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chocolate peanut butter cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies are a cross between a chocolate brownie and a peanut butter cookie. Soft, sweet, and very chocolatey, these are quick to make and sugar-free. Perfect for a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle, but adaptable for sugar-inclusive diets.chocolate and peanut butter cookies

Before I get to the recipe I lay out what are the best sugar substitutes to use in baking, and my opinion on their taste and uses. If you fancy just heading straight to the recipe do scroll on down. Or hit the Jump To Recipe button at the top. And be assured that you DON’T need to use these sugars to make this recipe. I’ve sorted it for both sugar and no-carb sweeteners. Let me know in the comments which way you will be making these delicious, brownie-like cookies!

low carb chocolate and peanut butter cookies

an earlier iteration, scored as for traditional peanut butter cookies

My journey to pain-free eating

Last week I shared with you my personal dietary discovery: I do better with a lower carbohydrate diet. Quite low. My joints and gut have never been so untroubled as they are without starchy and sugary carbohydrates. But this is personal to me, and not something I would blanket-recommend. Diets are very personal. Going outside of the typical government-touted dietary guidelines should be done with help from a registered dietitian, or other trusted and qualified nutrition and dietetic practitioner.

That being said, you are your best judge of how you feel. Trying out different ways of eating may reveal quite a lot. I am a case in point. For years I have shoved in a prodigious amount of beans and legumes; and lesser amounts of pasta, rice and potatoes. Reader, I suffered. The more I ate the more pain I felt; the warmer my joints; the more troubled my gut.

Most whole food starchy carbohydrates are exceptionally good for the majority of us. They provide a variety of fibre and other nutrients that have a positive impact on health states. But if you can’t digest them you don’t benefit from them. That’s me. Even sprouting the blighters gave no respite. I have learned to just have a taste of hummus, a small slice of bread, a few tablespoons of wholemeal couscous. To be honest, most days I have none of these, relying on a wide variety of vegetables, berries, seeds and nuts for a good amount of fibre. My gut and joints thank me every day that I shrugged off my “exemplary” diet. 🙂 Diet really is very personal.

keto chocolate peanut butter cookiesCool science stuff

In fact, the first phase report from the PREDICT-1 study found that, even amongst twins, responses to diet can be very different. This Kings College London-Massachusetts General study looked at literally millions of data points. Among other things, the researchers noted “wide variation in individual insulin, blood sugar and blood fat responses to the same meals, even for identical twins. For example, one twin might have healthy responses to eating carbohydrates but not fat, while the other twin is the opposite.” Do go have a read of the paper. It’s pretty fascinating.

Sweet and Low {Carb}

If you are interested in having less sugar in your diet, there are now low-carb, safe options. Gone are the days when sugar substitutes were dodgy at best. And even forget about Splenda and the like. It’s all change.

So, a no or low sugar way of eating doesn’t have to mean just nibbling on berries (these are low in sugar) to satisfy the natural human craving for at least the occasional sweet treat. Nope, we have four sources of quite acceptable low carb sweetness, all having their own properties and plus and minus points. And the minus points are not related to health. These sweeteners, non-nutritive for the most part, are all apparently safe at the modest levels we should have of any sweet thing. The most that might happen if you over-eat a no-sugar dessert or batch of cookies is that you might go to the loo a bit more, or perhaps have some temporary cramping. Consumed as part of a balanced diet you should not experience any issues.

low carb sweeteners4 Safe Sugar Substitutes

1 & 2. Erythritol and Xylitol – probably my favourite sugar sub, these naturally derived sweeteners are sugar alcohols (polyols). Usually extracted from sugar, they are well studied for safety, and even cited by diabetic associations as useful and safe. Xylitol is less used in home baking since erythritol tends to work and taste better.

Taste and Effects

The chemical structure of sugar alcohols hits the sweet receptors on your tongue, but has little impact on the body beyond taste.

