Posts Tagged 'chocolate'

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

These are lighter than air cookies that still have a bit of crunch to their outer shell.  They are also reasonably chocolaty and very low in fat. These cookies are meringues, which are essentially egg whites and sugar, and so they are very easy to make.  They say not to make meringues on a humid day, so do this when it’s not humid…I’ve never encountered this because I live in a rather dry climate.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light, but I think a similar recipe exists in several other places, since I have been to potlucks where other people brought them and they say they are not from the same source.  At any rate, they make a nice item to take to a potluck, or just for a snack.  How often do you get chocolate in a very low fat format.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

3 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3 Tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate minichips

Preheat oven to 300°.  Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  I usually spray the baking sheet lightly with cooking spray to hold the parchment paper down – but don’t spray the parchment paper.

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt at high speed in a mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and all the sugar is incorporated. Sift cocoa over egg white mixture and fold it in thoroughly. Fold in minichips.

Drop batter by level tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake at 300° for 40 – 50 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely on pan on a wire rack.. Store in an airtight container.  Makes 36 cookies with .4 grams of fat each.  That’s right, less than a half of a gram of fat each!



Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

I just got back from a week’s trip to the Washington DC area.  It was unseasonably cold and snowy. It has been my experience that snow and cold other than at Christmas, are always described as “unseasonable”.  I did not have winter clothes with me, as when I left Spokane the weather in DC was supposed to be in the 50’s – which it was for a day. So I went from one appointment to the next, freezing.  When I flew home, I got in at midnight, and my car, which was parked at the airport, had a dead battery. Yes, it was my fault – a light got left on. And did I mention that it was freezing in Spokane and I still didn’t have a winter coat on?  When I woke up the next morning it was snowing heavily – unseasonable no doubt.  And it dropped to 7 degrees.  But at least I was re-united with my parka.

So I am in the need for some serious comfort food.  I was really glad to have all that soup and pot roast in the freezer to eat until I could get to the grocery.

These muffins are true comfort food.  They are muffins, which, as I have said before, are a comfort food by their very name.  And chocolate! What else says comfort like chocolate, especially when combined with that other comfort food, banana. This was a recipe for bread, and the muffins are somewhat bread-like rather than very sweet.  The original recipe (which I’m not sure where originated) had banana chips in it, which are rather high in fat – 15 grams for a half cup.  I also thought the idea of banana chips in muffins was really unappealing.  The original bread was quite high in fat, although there was no added oil since the prunes and banana took the place of fat.  The bread was almost 8 grams of fat for a 1/20 of the loaf slice.  So who is going to accurately measure 1/20 of a loaf – and how will that be enough to snack on?  So we have muffins, the pre-measured snack delight.  I also reduced the fat by halving the amount of chocolate chips and walnuts.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

12 ounces pitted prunes
¾ cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup egg substitute
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

Bring prunes and 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until prunes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain. (By the way, the simmering liquid that is left is quite tasty, so don’t waste it.  Put it in yogurt, or drink it, or something.)

In a food processor, process prunes and banana until very smooth. Add egg substitute and process until combined.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir in the banana mixture until evenly moistened, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the dry ingredients.  Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out dry.  This makes 12 large tasty muffins at about 4 grams of fat/muffin.

Variation: You can also use ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour and ½ cup all purpose flour, or entirely (1 cup) of all purpose flour.

Comment: I was so anxious for my comfort food that I bought the ripest bananas I could find at the grocery and used them –they were still mostly yellow.  The muffins would be sweeter if you used really ripe, soft bananas.  But I couldn’t wait for ripening.  I want my muffins NOW!


Candy Cane Cheesecake Brownies

Yet one more cookie for the cookie plate I’m bringing to my neighbor’s Christmas dinner (if I can get myself shoveled out).  I made them in haste this morning while I was waiting for the snow to stop – hah!  But here they are; the original recipe is from Cooking Light.

Candy Cane Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake batter

1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (see note)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
Red food coloring (optional)

Brownie batter:

4.5 ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 cup) I weighed the flour, and it was about 7/8 cup. I expect different flours have different weights.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil (see Note 2)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

The cheesecake batter: place softened cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add granulated sugar and peppermint extract; beat well. Add 1 egg and 1 egg white; beat well. Add 1 tablespoon flour; beat mixture just until blended. If you want the candy cane look, put half of the cream cheese batter into a separate small bowl and tint to the desired shade with the food coloring. (You can skip this step and make the cheesecake layer all white – or any color you wish). Set aside

The brownie batter: weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces flour into a dry measuring cup. Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, 2 egg whites, and 1 egg in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.

