You can’t spell “A Year of No Sugar” without “cookie”… at least as far as I’m concerned. So a few days ago I decided to shoot for the moon: I printed out a copy of “the real, the original, the authentic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe,” and immediately began to dismantle it for my own selfish purposes.
This was by far my most ambitious recipe tampering to date. Not one, not two, but in fact three major ingredients would have to go (white sugar, brown sugar, and chocolate chips), replaced by something that, ideally, would resemble them in taste, texture, and bake-ability. (When you start messing with established recipes, you get to make up cool kitchen science-y words like “bake-ability.” Also, you get to wear a shrewd, “I’m thinking about complex food algorithms right now” facial expression with your white apron.)
Since I’d already established with my apricot bars that mashed banana made a very passable sugar substitute, I figured it would do for the ¾ cup of white sugar called for; that still left the ¾ cup of brown sugar, which after some deliberation I decided in my no-sugar universe we would call “chopped up dates.” Lastly I replaced the chocolate chips with one of my new favorite health food store finds: carob chips.
You know what? They were good. I mean, not “the-best-cookie-you-ever-ate” good, but good enough that every kid I gave them to said “yummy” and ate the whole thing. (I feel kids are the most dependable taste testers because they’re the ones who have no qualms about spitting a cookie out on your linoleum, whether it hurts your feelings or not.)
Inspired by my lack of spit-out cookies, my husband Steve decided we needed to have a no-sugar peanut butter cookie as well, but he decided to make them gluten-free also, in part because our friend Katrina is gluten-free and she was coming over that night. He followed a recipe we had and used mashed banana in place of the sugar and rice flour in place of the all-purpose. The first batch was good-ish… kind of like a peanut butter flavored biscuit. I didn’t care for them especially at first, but over time I started really liking their mild, sweet cake-i-ness (see? More new words and food algorithms.)
Then Steve upped the ante. Yesterday he tried a new batch with less rice flour, shorter baking time, increased peanut butter and the addition of ground peanuts as well. He also put in a truly obscene number of bananas. The result is really quite impressive- soft and mildly sweet and very peanut buttery; more cook-y less cake-y.
It was really nice to be able to put a cookie in each of our kid’s lunches this morning; like so many times in the past when I’ve sent sugar desserts, I felt like I was sending them a little edible love note. Isn’t it funny how we can so easily translate giving them a little treat- a little something sweet- as love?
Eve’s Bizarro-Chip Cookies
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks, ½ pound) butter, softened
¾ cup mashed bananas
¾ cup chopped dates (lightly dust with four before chopping, so they don’t stick as much)
1 tsp vanilla extract (make sure no added sugar)
2 cups (12 ounce package) carob chips
1 cup chopped nuts
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine four, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, banana and dates in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in carob chips and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.
Steve’s Gluten-Free, No-Sugar Peanut Butter Amazings
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups peanuts, chopped
2 large eggs
2 ½ tsp vanilla
6 large ripe bananas
2 sticks butter, softened
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups rice flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix butter and bananas in mixer for three minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and mix. Add peanut butter slowly. Add rice flour and mix. Last, add two cups chopped peanuts and mix.
Roll golf-ball sized balls of dough in your palms, place on cookie sheet and then make fork indentations criss-cross to flatten: they should be ¼ to ½ inch thick. Bake for nine minutes- no longer!!! They will dry out if over-baked. Cool completely before tasting (they are sweeter after cooling.)