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ISO cookie recipes without butter

I'm currently not eating cow's milk dairy products as part of a medical diet, and I'm really craving cookies. I'd love to hear of any recipes which do not require butter (I have access to goats milk and soft cheeses, but not sweetmilk butter). I don't want to cook with shortening or margarine, as I don't like how those taste and feel in the mouth. All I've come up with so far is meringues, which are nice but not... cookies.

Any thoughts?

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  1. I don't know if these are cookie'ish enough, but would biscotti work?

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5818... (I have since tried this recipe and thought it was quite nice).

    Or, how about Ottolenghi's orange and almond florentines? (ignore Lebovitz's steps about coating the cookie in chocolate, as most chocolate has butter or cream in it). http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives...

    I haven't tried this olive oil cookie of Bittman's, but it's intriguing for sure http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/...

    Here's an old thread about baking with olive oil. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3507...

    Good luck! I'd love to hear which recipes were winners and which were not! Do report back, if you can, please!

    ~TDQ

    1. I don't have it handy, but when I was staying dairy free, I found some good recipes in the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance. Vegan recipes are your friend, although not using the dairy-free shortenings (I actually really liked Organic Earth Balance) will make it a bit tougher.

      A quick search for "vegan cookies" yielded this blog http://vegancookies.wordpress.com/ which has lots of links to other Vegan cooking sites, and a tasty looking recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies at http://vegancookies.wordpress.com/200... You can find dairy-free chocolate chips, I can't remember the brand but I think it had a sun on it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chris VR

        In Canada, President's Choice sells dairy free chocolate chips (bittersweet) called "The Decadent", they come in 1 kg bags or smaller.

      2. Peanut Butter Cookies:
        1 cup peanut butter (creamy is best)
        1 cup sugar (I use half brown sugar)
        1 egg
        1 teaspoon baking powder
        1 tespoon vanilla
        Cream together and make into balls, roll in extra sugar, place on greased baking sheet, press in criss-cross with a fork, bake at 350 for 10 min. Do not over bake! They are very delicate when hot, but firm up nicely after they cool off.

        10 Replies
        1. re: PamelaD

          I love these pb cookies- I make them all the time and they're always a hit. Served them once as a dessert as ice cream sandwiches.

          1. re: PamelaD

            I make these too--and am amazed every time. A very tasty cookie with no flour or butter!

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              My kids made them too but they found chilling the dough for 10 mins beforehand made the dough much easier to handle.

            2. re: PamelaD

              I really, really like these. Dangerously so, as I think they are the easiest cookie I have ever made. Some tips:

              Best with unsalted peanut butter (I used a natural brand). In that case, add a tiny pinch of salt and use 3/4 the sugar.

              I cooked larger cookies for 12 minutes, smaller ones for ten. They are crumbly, but have a marvellous melting consistency in the mouth. Liek peanut butter, but without sticking to your palate!

              1. re: PamelaD

                I've seen this recipe on the back of a pb jar and have been intrigued by it. Also it would be good for the gluten free. Do you all use white sugar? Have you ever experimented with brown sugar or icing (aka confectioners/powdered) sugar? The latter is often used in shortbread which is why I'm toying with the idea. I s'pose I could beat together everything but the sugar, divide it into thirds and add a 1/3 cup of each type of sugar to each pb batch. But if one of you already has a preference I'll take your route!

                1. re: cinnamon girl

                  I did the first batch half white sugar and half dark brown sugar, and the second batch just brown sugar. To be honest, the PB flavour is so strong, I couldn't tell the difference. I think the important thing is that you cream it really well, so the sugar dissolves, otherwise the cookie is gritty, which doesn't work with the melt-in-the-mouth texture.

                  Let us know how you get on!

                  1. re: Gooseberry

                    Thank you Gooseberry. I won't conduct any elaborate experiments then! Good point though, that it's likely better to cream the pb and sugar together well - which really you should do before adding the egg. So much for my scheme.

                    I'll let you know how it works out.

                    1. re: cinnamon girl

                      OK, I've been honing this over the last couple weeks. Additional tips:

                      A syrup sweetener is best, to prevent the graininess of the sugar making the cookies gritty. I use liquid fructose (140g per 500g peanut butter), but golden syrup, glucose, corn syrup, agave syrup etc would all work

                      If halving the recipe, use a little less than half an egg.

                      Don't overwork the dough; you want them light and fluffy inside. I tend to just scoop onto the baking tray and lightly pat down any pointy edges

                      Remove from oven while still slightly underdone

                      1. re: Gooseberry

                        molasses is also a nice addition esp if you want to use 1/2 or all brown sugar. it tends to bring it out.

