Every year, I make mince cookies for Christmas. Everyone loves them, especially my family and coworkers. I want to keep the tradition this year. I was tempted to just make the suckers as usual, but over the last 12 months, many of my coworkers have either gone more lowcarb/paleo or have been diagnosed as diabetic and so really should be going lowcarb. And my mother is now paleo. So what I would like to try to do is hack the cookie recipe into something more lowcarb/paleo friendly. Any advice? I am short on brain power when it comes to baking so I just don't know how to make conversions. I suspect I could use splenda instead of sugar but I am not sure if the amounts would be the same and splenda seems to work better in some situations than in others. And I am rather clueless about what to do about the flour.
I couldn't find any lowcarb mince cookie recipies on the net either. Anyone have any advice? I'd prefer not to end up making 5 or 6 diff batches of these things, only to have all of them taste bad anyway. Here is the regular ingredient listing for these cookies. 1 cup shortening, 1.5 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 3 cups unsifted flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 9 ounce package mincemeat. The mince meat already has brown sugar and raisins, but the mince is essential to the overall flavor. So I am thinking what I would like to substitute out would be the flour and sugar. I am willing to go less paleo if it's still lowcarb and at least not super unhealthy. I only make these things once per year. I would like everyone to be able to enjoy them even if they are not on a diet, but still have them such that they are not super unhealthy, especially for the diabetics.
I think almond flour would be a more compatible flavor with mincemeat than coconut.
Also as a former professional baker and hacker of standard recipes to more "natural" versions, I would try Sucanat instead of sugar. But since even "natural" sugar isn't paleo- or diabetic-friendly, you might try the Splenda--the baking version measures like sugar. I've also been using erythritol, which I've heard works OK in baking though it is less sweet. It's hard to find--if you don't mind giving money to Cargill, Truvia is an erythritol/stevia blend. It's OK. (As a sugar addict, I'd rather use some low-carb sweeteners than end up bingeing on sugar. Though frankly they all taste like %$#@ to me.)
Maple syrup might work flavorwise, except the recipe has no liquid to reduce, unless you tweak the amount of eggs. It was suggested to up the eggs for binding, but cookies don't necessarily need a lot of gluten for binding (you usually want a tender texture--shortbread is often made with a great deal of rice flour, which is gluten free).
Is this a chewy or a more "sandy" cookie? Agree with subbing butter for the shortening. Finally, since going paleo, I like things less sweet than I used to, so you might be able to get away with less sugar or sweetener. On the other hand, sugar affects the texture and the browning... I guess it depends on what's most important to you to retain--flavor, texture, browness, sweetness. Argh. I guess that's why most folks here would say "paleo baking" is a contradiction in terms.
If you're an 80/20 kind of person, I'd change the flour and not change the sweetener too much--it is a cookie after all! Does that help or make you more confused?
For more help, low-carb blogger Dana Carpender recently did a series on decarbing recipes. Here's the one on baking: http://holdthetoast.com/content/de-carbing-strategy-2-part-3-part-4 And one on sweeteners: http://holdthetoast.com/content/de-carbing-strategy-2-part-1 Some of her recipes use whey protein as a flour substitute in combo with nut flour--this works pretty well too and is worth trying if you keep it around. (I can get it in bulk at the health food store.)
Coconut flour is one hack with which I have had reasonable success-beware that it sucks up liquid like the dickens and lacks gluten for binding, so up your egg ratio and use about .25 as much coconut flour as you would regular: eg .25 c coconut flour for 1 c flour. Swap butter or coconut oil for the shortening and stevia for the sweetener in the batter.
Splenda, the packaged product, has the advantage of being a 1:1 substitute for sugar. Personally, I think it's less bad than the other sugar substitutes.
If you want to use stevia you have to do a more complicated conversion.
The leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant are the source of the sweetner called Stevia. The plant is most commonly found in two forms: fiber powder and liquid. The sugar to Stevia ratio is one-quarter teaspoon, or two to three drops of liquid, for every teaspoon of sugar being replaced. In high quantities, Stevia can have a bitter aftertaste.
I just saw this recipe for Paleo mini mince pies on the Paleo hashtag on Twitter: http://crossfittameside.com/2010/11/23/paleo-recipe-mince-pies/ I know that it's for pie and not cookies, but at the least you can make the mince from scratch instead of buying it pre-sweetened. Searches on variations of "chewy paleo cookies" or similar should give you ideas on the dough.
I would probably just go with the sugar from the mincemeat if you are going to use the packaged stuff.
I like Xylitol if I am going to use something other then sugar, the replacement is pretty 1 to 1 (it might be slightly sweeter) and it can be used for baking. It also doesn't have an aftertaste for me which is a huge problem with other substitutes. (I also have the cilantro=soap problem).
I use pecan meal instead of almond because it is available and fresh here, but that or walnuts would play nicely off the fruit flavors.
I would probably use lard instead of butter in this recipe to get fluffier cookies. Lard is a more direct sub for vegetable shorting because of the similar melting points, because vegetable shorting was designed to be a healthy (and cheaper) replacement for lard.
If you have time look at Alton Brown's "Three Chips for Sister Sarah" in one episode he hacks the same cookie recipe several ways and shows and explains the differences.
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