As month two of 2013 comes to a close I am reminded of my new year’s resolution to shed a few pounds. This made me wonder how many others who made the same popular choice to lose weight this year actually stuck with their goal. One hurdle I always face is my craving for sweets, usually something involving chocolate. This post doesn’t involve chocolate but does involve a baked good that is commonly mistaken as being somewhat healthier than other options. The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is often confused as being naturally the most nutritious cookie out there but this is far from true. In fact, some cookies can have as much as 400 calories and 13 grams of fat per cookie. There are many offerings out there that claim they are low-fat or low-calorie and don’t lose the original taste of the full fat/calorie Oatmeal Raisin Cookies but those are for lack of a better word… lies. They often replace butter and sugar with healthier add ins like applesauce or non-fat sour cream, which create nothing but a tough, flavorless, and visually unappealing cookie.
To make a truly healthier version that will retain its color, flavor, and texture, therefore making it actually disappear from the cookie jar rather than sit untouched, a little bit of fat needs to remain. By cutting the butter and browning what remains in the formula, the flavor intensifies as the nuttiness of the butter becomes more pronounced. Unfortunately by cutting fat you lose the texture that it brought to the oats. In a full fat cookie, the oats become tender flavorful bits that still retain a hint of chew. In a low-fat version, they become tough and leathery, barely cooking at all. To prevent this usual pitfall of a low-fat version, the formula toasts the oats in the butter that is browned. This way, in one step two problems are solved.
Now for the final problem which revolves around sugar content. To reduce fat further, one would think to cut as much sugar as possible. However, when you cut out even a bit of the sugar, you lose not only sweetness but moisture. Moisture that is crucial to the texture of the cookie. To resolve the final problem, an unusual but simple step is done… take a portion of the raisins, chop them and boil in water until a smooth paste forms. By adding this raisin paste to the cookie dough, the cookies remain moist and chewy despite having a dramatic cut in sugar. In fact, the added raisin pulp created a caramel undertone that enhanced the raisin flavor to even better levels than a full fat cookie.
When all the tricks of the trade have been applied to a traditional Oatmeal Raisin Cookie formula, the result is a dramatic difference in calories, fat, and saturated fat per cookie. A traditional cookie contains 370 calories, 13 grams of fat, with 9 grams being saturated fat. This Skinny cookie contains only 150 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, with 2 grams being saturated fat. Now you can eat an Oatmeal Raisin cookie without all the guilt.
Skinny Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- 1 cup Raisins; ½ cup chopped fine, ½ cup left whole
- ¾ Water
- 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 1 ¾ cups Old-Fashioned Oats
- 1 ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon (I use a blend of sweet China, rich Vietnamese, Ceylon, & Korintje)
- 1 cup Flour
- ¼ tsp. Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp. Baking Soda
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 1 ½ cups Light Brown Sugar, packed
- 1 Egg
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the chopped raisins and water in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer until the water has evaporated and the raisins are plump, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring constantly, until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Let cool.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in all the raisins, the toasted oats, and the flour mixture until just combined.
- Roll 2 tbsp. of dough into 1 ½ inch round balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gently press each dough ball down until it is about ½ in. thick. Bake cookies until the edges are a light golden brown and the centers are just set, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Cool 10 minutes on the baking sheets then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.