The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

November 19, 2013

Crisp, sweet cookies that are just a bit healthy

I was a happy little butterball when I was a kid. Sweets were my thing, desserts in particular. And chocolate desserts most of all. The one exception to the rule? My grandmother’s oatmeal cookies.

They were sweet, of course, but also lacy and crispy. Back then I didn’t know or care that oatmeal cookies were a healthier choice than most other treats (thanks to the oats, which are a concentrated source of fiber and nutrients). But healthfulness alone has never done it for me.

During my hippy days, I was well aware of the nutritional benefits of granola cookies — which are, in essence, soft oatmeal cookies stuffed with dried fruit and nuts — but they struck me as more like medicine than dessert.

This is an embellished rendition of Grandma Ruth’s cookies. We start with a pure base: oatmeal, butter, white sugar, a whole egg and vanilla extract. No low-fat ingredients. I firmly believe that a modest serving of a full-fat, full-sugar dessert is more enjoyable than a larger serving of something with no fat or fake sugar.

In a festive nod to the holidays, I’ve spruced up the basic recipe with chocolate and orange, a combination that plays beautifully together. Bittersweet chocolate chips are my chocolate of choice, but you’re welcome to substitute chopped bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, if you prefer.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE LACE COOKIES

Start to finish: 50 minutes (30 minutes active)

Makes 2 dozen cookies

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest (about 1 orange)

11/4 cups rolled oats

1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1/8 teaspoon table salt

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with kitchen parchment.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and orange zest, then beat until light and fluffy, about another 4 minutes. In another medium bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

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