Although this credible sugar sub is indeed sweet, it’s not too sweet. Erythritol is about 70 per cent as sweet as sugar, so you need more to do a swap. Xylitol is about 1:1 in taste with sugar, but has more calories than erythritol (I’m not bothered by calories though).

All sugar alcohols are slowly and incompletely absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream. Whatever we absorb is converted into energy by processes that require little or no insulin. So, no insulin spikes. And low risk of the typical carb cravings we can get after ingestion of sugary treats. That’s good news for those of us who can’t resist eating a whole bag of sweeties rather than being happy with a portioned amount. Also, polyols may help with IBS symptoms, although for some it may make them worse. I’ve found them to be okay for me in modest amounts.

They also add bulk and texture – crucial for most sweeter baking projects. One downside is that both erythritol and xylitol have a noticeable cooling sensation, which some people find annoying. Xylitol more so: it’s mainly used in toothpaste and gum. Not only does it amplify minty toothpastes, both alcohol sugars neutralise harmful mouth bacteria. You will likely find erythritol blended with the next sweetener on the list.

chocolate cookies with peanuts on top

browning isn’t an issue when you are using chocolate and cocoa!

How is it in baking? Sugar helps with structure, browning and moisture. Sugar alcohol blends are the closest to sugar in application, but is not perfect. Experiment with it to see for yourself. And use my recipes as they are published so you get an idea of how the baked result should look. Be sure to try this one, my Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies!

I use NKD Living, Sukrin, Truvia, Natvia and Swerve. Swerve does a lovely brown sugar substitute (not currently on Amazon UK), although Sukrin Gold is pretty good, too. Overall, Swerve has the best taste, but is more expensive.

***Xylitol and Dogs – Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, causing seizures, liver failure and even death. This can be even with quite small amounts. Do not keep any xylitol-containing foods or gum anywhere near where dogs can reach. Probably best not using it at all if you have a curious or greedy dog. Cats seem to not have the same drastic reaction. Read more here.***

3. Stevia – more well-known than erythritol and xylitol, this sweetener is very, very sweet. About 250 times as sweet as sucrose (table sugar), it is an extract from the stevia rebaudiana (“candy leaf”) plant, rather than the plant itself. As for applications, it’s not great for baking unless combined with other sugar subs, or cut with actual sucrose. Various brands have differing formulas, not all of which are low-carb or diabetic-friendly. So do read labels before buying. I find it’s best on its own in drinks and non-baked sweets, like power balls – just the tiniest dab. Get organic if you can. You can find it in powders and drops. It will taste very bitter if you have too much. Always start with the tiniest amount and cautiously add more to taste.

I use Sweetleaf powder and drops. I try and get organic when available.

4. Monk fruit – less popular but still useful, this is derived from an actual fruit – luo han guo. Used for centuries to treat various illnesses, including diabetes, this south east Asian gourd fruit is a bit different to the others here. The sweetness is an extract from one of the antioxidants in the fruit. I doubt that any antioxidant properties remain though. Monk fruit extract is 200 times as sweet as sucrose, and is heat stable, so it’s suitable for cooking and baking, although its really best in liquids. It is almost always in combination with other sweeteners.

I sometimes use Lakanto brand, which is a proprietary blend of monk fruit and erythritol. It’s pretty nice stuff!

This is just a quick run through. Find out more by reading these links:

Baking and cooking with sugar substitutes – covers all of the above (diabetesselfmanagement.com)

Sugar alcohols and stevia (both on diabetes.co.uk)

Why is everyone going mad for monk fruit? (healthline.com)

The ultimate guide to low-carb sweeteners (ditchthecarbs.com)

Bottom line: erythritol and blends based on it (check labels) are best for baking and have the most sugar-like taste. I use it almost exclusively.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies – what you need

Now that you have waded through all of the above, let’s get down to business and make a batch of these absolutely more-ish chocolate peanut butter cookies! Grab a baking tray, a bowl and all of the ingredients so you can start doing your own taste test! I’ve included product links below the list. Buying from my Amazon UK affiliate links cost you nothing extra but does help defray the cost of running Food To Glow. Ad-free! Thanks so much for your purchases. 🙂

