Acorn flour chocolate chip cookies are one of the tastiest ways to cook with acorn flour.
I’ve been experimenting with acorn flour recipes for a few years now, and I’ll admit that I’ve had more failures than successes.
Baking with acorn flour is tricky, and while you’d assume you can substitute this wild foraged nut flour in place of other nut flours like almond flour…the results are just not the same.
That’s because acorn flour actually has a lot of starch, so much starch in fact that it’s used traditionally to make a tofu-like jelly in Korea called Dotorimuk.
Fine ground acorn flour behaves a bit like rice flour in baking, and acorn flour baked goods can be a bit “gooey” in texture unless you add a good bit of wheat flour for structure (and gluten).
If you’re willing to make hybrid recipes, you’ll get great results substituting no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the total wheat flour for acorn flour in a conventional recipe. The acorn flour adds flavor, and the wheat flour gives structure and good texture.
The problem is, I don’t just want to add a bit of acorn flavor to something. I really want to master cooking with just acorn flour.
There’s something of a “holy grail of foraging” which is foods made entirely from wild foraged ingredients, without leaning on conventional agriculture. That’s my passion, and I’ve been experimenting with recipes for 100% wild foraged cookies for some time now.
It works well enough using hazelnut flour and other wild-foraged flours, but it’s really hard to skip the wheat flour in acorn flour recipes.
I recently came across a recipe in the book Acorn Foraging by Alicia Bayer, and when I saw that these acorn flour chocolate chip cookies are made with 100% acorn flour I just had to try them.
Alicia is the woman behind the blog A Magical Childhood and she writes about foraging and homeschooling, both online and in print. Her acorn book is by far the best resource I’ve found to date on cooking with acorn flour.
Her family is gluten-free, so she’s worked hard to develop recipes that are made either with all acorn flour or with just a bit of gluten-free flour mix added to improve texture.
If you’ve never made acorn flour, be aware that it does require a good bit of processing to leach out the natural tannins present in the acorns. There are two main methods:
- Hot Leaching – Basically boiling the shelled acorns for hours in many changes of water until the tannins are removed. This also cooks the acorns and removes much of their starch, meaning they’re not as good for baked goods since the flour won’t bind.
- Cold Leaching – This method grinds the shelled acorn nut meats very fine and then leaches it in cold water for 7 to 14, with water changes twice a day. This slowly removes the tannins, but leaves the acorn flour raw so it’ll still bind in baked goods.
After leaching, the flour is ground again, then sifted and dried thoroughly.
To make this recipe, you’ll first need to make acorn flour using one of those two methods. I’d suggest cold leaching for these cookies in particular, but hot leached acorn flour will also work in a pinch.
This particular recipe for acorn cookies is not 100% wild foraged, but it is 100% acorn flour. You’ve got to start somewhere, and I’ll be honest, all acorn flour is a lot more accessible to most people than all wild foraged.
I’m probably the only person out there rendering squirrel fat for cookies…
Still, if you did want to make this recipe all wild foraged you can:
- Replace the sugar with homemade maple sugar (not maple syrup, that won’t work as it’s a liquid).
- Replace the butter with bear fat, squirrel fat, or some other rendered lard. Acorn oil will work too, but will result in dense cookies that are more like shortbread since it’s liquid at room temperature.
- Replace the salt and baking soda with a bit of sifted hardwood ashes. They contain natural salts, and will have a weak reaction with the natural acidity in the maple sugar to help leaven the cookies.
- For the egg, you can use wild bird eggs like quail, duck, or goose. Or, you can forage flax seeds and make flax eggs as vegans do regularly as an egg substitute.
- Meadowsweet has a natural vanilla flavor and foragers use it to flavor baked goods naturally.
- For the chocolate chips, you’re really out of luck here…but I’d actually recommend using hot leached toasted acorn “nuts” instead. They’re quite tasty, and though not chocolate, they’ll add great flavor and texture to the cookies.
While you could do all this…
You could also admit that making cookies with acorn flour is a huge accomplishment under your foraging belt, and there comes a point where something is good enough.
Your friends are going to love these acorn flour cookies, and they’ll honestly be a lot happier if you hand them one made with butter instead of rendered squirrel lard.
