Moonscape Chocolate Cookies (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


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.

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  1. Tiffany says

    Well, for what it's worth, I think they're kinda cute! They totally remind me of the moon. And aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder, no? (I had to embrace that in my pottery class when all of my bowls and cups were lopsided! Lol). And thanks for your comment re: education, etc. … We have a lot in common (my 'expertise' is in higher education…). Happy, happy, happy Friday!

  2. Lindsey says

    I am all about good taste, and it sounds like you nailed it! Kids can be some of the toughest critics, so if you're kids liked them then I'm certain that they were delicious! I also think they photographed quite beautifully… you left me wishing I had one right now! :)

  3. The Mom Chef says

    Dudette would be all over this cookie just because it looks like the moon. I think it's very cool.

    I've a friend who needs gluten-free recipes so I've referred her to your blog because I love the way you experiment with things and seeing what you come up with.

  4. Belinda @zomppa says

    You ARE a scientist! I think they look lovely – and the thin texture is exactly what tempts me about this.

  5. Dulce Dough says

    Thanks for sharing your honest experience! I love that you call them "Moonscape" cookies, and I think they look pretty darn good! I can't tell you how many times I had to accept "alright" when my son was on a gfcf diet. But your blog has so many things that are way better than "alright"!

  6. Sandra says

    Oh those pictures are gorgeous Carolyn! Wowww…I really love it, the recipe and your presentation!

  7. RavieNomNoms says

    Who cares what they look like?! If they taste amazing, I couldn't care less what they look like! hehe

  8. safire says

    These look fantastic! I've never made anything gluten-free before but I definitely want to try..

    have a great weekend!

  9. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says

    If they taste really good, sometimes looks just don't matter:-) I'm glad you liked them even if they aren't perfect… and I would definitely eat them!

  10. MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College says

    Yum…these look perfect for milk or coffee!

    Sometimes the things that aren't the prettiest taste the best :-)

  11. Nami @ Just One Cookbook says

    I am always admire someone like you who try to be innovative. I'm more of cooking traditional food and try until it's perfect. I didn't think I'm traditional but it seems like I am in terms of cooking. You remind me that it's okay to try something new and enjoy the trial and error part of cooking with new ingredients or methods. I really have no clue how to experiement with baking, as you would never know the outcome until you are done with baking, where as cooking, you can kind of taste it while cooking it. Nice Friday post with yummy chocolate cookies. Have a wonderful weekend Carolyn!

  12. Christine's Pantry says

    I think the cookies look great. I love the name "moonscape" cookies. Love it. Job well done.

  13. Jennifer says

    You made me laugh – too funny! Nice name for the cookies though. :) That is a huge amount of erythritol in the cookies. You could have added peppermint and they would have been chocolate mint thins.

  14. Magic of Spice says

    Oh my goodness…aesthetics are not why we eat cookies! Seriously if you were stared down by a group of searing eyes (OK, so they were kids), but really the taste is all we need for indulgence here. And by the way, I think they look pretty good too :)

  15. sara @ CaffeIna says

    If the problem of these cookies is just the appearance, I think you should not worry. I think they are pretty cute looking! The name you gave them make them so interesting that kids would love them and yes…grown ups too!

  16. Cake Duchess says

    That first photo is great! Even though you say they were imperfect, they look nice and chocolatey to me and I'd love one now:)

  17. Roxana GreenGirl says

    I think your cookies look more than alright, they actually look pretty good. I'd love to bite into these chocolate-fudgy cookies while enjoying a glass of cold milk. Mmm

    P.s. loved the interview on Coreen's blog.

  18. Kate@Diethood says

    Oh my yummy goodness! These cookies look awesome! And if they taste great, than they are perfect.
    I really like that they are so thin.

  19. Kari says

    This post just goes to show what selective photography and lighting can do – your first few photos looked amazing, and I was thinking "what does she mean they don't look good?"!

    I actually think your 'bad' photo looks fine too, but I guess there are always some odd looking cookies / muffins / pancakes when you bake (or at least when I bake…). Taste wins out though, so it sounds like these were a success in that sense at least :)

  20. The Harried Cook says

    The cookies have the perfect name. And even though they aren't the prettiest cookies out there, you have done a fabulous job of photographing them! And they sound absolutely delicious! Especially if they have been child-approved! That's a review you can trust :) Thank you for sharing!

  21. Pretend Chef says

    These cookies look delicious and the fact that you called them moonscape cookies made me giddy to see what they were all about. If they taste good then I am not picky about what they look like. Yummy!

  22. says

    I love how these cookies look. Your blog is really inspiring, I like your inventive gluten-free recipes :)

  23. All That's Left Are The Crumbs says

    Taste definitely wins over looks. They look like yummy chocolate cookies to me. I really should experiment more with my baking. Most of the time I add my own little twists to a recipe but I would like to loosen up a bit more and just throw caution to the wind.

  24. briarrose says

    Excellent title for these cookies. It all comes down to taste in the end and it sounds like these delivered in that department. :) I do enjoy your experimentation.

  25. Anonymous says

    The cookies look good to me too and I'd love one (or two) right now for sure!!

    Wonder if they were baked in mini muffin tins what the result might be — to kind of control the spread, perhaps?

    Thank you for all your cooking and experimenting your do. I love reading your blog.

  26. blackbookkitchendiaries says

    your creations are always a hit! you are so talented and these cookies look really divine!! thank you for sharing this.

  27. marla says

    Love that you named these moonscape cookies – think about how much little kids would love 'em for space themed parties. They sound great! xo

  28. Megan @ Pip and Ebby says

    Eh, who needs pretty? These sound totally delicious and that's all that matters!! Yum! Thanks for sharing..

  29. Correen says

    I think these would be perfect "dunking" cookies for milk, tea, coffee or hot chocolate and a biggy for the kids…smoosh two between a huge scoop of ice cream for a crispy ice cream sandwich. Mmm!

  30. Becky says

    Some of my cookies don't turn out perfect, either. As long as they taste soo good, who cares what they look like somtimes, except Blogger.

  31. Juanita says

    I'm a great fan of: "It doesn't have to look pretty to taste good!" In fact, the lunar crater look is quite fetching!

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