I have a sweet tooth; I loathe sugar. I like the taste of a sweet dessert at the end of a meal or a cookie with a cup of coffee or tea. At the same time, my head is complaining that sweets are not good for my body. You have to take a stand against sugar these days considering all the talks and public health concerns about sugar consumption.
Part of my solution is to bake everything from scratch, quick breads and all manner of desserts, which gives me the freedom to substitute table sugar with something more healthful. My pantry is filled with all sorts of natural sugar alternatives: from organic cane sugar, palm sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, dates to apple sauce. I have used them all in my baking. Thank goodness, there are suitable sugar substitutes out there and they work.
The latest one I’ve found is this cookie recipe from Heidi Swanson. Not only that it uses ripe banana as a sugar substitute and a binding agent, my first using banana in this capacity, there is more. There is no sugar, no butter, no eggs and these cookies are gluten free. I’m truly impressed that you can make these cookies and eat them too. Wow!
The recipe can be found in Swanson’s blog Cookbook 101. These are double chocolate cookies, using both cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips. The taste of chocolate is clearly front and center. You really don’t need much for the cookies to taste great. Use the best ingredients you can find, the cookies would come together magically and they are healthy to eat. I use Valrhona 100% cacao powder and 71% dark chocolate.
I made one third of the recipe, see the cheat sheet below for details. Experimenting with a smaller recipe allows me to try my hands on different flours and nuts. I’ve baked these cookies several times. I used oat flour and a combination of almond meal and oat flour instead of rolled oats in Swanson’s original recipe. Experimented with pecan and pistachio instead of sunflower seeds. I made these changes so that the cookies take on the look and feel of cookies rather than cereal bars.
This is my takeaway: I would put in more nuts next time to give the cookies more crunch, if nut allergy is not an issue for you. I tried sprinkling some coconut sugar on top of the cookies for crispiness. I couldn’t tell the difference, texture wise. I’d rely on adding more nuts, maybe doubling the recipe amount. Almonds, pecan and walnuts are all good choices. I’ve found this recipe to be very user friendly. Play around with whatever healthful flours and nuts you have on hand. Chickpea, rye and buckwheat flour have less gluten and high in protein. This recipe changes the way I bake cookies. These healthful double chocolate cookies have the undeniable advantage of being delicious, rich, satisfying and guilt-free. I can love them wholeheartedly — without loathing sugar.
Happy Valentine’s day!