I do a lot of experimenting on this blog. Some of it is by choice, a desire to be innovative in my cooking and baking. But much of it is by necessity, because I am often trying to recreate goodies with low carb and gluten free ingredients. I would say that a lot of the time I am fairly successful, sometimes moreso than I expected. Occasionally, I have outright failures, things I wouldn’t feed a dog, let alone a fellow human being. And then there are those in the middle, the items that turned out alright but not perfect. Often it’s a matter of just tweaking a few things to make them better, but sometimes it’s just the nature of the ingredients I am working with, and I have to accept “alright” as the best I am going to get.
In this case, the imperfections of this recipe cannot be helped. It’s the nature of the ingredients. And really, the imperfections here are mostly aesthetic. Tastewise, these cookies are pretty darn good. My kids loved them, and I mean loved with a capital L. I even got dirty looks from three pairs of child-sized eyes when I confessed to eating the last one. But looks-wise, these cookies leave something to be desired. I am calling them Moonscape Cookies, because to my eyes, that’s what they resemble most. A slightly greyish, cratered moonscape. Which, let’s be honest here, is not exactly how one wants to describe what is meant to be a fudgy, chocolatey cookie!
These cookies are my attempt at a low carb version of the Flourless Chocolate Cookies I found on Keep It Sweet (originally from RecipeGirl). Take a little gander at Lauren’s cookies so you can see how they are meant to look. And when I was stirring up the batter, it seemed so right, all glossy and shiny, just like hers. And it tasted divine! I did find that I had to use 5 whole egg whites to get the same consistency, despite cutting back on the powdered sweetener (erythritol, in this case) and cocoa powder. But I had high hopes, as I plopped it on the baking sheets and put it in the oven.
It wasn’t long before I knew they wouldn’t turn out the same. Instead of getting shiny and cracked, my cookies suddenly turned dull in colour and puffed up enormously. Then they stopped being dull and went shiny, but stayed puffy in the oven. When I finally took them out of the oven, they went dull and greyish again, and deflated to wafer-thin proportions. Even as I was watching them morph through their various phases, I understood what was happening. The scientist in me realized that the erythritol, which is non-hygroscopic (meaning it doesn’t attract and bind to moisture) was crystallizing out of the cookie. I don’t normally have this problem in my baked goods, because I usually use erythritol in smaller proportions and I use nut flours and other ingredients that counteract these effects.
As any good foodblogger would, I took pictures of the prettiest of the lot, in an attempt to show you that despite their issues, they are quite appetizing. But in the interest of full disclosure, I am also going to share a picture of the weirdest cookies of the lot, the ones with all of the funny erythritol crystals on top.
You can actually feel the crystals when you bite into the cookie. It doesn’t really affect the taste, which is still quite chocolatey and fudgy, but it doesn’t make them the prettiest cookies I’ve ever made. I won’t be winning any blue ribbons at the county fair for these. But if you are a diabetic or other low carber jonesing for an intensely chocolatey cookie, I doubt you will mind the slightly odd appearance and texture. And maybe, like my kids, you will think it rather fun to bite into something that resembles the big piece of rock that orbits the Earth but tastes like chocolate.
If you don’t need to be low carb, may I refer you to the original recipe from Recipe Girl?
Moonscape Chocolate Cookies
2 cups powdered erythritol
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (can sub cornstarch)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
5 egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup high % cacao chocolate chips (or chopped low carb chocolate bar)
Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together erythritol, cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, xanthan gum and salt. Beat in egg whites and vanilla until batter is thick and shiny. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop batter by tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until puffy and set. Remove from oven and let cool on pan, then gently peel away parchment.
Makes 18 cookies. The total carb count will vary depending on the sort of chocolate you use. Mine came out to 3g of net carbs per cookie.