 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Melt the cold butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until it foams and the sputtering stops. Stir the butter with a heat-proof spatula, scraping constantly until the solids are amber brown (about 2 minutes). Watch carefully, as the solids can burn quickly. Immediately pour the butter and the solids into a small bowl to stop the cooking and allow to cool about 20 minutes.
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and add the vanilla extract. Add the cooled brown butter and granulated sugar and beat for 2 minutes until creamed; the mixture should be fluffy and lighter in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, to ensure mixture is combined.
On low speed, add the egg or applesauce and oil, beating until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, to ensure mixture is combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and beat briefly to combine. Finish mixing by hand with a spatula to ensure all the flour and chips are evenly combined.
Using a medium sized cookie scoop (about 1.5 or 2 Tbsp), scoop balls of dough onto the baking sheets. Space cookies about 2 inches apart; I usually fit 8 cookies per sheet. Bake for about 13 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Switch and rotate the pans halfway through the baking time so the cookies bake evenly. Remove from the oven and cool cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to finish cooling completely. Repeat with any remaining dough.