Gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate chip cookies not an impossible task

  • Gluten-free and sugar-free chocolate chip cookies spread in the oven. They won't firm up until they are completely cooled.

    Gluten-free and sugar-free chocolate chip cookies spread in the oven. They won't firm up until they are completely cooled. Courtesy of Don Mauer

 
 
Posted7/13/2022 6:00 AM

Creating a wheat-free, no-sugar-added chocolate chip cookie is, simply put, tricky.

If you're staying away from wheat and sugars as I am, locating any dessert that doesn't have all sorts of chemical substitutes, like artificial sweeteners, is nearly impossible.

 

I've tried a couple of store-bought "keto" chocolate chip cookies and found them lacking in flavor and size (most are about the size of a quarter). And, they're pricey; very pricey.

A recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies in the "Cooking" section of The New York Times (cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020871-gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies) by Erin Jeanne McDowell seemed to present a possible homemade solution. Her cookies looked amazing, just like wheat flour-based, sugar-loaded chocolate chip cookies.

Yearning for a chocolate chip cookie that could walk my current dietary path with me (no wheat and no sugars), I decided to use McDowell's recipe as the base for my version.

The good news about her recipe: She uses zero wheat flour, only almond flour (made from finely ground whole nuts). The not-so-good news: her recipe called for a half-cup each of brown and white sugars.

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I've been playing with allulose, an unusual real sugar that's supposed to be keto-friendly, delivering no net sugar calories, yet tasting and baking like sugar.

The brown sugar was a fairly easy exchange. Swerve makes a non-GMO brown sugar replacement made from erythritol, low-calorie sugar alcohol.

One last issue is chocolate chips. The chocolate chips we love are loaded with sugars -- 15 grams per ounce, which is more than half sugar. If I used regular chocolate chips for these cookies, it would total 183 sugar grams.

Lily's brand Dark Chocolate Baking Chips deliver zero sugar, instead using stevia and erythritol. Do any of these taste like the real thing? Nope. If done properly, these substitutions work together to make a decent treat that's less expensive than the store-bought version.

Since I've been working with almond flour as a wheat flour substitute for over two years, I had some in the pantry. My pantry held every ingredient needed for this cookie; no shopping was necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

McDowell made giant cookies, which I wanted to duplicate. Adding almond extract bumped up the almond flavor a touch. I also found that when my cookies were done, they were softer than usual and didn't firm up until totally cooled.

Did my cookies look like the recipe's picture? No, Mcdowell's looked much better than mine since I used whole almond flour.

How did mine taste? The texture is a touch grainy (almonds, you know), but I liked the flavor -- and I loved all the chips. The only downside; erythritol has a surprising cooling effect on my palate. Otherwise, my cookies checked all the boxes.

Give them a try.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at 1leanwizard@gmail.com.

Here are the ingredients needed to make these gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate chip cookies.
Here are the ingredients needed to make these gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate chip cookies. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

Gluten-Free, No-Added-Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

2¾ cups finely ground almond flour (from whole almonds)

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup brown sugar replacement (such as Swerve brand)

¾ cup allulose (a low-calorie natural sugar)

1 large whole egg

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

12 ounces no-sugar, dark chocolate baking chips (such as Lily's)

Place oven racks in the upper and lower third position and begin heating to 350 degrees. Line two half-sheet baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter at medium-high speed for 4 minutes. Stop the mixer, add brown sugar replacement and allulose and mix at medium speed for 4 minutes, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the bowl.

Add the egg and mix on medium speed to combine, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer; scrape the bowl and add vanilla and almond extract; mixing to combine.

Transfer the almond flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 to 45 seconds; stopping the mixer once to scrape down the bowl.

Add the baking chips and gently mix to incorporate. Scoop the dough into 12 3¼-ounce/95-gram mounds; transferring 6 to each of the prepared half-sheet pans. Space well to keep from spreading into each other.

Using your fingers, carefully press the dough down slightly to about 3-inch rounds. Bake, switching racks and rotating the sheet pans halfway through, until they're light brown around the edges and just barely set (still soft) in the center, about 15 minutes. Transfer sheet pans to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Slide the cookies, still on the parchment, to the cooling racks, to cool completely. Cookies will be firm when completely cooled.

Makes 12, 5-inch cookies.

Suggestion: If these cookies look too large, measure out smaller amounts and bake for shorter times, keeping an eye on how they brown.

To boost the brown sugar flavor, add a ½ teaspoon mild molasses to the sugar substitutes. This adds less than 1 calorie per cookie.

Nutrition values per cookie: 345 calories (78% from fat), 30 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 29.4 g carbohydrates (15.8 net carbs), Erythritol 8 g, 1.8 g sugars, 13.4 g fiber, 7.8 g protein, 43 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium.

Adapted by Don Mauer

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