                2. re: PamelaD

                  Joy the Baker has this recipe up on her site, and she suggests variations with chocolate or jelly or even bacon (haven't tried the bacon yet)! When I want to bake homemade cookies but have limited time and don't want to be bothered using my kitchenaid, this is the recipe I use! Nothing fancy, but tasty!!!

                3. Food and Wine has a great recipe for brownie bites.

                  http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/br...

                  I made these for a vegan friend, and even non-vegans loved them. I didn't need them to be gluten-free, so I just used regular AP flour and left out the xanthan gum.

                  1. Here's a link to a Chewy Orange Almond Cookie (courtesy of Martha Stewart). I made them last week and was mighty impressed:

                    http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/c...

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Did you make the original or the sugar cookie variation? I'm wondering whether the original recipe, which calls for wine, black pepper and rosemary, is totally savoury or still counts as something to have with a cup of tea...

                        1. re: Gooseberry

                          Both and I enjoyed the savory more. The cookie has a mellow flavor. I prefer less sweet. A recent party, I made both side by side; nice presentation visually but the savory cookies disappeared faster. Try them!

                      2. My mom has a good recipe for an apple cookie made with bacon fat. Let me know if you want it and I'll get it for you.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dct

                          Wow! I'd be most interested in that recipe if you find the time DCT. I'm intrigued - did she come up with it herself or has it been in your family . . . or . . .? I can imagine that the salty, slightly smoky flavour of bacon fat would be great with apples. (I'm a sucker for salty-sweet.)

                        2. I love these cookies from 101cookbooks:

                          http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                          The bananas and coconut make for a yummy combination, IMHO. Of course, there are people who can't stand the smell of coconut oil so YMMV. These cookies are soft, and turn softer upon standing.

                          I'm ashamed to admit that I added some sugar to mine because the batter wasn't sweet enough for me. Aside from that I followed the recipe closely and got great results.

                          1. Would you consider biscotti? I've made this recipe and it's very good: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cranberr...

                            1. Coconut oil has one of the important baking properties of butter: it is solid at (cool) room temperatures, so it gives a somewhat more butter-like texture for cookie once cooled.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Karl S

                                I second the coconut oil. It makes fabulous cookies.

                              2. Molasses Cookies
                                Mix together: 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 beaten egg, 4 Tablespoons molasses
                                Stir in: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 Tablespoon espresso powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Combine well and shape 1" balls of dough. Roll in sugar. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes at 350°F on ungreased cookie sheet. Let set for a few minutes and then remove to rack to cool.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Cynsa

                                  I have a similar Molasses Spice Cookie recipe that's made with oil, and it's easily my favorite cookie ever!

                                2. I LOVE these. I use Valrhona cocoa powder for extra chocolately cookies. I think it is loosely a Payard recipe.

                                  3/4 cup fine-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
                                  2-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
                                  1/8 teaspoon salt
                                  1 tablespoon vanilla
                                  4 large egg whites
                                  2 cups pecans (7 oz), coarsely chopped

                                  Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Whisk together cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, and salt in a bowl. Combine vanilla and egg whites in a 2-cup glass measuring cup, then slowly add to cocoa mixture, beating at low speed with an electric mixer. Beat batter at medium speed until glossy, about 2 minutes. Stir in nuts. Drop batter onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment. leave some space because batter will spread. Put baking sheet on middle rack of oven and reduce temperature to 325 Degrees F., then bake until small thin cracks appear in tops of cookies, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool cookies completely on baking sheet on a rack and peel from paper.

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: danna

                                    Hi Danna,

                                    These sound interesting. Can you describe the texture? Thanks!

                                    1. re: TerriL

                                      Sort of crispy when you bite them, but becoming chewy as you...chew them. Sorry, that's probably not too helpful. Here's a link to Payard's website showing a pic of the cookie. keep in mind though, I posted my adaptation of what Gourmet called an adaptation, so i can't say how far off it is from Payards. But they look similar.

                                      http://www.payard.com/flourlesschocol...

                                    2. re: danna

                                      Thank you for posting this recipe, Danna! I made them for the holidays, and they are so good - definitely a keeper. Your description of the texture is good: crisp on the surface, and delightfully chewy within. Very good dark chocolate flavor. I added a generous teaspoon of cinnamon, which lent a nice note. The recipe made 40 2-inch (baked) cookies.

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Yay! so glad you liked them!
                                        I searched for some way to make them even less fattening, but take warning...rice crispies are NOT a good substitute for the pecans ;-)

                                        1. re: danna

                                          I take comfort in the fact that the fat in the pecans is healthy fat! I gave some to my mother, and she asked my for the recipe so she can make them for her New Year's Day party. They have been a hit. I definitely recommend the cinnamon addition, too.

                                      2. re: danna

                                        Hey, Danna and Caitlin--and any other fans of this cookie!

