Gluten-Free Chocolate Biscotti Recipe- a cookie for grown-ups

Gluten-free chocolate biscotti recipe
Gluten-free sugar-free chocolate biscotti.

I was seriously jonesing for a crunchy coffee treat this week. But what could I make? Eating lower carb and lower glycemic means I'm eating no sugar, white flour or starches. The sweetest thing I've eaten in a month was the half of a frozen banana I tossed yesterday into a berry breakfast smoothie. Tasty, yes. But not exactly the chocolaty crisp indulgence I was daydreaming about.

As a side note to those of you following my posts on lower glycemic eating and wondering about sugar cravings and the South Beach Diet, I can report that Phase 1 is worth the two week tough love/low carb approach because it does reset your sweet tooth and diminish your gotta-have-it-now cravings for refined carbohydrates. And that's a big plus. It also banishes the carbohydrate bloat that many of us with celiac disease experience when we eat gluten-free starches. And that is a big plus. Pulling on a pair of jeans with a little room and give in the waist feels kick-ass great.

It is, however, very difficult to manage Phase 1 with multiple food allergies.

Where the unencumbered soul might eat one of Kalyn's delicious mini-quiche muffins or eggy casseroles for breakfast and Slow Roasted Tomato Hummus for a mid-afternoon snack, this intrepid gluten-free goddess was stuck popping cherry tomatoes. I admit up front- it was a humbling and hungry two weeks on a program where you are not supposed to go hungry.

My other disappointment was not losing as much weight as I had hoped to shed on the strict Phase 1. I lost two pounds. Upon deeper investigation I discovered that the stringency of Phase 1 works most dramatically on a different body type than I happen to inhabit (I'm a tall pear shape; if you're an apple body style you'll see more dramatic results in Phase 1).

So I've switched to Plan B.

A hybrid. I'm still eschewing- not chewing- refined carbs, high glycemic starches and sugar. But I'm also keeping an eye on calories and switching food choices to a more Mediterranaen Diet approach (less meat, more fruit and a wider range of vegetables- like SB off-limits carrots and butternut squash).

I discovered- to my pie-roll horror- I was eating way more fat calories on the South Beach plan because of my limited food choices. Too much high calorie beef and pork and salmon- for protein. And way too much olive oil. The olive oil problem is totally my bad. I never measure. I just pour from a handy little spout. Usually while chatting about how impressive Michelle Obama is or how sad I am that HBO cancelled John From Cincinnati and now we only have the first season on DVD to ponder and decipher- with all it's tantalizing clues and unfinished story lines. I don't know Butchie, instead.

When I started adding up the daily glugs of olive oil- Holy Mother of Fat Grams! Talk about hidden calories. I was eating 500 to 600 calories a day I never thought twice about. I gotta get one of those nifty olive oil sprayers.

Words of wisdom from my smart and trim-waisted husband? Don't limit your food choices so much that you deprive yourself, Babycakes, or you'll feel discouraged and cranky (Cranky? Moi?) and you'll reach for a bucket of popcorn or a fistful of fudge brownies because you've starved yourself into a low blood sugar feeding frenzy.

He has a point.

And so I've added fruit smoothies back into my menu- lower carb fruits like frozen wild blueberries and organic strawberries whipped with a cup of hemp milk- and I'm eating carrot sticks and sweet potatoes and butternut squash and apples (no one ever got fat eating carrots and apples, he tells me). So it's not exactly South Beach any more. But it is sugar free and refined starch free. I'm lower glycemic instead of low carb, I suppose. And I calculated my calorie output with my calorie input and my height and weight and all that numbers stuff to lose my extra pounds the old fashioned way- slow but sure. No magic pill or instant fix. Just common sense and an olive oil sprayer.

So back to my biscotti.

I decided to try a new mix of high protein lower carb flours and agave to make a lower glycemic cookie. Not an all-you-can-eat cookie. But a smarter cookie choice. A less sweet sugarless cookie for grown-ups. And guess what? If you're looking for a sugar-free treat that is chocolaty and crisp and dunk worthy- and if you've tamed your sweet tooth and don't expect a sugar high sexy explosion- this recipe just might tickle your fancy.

Gluten free biscotti recipe
Crunchy and not too sweet biscotti.

Chocolate Biscotti Recipe: Gluten-Free Sugar-Free

These biscotti are also vegan- no eggs or butter. But if you prefer using eggs in this recipe, choose two large organic happy free-range eggs instead of the egg replacer I used.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.


