This is my mother's recipe:
500 g flour
1 tsp ammonium carbonate ("salt of hartshorn" or "baker's ammonium")
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp pepper
125 g butter
250 g sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Mix dry ingredients, blend in the butter, then add the eggs. If the dough is dry, add a bit of oil (just not olive oil). Let stand in the fridge for at least an hour, then roll into 1cm-thick sticks, cut into short pieces, and bake at 200C for 8-10 minutes.
When rolled out, the dough should be moist and pliable, only barely flaky. After baking, they should be soft and have a distinct poofed-up appearance (due to the ammonium carbonate gassing out) then become slightly crunchy as they cool down.
Simple, yes? Just replace the sugar with Xylitol and the flour with an appropriate mix of almond flour, coconut flour, and gluten, and Bob's your uncle. Alas, of course, it's not that simple. And Eric Stronginthearm is your uncle.
Here's the mix I did to make a half portion (fully expecting this to not come out perfect on the first try):
200g almond flour
25g coconut flour
1/2 tsp ammonium carbonate
1/2 tsp baking powder (because flour replacement usually calls for extra leavening, but the ammonium carbonate already gives a very powerful taste)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp pepper
65 g butter
125 g Xucker
~2 tbsp canola oil
(Didn't have a lemon to zest)
I added the second egg after the dough came out like dust after adding the first egg and the oil. Then I let it rest in the fridge, but it still came out pretty dry and definitely not rollable. I did half of them by just cutting the dough and pressing it, then added 1 tbsp peanut butter to half of the rest, and added 12 g gluten to the rest (that would equal 75g gluten total for the whole amount of dough). The first ones were really quite dry. The ones with peanut butter were definitely closer to appropriately moist (they should come out somewhat moist and poofed up from the oven, but crisp up as they cool down), but were rather strange with the peanut butter taste. The higher-gluten ones were the closest to the regular ones, almost possible to roll out (I always have trouble rolling the regular ones anyway), but didn't poof up nearly as much either.
Somehow the spices didn't come through very much at all, which is odd. Usually these are quite noticeably spicy, especially the ammonium carbonate taste right out of the oven.
The mix for the high-gluten version ended up with 300g flours and double the eggs, which can explain why the spices don't come through as much. But they also utterly failed to poof. Were they handled too much and got too dense to poof? Was the extra flour and egg compared to butter and ammonium carbonate making it too dense? Only another try will tell.
For my next attempt, I think I shall try half-and-half almond flour and gluten. Almond flour behaviour still eludes my understanding, and there's something about the behaviour of starch that's hard to replicate.
|The second batch: Peanut butter version on the left, gluten version on the right|