Share This Page

Healthy Eating: Crisp, sweet cookies are just a bit healthy

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 7:08 p.m.
This Oct. 28, 2013 photo shows a plate of healthy lace cookies in Concord, N.H., made with oatmeal, butter, white sugar, a whole egg and vanilla extract. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

I was a happy little butterball when I was a kid. Sweets were my thing, desserts in particular. And chocolate desserts most of all. The one exception to the rule? My grandmother's oatmeal cookies.

They were sweet, of course, but also lacy and crispy. Back then, I didn't know or care that oatmeal cookies were a healthier choice than most other treats (thanks to the oats, which are a concentrated source of fiber and nutrients). But healthfulness alone has never done it for me.

During my hippy days, I was well aware of the nutritional benefits of granola cookies — which are, in essence, soft oatmeal cookies stuffed with dried fruit and nuts — but they struck me as more like medicine than dessert. Besides, I missed the crispiness of my grandmother's version.

This is an embellished rendition of Grandma Ruth's cookies. We start with a pure base: oatmeal, butter, white sugar, a whole egg and vanilla extract. No low-fat ingredients. I firmly believe that a modest serving of a full-fat, full-sugar dessert is more enjoyable than a larger serving of something with no fat or fake sugar.

In a festive nod to the holidays, I've spruced up the basic recipe with chocolate and orange, a combination that plays beautifully together. Bittersweet chocolate chips are my chocolate of choice, but you're welcome to substitute chopped bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, if you prefer.

If you're not the most accomplished baker, but like the idea of whipping up a homemade treat for family and friends during the holidays, these are the cookies for you. They're so easy that even my husband could make them. And, yet, they come off more like a specialty item from a fancy bakery than a prosaic little oatmeal cookie.

Also, they'll stay fresh for several weeks in an airtight container at room temperature, which allows you to keep eating when your guests and the holidays are gone, but your cravings remain!

Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.

Chocolate Orange Lace Cookies

Start to finish: 50 minutes (30 minutes active)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

14 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest (about 1 orange)

1 14 cups rolled oats

1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

18 teaspoon table salt

12 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and orange zest, then beat until light and fluffy, for about another 4 minutes. In another medium bowl, mix the oats, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Scoop the dough a tablespoon at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 2 inches apart and about 12 per baking sheet. Use the back of a spoon to lightly press down on each mound to slightly flatten it. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, on the oven's center rack until the edges are browned, for 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack immediately and let them cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories (25 calories from fat), 3 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 40 milligrams sodium

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.