Low-Cal Holiday Cookies
IntroductionWe took our favorite holiday cookies recipes and sent them to our Healthy Test Kitchen for a makeover. The challenge: Keep each cookie's yummy taste while lowering fat and calories. The result: sweet success!
Holiday Wreath Cookies
10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter, softened
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
Green food coloring (optional)
Green or red colored sugar (optional)
Red frosting (optional; see below)
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the all-purpose and white wholewheat flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Tint dough with green food coloring, if desired.
Force dough through a cookie press fitted with a wreath plate onto ungreased cookie sheets. If desired, sprinkle cookies with colored sugar. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Decorate with red frosting, if desired, to make holly berries and ribbons.
RED FROSTING: In a small bowl, combine 2 ounces cream cheese, softened, 2 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. If necessary, stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches piping consistency. Tint with red food coloring. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Test-Kitchen Fixes: Reduced butter by a third, added cream cheese as a butter substitute, replaced half of flour with white whole wheat flour.
Healthy Savings: We cut 18 calories and 3 g fat; added 1 g protein and 1 g fiber.
Nutrition facts per 3 Cookies
Makes 48 cookies
Magic Cookie Bars
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup grahamcracker crumbs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 14-ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over pan's edges. Put butter in the pan and place in oven for about 5 minutes, or until butter melts. Tilt pan to coat evenly. Sprinkle with crushed graham crackers; layer with walnuts, chocolate chips and coconut. Drizzle with sweetened condensed milk.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Use foil to lift from pan and then cut into bars. Let cool completely.
Test-Kitchen Fixes: Replaced sweetened condensed milk with fat-free kind, halved butter.
Healthy Savings: We cut 24 calories and 4 g fat (3 g saturated).
Nutrition facts per 1 Cookie
Makes 24 bars
1 16-ounce jar low-fat, low sodium smooth peanut butter (about 1 3/4 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 1/2 teaspoons shortening
Toothpicks and waxed paper
Place peanut butter and butter in the large bowl of a sturdy stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until very smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth.
Roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Arrange balls on waxed paper-lined trays or baking sheets. Cover and chill for 3 hours or overnight.
In a small, heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Keep warm over very low heat. Remove about one-fourth of the peanut butter balls from the refrigerator. Use a toothpick to hold a peanut butter ball and lower it into the chocolate, leaving the top exposed so that it looks like a buckeye. Allow excess chocolate to drip off.
Place ball, undipped portion up, on waxed paper-lined tray or baking sheet. Repeat with remaining peanut butter balls until all are dipped. Chill for 30 minutes, or until firm. Store in the refrigerator.
Test-Kitchen Fixes: Used low-fat, low-sodium peanut butter, reduced butter, added shortening as butter substitute.
Healthy Savings: We cut 46 calories and 6 g fat (2 g saturated).
Nutrition facts per 1 Cookie
Makes 90 cookies
Low cal Holiday cookie recipes & pictures courtesy of www.fitnessmagazine.com