Everyone knows sugar is not the best thing in the world for you. Fortunately, there are natural sweeteners that are healthy  alternatives to refined sugar.  If you’ve ever wondered about what sugar does in your cookies, or what kind of substitutes you can use for it, then this is a must read.

Now I must warn you, anytime you make substitutions, it does change the outcome of the bake good. Texture and or taste will vary depending on what you use.  Try it a few different ways to find out what you like best!  

What Sugar Does

When it comes to cookies, sugar is not only a sweetener, but also a tenderizer. It caramelizes as it melts, altering the texture of your cookies. The more course your sugar is, the slower it will melt, and the chewier your cookies will be. The finer your sugar is, the faster the sugar will melt and the crispier your cookies will be.

Sugar helps to create “spread” in your cookies. The finer the sugar is, the more your cookies will spread and “thin-out”

 Brown sugar will give a brown coloring to your cookies, as well as adding a bit of molasses flavoring

Powdered Sugar is rarely used in a cookie recipe. Typically, this type of sugar is used more for making icing, sprinkling over your cookies, or powdering your counter top with to roll out your cookie dough due to the texture of the sugar.

 Liquid sugars such as honey or agave, do not contain the air that regular sugars do, and will alter the leavening in your cookies. This means that if you are using a liquid sweetener, you may want to add baking powder or soda to your recipe to help with the leavening a bit.

 A Word On Weight

First off, you have to understand the difference between measuring by weight and measuring by volume.

Sugar can be substituted in any recipe in equal amounts. This means, if you want to use honey instead of sugar, you can substitute the amounts equally.

However, if you measure by volume (cups), you will not be using equal amounts. You must weight your sugars to be sure you are getting the same weight. 1 Cup of sugar, does not equal 1 cup of honey. But 100 grams of sugar, does equal 100 grams of honey. So when making your substitutions, get the weight of your 1 cup of sugar, and then use that same weight when measuring your honey. A simple kitchen scale will do the trick every time.

 How To Substitute Sugar In Your Cookie Recipe

Sugar can be substituted on a 1 to 1 basis. In other words, if you want to use honey instead of sugar, and your recipe calls for 100 grams of sugar, then use 100 grams of honey.

 Honey – Usually it is recommended to  reduce the amount by 1/4 or 1/2, and bake two batches of cookies to see which amount of honey will work best. Honey typically has a very strong flavor, and while  natural sweeteners are great to use, you don’t want the flavor of the honey to overpower the other flavors in the cookies.

 Agave – When using agave, You can use equal amounts because the flavor of agave is not as overpowering as it is in honey.

 Stevia -- Keep in mind Stevia is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, so don’t use it in the same ratio.For baking, this can present a problem, as refined sugar gives bulk to recipes. However, this can be easily fixed. When using  Stevia, use 1/3 to ½ cup less per cup, depending on your taste preference. 

 Coconut Sugar - Use coconut sugar in your favorite recipes, for it measures just like sugar! It’s a bit more coarse than refined sugar, but that is okay. Add the amount of sugar that is called for in a recipe to your food processor and give it a whirl until you get the desired texture.

 Banana Puree - Bananas are rich in fiber and potassium, and a good source of vitamins B6 and C. They are also naturally sweet with a subtle flavor, making them a perfect natural sweetener.
Overripe bananas are the best to use when replacing refined sugar in recipes. They are sweeter and puree well. For every cup of sugar called for in a recipe, use one cup of banana puree. To make the puree, add bananas to a food processor with a tablespoon of water and blend. Add more water if necessary to reach the consistency of thick applesauce. When substituting in cookies, you may need to add a 1-2 tablespoons flour to offset the water in the banana puree.

Now you have a better idea of alternatives to make healthier cookies!!  Get to baking!
As always would love to hear any feedback!