Lighter Cookies Are Delicious

There are simple ways to make your favorite cookies, brownies and bars healthier.

Lighter Cookies Are Delicious

Lighter Cookies Are Delicious

When it comes to baking sweet treats, cookies are a real challenge to lighten up. They rely on the fat found in butter, margarine or shortening as well as sugar for their appetizing taste and texture.

It's possible to alter tried-and-true recipes to make them lighter…but you must do so carefully, or you could end up with cookies that are nothing like the higher-calorie originals.

Our Test Kitchen home economists have found that simply reducing the sugar and fat called for in a classic cookie recipe by 25 percent, while making small changes in a few other ingredients, can result in a good lower-calorie cookie. You can see just how this is done in Makeover Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies (shown at right) and the other light cookie recipes shared here.

Here are some other tips:

  • Adding an extra egg white gives crunch to a low-fat cookie. In recipes that call for several eggs, substitute two egg whites for one of the eggs if you are concerned about cholesterol.
  • Light cookies do not brown like their higher-sugar counterparts. Adding a little baking soda (in addition to any other leavening in the recipe) will promote browning.
  • A little corn syrup will produce a browner cookie…with a crisp surface and soft interior. Substitute the corn syrup for the same amount of sugar called for in the recipe.
  • Use cocoa instead of melted or grated chocolate to help reduce fat. Three tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon water or other liquid equals 1 square or 1 ounce of melted baking chocolate. Mix the cocoa with the dry ingredients and the liquid with the wet or creamed ingredients.
  • We recommend using butter or a high-fat content margarine. Reduced-fat butters or margarines contain water and air and will not produce a quality cookie.
  • Overbaking will result in dry hard cookies. Most low-fat cookies should be removed from the oven while they're still soft and just lightly browned around the edges. Low-fat cookies taste best when eaten within a few hours of baking.

Baking soda helps brown these crisp, lemony shortbread-like Lemon Cooler Cookies that were created by our Test Kitchen staff. Our Test Kitchen used baking cocoa and miniature chocolate chips to help keep down the fat and calories in Fudgy Brownie Cookies.