Books for Cooks

Barbara Burke

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

"One Smart Cookie"
By Julie Van Rosendaal (Rodale, 2004, paperback, $15.95)

Cutting fat in cookies
takes fine-tuning, author says

Author Julie Van Rosendaal opened a bakery in Calgary, Alberta, in 1996 and practically overnight found herself supplying more than 50 restaurants, coffee shops and health clubs with her lowfat cookies. Yet success didn't come without baking some clunkers along the way.

"Cookies vary so greatly in taste, texture and structure that the fat-reducing process almost always involves a lot of fine-tuning," she explains. "The techniques you use will depend on your recipe's ingredients and the texture you want your cookies to have. What works well reducing the fat in a drop cookie won't necessarily work with a rolled cookie, but might work with a brownie."

"One Smart Cookie" offers more than 200 tested recipes for cookies, squares, brownies and biscotti. There are full-color photographs of about 50 varieties of cookies. The cookbook has large print, with the ingredients conveniently highlighted in yellow. Nutritional information is provided for every recipe.

Many helpful hints are scattered throughout the book. For example, if you are a cookie perfectionist, the author recommends finding a store that sells small ice cream scoops for measuring evenly sized drop cookies. Another tip is to chew gum while you're baking, to avoid the temptation of sneaking a taste of this and a nibble of that while baking.

The following brownie-like cookie was named by the author's nephew for its crinkly, lava-like appearance. It's a slightly modified version of her bakery's biggest seller.

Chocolava Cookie

1-1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioners' sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar. Stir in butter until the mixture is well-combined and crumbly. (This part can be done in a food processor.) Add egg whites and vanilla and stir by hand just until combined.

Place a few heaping spoonfuls of confectioners' sugar into a shallow dish. Roll dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and roll the balls in the sugar to coat.

Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until just set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes 2 dozen.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie: 92 calories, 2 g total fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 18 g carbohydrate, 71 mg sodium, 1 g fiber. Note: Each cookie will contain approximately 5 mg of cholesterol when using butter instead of margarine.

Rating Scale: StarStarStarStar Best in its class / StarStarStar Highly recommended / StarStar Recommended / Star Not recommended

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor who teaches and writes about food and nutrition. Contact her at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail her at:

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