The Sun, Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies, Dad

gluten free, chocolate chip cookies, Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dad’s Favorite: Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

If I had been a contestant on the “Pyramid” game show hosted by Dick Clark, and those were the clues I had been given, I would have called out “Things You Can Depend On!” or maybe Things You Love!” … either way, I would have been correct.

Dad worked for government civil service before he retired at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia. Specifically, his title was “wood craftsman,” and he worked in the “Cabinet Shop,” and, sometimes, the “Furniture Repair Shop.” He wasn’t just building basic cabinets or repairing run-of-the-mill furniture all the time though. His cabinets were display cabinets for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. And, the furniture he repaired was Queen Anne tables in the White House. He excels at woodworking and building furniture. In our house, we are fortunate to have a rocking chair and two bookcases he made during those years. He frowned when I bought a needy Duncan Phyfe dining room table for $50 as a single girl, but he repaired it and refinished it for me and it remains our dining room table. When we had our house built, I wanted a special kitchen counter built with two levels—counter height and table height (not bar height)—plus an inset bookcase at the end for my cookbooks. He implemented my idea beautifully and with Mr. GFE made our wooden kitchen ceiling with its beams on either side of the skylight. Even our son now has some of his grandfather’s woodworking in his apartment—Dad’s gorgeous 4-foot by 2-foot walnut frame frames a painting hanging over his mantle.

It’s fitting that Dad earned his livelihood at Quantico … a sort of payback. Dad was born to a farming family a few years after the Depression began. His family was a rather large one with only boys surviving infancy. When he was 11-years old, his family’s farm and the land of all of their neighbors—51,000 acres—was “acquired” by the government for the expansion of the Quantico base. My dad grew up hunting and fishing. He still hunts on the base property via permit each year. He knows and loves the land so well. Streams, old foundations, the large trees that shaded the yards, flower beds of daffodils and irises, and other landmarks that remain guide his way.

Dad’s knowledge and talents extend to just about everything. He is a common sense fellow. Even today, Mom and Dad rarely need to call a repairman for work at their home; Dad takes care of it instead. My sister and I chuckle because we have confessed to each other that when our husbands balk at fixing something, we both say, “That’s okay. I’ll call Dad.” But, before you feel too sorry for our husbands, they are often in on the act, too. Just the other day, our lawnmower died and Mr. GFE said, “I need to talk to your Dad.” Even the grandchildren are often heard saying, “I’ll go ask PaPa.” Our son’s coffee table collapsed on one end and Dad just made a replacement part to repair it. There’s just not much that Dad can’t fix or help out with.

I’m fortunate that I was the oldest of the two of us. That meant when Dad needed a hand with something and my Mom was occupied with my little sister, I was the one who got to be Daddy’s assistant. Frankly,  the tasking wasn’t always pleasant or fun, but it did give me experience that most girls did not acquire. Hence, I am more mechanically inclined than some. For example, I’ve had my own toolbox for years and it’s definitely not pink with a few token tools. Thanks to Dad’s guidance, it’s loaded with screws, nails, pliers, wood putty pencils, etc. I am really quite well equipped.

As you might imagine, Dad shrugs off our praises, but it’s clear he takes great pride in his accomplishments. If we mention a problem to him, if there’s any chance he can help, he doesn’t rest well until he has.  For Father’s Day, we took my dad a gift card to Cracker Barrel, his favorite every day restaurant. And, I took him cookies—brown sugar chocolate chip cookies. These are the cookies I count on to make everyone happy. No matter the occasion, if I ask what I can bring, I’m told, “Please bring your chocolate chip cookies—we all love those cookies.” Dad likes all my cookies and baked goods, but especially the brown sugar chocolate chip cookies. Mr. GFE and I saw my parents today. (Yes, they were here so Dad could help us with a project! LOL) As they were leaving, Dad said he was going home to eat some more of “my cookies.” That does a girl good to hear her Dad say that … probably as much good as it does for a Dad to help his daughter. You’re the best, Dad. Thank you always, for everything. I love you.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies 067

It’s no fib that I’ve been making these cookies that originated from Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha) for a good 25 years (or more). I think when the recipe was first published, Alexis was only a teenager. I tried making these cookies after going gluten free with most of the standard gluten-free flour mixes on the market. The results were disastrous and frustrating. Finally, when I heard about the Asian white rice flour and cornstarch mix, I decided to give it a try and was rewarded with cookies that tasted so close to my gluten ones that life was good again.