Whisk together your dry ingredients in a large bowl:

1 cup GF millet flour
2/3 cup GF buckwheat flour
1/3 quinoa flour
1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg, to taste
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Add in:

1/2 to 3/4 chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired

In a separate bowl, blend:

1/2 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening
2/3 cup organic raw agave nectar
1/3 cup sesame tahini or sunflower seed butter
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
Egg Replacer for 2 large eggs- I used Ener-G Egg Replacer made with warm water
2 tablespoons coconut, soy, nut or hemp milk, more if needed 


Scoop the creamed wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well until combined. The dough will be quite stiff- don't use a hand beater to do this, you'll kill it. Use a wooden spoon. Build up your upper body strength.

You want a hefty dough that sticks together but is not sticky or wet.

If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of hemp milk at a time to make it behave. (Note- If you've ever made Pamela's gluten-free brownies- this dough is similar in consistency- sturdy and thick.) When the dough holds together if you press it into a mound, it's ready.

Dump the mound of dough on to the prepared baking sheet and press with a rubber spatula- or your hands- to make a long log shape. You want a smooth, even surface, and a slightly flattened- but not too flat!- mound to the dough shape (make sure it is uniform and even- and the width and height your want your biscotti to be. Mine was about 4 inches wide and maybe 3 inches high; it will spread slightly when it bakes. (Keep in mind, you'll be slicing the dough crosswise later.)

Bake the dough in the center of a preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes- depending upon your individual oven temperature and the actual size of the dough log. The dough should bake up firm and be dry in the center when you insert a cake tester.

Take the dough log out of the oven and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes. Set your oven temperature low- 275 to 300 degrees F.

You're going to bake these babies twice.

When the dough log is cool enough to handle, hold it in place with one hand and a clean tea towel and slice it crosswise- cleanly and carefully!- with a large, very sharp serrated knife. You should end up with twenty biscotti.

Lay the biscotti on the parchment and bake them for 10 to 12 minutes or so- keeping an eye on them. You want them to crisp up a bit in the oven, but not burn.

Remove the biscotti from the oven and allow them to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, place them carefully on a wire cooling rack. They will crisp up even more as they cool.

Wrap the biscotti individually and store the them bagged in the freezer for best results- though you can keep a few on hand in the fridge to eat within a day.

Makes twenty biscotti.

Recipe Source:

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Alanna @ A Veggie Venture said...

I'm a grown-up. May I have a cookie please?

Your exploration of low-carb vs low-glycemic is fascinating. I'm eating way less sugar (except wine, too many good wines being handed to me at the end of a day!) but still, nothing like what you're doing. Keep educating us all!

Hänni said...

I think your hybrid food plan sounds *very* reasonable and am looking forward to more of your wonderful low-glycemic recipes (because this is the way i like to eat!)

Cheryl said...

Those look really amazing! I tend to go with the same hybrid approach and use a lot of almond meal, quinoa and agave to keep things in a reasonable glycemic range. I am so in the mood for biscotti now!

Hannah said...

Oh, how glad I am you have come back from the south beach side. I have had wonderful success with south beach back when I ate dairy. I lost my baby weight with the first two kids and it was easy popping cheese and salami with cucumbers and tomatoes. But once you have allergies, oh not so much. You are an amazing baker and I typically convert your recipes and use agave and higher protein flours so how happy am I to see that you are going to do it for me!!!!! I have never baked one good thing until your recipes! Also couldn't help but think about how much your activity level must have changed since experiencing hip problems and what a difference that can make in jean size. Anyhow, yeah for biscotti, can't wait to try them. Thank you.

Sophie said...

I have been craving biscotti and wasn't sure if there were any gluten-free recipes for it out there in blog land! Yum, I will have to make these! Thanks for sharing :D.

Ms. Glaze said...

This recipe looks awesome and I love the using millet, quinoa, and buckwheat flour for the mix. Just a question, what does xanthan gum do? I've never used it in baking.

(Isn't Michelle Obama incredible? So impressed.)

Carol said...

I made these cookies ... and they really are very good. With no tahini in the house, I used a bit of sugar-free peanut butter that was nice with the chocolate.

I have visions of turning them into an anise cookie reminiscent of my mom's gluten-filled Springles. What kind of flour would I use to replace the cocoa?

Karen said...

Hi Karina,

I too have switched to plan b. Tried phase 1 and made it 3 or 4 days until overcome with fatigue. Happened to be reading The Schwarzbein Principle at the time and realized with my depleted adrenals that no carbs was not such a good idea. So I added some whole grains back and got up off the couch! Highly recommend reading Diana Schwarzbein's books. At first I too ate too much protein and fat, but now I have calmed down a bit. Lost 4 lbs but more importantly, lost the sugar cravings!

BTW, I tried your beef and eggplant dish and me and hubby loved it! Will try this sometime too.

Take care and keep on trying!


Tartelette said...

