Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love baking but I don't do much of it. It's a shame and I've been wanting to get into the habit of baking more. For a while I had the hankering to make some wonderful homemade, baked, sweet something. But what? I wanted it to have some semblance of healthfulness. Zucchini bread. Bran muffins. Oatmeal cookies. Something that wasn't all calories and fat and sugar and guilt.

When it comes to healthfulness my biggest challenge is my husband. It's not that he doesn't care about being healthy but to say veggies really aren't his thing would be the understatement of the year. I try to sneak any form of nutrition into what I cook for him but it's definitely difficult to say the least. Brad was pretty wary of the whole vegetables in dessert idea so I postponed the zucchini bread in favor of some oatmeal cookies. He had had some at a party a couple weeks prior and really liked them and I knew I could make something healthy and delicious with them. So I decided to find a recipe and play with it.

First, I wanted to eliminate most of the fat by replacing
the 3/4 of the butter in the recipe with apple butter. You can also do this with apple sauce but while I'm not really a fan of applesauce, I love apple butter and had some in the house. The apple butter I used had less that half the calories and NO fat compared to the butter I was using. So I saved 540 calories and 96 grams of fat JUST by making this substitution. (This counts the whole batch of cookies, but still.) Also, because apple butter adds a lot more sweetness than butter would, I also cut out some of the sugar in the original recipe.

I also added some wheat germ to the mix. For those who don't already know, this is a great option to any baked recipe to add nutrition. I add wheat germ to pancakes, waffles, cookies and muffins. It adds nutrition without changing the flavor. One note of caution, though. When you are baking the ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients is important. Since it has a dry, powdery consistency, wheat germ may throw this ratio off some. To counteract this, if your mix seems too thick add more of a wet ingredient. For example, in my pancakes I add a splash more milk. In the case of these cookies, the dough was fine so I didn't need to add anything.

One last thing I do in almost all of my baked recipes is switch half of the flour needed from all-purpose to whole wheat. Again, by only switching out half the flour for whole wheat, you can maintain the flavor and texture while still dramatically increasing the nutrition.

So these cookies were absolutely the surprise of the season. I thought they would be good but since I was seriously tweaking the recipe and wasn't sure exactly what the outcome would be. To both of our surprise these were amazing! It must have been the apple butter because there was this depth of flavor that couldn't be explained by anything else. If it's at all possible, these cookies really taste like fall, not too sweet with a great mix of spices and a burst of chocolate every now and then. They didn't puff up the way most cookies do, I think because of the lack of "real" butter . They held the shape they had in their raw form and just got nice and golden. But it didn't really bother us. Really it just added to the rustic, homebaked look of them.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from
Crepes of Wrath (originally from Quaker Oats)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
3/4 cup apple butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp toasted wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups dry oatmeal

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In large bowl, beat together the butter, apple butter and sugar until light and fluffy, at least 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and beat well.
3. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat together until just moistened. Stir in your oats, then stir in your chocolate chips.
4. Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto foil-lined cookie sheets.
5. Bake the cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool for a bit on the cookie sheets before transferring elsewhere to cool. Makes approx. 3 dozen, depending on size of your cookies.

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