As wonderful as they are, these cookies can be a tad mercurial, so all batches will not be the same for thickness or doneness, but they will all be outstanding. Do not discard any that don’t look good enough. They will all come out very flat. See photo of both pretties and misfits—all taste fantastic! They are butter and brown sugar goodness highlighted with chocolate chips, but they are also a rare cookie combination of crunchy and chewy. They look appealing for sure, but when you pick one up to try you have no idea of the treat that’s in store. I submitted these cookies to a contest of sorts held last July 4th for our local newspaper. No first, seconds, or thirds were given, but they were rated one of the best! My final advice—make these for a group and don’t obsess with the fat and calorie content.

UPDATE:  I’ve since created Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies! I think they might even be better than the original recipe!

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies 108

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 ¼ cups finely ground white rice flour*
  • ¾ cup cornstarch*
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if using gluten-free flour mix* that contains xanthan gum)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ - 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use whatever I have on hand---regular size, minis, chunks)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Stir in brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined and smooth.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
  5. In a separate bowl or very large measuring cup, sift together flour, cornstarch, and xanthan gum (or gluten-free all-purpose flour mix--see notes); baking soda; and salt.
  6. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture slowly until well combined.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Drop 2 tbsp of batter for each cookie onto baking sheet two inches apart. (You must follow the spacing rule: these cookies spread a lot and as noted are a flat half chewy, half crisp cookie.)
  9. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until set. Let set further on baking sheet for maybe a minute or so after removing from oven to firm up.
*Or, use my gluten-free flour mix. It consists of three parts Asian white rice flour (much more finely ground that typical white rice flour) and two parts cornstarch. I make 5 lbs of this mix at a time. I use three 1-lb bags of Asian white rice flour and two 1-lb boxes of Argo cornstarch. Mix well, but gently in a very large bowl and then transfer to airtight storage containers (like Tupperware). Another choice is Jules All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour mix. Note: This recipe will NOT work with some other all-purpose gf flour mixes like Bob’s Red Mill or Bette Hagman’s mix. Other flour mixes not mentioned might work, but I can’t guarantee that. Finally, it's been my experience that these cookies fall apart if a baking stone is used.

Additional Notes: If these cookies get too hard on the baking sheet and can’t be removed easily, return to the oven for maybe 30 seconds. You may have to clean spatulas (I alternate between two) and even wipe off baking sheets of crumbs between batches. I cool on opened paper bags to help absorb extra grease.

Adapted from Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha). This recipe appeared in Family Circle or Woman’s Day as “Martha’s daughter’s favorite cookies” (as I recall).

Not just gf, but gfe!

This post is linked to Friday Foodie Fix–Super Bowl Party Foods and Calling All Cookies.

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


46 Responses to “The Sun, Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies, Dad”

  1. H.Peter on June 24th, 2009 9:06 am

    “As wonderful as they are, these cookies can be a tad mercurial, so all batches will not be the same for thickness or doneness”

    I think that goes for all GF cookies….have yet to see a batch that matches at Victoria’s joint.

    Your father is a very gifted man, I admire everybody who can work with hands, especially with wood, one of my passions to sell.

    • Shirley on June 24th, 2009 10:43 pm

      H.Peter–Hey there! I have to agree that can be true of gf cookies in general, but most of my recipes are pretty consistent. This recipe was even a bit mercurial when I made it with gluten-containing flour before going gf. In fact, I had modified it at that time slightly to ensure better consistency with thickness and form. But, like I said in the post, these cookies are fantastic, even if you are eating them in pieces off the baking sheet. LOL

      Thanks so much for your kind words regarding my father! He really is amazing even to me. Our next project will be replacing our front deck with his help. He can take a look, come up with a layout, figure out all the materials, etc. Then we’ll all work together and the results will be really nice. As you can imagine, he’s a stickler for detail and excellent quaity work, too. BTW, Mr. GFE has his own wood talents … laying hardwood floor—although not too much of that going on right now with housing down. It’s great that you appreciate fine woodworking and include wonderful pieces in your auctions. :-) When I tour historic homes, one thing that fascinates me the most is the furniture.