It’s not actually the apocalypse after all, and butter is pretty darn magical. Enjoy it while it’s here =)
Making Acorn Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
When making chocolate chip cookies, with acorn flour or any other flour, it’s actually pretty important to follow the directions and carefully cream the butter and sugar.
I know, some of you are going to want to throw all the ingredients in a bowl, stir and then bake. It doesn’t always work that way.
In this case, when you whip butter and sugar together it creates tiny air pockets in the butter which stay intact during baking. This is what gives these cookies (and regular chocolate chip cookies) their lift.
Sure, there’s some baking soda in there, but that’s not actually doing all that much. You’d be better off forgetting the baking soda than skipping the butter/sugar creaming process.
Start by creaming the softened butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer (or whisk and a lot of elbow grease). It should change color and be light and fluffy.
When you mix in the acorn flour and other ingredients, the color will change to a deep brown, but the cookie dough should still be light and fluffy in texture.
Once you’ve whipped the butter and sugar, mix in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated, and then add the dry ingredients.
Since the butter was softened before starting the dough will be very loose, and it really helps to chill the dough in the refrigerator or freezer before baking. I’d suggest around 30 minutes in the freezer, but longer works fine too.
Scoop the chilled cookie dough onto a baking tray, leaving plenty of space between the cookies. Even with chilled dough, these are going to spread out a lot.
Make sure you give them at least 3 inches between cookies and don’t press them flat before baking.
Bake the acorn flour cookies in an oven that’s been preheated to 350 degrees F for about 12-15 minutes.
The dough is pretty dark in color to start with from the acorn flour, but they’ll darken further still in the oven. They should look more like a chocolate chocolate chip cookie when they’re done baking.
Knowing when they’re done can be tricky since obviously, you don’t want to burn them, but you can’t exactly just wait until they’re “golden brown” since they’re already a deep brown when they go in the oven. Be sure they’re cooked all the way through as slightly burned is better than underdone.
They should look firm in the middle before you pull them out of the oven.
The finished acorn flour chocolate chip cookies do hold their shape well, and they have a soft texture. Not quite the crisp chocolate chip cookie you’re used to with wheat flour, but not exactly cakey either.
My husband said, “They have a good bit to them, but no crunch.”
Be aware these cookies don’t store well, and they’re best the day they’re baked. They’re still good the next day, but not quite as good…and they go downhill from there.
The dough freezes well, so plan on making and freezing the dough ahead of time and then just baking what you intend to use that day.
Acorn Flour Cookie Recipes
Looking for more ways to cook with acorn flour?
- Acorn Flour Persimmon Cookies ~ Also all acorn flour with foraged persimmon pulp
- Acorn Flour Ginger Snaps ~ All acorn flour, and with wild foraged spices too
- Acorn Maple Shortbread ~ Made with half wheat flour
Cooking with acorn flour can be tricky, but it works wonderfully in these 100% acorn flour chocolate chip cookies.
- 1 cup acorn flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Whisk together dry ingredients including acorn flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take 2-3 minutes of blending with a hand mixer.
- Add vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture and blend to just incorporate.
- Add the dry ingredients, stir to incorporate.
- Mix in chocolate chips.
- Place the dough into the freezer to chill while the oven preheats. (This is optional, but the cookies really do better with chilled dough. The dough can even be frozen or refrigerated for a few days before baking if you make them ahead.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Scoop the cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet about 3'' apart.
- Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees F until fully cooked. (They should look firm in the center, but since the dough is already quite dark they might not visibly "brown" on the outside further.)
- Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
These acorn flour cookies will keep up to a week, but they're really best eaten the day they're baked.
This recipe is adapted from the book Acorn Foraging By Alicia Bayer, which I've found to be the best book available if you're interested in recipes using acorns and acorn flour.
Be sure that you cream the butter and sugar in this recipe. That's essential for creating lift in these cookies, and if you skip that step the resulting cookies with be gummy and have a truly unfortunate texture.
Cooking with acorns doesn’t just mean acorn flour. There are traditional acorn recipes from just about everywhere oaks grow, from Turkey to Spain to the US and beyond.
Fall Foraging Guides
Harvesting more than acorns this season?
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