Alternatives to Dairy

Dairy can hit the system hard, causing stomachaches galore. Be it a sensitivity or full-blown lactose intolerance, it may seem like cookies are no longer an option. But we’re here with good news: you can still bite into a cookie without the pain! All it takes are some substitutions in your fridge and a little creativity. We’re here to start you off.

Flaxseed ≠ Eggs

If eggs are your biggest worry, try flaxseed instead. This ingredient mimics the gelatinous texture that eggs have, so you don’t need that dairy-filled yolk in there. Fun fact: this substitution also allows you to eat your cookie dough raw, a dream we’ve always had yet never tried thanks to salmonella.

Alternative Milks ≠ Dairy Milks

There are so many new types of milk to use instead of your usual dairy milk: oat milk, almost milk, cashew milk… the list goes on. The classics: soy milk and coconut milk. Soy milk has just as much protein as dairy milk and is the most common suggestion, while coconut milk has the same creamy texture as cow’s milk. Ultimately, it comes down to preference—both work.

Oil ≠ Butter

You can use plant-based margarine, but if you’re looking for something more natural, oil should be your go-to. Coconut oil is a 1:1 substitution, though you might want to add a dash of salt to cut out the sweetness. And avocado oil is perfect for baking, because it’s filled with the fat a cookie may be missing from the removal of butter.

Blended Fruits ≠ Yogurt

A popular replacement for dairy-based yogurt is coconut-based yogurt, made by blending coconut milk with a sweetener, like powdered sugar or maple syrup (we wrote about some substitutions for sugar, if you’re looking for an alternative). The creamy texture mimics that of yogurt, creating a silky-smooth consistency to mix into your dry ingredients.

Just because you can’t have milk doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in cookies! What do you use in place of dairy? Let us know below.

Alternatives to Gluten

Whether you have a gluten allergy or are simply trying to avoid eating it, it can be hard to find gluten-free goods, especially cookies. One of the best solutions: making them yourself! We’ve given you guides on the top tips new bakers should know, as well as the most important tools you should have on hand. But what ingredients can you use in place of gluten? We’ve got the 411 for you.

Alternative Flours ≠ All-Purpose Flour

Thankfully, there are other flours available that aren’t all-purpose. Almond flour and coconut flour are great replacements that mimic the texture of your gluten-filled wheat flour, and you can find them in every store. If you prefer to DIY it and make sure there’s really no gluten, you can take quinoa (filled with protein and fiber), toast it, and throw it in a food processor.

Chopped Nuts ≠ Granola

Looking for the crunch you’d get from granola? Chopped nuts are the perfect substitute for that texture—try cashews and almonds for the closest taste to your usual granola, then use honey or molasses (we discussed these as sugar substitutes!)  to complement them. If you’re looking for extra sweetness, add in dried fruit. And bam: you have the dream minus the gluten.

Rum ≠ Beer

Sorry, but snickerbrewdles and soft stout cookies aren’t options when you go gluten-free. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy boozy batches of cookies! Instead of beer, go with rum or a fruit-based drink (like brandy or cognac). Some recipes we recommend are gluten-free rum-raisin cookies and  gluten-free bourbon caramel samosa.

Chia Seeds ≠ Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are out for those who are gluten-free. The good news: chia seeds are in. Breadcrumbs are a great binder, and you can replicate the texture by using chia seeds. They’re especially good in cookies using dried fruit and/or chocolate, because their slight nutty flavor pairs perfectly with saccharine tastes.

We hope these ideas for substitutes helped out – and there are many more where they came from! What do you use to keep your diet gluten-free? Let us know in the comments.

10 Must Have Baking Tools Under $25

So, you have a recipe, and you’re ready to put it to the test. Baking requires quite a few tools, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out hundreds for your home kitchen! That’s why we took the time to search for the top utensils you’re going to need for your best cookies yet…and each one is under $25. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Nonstick Pastry Mat

One of the most important baking tools is a pastry mat to place and roll out dough. Made of silicone, this mat won’t slip and is easy to clean after use. Plus, if you’re using it for other recipes, it has diameter measurements for foods like bread and pies.

Nonstick Pastry Mat, Williams Sonoma, $19.95

Ateco Pastry Bag Decorating Kit

We talked about the importance of sustainability, and these nylon bags support it – just hand-wash and use them again and again. Same goes for the stainless-steel tips and plastic coupler, which will give you the perfect dollop every time.

