Afternoon cuppa accompaniment without sugar
April 15, 2016 1:36 PM   Subscribe

My mum is diabetic, and one annoyance for her is the lack of availability and/or cost of diabetic biscuits. I would like to make her some, preferably with a cool shaped Cutter or stamp. What do I need to know? Am I limited to a sugar-cookie like dough?

We were in the US recently and she was amazed to go to a big supermarket and see dozens of varieties, and not priced at multiple times the cost of their regular equivalents. Which got m thinking....

I am aware that stamps/cutters work best with a sugar cookie dough, and I have found diabetic friendly recipes for these, but is this not quite a bland dough? I want to keep things simple and just have the shape or the stamp as decoration (no icing or tinting - I might make something as simple as this) so it would be good to find a recipe that tastes good or has some variations without losing the ability to hold shape. Are there other recipes that have a low rise? Can I use any recipe, generally, and just switch out the sugar for Stevia or something?

I've never baked sweet biscuits before, and I don't want it to end in frustration!
posted by mippy to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Low-carb shortbread. (Note: "Swerve" is erythritol, which it looks like you can find as Truvia or Zero in the UK, and is safe for baking, as are sucralose blends.) Stevia is often very bitter in any serious quantity and I'm not sure it can be heated.

These cream cheese cookies are good, but I've had trouble with them getting soft within a day or two.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:48 PM on April 15, 2016

Bland cookie dough recipe? Never fear! You can do things with basic shortbread and sugar cookie doughs to flavor them and make them more interesting.

Try mixing in one of the following: lemon / orange / lime zest, earl grey tea leaves, matcha powder, cinnamon, ginger, chopped nuts (toasted!), finely chopped dried fruits, and so on. Combinations thereof can be tasty too. For the spices, zest, and teas, try a teaspoon or two, to taste. For the nuts and fruits, maybe up to a half cup. You can use extracts like lemon, vanilla, or almond to enhance the flavors too - I prefer them with the mix-ins.
posted by lizbunny at 1:59 PM on April 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Here's a link to cookie recipes for diabetics.
posted by bearwife at 2:05 PM on April 15, 2016

I highly recommend buying Swerve as the simplest replacement for sugar in baking. Erythritol by itself has a nasty habit of recrystalizing and being gritty in baked goods, as well as being somewhat unpredictable about it. Swerve adds just enough fiber to mitigate the cooling taste effect, and brings it up to 1:1 sweetness with sugar. Erythritol alone is only about 70% as sweet as sugar.

Truvia (original style not baking mixes) is excellent, but the sub for sugar is not 1 to 1, more like 1/3 to 1 and it doesn't solve the gritty texture problem. Stevia bakes just fine, but each brand has quirks and you need to use another sweetener with it or it gets a funky aftertaste. Aspartame does break down in heat, and is not a good choice for baking. Sucralose is great, and perfectly heat resistant, but only the liquid versions are truly low in carbs and the lack of bulk in cookie recipies might be a problem. Xylitol is like Erythritol, but more complicated because it is sweeter than sugar and has an even more pronounced cooling effect.

If you need a substitute for brown sugar, either add some molasses to your preferred sweetener, or try this. Along with the erythritol, is has tagatose, which is wonderful and actually caramelizes in the oven, unlike every other sugar substitute. Honestly, given the price of Swerve on Amazon UK, I'd go with the Sukrin Gold. The Sukrin:1 looks like Truvia, but 1:1 sweetness with sugar not 3:1.

But seriously, sugar free baking is tricky and gets expensive. However, assuming you are using regular flour and not gluten-free stuff, it is reasonably doable. If I were you, I'd bake some regular simple shortbread cookies and maybe a few others to get a feel for baking before trying sugar-free. Here is one from Nigella Lawson, in weights not stupid American volume measurements. Use some vanilla extract (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) instead of a bean. I love her recipies because they tend to work. And once you try it and get it right with sugar, then try it with Swerve. The recipe Lyn Never linked to above is nearly impossible to get right, even if you have all of the right ingredients. I know from bitter and expensive experience.

Having a look at Amazon UK, it would be cheaper and a lot easier to just order a bunch of carefully chosen sugar free biscuits periodically than to try and bake them yourself, especially if you are not already into baking. The Gullon brand is decently priced and gets good reviews. Better ingredients generally than packaged sugar free cookies in the US. A few of them shouldn't kick her blood glucose up too much.
posted by monopas at 4:39 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would be using regular flour. I bake savoury biscuits a lot, but I've never managed to do sweet ones from scratch before. Coincidentally, the recipe I use a lot to bake for my office is a Nigella one! I got this idea because I was looking for cutters for my savoury recipe and saw how many cool cutters are available, and thought it might make something nice I could send to her.

We do have some product samples of sugar substitutes at work, but as I don't take sugar in my drinks, I was unsure whether this was something that just sweetens drinks or can replace sugar entirely - kind of like powdered milk in coffee vs using it for cereal.
posted by mippy at 3:19 AM on April 16, 2016

can't speak to sugar replacements in the UK, but one thing I know from baking for my diabetic mother (often using Xylitol with great success) is that she wants me to list the carb ingredients for her (how much flour, etc) because for her diabetes diet she needs to count / limit units of carbohydrates she eats per day. If your mother does that too be sure to tell her how much flour you used in total, and which sugar replacement and how many carbs it has, and then divide the total carbohydrates you used by the amount of cookies you make which will then tell her how many she cookies she can safely eat per day.
My mother actually often prefers me to use real sugar, and to count the carbs in the sugar, despite the fact this means she gets less cookies to eat per day (eg like 1 instead of 3) as she prefers the taste of real sugar.

In the past I often used Stevia, in form of an unprocessed powder made of the ground up leaves and roots, and replaced the bulk of the sugar with apple sauce. However, Stevia in any form has a very distinct bitter flavour, so now my go to is Xylitol in cristalized form, which works very well for baking but as someone mentioned above it is noticeably sweeter than real sugar so I usually halve the amount of sugar required.
posted by 15L06 at 12:46 PM on April 17, 2016

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