Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Sweet Treat

So I'm into food, which is probably evident from some of my recent posts. In fact, at one time I even planned on going to the Culinary Institute of America...but like many indecisive kids, I changed my mind last last minute and decided to enroll at a regular liberal arts college instead. Needless to say, I'm happy with my decision, however that doesn't mean I'm not an avid fan of cooking anymore. I enjoy getting in the kitchen every now and then and conjuring up a full course meal. However, I've always had a special predilection for baking, and that's why you'll often find me banging around pots and pans in the kitchen the most.

When I got really into baking, as in creating some kind of pastry almost everyday (this was still when I wanted to attend culinary school), I started to notice that if I wanted to bake everyday and eat the food too, I'd need to make a few changes in the dishes I was creating. Like any kid, I enjoyed making the cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, etc. and I enjoyed eating them too. Clearly this is an "easy as pie" way to put on some weight, and that I did. As active as I am, I still managed to gain a few pounds, which was fine with me because I've always been naturally strong. That is, until the scale kept insidiously increasing to a point where I decided I either had to quit my excessive baking, or I had to learn how to not eat my baked goods everyday. Both options would be hard for me, but instead of giving up one of my favorite hobbies, I opted for trying to eat less of my creations. I started giving most of my baked goods away, which wasn't hard because I was already handing out large portions of what I'd make before. The hardest part was not sampling the food while I was making it. The sweet aromas often make this avoidance quite difficult.

While I'm still not all that great at abstaining from sampling while baking, I've at least grown to become a little better at it. It takes a lot of self-discipline, and if you're willing to try it, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try. However, I began to realize that even though I was somewhat keeping my self from eating too much unhealthy food, I was still supplying others with loads of butter-heavy, empty calorie baked goods. I decided to start experimenting with some recipes, seeing if I could make healthier counter-versions that tasted just as great. And with that, I've decided to share with you one of my favorite suped-up cookie recipes. This recipe replaces some of the nutrient lacking white flour with fibrous whole-wheat flour, and also uses heart-healthy oil in replace of some of the butter called for in most cookie recipes. While I can't say it's necessarily a "healthy" snack, it is definitely superior to a lot of baked good you could be eating/making. This healthier treat maintains a rich, chocolately goodness that will leave you wanting to eat cookie after cookie (so maybe this is the time to test your self discipline too haha), without feeling quit so guilty.


-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 safflower oil
-1/4 cup butter
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
-1/2 cup all-purpose flower
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup dark chocolate chips/or chopped chunks of choc.
-1/3 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (choice of sweetness/choc. preference)
-2/3 cup chopped pecans
-1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the sugars and butter together until well mixed. Add the egg and oil, beating until creamy. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the chocolate and pecans, mixing until thoroughly distributed. Place heaping tablespoon-sized balls of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Take the cookies out slightly under done, and they're best when at least slightly cooled. They also taste best within the first 2 days, so eat up and enjoy!

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