  2. Nance on June 24th, 2009 10:31 am

    Your narrative about your father reminds me of the Ken Burns quote: “There are no ordinary lives.”

    • Shirley on June 24th, 2009 10:52 pm

      Nance–Thank you for sharing that Ken Burns’ quote. Certainly he has been one who’s spent his life showing that with his film work. Yes, everyone has a story to tell. (Often we forget that, I think.) I’m honored I could tell my dad’s a bit. I had no idea how this post would end up when I started writing it. I admit that thinking about how my dad’s family and so many others were moved out of their homes and land and forced to start anew makes me emotional a bit. And, writing the post made me appreciate him more than ever.


  3. glutenfreeforgood on June 24th, 2009 11:58 am


    What a lovely post! And we have even more things in common. I am (was) also my dad’s special girl AND the son he never had, so as much as I tease about “boy” jobs, chores, activities, etc., I’ve done them all as well. That’s a wonderful gift from a dad, isn’t it?! Aren’t we lucky, Shirley! Yes, I’d say when you’re raised like that and you can fix a chair and bake good cookies at the same time, you’ve been blessed.

    Loved this post, Shirley. Sniff, sniff.

    • Shirley on June 24th, 2009 10:57 pm

      Ah, Melissa, thank you. :-) More evidence that we are kindred spirits … I loved the woodworking and construction type jobs … it was assisting with the hunting and fishing results that I wasn’t too crazy about. LOL Yes, we are lucky for sure! MY parents have given me so much of themselves.

      So glad you appreciated the post, but sorry to bring out some sadness for you. Hope there were more smiles with your memories than anything else. I’m so grateful to still have both my parents alive and well.


  4. Heather @ Life, Gluten Free on June 24th, 2009 6:42 pm

    This is a great post. It sounds like you have a wonderful dad. And those cookies do look good :)

    • Shirley on June 24th, 2009 10:58 pm

      Hi, Heather–Thanks for stopping by and I so appreciate your sweet words! :-)


  5. Gluten Free Steve on June 24th, 2009 6:49 pm

    I made chocolate chip cookies on Sunday – who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie! Great posting!

    • Shirley on June 24th, 2009 11:02 pm

      Steve–Hi! Yes, it’s a rare bird who doesn’t enjoy a chocolate chip cookie. This recipe is our favorite. I can’t even guess how many dozens I’ve made over the years. I once even thanked an insurance representative for all his help, by sending him a package. He was very grateful!

      I’ll have to check out your recipe if it’s on your blog from a previous post. I’m actually behind on checking out your blog. I’ll do better I promise. ;-)

      Thanks so much,

  6. CoconutGal on June 24th, 2009 8:40 pm

    Oh Shirley!… excuse me while I wipe up my drool…. these sound delicious!
    I love how you have the chocolate chips in a circle in the middles so you get a huge bite of chocolate too. Your dad sounds wonderful, what a lovely Father’s Day gift to give him. Homemade (especially edible) gifts are the best in my opinion! He is lucky to have such a fantastic daughter, who is also a rockstar cook and baker!

    Yum yum yum

    • Shirley on June 24th, 2009 11:05 pm

      Hi CoconutGal–I love that you’re using your fresh coconut photo as your new avatar—too cute!

      Yes, drool away … you can’t imagine how good these are. LOL The chocolate chips going to the middle is a natural phenomenon. Actually my son said he wished that didn’t happen with the gf recipe. It happens a little less if you use mini chocolate chips.

      Dad is very special for sure. Whoa, “rockstar cook and baker!” … thank you! I’ll try to live up to those kudos! :-)


  7. Melanie on June 25th, 2009 10:04 pm

    Hi Shirley – I really enjoyed hearing about your dad. What a blessing to have such a gifted and strong, yet humble man as a father.

    And the cookies sound wonderful…will have to try them out soon…a bit different from the ones I just has some success with!

