“If I owned this cottage, I would never go home,” Will proclaims. We were packing up after three weeks at a glorious lake house, and it was hard to say goodbye.
A favorite activity there was playing on the beach. Will got Bank Street and Isla hung out on Alta Vista, one rock over, building shark pools, irrigation systems, and frog forts. Builders had to keep one eye open in case wily Billy, the water snake, popped in for a visit… but for the most part we were left alone.
We did work up an appetite though. “Have you got any cookies for us today, Vinny?” Isla asks.
Why, indeed,” I reply. “I’ve got a batch of sand dollars in the oven as we speak.”
“Like the sea shells?” asks Will. “Awesome!”
Ten minutes later we’re all munching on tasty, sugar-free cookies sweetened with stevia, a no-calorie natural food recently proven safe in scientific tests. Nobody was the wiser.
Of course, even sugar-free cookies contain calories from the butter and flour. And butter has the so-called bad-for-you kind of fats, the saturated ones. But I just couldn’t see making these cookies with olive oil or prune butter. Vinny’s sand dollars are little treats we can enjoy once in a while, without adding to our toxic sugar load.
Vinny will be cooking up many of our favorite desserts over the next while, substituting stevia for sugar. We’ll let you know how it all works out.
In another week, the kids will be heading back to school, so let’s enjoy the sun and sand while we can. Here’s Vinny’s recipe for sand dollars to help you do just that!
Makes 18 cookies
- 1½ cups (200 grams/7 ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup (100 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons Stevia Sugar* (equal to 1/3 cup sugar)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup slivered or sliced almonds
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray or oil.
- Measure flour into a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and baking soda. Stir to evenly distribute.
- Measure butter and Stevia Sugar
- In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon or mixer to cream the butter.
- Add Stevia Sugar to egg and vanilla and beat until evenly mixed.
- Stir in flour mixture just until no white streaks remain.
- Scoop up about 1 tbsp (15 ml) of dough. Dip your hands in flour and roll into a ball about 1 inch ( 2.5 cm) wide. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat, placing balls about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
- Dip the flat bottom of a wide glass in flour. Press down on the cookies until they are no more than ¼ inch (5 mm) thick. The edges should crack a little to create a natural uneven look – like sand dollars!
- Press 5 slivered almonds in a spoke design around the centre of each cookie.
- Bake in the centre of the preheated oven until pale golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Use a spatula to remove cookies to a rack to cool.
Cooled cookies stored in a sealed container at room temperature keep well at least 4 days.
Easy! Serve over rocks and brown sugar for a fun presentation, along with a big glass of low-fat frosty milk or a few slices of cheddar cheese for a balanced snack.
Tip of the chef’s hat goes to the LCBO Food and Drink magazine, Summer issue, for the idea.
* Important notes: I used Stevia Sugar by New Roots, where 1 teaspoon equals 2 teaspoons of sugar. Experiment with the brands available in your area. I was surprised that the Stevia Sugar didn’t bind the egg and butter as well as sugar does. But once I added the dry ingredients, all was well. Also, when I tasted the raw dough, I detected bitterness associated with some stevia products. Oh no, I thought. But the baked cookies tasted great. No-one noticed they were sweetened with something other than sugar.
If you use pure stevia, instead of Stevia Sugar, you use much less… perhaps as little as half a teaspoon. In this case, add some fiber to make up for the loss of volume… perhaps ¼ cup ground almonds in this recipe.
Read my post on stevia for more info.