Monday, January 27, 2014

Guilt-Is-Overrated Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

I love being a mom. In a perfect world, I would spend the entire day staring at my beautiful daughter, taking frequent breaks for big hugs and to bury my nose in her hair and breathe her in. I'm also a working mom, so time with her that doesn't involve rushing around like maniacs is treasured time. It's not that I WISH for sick days, snow days, etc., but neither do I lament their arrival.

Recently, my little ladybug was home with a bad cough. By day 3, the novelty of the nebulizer had worn off, we had watched "Mary Poppins" at least 4 times and colored in every coloring book in her extensive collection. Combine that with a snowstorm and freezing temperatures and we were getting some serious cabin fever! So I did what any reasonable mother would do under the circumstances: I declared it COOKIE TIME!

Ladybug has a serious sweet tooth. It's not her fault; she inherited it from her mother. We try to limit the sweets in the house, but that doesn't stop her from asking for cookies on an hourly basis. Add messy bedhead and fever-flushed cheeks to the mix, and it's very hard to resist her pleas.

I did not, however, want to give my 22-month old a sugar mega-rush when she should be taking it easy. I also have a husband who has no problem saying no to sweets (it's a horrible feat to befall a baked goods connoisseur such as myself and you should pity me) and while the prospect of eating an entire batch of cookies  by myself is a fun (and sadly, doable) one, my jeans might have had a few complaints. Thus, my healthy (-er) cookie recipe was born.

I did a quick Pinterest search to see if I could find a healthy cookie recipe, but didn't have much success. For each recipe I found,  either I didn't have some of the ingredients or, frankly, they just didn't sound all that yummy. I decided to play around with substitutions on my own to see if I could make a tasty cookie with less fat and sugar. I substituted banana and peanut butter for 3/4 of the regular butter, halved the eggs, and cut out granular sugar. I also subbed wheat flour for 2/3 of the white flour. I gathered my ingredients, pulled up a chair for my little assistant to stand on, and got down to business.

First, we poured wheat flour, unbleached white flour and baking soda to a medium mixing bowl. Ladybug loves to help with this part. I measure the cups and then guide her hand so she can pour in the flour, and I showed her how to (carefully) use the whisk. Note: I used some white flour because I've found that using only wheat flour can make a recipe a little too gritty, but that's a personal preference. If you experiment with any other types of flours and have positive results, please let me know in the comments! :)

I had mashed the bananas ahead of time (about 1 1/2), so next we added the banana,  brown sugar, softened butter and peanut butter into my big stand mixer. Using my paddle attachment, I mixed after each ingredient until just combined. Ladybug helped by holding tightly onto the sides of the mixing bowl to keep it in place. ;)

I beat one egg and added it to the mixer, along with the vanilla. Gradually, we mixed in the dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate chips. I had leftover chocolate chips from the holidays, so I used those up. It ended up being about 1 1/4 cups, but you can easily get away with just 1 cup. They were pretty jam-packed...not that I'm complaining.

At this point, I thanked Miss Ladybug for her kind assistance, and asked her to make us some coffee in her play kitchen while I finished up the cookies. Maybe I bribed her with a chocolate chip or two. And treated myself to a few. Don't judge.

I scooped tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie trays, which came out to exactly 2 dozen cookies, much to my delight. I left them in globs, but if you like "pretty" cookies, I'd suggest flattening them with the back of the spoon.  I put them in at 350° F until the edges browned, about 12 minutes in my oven (but you should always watch the first batch to see how long your oven will take).

Voila! I don't have to explain to you how my tongue got burned.

These were so addictive. To answer your burning questions:

1. Yes, you could taste the banana, but it was not overpowering.
2. No, they weren't very sweet. They were similar to scones in that respect. The chocolate chips more than made up for the lack of sugar for my taste, but if you like your cookies on the sweeter side, I'd up the brown sugar by 1/4 cup. I just nuked them for 15 seconds in the microwave before I ate them to melt the chocolate, and then they were perfect.
3. Yes, my daughter loved them. So did my husband, which was a bit of a shock.
4. I ate half of them myself. That's 12 cookies. I managed to spread that over 3 days, which I considered a major accomplishment.

Hope you like these! If you have any questions, or come up with yummy tweaks, please let me know. I'd love to hear your feedback! And remember: life's too short to deprive yourself of cookies.

Guilt-Is-Overrated Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c wheat flour
1/2 c unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 c mashed banana
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/4 c dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F

Combine flours and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Beat butter, banana, peanut butter, and brown sugar in large bowl until creamy.
Beat egg in a small bowl and add to the wet ingredients, along with vanilla extract.
Add dry ingredients slowly and mix until combined. Add chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon or a cookie scoop, form cookies into round balls and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to sufficiently cool before diving in. Your tongue will thank you.