These soft, cakey, brown sugar cinnamon cookies get a tropical twist with pineapple, coconut and almonds mixed into the dough. They are sweet and generously spiced with cinnamon. Because this recipe uses plantain flour instead of wheat, the cookies are naturally gluten free. This cinnamon cookie dough is softer and wetter than most and consequently, bakes up into tender, moist rounds with lightly crinkled domes. Irresistible.
Brown sugar cinnamon cookies are gluten-free
My Aunt has trouble digesting wheat, so whenever I visit her, I try to bring a treat made with an alternative flour. On my last visit, I brought her a batch of these tropical brown sugar cinnamon cookies and she RAVED.
The alternative flour I used in this recipe came from plantains. You know, those starchy green, banana-looking things? I admit, this was my first time using this type of gluten free flour, and I was simultaneously intrigued and hesitant.
What is plantain flour?
Just what you think it is. Dehydrated plantains, ground down into powder.
Plantain flour is naturally gluten-free, is a good source of potassium and has a low glycemic index, which helps control blood sugar(though these brown sugar cinnamon cookies probably have enough sugar to negate that benefit).
Can you use plantain flour like you would regular flour?
If you’ve ever played around with alternative flours, you know that the varieties are boundless. Thing is, they don’t all have the same baking properties as regular wheat flours. Therefore, you generally don’t want to make cup for cup swaps with these types of ingredients, unless it’s specified that you can.
I was curious, so I checked to see what the properties of this specialty flour were — and according to Jeb Foods, you can use it as a 1:1 swap with regular AP flour. Cool bananas. I mean, plantains.
Still, having no experience with plantain flour, I decided to start with the recipe on the back of the package (with one minor swap).
Ingredients for brown sugar cinnamon cookies
- Plantain Flour
- Brown Sugar
- Baking Powder
- Milk (can use regular or alternative milks)
- Vegetable Oil
- Vanilla Extract
- Crystallized Pineapple
- Dried Flaked Coconut
- Sliced Toasted Almonds
One difference I noticed with the plantain flour vs. regular all purpose, is that it has a deeper, more intense color, especially once it gets wet. It’s not objectionable, just a little different than what I was accustomed to. Consequently, the cinnamon cookies had a darker, more rustic look to them.
How to make tropical brown sugar cookies
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
- Whisk the wet ingredients together and add to the dry ingredients.
- Stir to combine, then add the mix-ins.
- Scoop, sprinkle with extra toppings and bake.
Vegetable oil takes the place of butter in this recipe, which soaks into the dry ingredients and produces a slightly wetter cookie dough than you might be used to. Don’t fret. It’s fine.
Crystallized pineapple and flaked coconut give the brown sugar cinnamon cookies a tropical flair… so I was planning on calling them “tropical cookies”… until I Googled it… and discovered that “tropical cookies” are actually a popular marijuana strain. Bummer.
Best mix-ins for tropical cinnamon cookies
Obviously the pineapple and coconut work really well in this recipe, but you could also use other chewy dried fruits like raisins, papaya, mango or kiwi. Be sure to give larger sized dried or crystallized fruit a good chop before adding to the cookie dough. If they’re too large, they can overpower the cookie.
I used toasted almonds, because that’s what I had in the pantry, but other nuts would work well too. Try toasted pecans, walnuts, macadamia or Brazil nuts. Give them a rough chop and stir into the dough.
Pro-Tips for baking
- Use a cookie scoop to measure out the dough. This keeps the cookies uniform in size and shape.
- I recommend lining your baking sheets with parchment paper so the tropical brown sugar cookies don’t stick to the pan. (It also makes for easier clean-up).
- Space the scoops of cinnamon cookie dough at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet, because they will spread and puff as they bake.
- Sprinkle extra toppings (like pineapple, coconut and almonds over the scoops of plantain cookie dough before baking. They’ll settle into the batter and give your tasters an idea of what flavors the cookies have.
Look at these beauties! You can really smell the sweetness of cinnamon and brown sugar in the cookies. The plantain flour gives these cookies a beautiful bronzed color and adds more warmth and depth than plain flour.
You’ll want to let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes to set because they’re very soft when they come out of the oven. Transfer the brown sugar cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
The texture is soft and cakey and melt in your mouth good. The tropical mix-ins are like little chewy, crunchy surprises in every bite.
Yes, you can make the dough up to 3 days in advance. Let it come to room temperature and give it a good stir before baking.
I recommend storing in an air-tight container. If you’re stacking the cookies, separate them with a sheet of parchment paper to avoid sticking together.
These cookies are soft and cake-like right after baking, but they’ll firm up after a few days. Either way they’re good.
I’ve never tried it, but I would think you could. If you want to have warm cookies anytime, scoop the dough into individual rounds and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze the dough balls until solid, then transfer them to a freezer safe zip top container for up to 3 months. Remove a few balls of cookie dough, defrost and bake as usual.
Tropical Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies (gluten-free)
- 1 1/2 to 2" cookie scoop
- 1 1/2 cups Plaintain flour I used Pereg's
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 large eggs lightly whisked
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup dried pineapple (I used crystallized pineapple)
- 3/4 cup shredded dried coconut
- 3/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
PREHEAT THE OVEN:
- Heat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
MIX DRY INGREDIENTS:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the plaintain flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
COMBINE WET INGREDIENTS:
- Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk together.
ASSEMBLE THE BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON COOKIE DOUGH
- Add the egg mixture and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Batter will look a little greasy and slightly wet, because it's not using traditional flour to blend with the fats.
- Add the pineapple, coconut and almonds to the cookie dough and mix thoroughly.
SCOOP AND BAKE
- Use a 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoon cookie scoop to measure out even portions of the dough. Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet with cookies spaced about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart (cookies do spread when baking).
- If you have extra coconut, pineapple or almonds, sprinkle a pinch over the cookies before baking. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until set. (Note: you can test the cookies with a toothpick stuck into the center. If they come out clean, they're ready.
- Let the brown sugar cinnamon cookies rest for at least 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack or plate to cool completely.
- Keep cinnamon cookies in an airtight container. Separate layers with a sheet of parchment paper.