I’ve had a preoccupation with chocolate chip cookies lately. I think I’ve been missing them. It’s been far too long.
This fixation led to near-constant daydreaming this week about David Leite’s quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie in the New York Times last year, and how he had come to the conclusion that refrigerating the dough for 24-36 hours before baking it improved their flavour and texture. More to the point was the fact that I hadn’t gotten around to trying them myself yet. I was mid-thought when I sat down to check out some of my favourite food blogs, and found Shauna had created a gluten-free version of the very same. A clear sign if ever one was presented to me.
But when I got to my mixing bowl this afternoon, printed-out recipe and softened pound of butter in hand, I couldn’t bring myself to start with a cup and a quarter of it.
And then – duh – this is not what I’m all about, is it? I sometimes forget. (Too often lately it seems.) Yes, it’s easy to make delicious cookies out of the better half of a pound of butter and twice as much sugar; easier even to eat far too many of them. I can make low fat versions of stuff like this that are pretty fantastic. I wonder if time spent in the fridge would improve them too?
So I made a batch of my old standbys, which I haven’t made in ages. I always add a bit of Roger’s Golden Syrup, honey or corn syrup to my cookie dough (the low-fat kind, anyway), to add a bit of moisture and to speed up the browning action. (Syrups brown more quickly than sugar.) People tend to want their cookies to be beautifully golden all the way through, and by doing so overbake them in order to get there, and then when they cool down and firm up, they aren’t chewy anymore. You almost need to underbake chocolate chip cookies, much like brownies. (Which has been running a close second to cookies in my brain’s porn channel lineup.)
And since I am currently in a maple mood (my breakfast of choice this past month has been homemade or Highwood Crossing granola with frozen wild blueberries and plain Bles-Wold yogurt, sprinkled with a little of Manon’s maple sugar), as I made the dough I pondered a maple version, made using maple syrup instead, and white chocolate chunks. And maybe pecans. Or toasted walnuts. That’s it – Maple Walnut White Chocolate Chunk Cookies. They wouldn’t have quite filled the proper void tonight, but I am so making them tomorrow. Hell, I might not even get through tonight without mixing up a batch.
Meanwhile, here’s a low fat chocolate chip cookie recipe. (Of course to be considered low fat in Canada a product must contain 3 grams of fat or less per serving, but these contain considerably less fat than a traditional recipe – only 1/4 cup, as opposed to a cup or so. And just look at them! Low-er fat.)
I baked half the dough tonight, and saved half for tomorrow night or Monday – I’ll let you know the results of the aging process then. In theory it should work with any dough.
Much-Lower-Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies
The biggest problem people run into when baking chewy chocolate chip cookies is overbaking – if they are golden all over when they come out of the oven, they won’t be chewy once they cool down. Because they firm up as they cool, make sure they are golden and set around the edges, but still very soft in the middle, if you want chewy cookies.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. golden syrup, honey or maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla or maple extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until well combined — the mixture will have the consistency of wet sand. Add egg, corn syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt (stir them together first only if you want to) to the butter-sugar mixture and stir by hand until almost combined; add chocolate chips and stir just until blended. It may seem dry at this point – I always find it easiest to get in there with my hands toward the end.
Drop spoonfuls of dough (or roll rough walnut-sized balls) about 2” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Flatten each a little with your hand, just to give them a head start. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until pale golden and set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 20 cookies.
Per Cookie: 155 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 1.4 g monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat), 25.5g carbohydrates, 17.6 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 1 g fiber. 29% calories from fat
So. Does this lightened recipe in lieu of going whole hog (or cow, as the case may be – we’re talking butter, aren’t we?) mean I’m back on the weight-loss wagon? I’m sorry to have dropped the subject so abruptly. I could offer up a dozen reasons why, but all sound annoyingly like excuses. And none are any different from the impediments any of us face on a day to day basis. And when I think about it, although I have been pointing myself in far too many directions these days and not keeping on top of anything well, that’s not really the reason the subject (and our “Book Club”) has been backburnered. I think I just took that particular line of my brain off the hook, although I haven’t been able to shut off that annoying beeeep beeeep beeeeep reminder that it’s still there, waiting for me to pick up already. And is it me, or time just blasting by these days? Particularly in this state of global uncertainty, a debilitated economy and complete dismantling and simultaneous reconstruction of popular media. As Shaggy would say – Zoiks.
Part of me thinks no one wants to hear it. I don’t want to bore those who have no concerns about their weight with my ramble. I know I’m getting a little tired of the subject myself – of it occupying such a significant portion of my brain, all the time, for as long as I can remember. (As I may have mentioned, the first time I joined Weight Watchers, with my Mom, I was in the single-digits.) But I don’t really feel much better for ignoring it – it’s not quite the holiday I think my subconscious was hoping for.
Anyway, quick update, and I’ll keep them to the ends of my posts, so that they are easy to skip over if need be. Not much to report, really. You see how I’ve been eating. Still hopping around 204. Meh. Although only 5 lbs back up from when we were shooting in February (how could it be that long ago??) I feel much puffier. Could have something to do with my gym membership running out. Hopefully the coming of spring, coupled with a 90 pound dog, will get me moving again. More importantly, I have to start eating better. And less! (Yes, I realize exercise is important. It is. But people tend to overestimate how much they’ve burned with exercise, and more than make it up calorically. It doesn’t help that Big Food tries to put the blame for obesity rates on TV and computers, when it really has as much or more to do with the enormous quantities going in.)
Step 1: stick to two cookies, instead of putting away the entire sheet. (And I don’t mean into Tupperware.) Totally doable.
One Year Ago: Prosciutto-wrapped Prawns with Pesto