Wednesday, May 20, 2009

STI: The perfect cookie

May 21, 2009

Eat to live

The perfect cookie

SYLVIA TAN spends an afternoon creating a guiltless cookie - with not too much fat or empty carbohydrates


A healthy cookie?


Yes, there is such a thing and it need not be one of those chewy biscuits chock-full of wholegrains and dried fruit.


I spent an afternoon experimenting with recipes for a healthy yet moist cookie and came up with one that was delicious and nutty.


It was a most fulfilling time as I was in the company of an expert baker. Aside from rapping over how long the baking should be (depends on the size of the cookie and the oven itself) and gleaning tips (silicone sheet or bake wrap paper so there is no need to butter the baking sheet), it was a wonderful exercise in togetherness. Try baking with a favourite person.


Together, we tried out the recipe three times to get it perfect.


The first time, it was too dry - too much rolled oats. The second time, we drastically cut down on the starch in the recipe and used the drop cookie method - that is, you drop the batter on the baking sheet using spoons. Great taste, but it did not crisp - it called for a longer baking time.


Finally, we got it perfect and it is the kind of cookie which children can snack on without worry of too much fat or empty carbohydrates in it.


This cookie recipe is an exercise in healthy substitution. I did not want to use artery-clogging butter, allergenic peanut butter nor too much refined wheat flour in the mix.


Instead I opted for healthy substitutes. The more common peanut butter was replaced with more healthful nut butters such as those made from soya nuts (actually soya beans), hazel nuts or almonds. You can buy these from a health store.


Canola oil or olive oil butter was used instead of butter (just read the label to make sure there are no trans fats). For those still unaware of trans fat, it comes from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation.


It helps prevent food from spoilage but also increases cholesterol levels in the body. Watch out for partially hydrogenated oil on the label.


Finally, fibre-rich oats made up the bulk of the recipe instead of wheat flour.


The result is a nutty cookie, with a bite that some may mistake as that from coconut. Wrong, it comes from more healthful rolled oats.


These are oats that have been crushed into flakes and then steamed to soften them, making it easier for digestion. And, of course, oats are an excellent source of iron, dietary fibre and thiamin. They also contain antioxidants that are believed to protect the circulatory system from diseases such as arteriosclerosis.


The recipe is no fuss at all - mixing up the batter takes all of 15 minutes and baking itself just 20 minutes or so.


Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer


Ms Tan would like to thank readers for alerting her that the leaves shown in the picture in last week's recipe, Dried Peas With Tender Tamarind Leaves, were roselle leaves, a hibiscus variety, and not tamarind leaves which are available only occasionally at the market. Roselle leaves, also sour, are often used as a substitute.




(Makes 20-30)

1 cup olive oil butter (or any nut butter, except for peanut, found in health food stores)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 cups instant oatmeal

1 cup self-raising flour




Heat oven to 180 deg C.


Using a handheld beater or a whisk, if you want some upper arm exercise, beat the olive oil butter and sugar till it turns white and fluffy.


Add the liquids: the water, egg and vanilla essence.


Finally, mix in the oats and flour.


Place silicone sheet or baking paper on a baking tray and, using two spoons, drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the sheet. Make sure they are well spaced as the cookies will expand.


Bake 20 minutes or till edges are golden. Have a couple with a cup of tea. Truly comforting.

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