Almond butter cookies with oatmeal, chocolate and cherry
I have a son with a peanut allergy and he has never known the joy of peanut butter cookies. I have another son who loves peanut butter above all else and he suffers from the no-peanut butter zone instituted in our home. He has finally accepted almond butter as an acceptable substitute and I want to reward him and our peanut-allergic guy with some almond butter cookies. But I want to throw in some oatmeal, chocolate and cherry goodness too and conversely use (almost) no sugar and no wheat flour. Compromise is good….
I searched and searched to find good almond butter oatmeal cookie recipes but all the recipes I could find came out not so good, so I set out to develop my own. This is the culmination of that effort…
The result is a healthified, peanut-free almond butter, oatmeal, cherry and chocolate cookie…. And those flavors just blend into a beautiful co-existence. My son describes them as a cross between a chocolate chip and oatmeal cookie, with a touch of almond butter and flashes of cherry. On any other given day, I would replace the chocolate and cherries with raisins and add cinnamon for something more like a typical oatmeal raisin cookie.
Soft Texture & Sugar-free Baking
Now texture-wise they are soft cookies, and it took quite a bit of experimentation with other recipes and failed cookies to come up with a version that didn’t fall apart or become mush. The problem with baking without sugar is that sugar is required to crisp the outside of the cookie and form a little bit of a barrier, keeping all the gooey goodness inside. Sugar substitutes are almost entirely useful for replacing sweetness, but not the crisping and structural component sugar provides. These cookies are super soft, but they remain in cookie formation until eaten. Maybe one day I’ll find a way to make a crisper version, but these will do for the time being!
For substitutions, here are my thoughts: It might be possible to sub the oat flour for almond flour, or some other flour to make it gluten free, but I have not tried it. I have not tried the recipe with anything but Barney Butter which is blended into a smooth butter and has additional fat and some sugar added. Using a different almond butter may yield a different result.
Additionally, (although I haven’t tried it), to make it fully sugar-free you can use sugar-free chocolate chips and eliminate the small amount of brown sugar, but I would add in a tiny bit of molasses for flavor. I’m not sure how the recipe would turn out if you used another sugar alternative such as honey, erythritol, splenda, etc. as they all have such different properties when it comes to baking and texture.
Preferences for sugar substitute widely vary. Some prefer erythritol over xylitol and swear the substitute they do not prefer has an aftertaste, and vice versa. I am one who prefers xylitol over erythritol. So, depending on your preference for sugar free substitute, you may or may not be happy with these cookies. Erythritol is lower calorie and lower carb, but does not take as much like sugar as Xylitol does, in my opinion.
Finally, some may wonder how to make the cookies egg free. There are some egg free recipes out there I have tried and they just do not turn out well. The structure of the cookie pretty much depends on those eggs. If you are currently using an egg free egg substitute in baking, you may want to try it here.
Regarding their moisture, it is best to store them in a ziplock bag on one or two paper towels. This cookie doesn’t dry out, it becomes more moist, and so it is probably a good idea to bake them when you know they will be eaten quickly.
*NOTE – if you have dogs, look for another recipe! Xylitol is extremely poisonous to dogs!! We, unfortunately, are a dog-free family due to my son’s allergies, so we can use Xylitol.
*Also – Xylitol can cause some digestive distress in some individuals. It usually affects me the first time I eat it, but the second time I seem to have more tolerance to it. It’s probably not a good idea to eat a dozen or so of these cookies right before a big meeting or hot date until you know for sure how you digest foods with xylitol.
Now, on to the recipe for almond butter cookies with oatmeal, chocolate and cherries!