IT takes a while to figure out which diet works best. I am enjoying reading about your process and yoru discoveries. I love the look and sound of these biscotti! My dad is celiac and mom has diabetes and they both have a severe sweet tooth so I am bookmarking this one for when they come!

Mary said...

Karina, I just found out today that added to all the other things I have had to give up, I also have to give up chocolate - could you amend this recipe to make lemon biscotti?

Thank you - I have found your site very helpful.


Karina Allrich said...

Alanna- Red wine is definitely in my future. Once I get to my goal weight and get back to my Mediterranean approach.

Hanni and Cheryl- At my age (past 50) low glycemic definitely works best. Wish I could do almond flour again (allergy).

Hannah- I would love to know which recipes you've successfully converted. Drop a comment on them or drop me an e-mail. I'd love to know!

Sophie- These are no sugar- so they're ar not sweet- but you could add some sugar if you like.

Ms. Glaze- Michelle Obama is so warm, elegant and smart. I wanna be her when I grow up.

Meanwhile- xanthan gum is an additive that helps non-gluten flours bind and hold together in a batter/dough. It helps viscosity and mouth feel, too.

Carol- Cocoa and peanut butter = great combo! I would replace the cocoa powder with a starch- arrowroot is lower glycemic (some folks think it's bitter) or tapioca starch would work as well. Taste for spice and seasoning adjustments. Anise would be delicious!

Karen- Thanks so much for the encouragement- I have one of Diane's cookbooks (she uses lots of dairy and eggs, if I remember, but still worth a look for inspiration and ideas!).

Helen- Really? I'm here to help if you ever have a question- e-email me.

Mary- Well, I have not made these as lemon (I'm allergic!) but I would follow my advice above on converting the cocoa to tapioca starch (not low glycemic- but) and using a little less vanilla. Then add fresh lemon zest- maybe a tablespoon. And some lemon extract. Taste test. You might need some sweetener added.


Susan said...

I'm relatively new to your blog and have tried only two of your recipes. Your brownie recipe was/is wonderful; my husband said that it's better than my old recipe and that one is quite excellent. Yesterday I made your Banana Bread w/ Chocolate Chips. Fabulous, Babycakes!

Lauren said...

These aren't remotely sugar-free or low carb (agave = fructose!), but they do look lovely!

If you're looking for a low glycemic/carb flour, try almond flour. It performs exceptionally well in baked goods. The harder element to replace is sugar. I use a blend of stevia and erythritol (a natural sugar alcohol), but it doesn't work well in dry applications like cookies. It's also expensive and hard to find. 'Spose our health is worth it, no? ;)

Karina Allrich said...

Susan- Thanks back atcha, Babycakes! ;)

Lauren- Although I did not claim these biscotti are "low carb", this is a lower glycemic cookie than a cookie made with rice flour, refined starches and sugar.

Remember, the agave is divided by twenty servings.

I was curious about your claim that agave is equal to fructose, and actually, it is not.

Agave is 5 glycemic points less than fructose and is recommended as safe for diabetics. As always, consult your medical professional.

Here's some info:

Glycemic Index for Sugars:

Organic Agave Nectar- 27

Fructose- 32

Lactose- 62

Honey- 83

High fructose corn syrup- 89

Sucrose- 92

Glucose- 137

I totally agree about using almond flour. It's great! I'm allergic to almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts and peanuts now, so I can no longer use it. But if it works for you- excellent.

As always, I'm not advocating everyone follow my particular food choices- we're all too individual in our needs for that. I'm sharing what is working for me- today.

And that- as always- does *not* mean it will work for you.


Lauren said...

You are so right about eating for your own individual needs, Karina! My sister consumes an Asian style low-fat low-calorie diet, whereas I count carbohydrates and eat nothing from a box. We both feel and look great doing our individual plans. It's wonderful you're figuring out what works for you.

There is a scientific debate about agave, with some sources claiming that it is close to 90% fructose. Fructose (a molecule not found in an isolated state in nature, which is why agave and fructose differ in their glycemic indices) is metabolized by the liver, and is related to fatty liver deposits, insulin resistance (!), and other health problems. Not causing an insulin surge does not make agave nectar a healthier option, although it seems to be the new "it" sweetener. There's more than meets with the eye with agave. Believe me, I wish it were healthful because it's very difficult to make cookies without sugar or artificial sweeteners!

Any substance that is highly processed and boiled down from its natural state probably isn't conducive to good health. The benefit of following the glycemic index vs. just counting carbs is also a contentious matter, fyi.

Keep up the great work, Karina. I only share this information because I care! I enjoy immensely your photos, recipes, and writing. Your ratatouille in my go-to recipe for comfort food. Happy and healthful eating! :)

sunshine23 said...

