Try This Quick & Easy Keto Cookie Recipe For A Low-Carb Sweet Fix
The ketogenic diet (more commonly known as the keto diet, for short) is one of the more difficult eating plans of the moment. The highly restrictive diet is marked by low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein intake to send the body into a fat-burning state.
"This dietary combination aims to shift the body's metabolism away from burning sugar and carbohydrates as fuel to actually burning fat in the form of ketones," David Perlmutter, M.D., explains of the mechanism behind ketosis and why it can be such a great thing for the body. "When the body is using ketones as a fuel source, we say that person is in ketosis, and that's the ultimate goal of this diet."
While the keto diet is high in good fats—like avocados and coconut oil—it's also very low in sugar and carbs, which can make a keto diet particularly tricky to follow for anyone with a sweet tooth. And while, yes, you should avoid sweet foods most of the time when you're on a keto diet (in part to reduce carb intake but also to break your psychological "need" for sweets), there are still ways to enjoy your favorite desserts on special occasions without countering all your progress. And these double-chocolate keto cookies (scroll down for the full recipe) are one of our personal favorite ways to do just that.
Yes, we said keto cookies. As in cookies that taste amazing and meet the rigid dietary guidelines of the keto diet. In addition to being keto-friendly, these keto cookies are also gluten-free and low in sugar (keto desserts, which have to be as low in carbohydrates as possible, frequently are), making them a potentially viable dessert option for anyone trying to maintain stable blood sugar.
"The idea behind keto is to keep your fat-accumulating hormone, insulin, low by keeping your blood sugar low," explains Vincent M. Pedre, M.D., "In doing so, you turn on fat-burning genes while suppressing the abdominal-fat-amassing machinery."
Now, more about what makes these cookies so awesome.
The ingredients: What makes this cookie recipe keto-friendly?
The first key to transforming regular old cookies into keto cookies is the flour. While traditional cookie recipes call for wheat flour (often bleached white flour, which offers next to no nutritional value), these keto cookies are made with almond flour. Almond flour is a popular gluten-free flour alternative made of ground blanched almonds. Popular among healthy eaters of all varieties (not just keto dieters), almond flour is also high in monounsaturated fats, which help promote overall health and reduce the risk of heart disease, along with antioxidant vitamin E and the essential minerals magnesium and potassium.
These keto cookies take the power of almonds to the next level, calling for almond butter as well. While almond butter is an amazingly healthy and tasty treat that's delicious on just about anything, from celery to apple slices, it's an equally great baking ingredient—for keto cookies and beyond. Almond butter is packed with plant-based protein, vitamin E, and fiber. It also gives these keto cookies a dose of subtle sweetness while adding to their soft, chewy texture.
To maintain the low-carb status, this keto cookie recipe swaps out granulated sugar for erythritol, a natural sugar alcohol that contains a mere 3 calories per gram and serves as a sugar alternative. "Along with stevia, these sugar alcohols are still decent options for people looking for natural sugar-free options," William Cole, D.C., IFMCP, functional medicine expert, told mbg. Sugar alcohols are considered safer than artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), and saccharin (Sweet N' Low), all of which may "actually change the bacterial makeup of your microbiome," said Dr. Cole. "This can be a trigger for autoimmune problems, diabetes, and metabolic disorders."
It's important to note, however, that sugar alcohols aren't a great option for everyone. They are known to have a laxative effect if consumed in high quantities and can cause major flare-ups of digestive problems1 like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and SIBO. Since your body does not completely absorb sugar alcohols, they're left to ferment in the large intestine, which can cause gas and bloating. The short version: If you suffer from one of these digestive conditions, you may want to avoid this (and most) keto dessert recipes.
These double-chocolate keto cookies also have some tasty ingredients in common with their non-keto cousins, namely cocoa powder and dark chocolate chunks. You'll want to make sure to buy natural, unsweetened cocoa powder and a high-quality, 80 to 90 percent cocoa chocolate bar to chop up into chunks. (Fun fact: The higher the cocoa content in chocolate, the lower the sugar and carbs. While it may take some getting used to, over time you might find that a square or two of this potent chocolate makes a great snack all on its own.)
In addition to adding that classic chocolate flavor, cocoa has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects2 and is linked to a reduced risk of atherosclerosis2 (hardening and narrowing of arteries due to plaque buildup). What's more, cocoa consumption has been shown3 to reduce inflammation and is associated with having a lower BMI. Thanks to its powerful flavonoid antioxidants, cocoa may also offer neuron protection and enhance cognition and overall brain health4 as well as boost your mood.
How to incorporate these cookies into your keto diet.
Even though we've just raved about what makes these cookies keto-friendly, they should still be considered a treat for special occasions, not for daily consumption. Keto cookies shouldn't take the place of healthier keto foods like low-carb, fiber-rich vegetables, nuts and seeds, and quality meats, eggs, and seafood. "If you're using ketosis for weight loss, you may see initial results, but eating too many calories from any food can stall fat loss or make you gain weight," explains gut health specialist and best-selling author Vincent M. Pedre, M.D.
Leaning too heavily on keto-approved treats like these cookies can definitely have this effect and undermine your success (as they tend to be calorie-dense and low in fiber and other nutrients compared to whole foods), but using them strategically—to help you avoid an all-out sugar binge—might just help keep you on track.
And remember, deciding whether or not the keto diet is right for you is a personal decision and one that you should discuss with your health care provider. The diet brings with it a lot of potential benefits, including the ability to reduce insulin levels, reduce inflammation, and aid in weight loss, but it also has potential drawbacks. If you do decide that trying the keto diet is right for you (or if you're just looking for a low-carb alternative to your average cookie recipe), you'll want to bookmark these double-chocolate keto cookies from blogger Carolyn Ketchum's cookbook Easy Keto Desserts.
Chewy Double-Chocolate Keto Cookies
Makes 20 cookies
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (88g) blanched almond flour
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed gelatin
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup creamy almond butter (unsalted)
- ½ cup granulated erythritol-based sweetener
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup dark-chocolate chunks (we recommend chopping up a bar of 80 to 90 percent dark chocolate instead of buying sugar-free chocolate chips)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, gelatin, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, almond butter, and sweetener with an electric mixer until well-combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, then beat in the almond flour mixture until the dough comes together. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
- Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place a few inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Use the heel of your hand to press the cookies down to about ½ inch thick.
- Bake for 12 minutes, until the cookies have spread and puffed up a bit. They will still be very soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the pan.
Based on excerpts from Easy Keto Desserts by Carolyn Ketchum, with the permission of Victory Belt Publishing. Copyright © 2017.
Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. She earned a B.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She covers culture, entertainment, and health and has written for several notable publications including Elle, Marie Claire, and The Atlantic.