  • Erythritol granular sweetener – as a blend or as is (I use Natvia, Truvia, NKD Living and Swerve – not at once!)
  • Erythritol brown sugar substitute – as above but brown! There is a taste difference, but feel free to use all of the plain erythritol. It can get pricey buying all of these things at once.
  • No sugar added chocolate or 90% dark chocolate – I use Plamil no-sugar catering chocolate (with xylitol). Lily’s in the US is supposed to be amazing. This brand uses erythritol.
  • Drippy peanut butter – I use Pip & Nut brand. It is fabulous stuff. If you can’t get drippy stuff, use tahini instead.
  • Almond flour – I try and purchase Sukrin brand (they make erythritol sweeteners too) as it is the finest I can get. Otherwise I get NKD Living but it is not quite as fine. If you can only get ground almonds, do pulse it a few times in a blender to break it down further.
  • Cocoa powder
  • An egg
  • Plant or dairy milk
  • Baking powder
  • Salted peanuts for the top

    chocolate peanut butter cookies low carb

    don’t you just want to reach in and grab one?

AMAZON UK PRODUCT LIST

A variety of sugar subs are listed so you can see different price points. I also include “my” almond flour, cocoa and chocolate.

Sukrin Gold All Natural Stevia Sweetener Brown Sugar Alternative 500 g

Swerve Sweetener, Granular, 12 Ounce

NKD Living Erythritol and Stevia – Natural Sugar Alternative – 1:1 Zero Calorie Sugar Replacement – 750g

Powdered Erythritol by NKD Living – Zero Calorie Icing Sugar 1kg (2.2 lb) (I actually used it for this recipe as it was what I had nearby (see image). I use this for icings and when the granularity might affect the texture)

Sukrin Sweetener Variety Pack – Gold, Sukrin:1, Icing – this might be a good starter pack

Truvia Sweetener 270 g (Pack of 2) – but it is probably cheaper at the supermarket

Natvia 100 % Natural Sweetener Canister 300g (Pack of 4) – as a bulk purchase it seems cheaper than the supermarket

Almond Flour by NKD Living (500g) Finely Ground Almonds from Spain

Callebaut cocoa powder – 1kg bag – not organic, but is the best stuff I have used

Plamil No Added Sugar Chocolate 1000g – this is good stuff and what I use all the time for work and home. It is vegan, too.

Lindt Excellence Intense Dark 90% Cacao Chocolate Bar Each 100 g (Pack of 5) – I sometimes use this instead of the Plamil. I nibble it too!

**If you are looking for some other lower sugar (but not necessarily low carb) cookie recipes, try one of these:

Espresso Peanut Butter and Oat Cookies

Spanish Cocoa and Olive Oil Cookies

Cardamom and Quinoa Crunch Cookies

I hope that you found this little sugar substitute primer useful. I promise to write a research-filled post on the ins and outs of both low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets very soon. In the meantime, enjoy making and eating these low-carb, keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies. Even if you make them with real sugar they will still have less impact on blood glucose than standard cookies. Let me know in the comments and over on Instagram (tagging @food_to_glow) if you make them, would you? 

chocolate cookies and milk

peanut butter chocolate cookies keto
5 from 5 votes
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies - Low Carb

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies are a cross between a chocolate brownie and a peanut butter cookie. Soft and rich, these are quick to make and sugar-free. Perfect for a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle, but adaptable for sugar-inclusive diets.

Course Baking, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, cookies, gluten free, keto, low-carb
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 16 cookies
Calories 105 kcal
Author kellie anderson

Ingredients

  • 100 g no sugar dark chocolate no-sugar or 90% cocoa
  • 1 organic egg medium
  • 70 g brown sugar substitute erythritol blend or brown sugar
  • 50 g erythritol-stevia blend Lakanto or granulated sugar
  • 100 g fine almond flour
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 80 g peanut butter drippy consistency; or tahini
  • 2-3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk or cow's milk
  • salted peanuts optional, for top

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C fan/350F. Line a large baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper.