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2009 7:19 am

      Hi Melanie–Thank you, dear. I am very blessed to have my dad and, of course, my mom as well. It’s nice to be able to pay them even a small tribute. :-)

      These cookies are special ones, so I hope you will try them. I want to try your latest recipe for chocolate chip cookies, too. (I’ve been wanting to try chickpea flour … just haven’t found it yet.) And, Robin Sue just made a very different chocolate chip cookie recipe that I want to convert to gf. And, I have some baking bananas that I might turn into these cookies. So many chocolate chip cookie recipes … so little time. ;-)

      Thanks again, Melanie. Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. RobinSue on June 26th, 2009 10:42 am

    Ah ha we are both on the chocolate chip cookie kick! The story of your dad is great! Sounds a lot like my dad who can fix everything too and I was his helper because I had small enough hands to do the things he could not. My kids know that Papa can fix everything too! Would love to see pictures of the things in your kitchen that he did for you- they sound so nice!

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2009 11:41 pm

      Robin Sue–Hey, I never thought of that! I bet my smaller hands came in handy at times, too. It’s so wonderful having a dad who’s handy like ours! As soon as I get my kitchen back in shape from some activities and our upcoming meeting, I’ll see if I can honor your request via my Flickr account at least. :-)

      I have another new chocolate chip cookie recipe using chickpea flour from Melanie to try now, too. Can’t wait. And, of course, I’ve still been thinking about the Overload choc chip cookies that Cathy shared over at 3 bags of chocolate chips!! OMG, right?! I have to try them, but I’m inviting friends over first for those. ;-)


  9. sonia gluten free on June 26th, 2009 1:21 pm

    Dear friend, my name is Sonia and I have a Spanish celiac granddaughter of six years.

    Since his diagnosis dedicate much of my time to spread the celiac level “nterna”, not as to menus is concerned that there is already much in blogsfera if not celiacs areivindicar for collective security measures for their life coidiana .
    Waschiton The other day, I attended a conference of gastroenterologists in the U.S. there is a very high number of celiac patients ill, who do not know who they are, this is a serious problem in adults sometimes damage to the body and are forever .

    Trust in the group of celiac U.S., the association and I am working to get some medical protocols that quickly diagnose celiac disease.

    Thank you very much
    affectionate greeting

    • Shirley on June 29th, 2009 10:57 pm

      Hey Sonia–Good to see you again. ;-) Yes, there is much left to be done in the fight against celiac. Thanks for all your hard work! We have two newly diagnosed members just this month, so that is very good news. One celiac at a time …


  10. Ali (Whole Life Nutrition) on June 26th, 2009 6:53 pm

    Yum, I don’t think anyone could resist a good chocolate chip cookie, especially gluten-free! Nice post, your dad sounds wonderful!

    Now I am hungry for CC cookies! Thanks Shirley! -Ali :)

  11. Diane-thewholegang on June 28th, 2009 5:40 pm

    Great story, cool dad, lucky daughter. You dad sounds very gifted and he got to use those gifts in some really cool places. So here’s another thing we have in common. I was my dad’s helper too and have always had my own tool and tool belt, not pink. That drives me crazy when people ask if it’s pink, like I’m not smart enough to handle tools. Really. Actually I’m the one who brought the tools into my marriage. I still ask my dad on things but now we often get help that’s closer. My dad’s favorite treat use to be my chocolate chip cookies. I’ve not made any since I’ve gone gf/df. Maybe I’ll look for the flours you used and give it a try. I know he’s missing them. I’m not much on baking but I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

    • Shirley on June 28th, 2009 9:18 pm

      Diane–Aw, thank you :-) and wow, we really do have a lot in common!!

      I’m psyching myself up for the dairy-free route again, so I’ll come up with a chocolate chip cookie recipe soon that will satisfy that need. So you can try this recipe now or wait a bit and see what I come up with. ;-)


  12. Anali on July 2nd, 2009 8:27 pm

    So nice reading about your Dad! He’s quite the man to have around the house. And those cookies look scrumptious!

    • Shirley on July 5th, 2009 10:27 pm

      Hi, Anali–Thank you so much! The cookies are fab. Just made them again this weekend for our camping outing. Everyone who joined us was very happy. ;-) (BTW, if you want to make them with all-purpose flour you can. Just replace the rice flour and cornstarch with regular flour and omit the xanthan gum.)

      Hope you had a good 4th!

  13. Diane-The WHOLE Gang on December 22nd, 2009 11:36 am

    Maybe you like chocolate way more than I do. I think you’re the chocolate winner on Friday Foodie Fix.

