Thursday, February 15, 2007

The waistline, it's expanding!

During the past several days, I have been trying some Valentine's Day- friendly recipes. I have a horrible sweet-tooth, and I try not to have too many sweets around the house, but the weather is very cold and my kitchen is unheated, so what better way to make it warmer than to use the oven?!

First was a try at a lower-fat chocolate chip cookie. Jack had asked for these and most of the recipes I found called for an ungodly amount of butter. So I took the best of those recipes, cut the butter in half, used canola oil I(which doesn't do a lot for the total fat content, but it does cut the saturated fat numbers significantly), and added some milk. I also used my now-favorite flour. Bought at Sam's Club, it is produced by Eagle Mills and a blend of all-purpose and "ultragrain" flours. It has more fiber than all-purpose flour, though not quite as much as King Arthur's White Whole Wheat (previously, my flour of choice). The Eagle Mills flour, however, doesn't have a grainey taste and is lighter in color so it's practically indistinguishable from all-purpose.

Flour details:

Anyway, I came up with the following recipe. These chocolate-chip cookies are thin and chewy, and taste wonderful. One caveat, however, they are lowfat, so will get stale quickly. I kept them in an airtight plastic container for a day, then transferred what was left to a plastic freezer bag and stored them in the freezer.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Lower-fat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe By : Vicci

Servings : 36

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ -------------
4 tablespoons butter -- softened

1/4 cup canola oil

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg white

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/4 cups semisweet cho
colate chips

Preheat oven to 375F.

With an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugars until light, about 3 minutes. Beat in milk, extract, egg, and egg white. Beat for another minute. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Add dry ingredients to wet, blending well. Add chips.

Place heaping tablespoons of dough on parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 8-1/2 minutes until set around the edges but a little soft in the middle, remove from oven, allow t
o remain on cookie sheet for another minute (no more) and carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
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Per serving: 125 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat (2g saturated); (34% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 9mg
Cholesterol; 53mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Next up was my attempt at a chocolate cookie. Really, really chocolate. Intensely chocolate. I found a recipe for Chocolava cookies and, although they were already a relatively lowfat cookie, I played around with the recipe and was able to reduce the fat content even further with some additions and subtractions. The result was a dense, fudgy cookie that we couldn’t stop eating (big surprise). I rolled the dough in powdered sugar prior to baking but since Jack doesn’t like added sprinkles or sugars on his cookies, I left half of the batch plain.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Intensely Chocolate Cookies

Recipe By : Vicci

Servings: 84

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 2/3 cups eagle Mills All-Purpopse Unbleached Flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teas salt

1/4 cup butter -- softened

5 tablespoons canola oil

3 large eggs

1 large egg white

3 tablespoons skim milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Sift together the flour through salt into a large bowl. Form a "well" in the center. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and canola oil until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the milk and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, mixing well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be stiff and you may want to use your hands.

Form the dough into tablespoonfuls. The dough will be sticky and you can either coat your hands with canola oil or dab with water to moisten before rolling. Roll dough-balls in powdered sugar. Place on a parchment-lined sheet. Bake for 11 to 11-1/2 minutes, until they are just set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Remove from oven, allow to rest on the cookie sheet for a minute (no longer) and transfer to a cooling rack. Do not overbake.

Makes about 84 2" cookies.

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Per serving: 63 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (24% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 8mg Cholesterol; 34mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Okay, the chocolate chip and intensely chocolate cookies were just a prelude to the Valentine’s Day baking extravaganza which was planned. My friend Jenni and I had compiled a list of Valentine’s Day-inspired goodies to make, pared it down to 6 recipes, and divided the list between us. She was due to arrive on Monday morning and, as at Christmastime, we would bake the day away and end up with piles of wonderful treats to eat and give away. On Sunday I prepared the filling for the Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid, the Berry Marshmallows to dip in dark chocolate, chopped almonds for the toffee, and made a pot of Italian Wedding Soup and a loaf of no-knead bread for our lunch. Unfortunately, her daughter became ill the night before and she cancelled. So I ended up making a few of the recipes which we wanted to try, but on Tuesday instead.

The flop of the week was my attempt at candy. I have never really had success at candy-making and this was no exception. The recipe was deceptively easy. Boil sugar, butter, and water to 300-310˚F, add vanilla, pour in pan, sprinkle milk chocolate chips over, spread when softened, sprinkle with chopped almonds. Sounds easy! At about 270˚ the sugar mixture was bubbly and golden, but quite soon after it started to turn brown around the edges of the pot. Since it was still not near 300˚, I let it go. By the time it reached temperature, it was a dark, dark brown and smelled burnt. I knew what had happened, but I was hoping that it would still be salvageable. I continued with the recipe, allowed it to cool, and broke off a piece. Yuck! Burnt sugar with milk chocolate and almonds. And the burnt sugar aftertaste obliterated any good chocolate-and-nut taste, as well. Unfortunately, almost a week later this pan of toffee is still in the refrigerator. I can’t bring myself to throw it away! I need someone to come over, break it into pieces, and toss it into the garbage disposal. I keep thinking that I will be baking something, place the pan in the oven for a few minutes, then scrape off the chocolate and almonds and do something with them. I have no idea what. I just hate to waste!

Here's the Evil Toffee Recipe

The berry-flavored marshmallows frightened me a bit because of all of the preparation notes about how sticky it was and to coat everything with cooking spray lest the mixture adhere to the pan, knife, spatula, etc. But, in the end, they turned out quite well. They were very sticky, but I used copious amounts of powdered sugar and cooking spray to keep everything from sticking together. I’ve never made marshmallows before and these had the same taste as the ones we buy for hot chocolate and s’mores, but the raspberry flavor really made them stand out as something special.

Following is the recipe, from Eating Well. How

ever, I must admit that I haven’t dipped them in chocolate yet. I have eaten some, and used a lot in hot chocolate (heavenly!), but I’m keeping about half of the batch in the freezer for now. Jack thinks that they are too sweet and doesn’t like them, so I will have to wait and “dip” before I visit a friend or my parents or something so I can have someone to share with. Or else I will eat them all.


I am meeting my friend Meridee for the ballet this evening, so I thought that I would dip some marshmallows to give to her. I've never dipped chocolate before, so I had to set aside some "unacceptable" candies (for me to eat!) but I slowly got the hang of it. Finally, I came upon using a pair of seafood forks to do the dipping-- who would have thought? Anyway, they are soooo good. Dark chocolate shell covering creamy berry-flavored marshmallow. I couldn't resist. Now, my quandry-- do I use the marshmallows in hot chocolate or dip a few a day for me?

Eating Well's Chocolate-Covered Berry Marshmallows

The Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid, from King Arthur Flour website, was heavenly. And the
photo looks pretty great, no?! It really was easy. I used the Holiday Sweet Bread recipe from their website as the “base” dough, added the raspberry preserves and cream-cheese filling (made with neufachtel cheese), braided per the instructions, shot with a spritz of “Quick Shine”, and baked. Very impressive, a little time consuming, but definitely worth it. Unfortunately, I was planning to share this bread, and the other items I baked, but we had a big snow and ice storm and are now housebound. So we have to eat it ALL!!!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid

Next post, Chocolate Almond Macaroons.

Yes, we didn’t have enough to eat in the house.