Sugar cookies are an excellent dessert to bring to any gathering or cookout. They’re fun to cut into various shapes and decorate with icing and sprinkles.
Not everyone wants to indulge in sugar cookies that are just so … sugary! Luckily, there are a number of ways you can cut the sugar out of these delicious cookies, without losing their sweetness.
Keep these tips in mind when making your sugar-free or low-sugar sugar cookies.
Strategically reduce the sugar
For some cookies, simply using less sugar is enough to reduce your sugar intake in a hassle-free recipe modification. PJ Hamel of King Arthur Flour decided to run some experiments along this theme. She took eight different cookie and bar recipes and made four batches of each: the first with full sugar, and decreasing the amount with every subsequent batch.
First off, props to Hamel for baking 32 batches of desserts in the name of science (and sweets)!
Reduce the amount of sugar and still keep that sweet taste. Using one-quarter as much sugar by weight as flour results in a delicious low-sugar cookie.
In the end, she settled on a few tricks to keep the flavor and texture of a reduced-sugar sweet fairly true to the original recipe. For example, rolling the cookies in sugar before baking them won’t use as much as if you had used the full recipe amount, but makes the cookie taste sweeter when reducing the amount of sugar.
Also, chilling the dough for at least a half hour before baking encourages greater caramelization of the sugar, lending to a sweeter cookie. It also helps the dough spread further during baking, making the texture and appearance more similar to that of a full-sugar cookie.
For true cut-out sugar cookies, Hamel found that using a baker’s percentage of 25 percent doesn’t alter the flavor or texture too much, especially if you chill the dough before baking. Baker’s percentages are based off the weight of the flour used in the recipe. In this case, the sugar weighs one-quarter of the amount of flour. So, if your recipe calls for 8 ounces of flour, you should use 2 ounces of sugar.
Use a sugar substitute
In many cases, a sugar substitute can be used instead of or in addition to sugar. However, the American Diabetes Association pointed out that many low-calorie artificial sweeteners taste much more intense than plain sugar. It’s important to know how to substitute properly so your cookies don’t turn out overly sweet.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested and approved six sweeteners for consumer use:
- Acesulfame potassium.
Additionally, it determined Stevia as “generally recognized as safe” in food.
According to Epicurious, not all of these are great for baking. Saccharin and aspartame are best left out of your cookie recipes.
Here’s an excellent Stevia recipe to try out:
First, cream Truvia Baking Blend and butter. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Then, add flour, baking soda and salt.
Chill for a half-hour, then roll out and cut with a cookie cutter. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes. When cooled, decorate as you wish!