Assembly: Reserve 1/2 cup of brownie batter. Pour remaining batter into the prepared baking pan. Carefully spoon reserved white (or all if you’re not tinting) cheesecake batter over top making the layer as even as possible and extending it to the edges. Dot white cheesecake batter with the pink cheese cake batter and then with reserved brownie batter. Carefully swirl the layers of batters together using the tip of a knife. I went across about 4 times and down 4 times and it made a nice pattern:


Bake at 350° for 25-28 minutes or until top is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Cut into pieces.  This is one of those recipes that called for 16 brownies, but they were huge, so, like with other bar cookies, I halved them.  This thus made 32 brownies at about 4 grams of fat/brownie.


Note: The recipe called for ¼ teaspoon of mint extract, but it wasn’t very minty.  I read the reviews of the recipe online, and several said it wasn’t minty enough, so I increased the amount.  I suggest that you add the mint extract gradually, and taste after each addition, so that you get the flavor that you want.

Note 2: As you may know, usually I partially replace the oil in baked goods with applesauce, leaving a tablespoon or so of oil to bind the flour.  But it’s tricky replacing fats in cookies; sometime they turn hard as rocks.  So I left the oil in, and reduced the fat by making the bars smaller, putting them in the acceptable 4 gram ranges (and making them fit on a cookie tray.)

Variation: I think it would be pretty sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of crushed candy can or hard mint candies over the top of the brownies while they are still warm, pressing them in gently.  And you could certainly vary the colors.

Confession: These are not the best brownie I have ever tasted. They were tasty, but they weren’t rich and chocolaty, and the texture wasn’t quite right. Maybe they needed to bake a little longer, but I think I am going to try the cream cheese topping over a really good brownie.  I also thought the colored swirls looked a bit garish when the brownies were cut into pieces.

Chocolate Cherry Chewies

I am the original cookie monster.  Tell me there’s a holiday party and I’m there with a plate of cookies.


I can’t say I never met a cookie I didn’t like.  I’ve had a couple of cookie experiments that were barely good enough for dog biscuits (like the cookies in the lower left side of the photo above, a failed attempt at a low fat peanut butter cookie).  But I love cookies for much the same reason I love muffins – they re nice measured units.  You can eat them and know just how many fat grams you are eating. Eat a 3 gram cookie and have 3 grams of fat; take 2 and have 6 grams.  You can easily fit them in as a snack.  I try to keep my cookies between 2 and 4 grams of fat/cookie.  One of my Principles is that snacks should be 4 grams and under, so that you can eat lots of them.  You can also freeze most cookies, so you can create a freezer full of carefully-packed snacks to take out when the midnight munchies hit.  And of course, most of the time cookies are delicious.

Chocolate Cherry Chewies are the cookie that everyone says “these can’t be low fat” about.  They are VERY chocolaty, the outside is kind of crisp and the inside is chewy and melty.  They keep and freeze well.  The original recipe came from Cooking Light.

Chocolate Cherry Chewies

1  cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
3 Tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips (I used really good chocolate to give it that extra flavor)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degree.s  Coat baking sheets lightly with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Place butter and sugar into large bowl of a mixer and beat at high speed until well-blended.  Add vanilla and egg and beat well.  Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture.  Be sure to scrape bowl and beaters.  Fold in cherries and chocolate chips.  This makes a very stiff dough that you can almost shape with your hands.

Drop by tablespoonful 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or just until set (tops will begin to crack). Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes to allow cookies to firm up. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.  Makes 30 cookies with 2.7 grams of fat/cookie.


Variation: I often make this with dried sweetened cranberries rather than cherries, because the cherries are sometimes hard to find.  They’re just as good.

Therapeutic Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

You know you’ve had those days. Your stomach feels gorpy. You spent an hour on the phone arguing fruitlessly with a customer “service” representative about your account. You’re one step shy of a migraine – or maybe you already have one. You accidentally hit your finger with a hammer and broke it. You need muffin therapy. Just the word muffin is cozy and comforting. Muffin – muffin – muffin. Doesn’t that sound like a warm down quilt, wooly socks, and hot tea? And bananas, that comfort food from childhood. And of course chocolate – aaah chocolate. It needs no introduction. Now don’t go telling me that we need to learn to not seek comfort in food. That just not realistic. Everyone knows that misery loves calories. The trick is to have something gooey and satisfying on hand that also is not really high fat.

