Snickerdoodles were my Father-in-Law’s all-time favorite cookie! Every Christmas I would make him a batch of Snickerdoodles and he would have them all eaten before we left at the end of the week.
He passed away a couple years ago. The first year without him, I couldn’t bring myself to make his cookies without him here to eat them. But now I think it is time to bring them out again and remember all the good times we had together.
I decided to take his favorite Snickerdoodle recipe and turn it into a gluten free / sugar free cookie. I replaced the flour with a custom gluten free flour blend. Then I replaced the sugar with Xylitol.
I mixed up all the ingredients and gave it a taste. The raw dough is the BEST part of making cookies, right? It was good! I had to contain myself not to keep eating it. At least I tried. Slightly.
The first batch came out not so right. It was not baked all the way through and was too dark on the outside – like the Xylitol was burnt.
So what did I do?
I tried to adjust the oven temperature and baking time, knowing this was a long shot. The Snickerdoodle dough had too much xanthan gum and changing the temperature doesn’t make the xanthan gum magically disappear.
But, what did work was adding a splash of milk! The dough was dry for the first attempts. When I added the milk, it was sticky. This is a bit counter intuitive. If a cookie isn’t baked through enough, it seems like there is too much moisture, right? Well, xanthan gum needs moisture to work. Cookie dough is notoriously low on moisture (butter doesn’t count), which made the xanthan gum not quite hydrated. By adding a bit of milk and letting the dough sit for 10-15 minutes, the xanthan gum was able to hydrate.
Now, I had Snickerdoodles that were cooked through properly. Hooray!!
So were these an exact replica of the original Snickerdoodles? Not exactly. As I mentioned, the Xylitol seemed a bit dark. The problem I stumbled into is that Xylitol has a much lower melting point than sugar. Xyltiol melts at 197.6oF whereas sugar melts at 366.8oF. I ended up with a runny mess from the Xylitol melting on the outside of the cookie. For future attempts, I would roll the Snickerdoodle in Cinnamon only and not a Cinnamon/Xylitol mixture. The cookie was sweet enough without the extra Xylitol on the outside anyway. Also, my darling husband said he could taste the freshness that comes through in the Xylitol. Removing the Xylitol from the coating will also make this go away.
Next, although I got a cookie baked through, it was very dense. This one is a bit more tricky to fix. There are a lot of factors that go into how dense a cookie is. I used a flour mix that works really well for my GF chocolate chip cookies. Well, this was where I went wrong. I like chewy, melt in your mouth chocolate chip cookies. But that’s not how I would describe Snickerdoodles. They should be lighter, fluffier. More like a soft crumb.
How do we fix that? We need more air generated. That’s a leavening problem, right? What I will try next time is replacing some of the baking soda with baking powder. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon baking soda. I’ll replace this with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon baking powder.
The following is a step by step of how I created the cookies. The revised recipe with my suggestions is at the bottom of this page.
- Combine sugar and Xylitol until light and fluffy. As you can see, there is a large amount of Xylitol in this recipe. You can substitute granulated sugar one-for-one or use a combination of granulated sugar and Xylitol.
2. Add the remaining liquid ingredients. Except, I leave out the egg yolks from this initial step. Xylitol cools the mixture down, which makes it difficult to combine two different fats (eggs and butter). My secret for avoiding this is only adding the egg whites at first. After I add the dry ingredients, I add the egg yolks.
3. Here is a look at the batter after adding the dry ingredients, followed by the egg yolks. As you can see, it is quite thick. If additional milk is used as suggested, the dough will not be quite so thick.
4. Lastly, it is time to add the walnuts. Just try not to eat the whole batch at this point!
5. Roll the dough into balls and coat them in cinnamon. Cinnamon plus Xylitol is shown here.
6. Place the cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
7. Flatten the cookies slightly and bake.
8a. The first batch didn’t cook through completely. See the soft parts at the top of the cookie?
8b. I then tried baking the cookies at 350oF instead of 400oF. This did not improve the results. See the soft bits at the top?
8c. I also tried baking cookies without the coating, just to rule out that the Xylitol coating was causing problems. The cookies came out the same with uncooked bits!
8d. I then added milk to the batter until it was sticky and baked at the recommended 375oF. They were cooked through! Hooray! I made Snickerdoodles!
9. Eat and enjoy!