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If you’re spending more ‘thyme’ in the kitchen these days, you’re not alone! While everyone was grabbing toilet paper, my husband and I were going for unbleached flour and packets of yeast. If it’s the end of days, we’re going to live it up with bread and cookies! Kidding (sort of).

Being the frugal dietitian that I am, I have discovered that you can use smaller amounts of ingredients in certain recipes and still have your cake, and eat it, too. While we’re not making too much cake these days (we save that for birthdays), a batch of cookies is a great way to procrastibake an afternoon or morning away.

Last night, my girls requested cookies. In the past, I’d make the batch and my husband would bring some to work or we’d give some to neighbors. Well, things have changed a bit. Social distancing has put a damper on sharing. In addition, I’d rather not use up all my ingredients and have to make another trip to the store or Click list order.

Here are a few hacks to spare ingredients and calories when baking.

  1. Cut the recipe in half. If your cookies, brownies or other baked item has an even number of eggs, make half the recipe. This leave eggs for something else (such as breakfast or tuna salad) and you’re not stuck with dessert that you can’t share with office mates or neighbors.
  2. Reduce the sugar in your cookie recipe by 1/2 cup. Most drop cookie recipes call for 1 1/2 cups of sugar (3/4 cup brown, 3/4 cup granular). Use 1/2 cup each and you’ll never notice the difference.
  3. Use less butter. I like the texture of cookies better when I used less butter. Most recipes have a full stick of butter for a full recipe. I use 1 1/2 sticks instead and the texture is crispier and less greasy. If you’re using a half recipe, you’ll need just 6 Tbsp. butter.
  4. Add 1 cup of rolled oats in place of a cup of flour. This boosts the fiber content in your recipe and gives the cookies a chewier texture.
  5. Use mini semi-sweet chips. You’ll get more chocolate flavor with mini chips because they can cover more surface area of your cookies.
  6. Freeze your extra dough or cookies. There’s no rule that you have to bake all of the dough in one session. Keep dough in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Freezing cookies keeps you from eating them all at once or having them sit on your counter and get stale.
  7. Add orange, almond, cinnamon or other flavors. Change the flavor or your dough and you’ve got a whole new cookie! I’m a fan of using orange and cinnamon together or almond flavoring in place of vanilla. Use full amount of original recipe for this one. A little extra vanilla never hurts!
  8. Substitute dried fruit for half of the chocolate chips. Raisins, dried cranberries or cherries add a chewy texture to your cookies and reduce the fat in the recipe when used in place of chocolate.
  9. Try baby food prunes in place of butter in brownie recipes. Prunes enhance the chocolate flavor and give the brownies more of a cake-like texture.
  10. Add some zest! Orange or lemon zest is particularly delicious in oatmeal cookies or in blueberry muffins.

                                                                Half Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp. butter (softened)

1/4 cup granular sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup & 2 Tbsp. white flour

1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Place softened butter, white sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix by hand or use a stand mixer to cream ingredients together.
  3. Add egg, salt, baking soda, and vanilla and beat until blended.
  4. Stir in flour to make a soft dough.
  5. Add in chocolate chips and mix into the dough.
  6. Place 1 tsp. cookie dough on a greased cookie sheet or baking mat in rows of 3.
  7. Bake for 9 minutes or until lightly brown

Makes 16 to 18 cookies.

If you’re a baker or need a fun gift for one, check out my Whiskin’ it all gifts:

Whiskin’ it all Eco Tote Bag

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