Holiday Baking #2: Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cookies


My favorite part of making peanut butter cookies…the forking! 😉

     I’ve been extremely busy this past month cooking and baking for everyone else (sometimes myself) and I haven’t posted as much as I wanted to.  I figured I should spend my down time to reflect on everything before the New Year approaches.  This year has flown by for me, the up’s and down’s and everything in between have all happened in a bit of a blur.  Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen, I guess.  
     I’d like to think time passing quickly is a sign of productivity.  Many things have happened in the past year that I’m quite proud of.  One of which led me to creating a satisfying sugar-free cookie that no one has turned down.  
     I often say that my baking recipes are “sugar-free”, but they will still contain sugars in the form of natural, minimally processed sweeteners (maple syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, dates…).  These peanut butter cookies are the closest things to “sugar-free” that I’ve ever made successfully.  I don’t mind baking with stevia sometimes, but I’ve never used it or any other sugar-free sweetener for a large batch of something for other people.  This year, I mustered up the courage to try a different type of natural sweetener that I’ve had my eye on for a while now: monkfruit.  

     I received some sample products from Natvia Sweeteners to try not too long ago.  I was immediately excited because I’ve always wanted to try sugar-free baking and never delved too deeply into it to see successful results.  I have a bit more experience baking with stevia, so I’m saving that for a later dexay…   However, I’ve always admired monkfruit extract from afar but never actually used it.  I wasn’t sure what brands to buy or how much to use…so, I procrastinated.  Once I received the Norbu samples, I knew my time had come!  

     I used an old recipe from my favorite Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (where I get most of my recipes for baking) for the cookies.  I veganized and de-glutenized the recipe, as per usual, but I also swapped out the entire 1 (!) cup of sugar/brown sugar that they called for and replaced it with a combination of coconut sugar and Norbu monkfruit sweetener.  This proved to be a winning combination of flavor and mellow sweetness for this cookie recipe.  Peanut butter cookies are usually rich in flavor and slightly salty (I use salted peanut butter because I love it; this is definitely not needed, though if you are watching your salt).  I never could appreciate a peanut butter cookie that was too sweet.  To me, peanut butter is something I want to actually taste if I’m baking with it.  Too much sugar can ruin the earthy quality of the peanuts and also create a dry mouth, which is never pleasant!  

     So, I scaled back on the sugar for this recipe, added in some applesauce for softness, and recreated a family Christmas favorite for all to enjoy!  (I hope you will too!)

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Yield: approx. 30 cookies

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I used creamy)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tb flax meal + 6 Tb water
  • generous pinch of salt (more if using unsalted peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 Tb Norbu monkfruit sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tb nutritional yeast (opt.)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer powder + 3 tsp water
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free AP flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

Oven 375 F.

  1. With a hand/stand mixer (using the paddle if you have one), cream the peanut butter, melted coconut oil, applesauce, coconut sugar, and monkfruit sweetener together until combined, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, flax meal (and water), Ener-G powder (and water) and beat again until combined, about a minute.  Let the mixture sit for a couple minutes to firm up.
  3. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the mixer and beat on low until the dry ingredients are incorporated and there are minimal or no lumps remaining.  
  4. Once the dough is finished, take teaspoon-sized amounts and roll them into balls with your hands.  I rolled them entirely in coconut sugar, much like I would a snickerdoodle.  However, you can also sprinkle sugar just on the top if you wish (or omit the extra sugar if you choose!).  
  5. Take a fork and press down on each dough ball, creating a criss-cross design (if you’re into that).  😉
  6. Bake at 375 F for about 10-12 minutes, or until each cookie puffs up and is golden.  The coconut sugar will caramelize and create a lovely crust on the cookie that I hope you will enjoy (if you use it!)

Happy Holidays and Happy Baking, everyone!  Please check back soon for more festive recipes!

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