Friday, December 2, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

(to the tune of jungle bells)
Ginger Bread, Ginger-Bread, Cookies all the way,
Oh what fun it is to bake, and share with you today!

Complexity Level:  Intermediate

Ok, so maybe I have had too much coffee... or maybe not enough!  But today felt like the perfect day to "roll out some fun!".  The mountains are kissed with snow, the air is crisp and cool, and the tea kettle is hissing and screaming for me to make some tea.

But, it being the season of love, food, and joy... and me being on a "don't gain maintain" kinda diet... how can I "roll out some fun" and cut back on fat?

I know fat is a tasty thing.  I mean, who can say no to bacon grease, fried potatoes, sticks of nice salty butter melting on warm fresh toast...  but there comes a time in life when it is OK to cut the fat and still love the goods.

Anyways, I was out grocery shopping (surprise surprise), and came across a product that, at first looked like nothing of interest.  I often bake with applesauce and bananas in place of eggs and oil (the vegan in me), but enjoy finding new alternatives that someone not so picky, but still looking to cut back, may enjoy.

And so I stopped in my track (perhaps making a screaching sound out aloud), and did a re-take:

Say what!?  What is this?  Could it be?  How have I never heard of this?  Have I been living in the past... What else does the future hold?  What will this do to my cookies if I use it -- any time I see prune I think. . . . . oh never mind!

And so I thought:  Why not make deliciously bold Gingerbread Cookies, and try out this new idea?  I mean, this little jar tells me how much to use in place of my butter,  it gives me the nutritional information and, if this is not a joke, this alternative ingredient only has 40 calories and 0 grams of fat in 1 tbsp!  If you compare that to the alternative of butter or shortening... you will be cutting out (per tbsp) about 11 grams of fat and 100 calories.

Let's do some quick math:  1 tbsp = 1/8 cup.  I needed 1/2 cup of this product to supplement my 1 cup of butter.   1/2 cup has 8 tbsp in it.  8 tbsp times 40 calories is 320 calories.  1 cup of butter is 2 sticks of butter, or 16 tbsp.  16 tbsp times about 100 calories and 11 grams of fat is.... 1600 calories and 176 grams of fat!

Oh my gosh!  I don't even think this is a question anymore, why not give it a shot?  The worse that could happen is my cookies are a bit chewey.  But nothing holds me back, and so I baked:

Experiment #3: Sunsweet Butter Replacement 
Gingerbread Cookies
What You Need:
6 cups AP Flour (I prefer unbleached)
1 cup Molasses (I like the full flavor)
1/2 cup Water
1 Egg
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves (I love the spice kick of clove)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Ground Ginger (I wanted a good zesty bite)
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 cup Sunsweet Butter Replacement or 1 cup Butter
Yield:  5 dz. Cookies

To start, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together into a large bowl.  Set aside.  Next, mix the wet ingreidents:  Mix the water, egg, vanilla, molasses, and sugar until smooth and well combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet (I did this 2 cups of dry at a time).  Do this in portion to allow the dry to fully absorb the wet ingredients.  This is important for the overall consistency of the dough.

Next, cut the dough into 3 pieces, and flatten each into about 1 1/2 inch thick blocks.  Wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill no less than 3 hours.  While this may seem liek a long time, because this dough will be worked so much to roll out and cut into shapes, we want it to be chilled well to withhold the friction.

After chilling, preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Just as many other roll out cookie and crust recipes, you will want to lightly flour your surface, and rolling pin.  Roll the dough (1portion at a time) to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut out into gingerbread men shapes, or shapes to build a house!  This is a great craft idea for kids, and being low fat, what's not to love?!

Bake about 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet fo 10-12 minutes.  If thye look dry and are soft to your touch, they are done:

Let the cookies cool on a cooling rack at least 30 minutes before decorating, so all your hard work doesn't melt off. 

So, to calculate the total nutritional information for these, I did the following Math:

Yield:  60 cookies.  (5 dozen)
1/4 cup Flour, 120 calories = 480 calories.  Times 6 cups of Flour = 2880 calories.
1 tsp Brown Sugar =15 calories.  3 tsp = 1 tbsp. 16 tbsp = 1 cup.  1 cup Brown Sugar = 720 calories.
Above we said in this recipe with the sunsweet, the calories would be 320.
1 tbsp Molasses = 60 calories.  16 tbsp in 1 cup = 960 calories.
1 large egg about 75 colories.
Spices and vanilla are nil.

2880 + 720 + 320 + 960 = 4580 calories divided by 60 cookies = 77 calories each!

Fat:  Egg = about 5 grams.  Without accounting for the nil fat of all ingredients, there is only about  0.08 grams per cookie!

77 Calories, less than 0.1 grams of fat per cookie.... 
Life is Great!

The recipe turned out great.  If you don't roll the cookies too thin, or bake them too long they are the perfect amount of soft and crunch.

If you want a ginger snap like cookie, then thinner cookies, or about 2 more minutes of baking, will make them very crisp!  Either way, you cannot tell in the taste, texture, or look that these have no fat added-- which is a major bonus!!!

I hope these find you well!  My Husband and I had fun making a Mr. and Mrs. Gonzalez cookie couple!  What a great activity for kids (or adults ;) ) and a super healthy alternative too ;)

Happy Baking!


  1. I've never seen this Sunsweet butter replacement before. Was it with the other dried fruits/prunes or somewhere else? I have a friend who is watching her weight but still wants to make Christmas cookies, this may be the perfect recipe to use.

  2. This really is a PERFECT replacement! it was near the baking items in my grocery store. I would just ask a manager though, because some stores are all over the place. But, I found it in the aisle with molasses. sugars, icings, etc. At any rate, this is a new favorite! YOu can always use applesauce in place of oil too: 1 cup il = 1/2 cup applesauce. That is a safe go to as well!

    THanks for reading!!!!!

  3. These are so cute! And great new recipe :) At only 77 calories each I can have 4! Haha...

  4. Oh these are adorable! Gonna have to check out that butter replacement because the stats just speak for themselves!

  5. I know! I couldn't help but justify eating a few of these too. And they were a HUGE hit at work--Such a big hit, my husband was depressed they ate them all!

  6. Never heard of the butter replacement, but it sounds like it would be good! Love your light cookies!

  7. Thanks Stephanie! It was a first for me too... and now it is a part of my cookie shopping list, because it was awesome and deliciious! I hope you have a fabulous holiday season! Happy baking ;)

  8. Wow, I've never seen this butter replacement before. I wonder if I could find it in our little town. I'd love to give it try!

  9. Maggie,

    If all else fails, apple sauce (with the same substitution rules as in thie rececipe) works too!


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