Therapeutic Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup egg substitute
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and place rack in center of oven. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Put the bananas into the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat them until they are well mashed. Beat in the egg substitute. Beat in the sugar. Add the flour mixture about 1/4 cup at a time, until it is incorporated into the banana mixture. Beat in chips. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until they are about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and cool on a rack. These are delicious warm, and can be gently reheated in the microwave. They also freeze well, although I rarely have them left to freeze. These muffins are about 2.6 grams of fat/muffin. Eat two – you’ll feel better.

Variation: You can use regular size chocolate chips, which will make nice big gooey areas of chocolate in your muffins. I like my chocolate spread around more.

Come close. Note the gooey melty chocolate in the muffin.

I must go now. The muffins are warm and require my undivided attention.

Brownies and Blondies

Yet another potluck. And at short notice. They are providing the barbecued burgers and chicken. Usually I like to make something interesting and exotic that will wow people with my cooking prowess and shock them when I tell them it is low fat. But there are several factors that interfered with my usual strategy.

  • With short notice, I don’t have time to go to the grocery, whatever I make has to be from ingredients I have in the house – a bad time to discover you’re almost out of brown sugar.
  • It is on a week night, so it has to be something I can make after work.
  • The gathering is way out in the middle of nowhere. So it has to be something sturdy that can withstand bouncing around on the seat of my truck as I get lost navigating dirt roads in the deep woods trying to find this place.

So the decision is: Bittersweet Brownies and Cranberry Pecan Blondies. It was a good decision, too, because I did indeed get lost out in the woods looking for the tiny hidden driveway onto their land, and almost everyone else brought a salad.

Here they are in their glory, ready for transport to the feast:

About these Bittersweet Brownies. The recipe comes from Cooking Light, a magazine you should seriously consider subscribing to. These are some of the best brownies I have ever eaten. The brownies are moist, and if you love chocolate, they are positively orgasmic.

Bittersweet Brownies

Cooking spray
1/4 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon instant espresso granules or 2 Tablespoons instant coffee granules
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (not your regular chocolate chips, but the really dark kind like Ghirardelli 60% Cacao)
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Combine 1/4 cup water and coffee granules in a medium bowl. Stir in chocolate chips, stirring until they melt. Stir in butter, vanilla, egg, and egg white until they are well combined. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups, level with a knife. Add sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt to the flour and whisk together. Add chocolate-coffee mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just moist. (This was very stiff to stir, even with a wooden spoon. I ultimately used my hands to make sure all of the dry ingredients were mixed in). Place batter into prepared baking pan, and smooth out so it is mostly even. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you are using it. Cut into servings.

The original recipe said this made 18 brownies, at 5.8 grams of fat/brownie. This made mighty big brownies, especially to take to a potluck. I cut it into 24 brownies, at 3.9 grams of fat/brownie. They were nice sized brownies, and since one of my Principles is that a snack should be 4 grams of fat or less, it brought them into snack range.

Hint: it is difficult to substitute applesauce for butter in cookies. The trick is to have recipes that use less butter.

Hint: For years, I just scooped the flour into a measuring cup and leveled it, the way my mother did. I recently learned it is better to lightly spoon the flour into the cup until it is overflowing and level it off. You don’t compress the flour, so the measure is more accurate, and your baked goodies are lighter in texture. Who knew?

Yet another hint: When making brownies, cookies, and many other baked goods, you need to make sure the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined with the wet ingredients so there aren’t nasty lumps of unmixed flour in your goody, but not to beat them too much or your baked goodies will be tough.

Cranberry Pecan Blondies

This recipe was an improvisation when I discovered that I did not have the ingredients for the oatmeal butterscotch bars I was going to make. They are a bit cakier in texture than brownies.

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups, level with a knife. Add oats, baking powder, and salt to the flour and whisk together. Put sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until they are well blended. Add egg substitute, egg, and vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are just combined. Sir in nuts and fruit. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. This makes 24 bars at 3.8 grams of fat/bar.

Hint: Toasting nuts brings out their flavor, so you can use fewer of them. Toast nuts by putting them in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. It takes about 5 minutes. They’re done when you can smell them – be sure not to burn them.

Variations: These would be good with other dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped apricots, or chopped cherries.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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