Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Low-Carb (Chocolate-Chip) Peanut Butter Cookie - Disaster with Isomalt (or maybe not)

I was reading the recipe book: Low Carb Desserts by Martha McBride, and I noticed a lot of the recipes used Isomalt instead of granulated Splenda. The Isomalt is a sugar alcohol which has a lot less (net) carbs than the Splenda.

(Note: some sources believe that sugar alcohol should not be "netted out" and all the carbs from sugar alcohol should be counted in your daily intake.)

I didn’t realize I could bake with Isomalt so I purchased some crystals and immediately mixed up a batch of my yummy Low-Carb (Chocolate-Chip) Peanut Butter Cookies; subbing the granulated Splenda for Isomalt.

From the begining the cookie dough looked strange. The Isomalt crystals were large and were very obvious in the dough. (Note: Later I found that you could get Isomalt Powder. Stupid me.)

But at this point I still had high hopes. I figured the crystals would melt during baking, and my PB cookies would look fine.

Well let’s just say they didn’t look fine. Some of the crystals did melt, but not in the way I expected. After about 8 minutes in the oven I checked the cookies and found each cookie surrounded by a pool of ooey-gooey, bubbling mess. (Sorry I didn’t get a picture. I was too freaked out.) When I pulled the cookies out of the oven the gooey mess hardened and trapped my cookies into an Isomalt candy sheet. (Cool science experiment, but a depressing baking experience.) I roughly cut the cookies out of their Isomalt trap...

And then carefully trimmed the rubbery substance from the edge of each cookie. I wanted to cry. All that beautiful PB wasted.

After I dried my tears I tasted a cookie.   Hmmmm...   Not too bad.  A little chewer than they normally are but still good. I had another, and then a third (and possibly a fourth). Maybe the Isomalt did have a place in my kitchen.

But then the rumbling in my tummy started. My gut started to twist and cramp. It dawned on me that the Isomalt was SUGAR ALCOHOL, and I had eaten four of those little cookies. If any of you have overindulged in sugar-free candy, you know what I was going through. The warning on the bag of Russell Stover's Sugar-Free Candy states: “Excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect.”

Believe you-me, that warning is no lie.

After my gut returned to normal I decided to make another batch just so I could get a picture of the melting Isomalt in action. But guess what?  The cookies baked up fine the second time !#@!

You can  see a little bit of the Isomalt "candy sheet" on the bottom and outer edge, but nothing like the first time.

What was going on????

The only difference with the second batch was that I cut it down in size (1/4 batch), AND I forgot to put the vanilla extract in the mix. Could the vanilla extract have caused the Isomalt to ooze, or was something else at work?  It is a mystery of cosmic proportions. 

But the mystery will have to remain unsolved cause I'm all out of peanut butter, and I have a ton of PB cookies to eat.  But I learned my lesson!!  Only 2 cookies a day.  That sugar alcohol is a killer.

Below is my tried-and-true PB cookie recipe.  Substitute Isomalt if you are curious/brave.

Low-Carb (Chocolate-Chip) Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 30 cookies, 67 g total; 2.2 g carbs each 


1 cup low sugar peanut butter (I use Simply Jif at 2 net carbs per Tablespoon) -32 g carbs
1 cup granulated Splenda -24 g carbs
1 large egg, beaten - 0.5 g carbs
1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream - 1 g carbs
1 tsp vanilla - 1.5 g carbs
1/2 cup Hershey's Sugar Free Semi-Sweet Baking Chips (optional) - 8 g net carbs (add 56 g if you don't believe in subtracting out the sugar alcohol)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a bowl combine peanut butter, Splenda, egg, cream, and vanilla. Stir until combined.
  • Add the chocolate chip and gently stir until evenly mixed.
  • Drop 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Allow two inches between cookies.  (I use a small ice cream scoop to get them all the same size.)
  • Gently flatten the cookie tops..
  • Bake for 12 minutes are until golden brown.


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