                                        I was just searching this board for help with Payard's flourless chocolate cookie recipe and am glad to have found your discussion here. I made them yesterday, using this recipe:
                                        http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/...

                                        * I swapped the walnuts for pecans and added a teaspoon of fine ground espresso.
                                        * I spaced and made this with 3 egg whites instead of 4 (OOPS).
                                        * I added 1/3 cup of white chocolate chips b/c I enjoy the flavor contrast.

                                        I had originally found THIS recipe:
                                        http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                                        Upon further googling, I realized it was just a minor modification of the Payard cookies, so I went back to the source. Looking at the recipe Danna posted above, the order of ingredient combination is different...the exact measurements are slightly different, too.

                                        I had troubles and would like your input! These cookies didn't bake properly. They never really melted down and flattened out as promised or as any other cookie would. Is this because:
                                        a) 320 degrees F won't do it
                                        b) 2 tablespoons of batter per cookie (as instructed) was just too big?
                                        c) Would one less egg white really screw up the program this badly?

                                        Round one, I kept doing 3 more minutes, 5 more minutes, hoping the cookies would start to bake and flatten out...never happened. So I effectively baked giant chocolate rocks. They're very tasty rocks--WTH, I used Valrhona, what could be bad?--but nonetheless, the consistency is all wrong. Round two, I boosted the oven to 330, but they still did not flatten and bake properly. I don't usually have a hard time with cookies. Where do you think I went wrong?

                                        I'll try it Danna's way next time, but still would appreciate your input on my ?s. Thank you!

                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                          I'm scratching my head a bit as I compare the three recipes (Danna's and the two you linked, kattyeyes), but more on that in a moment.

                                          I don't think the problem was the oven temperature; I used Danna's specification of 350 to preheat, and 325 to bake, and no problems. I'm not sure about the issue of size, but I will say that I did not make cookies that large; mine were maybe 1 measuring tablespoon, not mounded (I didn't measure them, just used a flatware teaspoon), and they were perfectly done as Danna specifies in 15 min. in a convection oven. My batch of Danna's recipe version at this size made 40 cookies around 2 inches across once baked, BTW.

                                          All that said, I DO think using only 3 egg whites could have been a problem, as you took out 25% of the fluids in the recipe. And, when I said I was scratching my head above, it was because: all three recipes use 4 egg whites, but whereas Danna's version has 2 1/2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa and 2 cups nuts, the Payard version has essentially the same cocoa, 2 3/4 cups nuts, and 3 cups sugar, and the 101 Cookbooks'version has 1/2 cup cocoa, 3 cups nuts, and 4 cups sugar! So the latter two recipes will obviously make a thicker batter, even with 4 egg whites, though using the Payard version with 3 should have been roughly equivalent to the 101 Cookbooks recipe.

                                          Hmm, just so you know, I'm musing through my keyboard here, which is why I may not have given you much to work with. All I can say definitively is that Danna's recipe + smaller cookie size worked perfectly for me. Also, pecans + bittersweet chocolate flavor + cinnamon here = yum, and you do need to wait until they are completely cool to peel off the parchment or they won't come up cleanly.

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            Thanks, Caitlin. Next time it's Danna's recipe, smaller cookie size (1 tablespoon is already half the size I was dealing with) and don't forget *4* egg whites. I like the addition of cinnamon, too. What's kind of funny is my mom--my harshest critic besides ME--insists even the rocks taste good. They just need to be dipped in coffee. :) I appreciate your thoughts.

                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                              Just call them "chocolate biscotti bites" rather than "rocks" and you'll be good!

                                              I agree w/ Caitlin, I think missing 25% of the wet ingredients could have a significant effect. Also since the NYmag recipe has more nuts than the one I use, plus you added the chips, the cookie has more structure and would take longer to flatten out.

                                              Did you preheat to 350? I failed to mention it, but you have to bring the heat back up between batches. I think the initial blast of heat is what helps them spread out.

                                              Try it again...you're right: anything with Valrhona cocoa in it has to be good. I am currently eating some greek yogurt w/ same!

                                              1. re: danna

                                                Yes, that's good marketing. :)

                                                Let me be sure I understand--preheat to 350, THEN drop it to 325 when you put the cookies in? That would make a really big difference. These babies never came close to baking properly at 320, which was what the Payard recipe specified. I know there were other variables (including my own OOPS that factored in), but still...the temperature part is very interesting to me if you wouldn't mind hitting me back one more time. Meantime, I baked something completely different yesterday and it came out fab, so it restored my faith. HA HA!

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  yes...preheat to 350, then turn it down to 325 when you put the cookies in. And I use a convection oven which I think tends to make things turn out like they were cooked a little hotter. Then bring it back to 350 before you put in a second batch if you do it that way, and turn down again.

                                                  This was not my discovery, but was specified in the Gourmet recipe I clipped.

