It can be tough to maintain healthful eating habits in stressful times, when the snack you hanker for probably begins with “chocolate” and ends with “cookie.”
Chef Nicole Burgess offers some help through a recipe she developed for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, observed Aug. 4. Burgess, the pastry chef at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, Calif., wanted a recipe for those who may be working to shed so-called quarantine weight.
But these definitely don’t taste like diet cookies.
“I originally made these ‘healthy’ chocolate chip cookies on accident at home,” said Burgess, who decided to substitute almond flour on a day when she was out of regular flour. The almond-flour version, lower in carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats and fiber, was a pleasant surprise.
Comparing the new version with the original, “They tasted the same to me,” she said. “So I incorporated this into the special events we baked for at Pechanga before COVID-19 hit, and added on more and more healthy substitutions as we went to make them healthier and healthier.
“So far, we’ve had great feedback!” Burgess added. “Personally, I love them. They’re the same decadent cookie taste, but without the guilt. And now that so many people are struggling from gyms being closed, it’s the perfect time to try what we call a ‘diet cookie.’ ”
Although the cookies are not on the regular menu at Pechanga, they have been served for special events, she said.
“Oftentimes we receive requests for specific dietary restrictions — low carb, vegan, keto, etc. — and we can almost always accommodate them. From what I’ve been told, guests who have had these as part of a special event say that they taste the exact same as regular, calorie and fat-ridden cookies, just guilt-free.”
Quarantine Choco-chip Cookies
Makes 14 to 20 small, 2-ounce cookies or 10 to 15 large, 4-ounce cookies
2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup almond flour
Pinch of Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons regular sugar
2 tablespoons agave or honey (whichever natural sweetener you prefer)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
11/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
4 tablespoons oat milk (more can be used if needed)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients and mix well. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.
Add wet and dry mixtures together and stir until all of the dry mixture has absorbed. If using an electric mixer, mix enough to incorporate everything (roughly 2 minutes). Stir in the chocolate chips. Remember to never overmix cookie dough.
Make tight dollops of dough and separate on the cookie sheet. Tip: Use an ice cream scooper!
Bake 7-9 minutes and take out before the outsides get slightly browned.
Let sit 10-15 minutes to allow the dough to finish cooking, then enjoy.
Cooking note: If you like your cookie a little more crispy, leave it in the oven for a minute or two extra. Check every minute to make sure you don’t end up burning them. If you like that gooey chewy cookie, always use the shorter recommended time.
Storage note: The baked cookies can be frozen for storage, and if you’re short on prep time, Burgess says it’s best to freeze the cookie dough balls and bake them when you need them.