Hi Karina, just stumbled on the blog. Looks great! Have you tried Stevia in your cooking. It has 0 glycemic index, is safe for diabetics and 0 calories yet is 2x as sweet as sugar. Baking with it is amazing.
good luck with your diet. I am a big fat whale and am slowly trying to drop the blubber after 4 young ones.

cris said...

Thanks so much for your recent posts. Ever since I went GF 10 months ago my blood sugar lows have been worse than ever. I've been continuing to look into how to cut more carbs out with out cutting all of them out. The South Beach diet was sounding interesting to me because of initially getting rid of sugars, curbing cravings, etc but i couldn't imagine not having carrots. Plus right now there is so much seasonal fruit I couldn't give it up. I love your hybrid approach and following your experiences is helping me continue to figure out a better way to eat for myself and my family.

Anne said...

Hello Karina
I have found your site through my mom, Marcia M. I have to say that South Beach has turned my life around. I have became much more aware of the affects certain foods have on my body, just amazing. I agree SB is not for every body type, but it can be adjusted to fit your personal needs. I just told someone today that I start phase 1 at least twice a week. My issue is candy, just can't leave it alone. A couple of days of eating it and I have that drugged, sluggish feeling all over again. It's almost like I have a hang over in the morning. It has been 4 years and I have lost and kept off 10 pounds. Good luck with your journey.

Liz C said...

I've been thru Atkin's South Beach, and Weight Watchers. Here's what has finally worked for me: Eat to Live. Furhman includes a lot of gloom & doom in the first chapters but it's really changed my relationship w/food.

FWIW, I'm a pear shape too.

I'm excited to have found your blog -- looks like lots of food that I can eat too. :)

Carol said...

I have had more fun with these cookies!

The anise flavor was good, replacing the cocoa with starch as you suggested. And, I tried replacing the tahini with almond paste. I know ... not exactly sugar free but I cut back on the agave sugar and only made a half of batch. They were great! Now I can anticipate the December holiday season knowing I'll have my own treats.

Karina Allrich said...

Thanks, again- everyone.

Although these gluten-free biscotti are not exactly a low carb Atkins-style treat or totally sugar/carb free they make a delicious lower glycemic alternative for those of us looking to bake with healthier alternatives.

Raw organic agave isn't the same as refined fructose/high fructose corn syrup. It's much more natural and complex. [And so far my blood sugars have been fine with it. That said- follow your own medical practitioner's advice, of course.]

Carol--- I'm glad you tried the anise version- but more than that I'm glad you "had fun"! Yay.

I'm going to try an anise version, too. I always loved Italian anise biscotti.



mamasitamaya said...

I freakin' love you.Thank you so very much for creating and sharing recipes that my family can actually eat. You have really helped to make my home life more fun and less work.

medical advice said...

I so love pecans. Im actually addicted to it. First of all, great photography! Im cravin right now.

Jill said...

Ok, I have a substitute question but first, I wanted to *cry* when I saw this recipe. I thought I would never eat a biscotti again!! Chocolate biscotti + coffee = happy mama!

OK, I used sugar in place of agave (I only had a little in the bottle) and my biscotti, although delicious, fall apart extremely easily (above and beyond regular GF baking). Is this b/c of the sugar? Would honey have made it better (although I don't really care for the taste of baked honey)? I, too, must use egg replacer. Would flax/water as an egg replacer have held things together better?

Karina Allrich said...

Mamasitamaya- More fun less work? Yay. Thank you!

Medical Advice- Muchas gracias.

Hi Jill- Yes, the switch changed the texture. Sugar makes for a crisp cookie- too much and it's crumbly if not offset with butter or oil and egg.

I'm finding that using either agave or honey- even just 1 tablespoon- in a recipe really helps gluten-free egg-free baking. Both are humectant and help to bind.

I haven't used flax (I'm allergic to flax) but you could try making the flax gel egg sub people talk about. Have you looked through my post on substitutions?


Anonymous said...

HI Karina--I can't wait to try these, but I do not like buckwheat. At all. What would you suggest substituting? (I like pretty much all the other flour options.)
Thank you!

Vanessa said...

Um, ok... YUM!

Jade Lam said...

Though I am really enjoying my crumbly biscotti, the taste is devine, I do wish that I had read the post about the subbing sugar for agave not being good as it crumbles. Oh well, still tastes fab! My dairy free toddler keeps asking for more.
Thanx Karina.

Anonymous said...

These look delicious! Now, I've discovered the wonderful world of xyliton, which is a true blessing if you can't have anything sugar, and was wondering if you have a good rule of thumb for how replace the agave with xylitol, which are granules, just like regular sugar.

Anonymous said...


Can I use all purpose/ white whole wheat flour and eliminate xanthan gum?

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