I am often put off by the word, ”nonfat.”
It usually means non-flavorful, non-satisfying and non-worth-it.
That’s why I approached with trepidation the recipe for “Nonfat Gingersnaps” in the new Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake (Food52 Works) (Ten Speed Press) by Kristen Miglore, Food52’s creative director, of which I received a review copy.
The cookbook comprises more than 100 recipes that are touted as game-changers. Indeed, they span from a “Brazilian Carrot Cake” recipe in which raw carrots are blitzed in a blender with eggs, oil and sugar for the batter” to “No-Stress Pie Dough” in which the cubes of butter are pinched into the flour before adding cold water to “Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake with Superfluffy Frosting” that uses avocado in the batter, and almond milk and brown rice syrup in the frosting for a cloud-like Cool Whip-texture.
So many people embrace nonfat because of health concerns. But every chef will tell you that fat equals flavor. It also provides satiation. Just consider how much more full you feel — and for far longer — if you choose full-fat yogurt over nonfat, not to mention the added calcium you get.
As I read over the recipe, visions of awful Snackwells nonfat cookies popped into my head. But I knew that if the recipe was published in a Food52 book, it must be good. Moreover, if it was a recipe created by pastry chef extraordinaire David Lebovitz, well, then it had to be superb.
And it was.
So much so that after eating one, you’d never guess you’d just enjoyed something entirely nonfat.
There is no butter or oil in these cookies. Only a little bit of applesauce – plus two egg whites.
That’s not to say these are totally virtuous. There is plenty of sugar in them, including dark brown sugar and molasses in the dough, as well as granulated sugar spiked with cinnamon to roll the cookies in before baking. I actually used sparkling sugar instead for a more festive finish for the holidays. Plus, it gives the cookies a wonderful sugary crunchy exterior.
These cookies taste like a powerhouse of gingerbread. They are soft, tender, and explode with peppery warmth on the palate. That’s because they are full of crystallized ginger, ground ginger, cloves, black pepper and plenty of cinnamon.
Nonfat never had it so good.
(Makes 20 to 22 cookies)
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses (preferably mild, not blackstrap)
1/4 cup applesauce
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for rolling
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly gruond black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger
About 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, molasses, and applesauce on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the mixture has thickened and lightened to a milky coffee color, and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, pepper, and salt into a bowl or onto a sheet of waxed paper.
Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the egg whites. Beat for 1 minute more on medium speed. Turn the mixer to its lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium speed and blend for 1 minute more, until the dough has smoothed out.
On low speed, stir in the candied ginger. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter until very firm, at least 1 hour. (It will keep like this for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months.)
When ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 350 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Stir together the sugar and a big pinch of cinnamon in a shallow dish. Using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop the dough by heaped tablespoonfuls into mounds about the size of a walnut in its shell and drop the mounds into the sugar. Use your hands to roll the mounds into generously sugar-coated balls.
Arrange the mounds on the baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Bake until the cookies feel just barely set and slightly firm in the center, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Watch the cookies vigilantly, or they will be dry, not soft and chewy. Let cool on the baking sheets on racks, or for extra-soft cookies, transfer to a rack to cool as soon as they’re firm enough to do so. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
From a recipe by David Lebovitz in “Food52 Genius Desserts” by Kristen Miglore
More Food52 Recipes to Enjoy: Broccoli with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette and Marcona Almonds
Plus: Featherweight Slaw
And: Cherry Snow Cone
And: Cream Cheese Cookies