Turn a simple GF vanilla cake mix into perfectly chewy gluten free chocolate chip cookies with butter, eggs, and a touch of molasses—plus of course your favorite chocolate chips!
How do you turn a cake mix into cookies?
Well, we did it recently with our vanilla cake mix cookies, which also began with a box of (or homemade) gluten free vanilla cake mix. That time, we added two eggs and some butter, plus a few mini M&Ms (for those of us who can get our hands on a gluten free version of M&Ms).
This time, we’re doing almost the same thing, but we’re adding molasses and vanilla. Those two additions turn a vanilla cookie into a chocolate chip cookie.
By the way, I know that you can buy gluten free chocolate chip cookie mixes, and not just cake mixes. Not only have I never found an acceptable gluten free cookie mix, but if you’re going to make or buy a mix, shouldn’t you just buy one type, and make all the things with it as a base?
But why turn a cake mix into cookies?
With the holidays coming up, my children are thumbing through my cookbooks and paging through the blog and making plenty of recipe requests. (“In addition to apple pie, please make this apple cake.”) So I need a few shortcuts. The more I can make in stages, or start with leg up, the better.
Starting with a cake mix, even one that I’ve made myself gives me an undeniable boost. There’s no question in my mind that I am physically able to accomplish everything that needs to be done. But sometimes the idea of it feels very overwhelming.
What makes a cake mix different from a cookie mix?
A cake mix typically has more chemical leaveners than a cookie mix (a cookie recipe generally has only baking soda, and a cake will have baking powder). A cookie mix is more likely to have multiple types of sugar as well (granulated and brown sugars, for example).
That doesn’t mean that we can’t make cookies with a cake mix. It just means that we have to take those differences into account with the other ingredients we add to the mix to make cookies, instead of a cake.
To make these chocolate chip cookies, we’re adding molasses to the mix. Brown sugar is really just refined granulated sugar with molasses added to it. It’s not like some fancy unrefined sugar or anything.
Oh, and if you’re making a cake you’re going to add liquid and maybe even sift something if you’re really looking to make it light and fluffy like the very best gluten free vanilla cake.
By the way, you really don’t have to do that annoying food blogger/food photographer thing and add a few more chocolate chips to the tops of your cookie dough before baking it. It does make for a seriously gorgeous presentation, but when I say those chips are optional—I really do mean it!
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: The vanilla cake mix that forms the base of these cake mix cookies contains dairy in the form of buttermilk powder. Butter certainly has dairy, and your chocolate chips may have dairy, too. We can take care of all of that!
If you need to be dairy-free, I have had success replacing the buttermilk powder in my vanilla cake mix recipe with finely ground blanched almond flour in an equal amount, by weight. In place of butter, try half Earth Balance buttery sticks and half Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. And use dairy-free chocolate chips!
Egg-free: Since there are only 2 eggs you can try replacing each with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon finely ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). I’m afraid I haven’t tried this or any other egg substitute in this recipe, but it might work!
Keep in mind that, with any egg substitute, it must provide moisture and structure, just like eggs do. I’m afraid applesauce just provides moisture, so I never recommend its use in my recipes as a substitute for eggs.
Molasses: The added tablespoon of molasses in this recipe is what takes it from a vanilla cookie with chocolate chips to a real chocolate chip cookie. “Unsulphured” molasses is the most common type of molasses. I buy Mother’s brand in my local grocery store. Blackstrap is way way stronger and I don’t recommend using that here.
If you can’t have molasses or just don’t want to add it, you can use another liquid sweetener of similar viscosity, like honey or corn syrup, in its place. But please try the molasses? ??
Cake Mix Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 (16-ounce) box gluten free yellow cake mix, or 1 recipe Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs (100 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 tablespoon (21 g) unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus a few more for topping if desired
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the cake mix and whisk to break up any lumps, then create a well in the center of the mix. Add the butter, eggs, molasses, and vanilla, and mix with a handheld mixer (or by hand with a spoon). The dough will be quite thick and rather sticky. Add most of the chocolate chips, and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout.
Drop the dough by rounded teaspoon on the prepared baking sheet (a #50 cookie scoop works perfectly), 2 inches apart. Place a few extra chocolate chips on top of each piece of cookie dough, if desired. Place the cookies in the center of the oven and bake until lightly golden brown all over, 9 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool until set on the baking sheet until firm.