Friday, September 25, 2009

[Low-fat] Butter Rum Cookies

Someone asked me what the point of a low-fat cookie was since I was still making -- and consuming -- sweets. The way I see it, 1) reducing/replacing the fat reduces the overall calorie count of the treat and 2) sugar calories are only "bad" if you don't burn them off* -- then they turn into fat -- whereas fat calories start off as fat and require extra effort to convert; like aerobic activity and reaching your target heart rate and whatnot. While I've come to enjoy lifting weights and spending time on the elliptical machine, I'd rather have a cookie that I can work off on my walk to the gym.
This new recipe, for example, still has all the sugar, but uses only 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of 80 proof alcohol (net: ~535 calories, some of which I think bake off with the alcohol, & ~45 grams of fat) versus 12 to 16 tablespoons of butter (~1,220 to 1,630 calories & ~135 to 180g fat) in a standard recipe. With another ~500 calories in flour and ~700 in sugar, they're still not "good" for you, but it's a pretty significant difference. At the rate I like to consume cookies [think Cookie Monster] there's no way I can keep ordinary cookies around the house and still be able to zip up my pants... and I like it when my pants fit... and I like keeping cookies around the house.
Enough ranting... This cookie is a riff on the pie crust method of using alcohol to hydrate the flour while inhibiting gluten formation, plus oat flour and powdered sugar/cornstarch for tenderness. Most of the alcohol does bake off, but a good ~30 -40% remains immediately after baking and slowly evaporates out over time, so this is probably not the best cookie for the kiddos [and the dough is downright boozy and eggless, making it an inappropriately excellent snack for adult dough-eaters]. These start off crunchy on the outside with a chewy caramel-flavored center and become uniformly soft over time. I've got a few variations in mind, but I'll test them first. So many cookies, so little time...
Recipe: Butter Rum Cookies
Yield: ~2 dozen cookies
Since there's so little, browning the butter is important for delivering the flavor of buttery goodness. These guys don't spread much during baking, though they will puff from the baking soda. You can use AP flour in place of the whole-wheat flours, and oat flour in place of the oatmeal. It may work using just 1.5 cups of AP, but I don't have any so I haven't tested it.

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oatmeal
1/2 cup powdered sugar (or white sugar plus 1 tsp cornstarch)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 T butter, browned
2 T spiced rum
2 T vodka, everclear, or amaretto
2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine all dry ingredients in a food processor [or blender**] and process ~3 minutes or until oats are mostly pulverized. Meanwhile heat butter in a small skillet over medium flame, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof spatula, until nutty brown milk solids rise through the foam, ~2 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape into a heat-safe bowl to stop further browning/burning.

Add alcohol and vanilla to the dry ingredients, then drizzle butter over. Pulse until mixture forms a cohesive ball. Scoop by rounded tablespoons (I used a #60 scoop) onto parchment lined sheet and flatten with a fork or glass [cut glass makes pretty patterns]. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. [Cookies may bee surprisingly flexible, but if they're browned, they're done.] Slide parchment onto cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

* My dentist may disagree.

**If using a blender, process dry ingredients, then transfer to a bowl and mix wet ingredients with hand mixer or spatula.

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