Pastry Bag Decorating Kit, Williams Sonoma, $19.95

Small Straight Icing Spatula

If you’re icing cookies, skip your kitchen knife and opt for this icing spatula instead. The rounded blade ensures even spreading, and it will smooth out any bumps of chunky icing that may have slipped in there.

Small Icing Spatula, Williams Sonoma, $4.99 – $21.95

Insulated Cookie Sheet

If you’re looking to up your sheet-game, this one uses insulated aluminum to give you the perfect cookies each time. The inner air chamber works to distribute heat across all cookies evenly, so you can say goodbye to burnt bottoms!

Insulated Cookie Sheet, Crate & Barrel, $16.95

Cookie Spatula

I’m really impatient, so I tend to just peel off cookies from the sheet. However, this often leads to the middles sinking and sticking. This cookie spatula is made of flexible silicone, so you can ease it under the cookies and lift up, minus the sink-age.

Cookie Spatula, Crate & Barrel, $7.99

Cooling Rack

Cooling racks help evenly set cookies by allowing air to circulate around the bottoms and tops. This will give you the texture you’re looking for: a perfect bite of ooey-gooey insides and crisp edges, without the mushy bottoms.

Cooling Rack, Crate & Barrel, $9.95

White Marble Rolling Pin

This marble rolling pin is absolutely gorgeous – use it as décor when you’re not rolling out dough. The marble stays cold, making it ideal for working dough that’s temperature-sensitive, or with ingredients like cold butter.

Marble Rolling Pin, World Market, $19.95

Kolder Glass Mix-In-Measure

We would be remiss to not mention our neighbors, the amazing Toque Blanche in Downtown Santa Cruz! This glass holds up to two cups, but the best part: it also marks tablespoons, teaspoons, and ounces. No more frantic googling “how many tablespoons are in a cup?”

Kolder Glass Mix-In-Measure, Toque Blanche, $7.99

Cookie Scoop

This cookie scoop is stainless steel and machine washable, so you can throw it in the dishwasher without ruining it. It will give you the perfect portion each time, meaning your cookies will come out evenly.

Cookie Scoop, Bed Bath & Beyond, $13.99 – $15.99

Digital Glass Kitchen Scale

Kitchen scales are super important when you’re baking. Sure, you can measure with a cup, but nothing will be more accurate than a scale. And when you’re dealing with precise measurements, it’s better to be safe than end up with crumbly or runny dough.

Digital Scale, Sur La Table, $24.95

What are your must-haves for baking? We want to know! Give us your recommendations in the comments.

Sugar and its Alternatives

Sugar and Its Alternatives

Sugar is what makes cookies so… well, sweet. But sometimes, you may realize you’ve run out of sugar right in the middle of a recipe. Or maybe you prefer an alternative. Or maybe, you’re looking to remove refined sugar from your diet. Well, look no further: these are sugar substitutes you can use. Bonus: you probably already have at least one in your cupboard.

Honey

Honey has different variants based on the flower, which will slightly alter the taste of your cookies – in a good way. Rather than your typical, white sugar-cane extract, it’s nice and rich, and the different tastes will give your cookies a unique twist. Check your local farmer’s market for the freshest honey!

Fruit Concentrates

No, we’re not talking fruit juice, with all that added sugar – we’re talking concentrates, which are the fruit extracts with water removed. These concentrates add a hint of sweetness to any recipe – we recommend bananas and figs.

Natural Maple Syrup

The key here is that it’s natural: pancake syrup has extra sweeteners, which can make it even sweeter than your half-cup of white sugar. The nutrients in maple syrup are attractive – it contains antioxidants and calcium, for example. What’s not to love?

Apple Sauce

Yep, I’m serious, it’s not just for babies and hospital cafeterias. It’s kind of like fruit concentrates, but you can buy the unsweetened type for less of a sugar punch; we promise it’ll still taste good! It’s also a fantastic substitute for eggs, so you can keep a recipe dairy-free and sweet.

Molasses

Molasses is what comes from processing sugar. So, why should you choose molasses over your typical white sugar? Well, molasses is less sweet with a specific, subtle taste, which can give your usual cookies a richer hit. It also contains a few nutrients, including iron and vitamins.

Any of these alternatives will enhance your cookies’ flavor profiles, so have fun experimenting! Which are your favorite alternatives to use? Let us know in the comments.