  2. Chop the chocolate then melt over a pan of hot water, in a bain-marie or microwave.

  3. Whisk the egg in a mixing bowl until fluffy then add the sugars, whisking until thickened and lighter in colour - about two-three minutes. Whisk in the melted chocolate and the peanut butter. I use a sturdy hand whisk, but you can use electric beaters.

  4. In a separate bowl, dry-whisk the dry ingredients to distribute, then fold this into the wet mixture. It will be stiff. Loosen a bit with 2-3 tablespoons of milk, warmed if possible (this helps with mixing). It will still be stiff. You are wanting a scoopable mixture.

  5. Working quickly before the dough really stiffens up, scoop the dough into 12-16 cookies, and flatten onto the lined tray to "cookie depth". They will spread and puff a bit, but not too much. Chop optional peanuts then lightly press onto the dough. Place in the preheated oven - on the centre shelf - and bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool before lifting from the tray to cool on a baking rack.

Recipe Notes

Make with sugar Although these chocolate peanut butter cookies are written for low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets, there is the option to use regular sugar on a 1:1 swap. Some people can really taste the sugar substitutes. If this is you, these cookies will still be lower in carbohydrates than most cookie recipes, owing to using almonds instead of flour, and less sugar when swapped.

 

This recipe is made to use 1:1 granular sugar replacements. Using just stevia will not work, nor will straight erythritol. There are suitable brands available online and in larger supermarkets. UK-available brands include Truvia, Natvia, Sukrin, Nkd Living. An online brand to look for is Swerve (my favourite for brown sugar sub). 

 

No-sugar chocolate is available online. I use the catering packs of Plamil no-added sugar dark chocolate drops (the smallest one is 1.5 kg). It is sweetened with xylitol and is good. In the US, the much-lauded Lily's brand is the one to go for. I've not tried it, but everyone says that it is awesome. They use a blend of stevia and erythritol. You may also use 90-100% chocolate, upping the sugar subs or sugar to your taste buds.

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies - Low Carb
Amount Per Serving
Calories 105 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 10mg3%
Sodium 30mg1%
Potassium 77mg2%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 15IU0%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies – a low-carb recipe + 4 delicious sugar substitutes

  1. Ann says:

    An interesting read and must make recipe!

  2. jacquie says:

    thanks for such a great post about sugar substitutes. I’m going more and more low carb myself for just the reasons you mentioned with regards to decreasing inflammation. However, i did want to just mention that while xylitol while safe for humans is extremely dangerous and potentially fatal for dogs. (if you mentioned that I missed it and I apologize). So that might not be as good a choice for someone with dogs in the house especially if they share their food with the dog or the pup has a tendency to sneak it.

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Oh, thanks for the reminder Jacquie! I do know that but it totally slipped my mind. I will go in and add it with link to vets. Thanks! You can be my editor! 😉

  3. Mr A says:

    Quality research and top tips. These are delicious, especially with the salty tops.

  4. These looks so dark and appetising and thank you for sharing your story and research about your joint improvement on the keto diet. Really interesting read which Im sure could help so many others.

  5. Lovely recipe – will work great with xylitol, I am sure. I am glad you have listed it as one of your first choices, Kellie.

    1. kellie anderson says:

      Oh yes, I rate xylitol very much. It’s just that Andrew can really sense the cooling effect, and erythritol not so much. The cooling effect can feel a bit weird in baking, but it depends on the person. It doesn’t bother me at all.

      1. Thank you for responding, dear Kellie. I use xylitol in most of my cooking and baking, due to my husband’s dietary restrictions, and we like the results.

  6. Rachel says:

    Thank you for being open about your story and also reminding us how personal diet is. Your research is so well articulated and interesting. Great post!

    1. kellie anderson says:

      That’s so sweet of you (geddit? bad mom pun), Rachel. You know I’m always open to learning new things. But didn’t expects to learn something so powerful about myself at this great age! 🙂

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