I have received quite a few requests for some “healthier” chocolate chip cookies in the past few weeks. Traditional chocolate chip cookies can vary from 120 calories PER COOKIE (that is the “lowest” I could find) up to a whopping 285 calories per cookie, depending on how they are made!!! Now I don’t know about you – but for 285 calories, I want more than one stinkin’ cookie!!!

So what’s the problem? Well, I have been hesitant to post a recipe for two main reasons:

#1 – People are VERY particular about their chocolate chip cookies. There are typically two groups of chocolate chip cookie lovers – the soft, moist chewy group, and the crispy, crunchy group.

#2 – You can use the same exact recipe time after time when making your cookies – and one time they will come out perfect, “just the way you like them”, and then the next time – something is just not quite right. How can be this be? Well I have listed quite a few reasons for this phenomenon (along with “tips and tricks” on how to get them “just the way you like them every time. So be sure to check out all of the useful information that follows the recipe!

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 cup all purpose)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup, and level it off with a knife. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir to blend. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugars, butter, egg white, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions until the batter is very well blended. If the batter looks more “crumbly” than smooth, add just a splash of water at a time (ONLY if needed) until it smooths out.

Drop by level spoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto baking sheets coated lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 -10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let stand 5 minutes before removing the cookies from the pans to cool on wire racks. Enjoy!

Makes 2 dozen cookies. Per cookie: 61 calories, 1.5 g total fat, less than 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 11 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 9 g added sugar, 2 g protein, 37 mg sodium, less than 1 g cholesterol

TIPS and TRICKS:

So sometimes chocolate chip cookies are soft and chewy one time, and then thin and crispy another time when using the same recipe. And sometimes, the soft cookies seem to get hard after a day, and the crisp cookies seem to get soft. This is the dilemma of the chocolate chip cookie! So why does this happen? Well, very subtle changes in proportions, mixing methods, and baking can produce very big differences.

What makes cookies soft and chewy is a high moisture content, as well as baking time and oven temperature. “Binding” the water with the flour – through the use of butter, eggs, andor brown sugar (brown sugar contains molasses, which is 10 percent water) – slows its evaporation. The dough needs a little extra flour, which makes it stiffer. The stiff dough spreads less, less liquid evaporates, and the cookies are thicker. Mass also helps cookies stay moist–big dollops of dough make softer and chewier cookies than tiny spoonfuls of dough. Bake these thick cookies for a shorter time at a high temperature to firm them quickly and minimize spreading, and most importantly don’t bake them too long. You want to remove them from the oven when the outer edges are light brown but at least 1/3 of the center top remains pale. The cooked centers will then be softer.

However, too much extra liquid in your dough will make the dough more elastic and will add steam as they bake, making them puff more and come out more “cake-like”. So it really is a very delicate balance.

Now on the other hand, reducing the amount of ingredients that will hold moisture makes it easier for liquid to evaporate, which will produce thinner, crispy, crunchy cookies. For crispness, bake cookies longer at a lower temperature to give them more time to spread before they firm. Then bake them long enough to “dry” and brown them evenly to develop the maximum toasty flavor and crisp texture throughout.

If you typically have trouble with your cookies spreading too much (you know, those thin wafer-like wisps that were so NOT what you were hoping for!), most often the cause is low-fat butter or margarine spread, which has about 20 percent more water. When you use it in place of “regular” butter or margarine, this extra liquid causes a problem because now there is way too much moisture and the batter becomes almost runny once you put it near the heat. Low-fat products can’t be used interchangeably with regular fats for baking without making other recipe adjustments. Cookies can also spread too much when you drop the dough onto a warm or hot baking sheet; the heat “melts” the dough, and the cookies spread before they’re baked enough to hold their shape. Always make sure the baking sheets used are at room temperature (I put mine in the fridge for a few minutes before I drop the dough on).So, the way that we measure our ingredients and the “real” temperature of our our ovens are the usual reasons that we all get different results from the same recipe. Flour should always be stirred to loosen and fluff it, then spooned gently into a dry-measure cup (the kind you fill to the rim) and the top scraped level with the back of a butter knife. If you tap the cup or scoop flour from the bag, the flour gets packed down and you can easily add 2 to 4 extra tablespoons flour per cup.

You can scoop up white sugar, because it doesn’t pack, but you should firmly pack brown sugar into a dry-measure cup and scrape the top level. Dry ingredients should not be measured in heaped-up cups or with spoons; you always want to scrape dry ingredients level with the surface. Always measure liquid ingredients with liquid-measuring cups.

If your cookies bake faster or slower than the recipe indicates that they should, chances are your oven’s thermostat is not registering accurately. It’s a good idea to double-check your oven temperature every once in a while with an oven thermometer and adjust the oven temperature as needed (oven thermometers only cost a few dollars, and can be found in most supermarkets).

So, there you go! I hope that all of this information helps, and that everyone gets their cookies to turn out “just they way they like them!!” Good Luck, and if anyone has any further questions, feel free to get in touch.

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