Healthy chocolate chip cookies?

If National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day was on a ballot initiative, would anyone NOT vote for it? Perhaps the guilt-ridden, no-willpower citizens among us would dissent or abstain, unless they could be convinced that CCCs need not be sugary little fat bundles of temptation. Well, apparently somehow, somewhere, today was declared to be National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, and I am here to make it easier for everyone to celebrate with a trio of recipes to please the naysayers.

Before you bake, here’s a good tip from Christopher Kimball, the founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine: Use parchment paper to bake cookies on (whether or not you grease the cookie sheets) which will prevent the bottoms from burning and allow the dough to spread more evenly. When cookies are done, remove the parchment paper with the cookies still on it, to a cooling rack. You can re-use the same cookie sheet for the next batch; just use a new sheet of parchment…saves on clean-up. I’ll vote for that!

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

With just a little tweak of the classic cookie, we amp up the protein, which should lower the guilt quotient by an equal amount. Recipe from “Chocolate on the Brain: Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics” by Kevin &Nancy Mills; makes about 40 cookies.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt

2 cups (12-ounce package) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts

Place oven rack in middle position; preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly rub 2 cookie sheets with butter (I use the wrapper from the stick) or use nonstick baking sheets; top with parchment paper if desired and set aside. In a large bowl, place butter, peanut butter and both sugars; beat with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat again. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; beat on low speed until well blended. Add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and peanuts; mix thoroughly by hand. Using a teaspoon, scoop portions of dough and, with your hands, roll each portion into a ball. Place balls on cookie sheets, 3 cookies per row in 5 rows. Flatten balls with the heel of your hand or tines of a fork, so they spread to about 1-1/2” in diameter. Bake one cookie sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, till firm and just beginning to brown; remove from oven and cool about 3 minutes. Transfer cookies with a spatula to a cooling rack. Repeat with other sheet of dough. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chippers

Texture and fiber contribute interesting twists in this recipe from “Secrets of Fat-Free Baking” by Sandra Woodruff, R.D. And would you believe only 1.6 grams of fat per cookie? I’m not a proponent of margarine, so recommend the “light” butter; makes about 40 cookies.

6 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine or light butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons fat-free egg substitute

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/3 cup Grape Nuts cereal

Combine butter, brown sugar, egg substitute and vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer; process until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda; add to the wet mixture and process to mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray; top with parchment paper if using. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet, placing them 1-1/2” apart. Bake in preheated 300 degree oven about 16 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on the sheet for 1 minute, then transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

For the gluten haters and flour avoiders, here’s an easy-to-make recipe that will still give you that CCC experience. Recipe from “Tea Time at the Inn” by Gail Greco; makes 24 cookies.

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

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6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (regular size or mini)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until mixture is very stiff and glossy. Gently fold in chocolate chips. On a baking sheet lined with brown paper or parchment, drop teaspoonfuls of batter, evenly spaced. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.