Skinny Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

dsc_0265As 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.

dsc_0251To 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.

3Now 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.

1When 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.

dsc_0268Note: This formula makes about 20 cookies. The cooked and cooled cookies can be stored in a container at room temperature for about 3 days.

Skinny Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 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

Formula:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

2SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM KRIS WIDICAN

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013

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Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Fall has officially arrived here in Florida today. Waking up to a very brisk, chilly morning was refreshing but also a bit of a shock to the system I must admit. It is rather ironic that as I sit here freezing in Florida while family in Queens, New York will most likely be hit by a Hurricane in the coming hours. With that said, I guess it is only fitting that there is no better way to warm up your day then starting it off with a sweet and gooey, calorie-laced cinnamon roll straight from the oven. Although there are many food court or fast food leaner and punier cousins to the homemade cinnamon roll, nothing is quite as satisfying as eating a cinnamon roll made from scratch or a neighborhood bakery. Processed cinnamon rolls lack the richness of soft, buttery Brioche dough, the gooey abundance of cinnamon-sugar filling, and the thick and sticky cream cheese glaze that a great homemade cinnamon roll can offer.

To start the cinnamon roll off on the right foot, selecting the proper type of yeast dough is key. Some cinnamon roll formulas will use a sweet bread dough which is too lean, a Danish dough which is overly buttery and way too much labor, or Challah which is neither rich or soft enough for the ideal roll. By far the best in my opinion is Brioche, which isn’t flaky or overly buttery, but rather a tender and rich base with which to begin the Ultimate Cinnamon Roll. Next stop is the filling. Granulated sugar is far too bland in a cinnamon roll of epic status. Using light brown sugar instead adds a caramel flavor which is further emphasized when it melts down into ooey gooey deliciousness. Just be sure that you use light brown sugar and not dark because then you will go from one extreme to another. First being too bland and then to being too bold and overshadowing the cinnamon with caramel flavor. Any cinnamon of course would do in this formula but I wanted the Ultimate most Epic Cinnamon Roll and to do that you need some fine cinnamon. I chose to use a blend of hand-mixed China, Vietnamese, Korintje, and Ceylon Cinnamon. The result… filling that is PERFECTO!!! Of course with more filling comes the risk of it all crumbling out everywhere as it is rolled up. To prevent this, a slathering of butter is necessary and since the original yeast dough base is not a significantly buttery dough to begin with, slathering the butter in this step doesn’t affect the dough in a negative way but rather enriches it perfectly and provides the desired rich, gooey filling.

Last stop on the road to Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls ends with the glaze. Most formulas top the rolls with a cream cheese frosting full of butter and confectioner’s sugar, causing already rich rolls to be just too darn sweet. By eliminating the butter and replacing it with a bit of milk and vanilla, the cream cheese glaze now had the perfect amount of rich flavor without being too over the top. By adding a bit of the glaze while the rolls were still warm allowed the it to penetrate the rolls and add an extra element of flavor and tenderness. Adding the rest of the glaze after the rolls had cooled for some time prevented it from melting and created a nice thick layer of frosting sure to never disappoint.

Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Brioche Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup Milk, warmed to 110°
  • 1 envelope Rapid-Rise or Instant Yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
  • 3 Eggs, room temp.
  • 4 ¼ cups Bread Flour
  • ½ cup Cornstarch
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. Salt
  • 12 tbsp. ( 1 ½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp. Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 ½ cups Confectioners’ Sugar

Brioche Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 200°. Once preheated, shut off the oven. Line a 13 x 9 in. pan with foil, allowing a bit of excess to hang over the edges. Grease the pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Mix heated milk and yeast together until yeast dissolves. Allow to bloom a few minutes. Fit a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and use the bowl to mix the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add the milk/yeast mixture in a steady stream. Add the eggs and mix until the dough comes together. Increase to medium speed and add the butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Continue to mix the dough until it is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl in a cohesive ball, about 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warm oven. Let rise until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. (If not using a stand mixer, be sure to place the dough in a oven safe bowl before placing in the preheated oven.)

