Easy drop cookies low-in-fat sweets | VailDaily.com

Easy drop cookies low-in-fat sweets

Daily Staff ReportVail CO, Colorado
Summit Daily/Kristin Anderson

Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful. I’ve had this recipe for years. Because it’s so familiar to me, I usually pass it by as I go through my files looking for something to bake. I’m not sure what made me stop and read it again recently, but I’m glad I did. After a long hiatus, I made this little cocoa-pecan drop cookie and rediscovered why I thought the recipe was worth saving in the first place.It comes together very quickly, can be made without an electric mixer and, for those of you who are counting, leaves you with only two bowls and a few utensils to wash.It’s surprisingly low in fat – made with cocoa rather than chocolate and egg whites instead of whole eggs. So with the exception of the chopped pecans, which are scattered through the dough, it is virtually fat-free.Its rich, full flavor, chewy texture and deep chocolate taste appeal to both kids and adults. The cookies freeze well if packed in an airtight container, and the recipe can be halved.

Cocoa-pecan drop cookiesAdjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules1 teaspoon of boiling water3 egg whites34 teaspoon of vanilla3 cups of confectioner’s sugar

23 cup of unsweetened cocoa2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of flour18 teaspoon of salt2 cups of toasted and finely chopped pecansPreheat the oven to 350 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or with Reynold’s Release non-stick aluminum foil. Do this rather than greasing the pan, or the cookies might spread, as so many do at our altitude.In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee granules in the boiling water and cool slightly.Add the egg whites and the vanilla to the dissolved coffee, and whisk until well combined and almost frothy.

In a large bowl, combine the confectioner’s sugar, the cocoa, the flour and the salt and whisk to mix well.Add the egg-white mixture to the sugar mixture and either whisk or beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until thoroughly blended.Stir in the chopped pecans and set the dough aside to firm up for about 5 minutes.Drop heaping teaspoons of the dough on the lined baking sheets, spacing them about 112 to 2 inches apart. If necessary, use your fingers to shape them into little, ball-shaped mounds. They flatten as they bake, so you want them to start out as plump and round as possible.Bake until the cookies are shiny and set but still soft in the middle. This takes about 12 minutes in my oven. About halfway through the baking time, switch the sheets from rack to rack and from front to back to assure even baking. Don’t overbake these; you want them crisp on the outside and spongy and chewy within.Place the cookies, still on the baking sheet, on a wire rack to cool for about 8 to 10 minutes. When the cookies have cooled enough to release easily from the baking sheet liner, gently move them to the rack to cool completely.Makes about 4 dozenVera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Vera Dawson with your comments about this column or your baking questions at veradawson@aol.com

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