                                                  You guys are not good for my diet. I'm really wanting to make a batch of these now and add either cinnamon or espresso powder.

                                                  1. re: danna

                                                    Thank you for clarifying--that makes worlds of sense. When all the rocks--excuse me, biscotti--are gone, I'll try again.

                                                    Yes, no kidding--I'm on my way shortly to deliver some of the cake I baked (and to deliver myself FROM it!). ;)

                                                    1. re: danna

                                                      Danna and Caitlin:
                                                      THANKS AGAIN! You guys rock! And not rock like an overbaked butter-free cookie. ;) With your help, the second time was the charm. Come see--I baked cookies for you. http://kattyskitchen.wordpress.com/20...

                                                      I included ground espresso, white chocolate chips and even some raspberries. Next time, I'll put a little more of the chips and the berries. I had to make sure I was on solid ground before I went whole hog. These are fantastic. The 350 to 325 degrees made all the difference. Yaaaaaaaaaaay! I really appreciate your guidance. Happy weekend!

                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                        Wow! I'm so happy it worked out, and thrilled by my spot in the credits. ;-)

                                                        fresh raspberries or dried?

                                                        1. re: danna

                                                          Me, too! Fresh raspberries. I do the white choc chips and raspberries trick in my brownies, too.

                                                          1. re: danna

                                                            Just a quick note to say I revisited these cookies (yet again!) with a Mexican chocolate twist this time. Rather than raspberries and white chocolate, I added:

                                                            ½ teaspoon cinnamon
                                                            ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
                                                            ¼ teaspoon chipotle

                                                            18 minutes will give you a crispy cookie.
                                                            Around the 15 minute mark produces a cookie with a chewy, brownie-like texture. And I didn't have quite enough pecans this batch, so I threw in 1/4 cup of walnuts to make up the difference. Once you get the temperature part down, these little treats are pretty hard to screw up! ;)

                                                          2. re: kattyeyes

                                                            Yay, that's awesome! I loved them just with pecans,which I thought had great balance and were delicious, but I will now be thinking about variations, too.

                                              2. re: danna

                                                Looking through the Gourmet Today cookbook, I noticed there is a version of these cookies from Maida Heatter that includes golden raisins soaked in gin in addition to the pecans (she also uses a bit of instant espresso powder). Of all the liquors and liqueurs, it wouldn't have occurred to me to soak in gin for a chocolate recipe, but it's sort of intriguing.

                                                Here's the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                Were I to try it, I'd just add the raisins to Danna's version, though, as that one worked out so well.

                                              3. As many have said, BISCOTTI! They are great and many traditional recipes call only for eggs and no other form of fat (unless you count copious quantities of nuts!)

                                                I have also had pretty good luck with simply substituting oil for butter in many recipes. Of course the cookies will not taste the same without butter, but if you choose recipes with strongly flavored ingredients (like nut butters, lemon zest, chocolate, or ginger) you can often make a very nice cookie anyway. Use a good-tasting oil, depending on what flavor profile you want the cookies to have. Peanut oil, olive oil, etc. have fun and experiment!

                                                1. In many recipes (like the regular tollhouse chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies) you can substitute equal amounts banana for the butter, it will lend a bit of banana flavor, of course, but is quite delicious and the cookies tay moist for quite some time.

                                                  1. These coconut pyramids from Martha Stewart are amazing. They are like an inside out Mounds bar.
                                                    http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/c...

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                      Roxlet---those sound amazing! I love Mounds bars. I notice the recipe calls for butter, though. Have you tried it without the butter with good success?

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                        I second the macaroon idea. I like the Cook's Illustrated recipe, which uses sweetened and unsw. coconut as well as cream of coconut for added flavor. I can dig up the recipe if you're interested.

                                                        http://areyouhungryyet.blogspot.com/2...

                                                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                          Fwiw, I've switched allegiances on macaroons -- the NYT/Mark Bittman recipe, found in a recent thread here, is sooo much easier and better. :)

                                                      2. Consider substituting Earth Balance.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: lgss

                                                          The OP lives in South Africa, so I doubt that's an option, even if she was open to using margarines.

                                                        2. molasses cookies are non-dairy. My youngest is lactose intolerant and this is one of his favorite cookies.

                                                          1. Probably waaaaaay too late for this, but I haven't seen anyone else post this recipe, and it's great: the Betty Crocker Chocolate Crinkles. http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/c...

                                                            Using the unsweetened chocolate the recipe calls for is crucial - I've made them with bitterseet and semisweet, and they always come out tasting one-dimensional in those instances. But honestly, everyone goes crazy for these.

                                                            1. Since this thread popped up again, I thought I'd post this link to a website that has several olive oil dessert recipes, including a couple for cookies.

                                                              http://www.californiaoliveranch.com/r...

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1 Reply