Filling Formula:

  1. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll the dough into an 18 in. square. Spread the softened butter over the dough, leaving a ½ in. border around the edges. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture and lightly press the sugar mixture to adhere it to the dough. 
  2. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam lightly to seal it and place the seam side down. Use a metal bench scraper or knife to cut the rolled log in half and then into 8 pieces for large cinnamon rolls or 12 pieces for mini cinnamon rolls. Transfer the pieces, cut side facing up, into the prepared 13 x 9 pan. Cover with plastic wrap and proof in the warmed, shut off oven until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Glaze/Bake Formula:

  1. Remove cinnamon rolls from oven or warm spot. Discard plastic wrap. Heat oven to 350°. Bake cinnamon rolls until golden brown and filling is melted, 30 to 40 minutes. While cinnamon rolls bake, whisk cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Once the cinnamon rolls have finished baking, transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack and ice the rolls with ½ cup of the glaze, reserving the remaining glaze for later. Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool for about 30 minutes. Using the foil overhang created earlier, gently lift the rolls from the pan and top with the remaining glaze. Serve warm.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY

ERIKA BRUCE 

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012

Maple Pumpkin Cupcakes

It’s Friday!!! Time to wind down from the long week and what better way than to enjoy another fall favorite flavor. Besides Caramel, another favorite flavor of fall for myself is Pumpkin. I always looked forward to Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving as a kid and to this day I still crave it this time of year. But now that I am an adult, I like to experiment with the flavors I have always loved and deconstruct old favorites into new products. Today’s post is the result of a deconstructed Pumpkin Praline Pie translated into a cupcake.

The beauty of these cupcakes are they have the wonderful flavors of a Pumpkin Praline pie but are far easier to transport than the traditional pie and are easy for kids to swipe and run away with before you even knew they were in the kitchen. The base of the cupcake is rich in pumpkin flavor and accented by a great blend of spices. For the Pumpkin Pie Spice I chose a blend that contained China Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mace, and Cloves. You can use any brand of Pumpkin Pie Spice but I really enjoy what this particular blend brings to the cupcakes and how it accurately brightens the pumpkin flavor without overpowering it. I would have the base flavor no other way.

To bring the Praline flavor to the cupcake without overshadowing the pumpkin flavor, which must always be the star of the show, I chose a very light and airy whipped topping like frosting called Chantilly Cream. I chose this not only to be a light and delicate way to introduce the praline flavor, but also keeping in mind that this is a deconstructed version of a pumpkin pie and how do most people top their pumpkin pies… with Cool Whip.

To make Chantilly Cream you simply whip cold heavy cream to stiff peaks then add any flavors you are wishing to achieve. For my flavoring, I chose Maple Syrup because it gives a nutty caramel flavor much like what is found in a Pumpkin Praline Pie.  Now I know I often give short cut time saver tips but I really don’t suggest you ever use Cool Whip as a substitute to making Chantilly Cream yourself because there is no comparison to the homemade variety and since it is so simple and takes only a few minutes the stuff you buy prepared really doesn’t save much time and costs far more than standard cream and imparts a processed flavor which can overshadow your flavor additions and even the cake base itself. So no cheating with this one.

To round out the final flavors of the traditional Pumpkin Praline Pie and add an elegant finishing touch to the look of the cupcakes, I toasted and chopped a few pecans and garnished the Maple Chantilly Cream. After a slight traumatic incident involving a spooked cat, cut toe, and suicidal cupcake I had to clean off the floor, I was finally able to enjoy this fall masterpiece that had scented up my kitchen all morning. Let me tell you… the moist, tender pumpkin cake slathered with the light maple cream and crunchy pecan garnish was… truly…. delicious!!!

Maple Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups (7.5 oz.) All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (8.75 oz.) Sugar
  • 8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted & cooled
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 ½ cups Heavy Cream, chilled
  • ¼ cup Maple Syrup
  • ¼ cup Pecans, toasted & chopped

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 350°. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan and grease liners with cooking spray (You can use Halloween or Fall themed liners for added effect). Mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter, and eggs on medium-high until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, mixing until incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. A few small streaks of flour may remain which is okay.
  3. Place the batter in a measuring cup for easing pouring and fill each cupcake liner ¾ full. Bake about 12-15 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
  4. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with the whip attachment and beat the cream and maple syrup together on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. If you are old school you can also use a whisk and whip the cream by hand for the same results minus a sore arm 😉
  5. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the Maple Chantilly Cream and pipe in a circular motion on the top of the cooled cupcakes. Finish cupcakes with a sprinkle of pecans. Serve. Store any leftovers in refrigerator up to three days.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012