    • Shirley on December 23rd, 2009 8:38 pm

      Diane–I don’t think so … I just had a lot of chocolate recipes. :-)


  14. Becca Pronchick on April 5th, 2010 3:02 pm

    Hello Shirley,

    Thank you so much for sharing about your Dad. I too assisted by father with woodworking projects as a kid and your story brought back some good memories. I’m a gluten free human and can’t wait to try your cookie recipe – recommended by Karen Schuppert here in Napa.

    All the best, Becca

    • Shirley on April 5th, 2010 8:57 pm

      Hi Becca–Welcome to gfe! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. I wonder how many daughters (perhaps eldest daughters) helped our dads with woodworking and other projects. I learned a lot and it always made me feel special.

      This cookie recipe is the best for sure, but it’s a bit decadent with all its sugar and butter. And, it’s a bit finnicky. You might start out with one baking sheet full of cookies and make any adjustments to oven temp, etc. I’ve had the most luck lately at 350 degrees, dropping smaller amounts on the baking sheet, and baking them for 8 minutes. But, I think it can depend on the humidity, etc. They are well worth any trouble though! Hope you’ll report back and let us know what you think. :-)


  15. Edie on August 4th, 2010 7:43 pm

    Help! Shirley, I’m making these cookies with my stepson (he has celiac), but they’re waaaayyyy too thin. They don’t look anything like the ones in your pictures, and they taste more like molasses candy than cookies because they’re so thin. I’m cooking them at 375 degrees for 8 minutes directly on a greased cookie sheet. Should I lower the temp? Or the cooking time? Or both?

    • Shirley on August 4th, 2010 8:08 pm

      Hi Edie–They are very thin cookies and they should taste very buttery and chewy. Lately I’ve been starting out at 375 degrees for a couple of minutes and then lowering to 350 degrees for the rest. They will puff up and spread out. But, key questions … are you using my gf flour mix? I’m sorry, but this recipe will not work with Bob’s all-purpose flour mix (or similar). Did you use 2 cups of flour? You can try adding a tad more flour, mixing the flour first before adding. (I always mix my flour before measuring it. Makes a big difference.) I hope that helps! If they don’t work out, I’ll make some and bring to you for him to try. ;-) Fingers crossed though …


  16. Edie on August 4th, 2010 8:03 pm

    Ha! OK, I’m officially an idiot. Call off the crisis squad. I forgot to add the corn starch! I added it in, and now the cookies look great! Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Shirley on August 4th, 2010 8:14 pm

      Oh, Edie, thank goodness! LOL I’m so relieved … and thrilled!

      Incidentally, I’ve been loving your FLS articles of late … jet ski outing, bathing suit shopping, concert outing, and that one of the iPhone apps we really need … priceless! And, welcome to gfe officially! :-) Hope you and your stepson will find lots more great gfe recipes to make together using my Recipes tab under my header. ;-)


  17. Mary on May 22nd, 2011 4:48 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    Do you think palm shortening would work in place of the butter? We are dairy-free.


    • Shirley on May 22nd, 2011 10:20 pm

      Hi Mary–I’m not totally sure as I’ve never used it for this recipe or anything before. Is palm shortening oil? If so, I think you could make a bar version of these cookies with it as I have previously with melted butter. However, I’m not sure if it will produce a cookie. This recipe already produces a very flat cookie that tends to spread too quickly if one is not careful. If you do some experimenting, please let us know. :-)


  18. vivian on December 1st, 2013 8:49 pm

    I’m new to gluten free baking. These cookies look wonderful, but I can’t have cornstarch…any alternatives to the cornstarch? thanks

    • Shirley on December 2nd, 2013 7:05 am

      Hi Vivian–Welcome to gluten-free baking and gfe! :-) A good substitute for cornstarch is usually arrowroot, but I have not tried it in this recipe. You can also substitute a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix that is rice flour based for the total amount of white rice flour and cornstarch. Again, that would be gf ap flour mix that’s rice flour based. For example, I have used Jules Gluten-Free Flour Mix in this recipe successfully, but would NOT use Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour mix. Hope that helps, but I will warn you that these particular cookies can be a little finicky as I said in the post and you have to test out a couple to make sure that your oven in the right temp, baking sheet is only lightly greased, etc. The combination of lots of butter and lots of sugar makes them a bit more “delicate” than other cookies. They’re worth it for sure though! ;-)


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