Low-Fat Good-for-You Chocolate Cookies

Posted on: March 06, 2015 Written by
Low-Fat Good-for-You Chocolate Cookies
    Photography by: Debbie Peck      

My husband and I are really not on diets. (Maybe we should be, but we’re not!) We’ve decided this is a life-style–eating healthier foods on an ongoing basis. However, I think the axiom “Everything in moderation” better explains our eating habits. I like eating healthy foods. They’re satisfying and I feel great when I eat them. But I’ve found that I also need some fun foods occasionally (think: popcorn on Sunday nights). If I can eat fun foods that are healthy–that’s the best! And that’s how these Low-Fat Good-for-You Chocolate Cookies came into our world.

After lunch one day recently, my Good Husband asked, “Do you have anything healthy that’s a little sweet, to go with my espresso?” Well, I didn’t. I was trying not to have those kinds of foods sitting around, tempting us.

But I started looking through recipes and decided to experiment with a recipe I found, replacing the “bad stuff” with “good stuff”. I replaced the oil with applesauce. I tossed out the egg yolks. I used whole wheat flour instead of refined, white flour. Low fat yogurt was a good substitute for sour cream. The only “bad” thing I left in was the sugar. (Actually, I tried one batch using honey instead of sugar and they were terrible. I don’t want to be that good!)

I guarantee you, these Good-for-You Chocolate Cookies will delight your sweet tooth, without destroying your diet. They’re easy to make. They store well. They’re chocolate. They’re healthy. And here’s how I made them…

The recipe calls for brown sugar. But, my grocery store was out of brown sugar. So I did what I’ve done for many years, and mixed 2 Tablespoons of molasses into my sugar…

I used to bring my molasses over from North America. And then one day I discovered a jar of molasses here in an Arabic store! It seems Arabs use molasses in many of their sweets–and I never knew that. The shop owner told me that they sometimes call it Black Honey. Interesting. So, no need to bring molasses over to Europe in my suitcase–double bagged and twist-tied shut! Yeah!

Once I’ve stirred the molasses and sugar together, it looks exactly like brown sugar…because it is. White sugar is actually refined sugar which has had the molasses removed from it. So if you put molasses back into the white sugar, you’ll have brown sugar.

Even when I lived in North America, I generally made my own brown sugar as I found it more convenient to keep a jar of molasses on hand than to keep a stock of brown sugar. Seemed I was always running out of it. Or it had gotten hard…

To the brown sugar I add a half cup of applesauce…

Applesauce is another one of those things that you can’t find in Italy. Not really sure why not. They eat a lot of apples. Anyway I either make my own and keep it in the freezer in small, plastic containers, or I bring some boxes of it down from Germany, where we used to live. I don’t know if they sell boxes of applesauce where you live but I love the idea of having it in a box instead of a heavy, breakable jar.

So in my Global Kitchen, I’m combining Arabic molasses, with Italian sugar, and German applesauce!

To that I add an egg white…

…and my last “wet” ingredient, a quarter cup of plain, low fat yogurt. If you don’t have any, just add a scant quarter cup of low fat milk with a teaspoon of vinegar…

Next I added the dry ingredients. Some instant, decaffeinated coffee…

We don’t drink instant coffee…but I keep a jar of decaf on hand for some of my favorite chocolate-coffee-mocha desserts. Do not try to add just ground coffee! It won’t dissolve. However, if you don’t have any, or don’t like the taste, just leave it out.

There are a variety of spices you can also add, if you like, to create interest. A half teaspoon of cinnamon would give a Viennese flavor. I once added a little cayenne pepper. And today I added a half teaspoon of ground pepper…

Gives it a little “bite”. We like it. Be bold!

Then I add some baking soda and salt…

…and then 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour…

(Note for the record: I grind my own wheat…one time when I made these cookies I noticed that the texture was very “bread-y” and determined that it was because I had ground the flour on the bread setting instead of the pastry setting. I doubt many people are grinding their own wheat…but you may find that store-bought whole wheat produces the same bread-y texture. If so, consider using all-purpose flour instead, or looking for pastry-ground whole wheat.)

Last, I added 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder…

You might want to just sift together all of the dry ingredients–especially if your cocoa powder is lumpy.

Everything gets stirred up just until smooth…and then I placed the mixture on a parchment-lined (or greased) baking sheet. I tried using two spoons…worked fine…

…and then I used my new cookie scoop–a Christmas gift from my son. Very cool!

The batch made a total of 23-24 cookies…two baking sheets with 12 each…with room for spreading…

I baked them for 10-12 minutes at 350° F (180° C). Even though I’ve made these several times already, I’ve determined that it’s not easy to know when they were “done”. With some things you can press your finger lightly in the middle and the mixture bounces back; these cookies didn’t bounce back. They appeared “done” after only about 8-9 minutes, but I found they stuck too much to the parchment paper and I decided they needed to be baked a bit longer. So I put them back in the oven for a few more minutes and then they came off much more easily.

It’s a good idea to swap shelves after about five minutes…top to bottom. I’ve never had them get hard and dried out…probably the greater risk is having them underdone. But 10-12 minutes should be about right. Here’s what mine looked like after 12 minutes in the oven…

One time when I made them they didn’t spread out that much…could have just been the humidity that day or something. However, they were still delicious, so don’t worry if yours don’t spread out this much.

I put them on a cooling rack…

…and we’ve been enjoying them almost every day since then! I’ve lost track of how many batches I’ve made! They’re terrific with an espresso after lunch….a simple, not-too-sweet chocolate cookie.

Then one day, something happened. I got the idea of making a chocolate cookie sandwich…what could I spread between the cookies to hold them together? I tried several things before landing on Nutella, that delicious but bad-for-you chocolate spread which was actually invented right here in the Torino area of Italy.

I’ll tell you what…this combination is fabulous!

I’ve noticed more and more recipes online using Nutella, indicating that it’s popularity is growing in North America. In Italy, it is the spread of choice, particularly since they don’t have peanut butter here. Displays for it are everywhere–huge bottles as well as small take-it-and-go snack packages…

I used to think it was fairly healthy since it was made with hazelnuts–instead of peanuts. Blended with chocolate…how bad could it be? The truth is…pretty bad. The #1 ingredient is sugar and the second ingredient is “vegetable oil” which in countries which require more specific ingredient lists turns out to be palm oil! Bad. But the way I see it…everything in moderation. A jar of Nutella isn’t going to kill anyone…so I think I’ll keep putting a little on my cookie sandwiches and just do an extra few minutes on the Nordic Track!

Ciao!

Debbie

For this recipe, I’ve listed the good-for-you ingredients first, with an alternate ingredient for those of you who aren’t watching cholesterol, or aren’t overweight…or who maybe just don’t have one of the ingredients in the house but you have another.  Enjoy!

Yield: 22-24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 C. (325 g) brown sugar, firmly packed (or white sugar with 2-3 T. molasses)
  • 1/2 C. (125 ml) applesauce (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 C. (60 ml) low fat yogurt (or sour cream, or milk with a tsp.of vinegar)
  • 1 egg white (or 1 whole egg)
  • 1 1/2 C. (225 g) whole wheat flour (or 190 g white flour)
  • 3/4 C. (60 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of ground black pepper (or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, or 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper)

 

Instructions

  1. Cream together the brown sugar and applesauce.
  2. Add the yogurt and egg white; stir until smooth.
  3. Sift together and add the remaining dry ingredients. Stir just until smooth.
  4. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough on a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350° F (180° C).

 

For additional recipes, please visit: http://ciaofromdebbie.com

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