“You made these cookies yourself? They’re so good!” It’s a phrase all bakers love to hear. The simple act of baking cookies is an easy way to spread warmth and joy to just about anyone, and seeing faces light up when you share your delicious homemade creations is surely one of life’s greatest pleasures. Ironically, the only thing that’s not so sweet about homemade cookies is the sugar. It adds a lot of empty calories to traditional baked goods, which frankly isn’t in most of our best interests, whether we’re diabetic or not. When we share our homemade cookies, we want it to be a healthy experience for the body as well as the soul. Fortunately, there are excellent sugar substitutes out there which are very easy to bake with and which make cookies taste just as wonderfully sweet as ever.
When preparing sugar free cookies for diabetics, your first priority is to eliminate as much of the sugar as you can from the recipe. But what to replace it with? One of the best options is sucralose, because it’s heat-stable, meaning it doesn’t lose sweetness when exposed to high baking temperatures. Interestingly, sucralose is made from sugar, but is not metabolized by the body like sugar is, which makes it a good choice in sugar free cookie recipes for diabetics. It’s available at a reasonable price in almost all supermarkets, in both store brands and under the brand label Splenda.
Another great choice is Stevia In The Raw (SITR), a stevia and maltodexterin blend. It has virtually no impact on blood sugar levels, is also heat stable and measures cup-for-cup like sugar, and is widely available. Pure stevia is a bit harder to find in your average grocery store, and is so much sweeter than sugar that it’s impossible to substitute cup-for-cup.
How Sweet It Is
There are a few differences in the ways sugar and non-sugar sweeteners function in cookie recipes, and understanding those differences is the key to your cookies coming out deliciously.
One of the main elements sugar adds to cookie recipes is, of course, sweetness. When you’re baking with sucralose or SITR, less is more, as they tend to be about twice as sweet as sugar. Sugar free cookie recipes for diabetics often contain far less sweetener than their full-sugar equivalents, and this is not a mistake. If you like your cookies extra-sweet, feel free to add a little more; unlike sugar, which changes form when exposed to high heat, sucralose and SITR don’t need to be measured precisely for the finished product to come out well. Their main function in sugar free cookie recipes is to add sweetness, and they have little impact on the rising, spreading, or texture of the finished cookie.
Chew On This
Speaking of texture, this is another area where sugar and non-sugar sweeteners work a little differently. Chewy, crunchy cookies – think traditional chocolate chippers – have the texture they do because of sugar’s ability to caramelize and spread when baked. There are low sugar and sugar free cookie recipes which will yield similar results – take our peanut butter cookie recipe, for example – and typically, the less flour in the recipe, the more chewy and crunchy the cookie will be. Sucralose and SITR lend themselves to soft, puffy, cake-like cookies, such as our pumpkin spice cookies, which are popular with most everyone.
Sugar’s ability to caramelize also plays a major role in the golden brown color which makes cookies look appetizing. It’s easy to achieve the same effect when making sugar free cookie recipes for diabetics by coating your cookies with something which will brown in the oven. One very easy way is to lightly spray your cookies with cooking spray just before placing them in the oven. Another way is to brush them with a little milk or whipped egg white just before you bake them. Egg white, in particular, adds gloss as well as browning.
Love Me Tender
Sugar adds tenderness and moistness to baked goods, which can easily be replicated in sugar free cookie recipes. It helps to start with a recipe which contains plenty of moist ingredients, like no sugar added applesauce, pumpkin, or pureed fruit. Another trick is to add about half a cup of soft tofu to your batter. This will make your sugar free cookies moist and give them better volume, and since tofu has almost no taste, it won’t clash with any other flavors in your cookies.
Cookies made with sugar tend to spread a great deal more than their sugarless counterparts. You can use this to your advantage when making sugar free versions of shaped cookies like thumbprints, or using recipes which call for a cookie cutter – what you put into the oven is going to be basically the same shape and size as what you take out. When you’re making sugar free drop cookies, it’s a good idea to flatten them just a bit with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour before you put them in the oven. This will make them look as though they’ve spread.
Making low sugar and sugar free cookies is easy, fun, and a great way to share the happiness of homemade cookies with almost everyone, no matter their dietary needs or preferences. Check out these excellent low sugar and sugar free cookie recipes; they’re all easy to make, absolutely delicious, and will get your sugar free baking off to a great start.