A cookie update, by sharon

My friend, A, once pointed out that most people are either bakers or cooks—very seldom are they both.  And I think she’s right.  I think I’m a pretty good cook, but I have absolutely no instinct when it comes to baking.  That might completely change if I ever have a kitchen big enough to allow me to work with dough, but until then, thinking about the intricacies of baking is still scary to me.

More experimentation today, this time with the chocolate-orange cookies.  I’m trying to make a healthier version: less fat, less sugar, lower glycemic index kind of a deal.  My thinking is using something other than butter (Smart Balance for today’s trial), baking Splenda, brown sugar Splenda, and half oat flour.

So when I decided to tweak my cookie recipe, I didn’t know what to think! Would the oat flour change the rise of the cookie, does using less brown sugar (because the Splenda blend is much sweeter) change the way it creams with the butter?  What if what if?  And I don’t have enough experience to answer these questions.  A week ago, I tried a version of this cookie using agave nectar instead of sugar, rolled oats, only 2 tablespoons of butter, and some olive oil.

They were tasty, sure, and other people liked them.  But I don’t like chewy cookies, and all that extra liquid made them really chewy and soft.  Glad it wasn’t a total throwaway, but I wanted my favorite cookie, all crisp and dunkable. Hence today’s recipe:

1 1/2 sticks of Smart Balance butter substitute
1/3 cup baking Splenda
1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar Splenda blend
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cups oat flour*
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
the zest of 1-2 medium oranges, to taste
1 bag of dark chocolate chips (60% cocoa)
1/4 cup chopped pecans

*oat flour can be made at home by putting rolled oats into a food processor and grinding until it is fine and flour-like in consistency.  Since I am currently without a food processor, I buy Bob’s Red Mill, a brand that offers a lot of different gluten-free alternatives to traditional flour.

Cream butter and sugars together.  Add vanilla and egg and mix thoroughly.  Add orange zest, mix, and let the batter sit for a few minutes so the orange oils really permeate the other ingredients.  Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Gradually add in the flour, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10-14 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool briefly, then remove cookies to a cooling rack.  Cool completely before storing.

And the verdict?  These aren’t bad! They’re more crumbly than my original recipe, but crumbly the way shortbread or peanut butter cookies are.  Still quite tasty and more to my liking than the last time I tried it.  Success!!


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