When my friends Donna (Just One Donna) and Stacy (Get Up Off the Couch) came for a day of work-related brainstorming, I took the opportunity to road test some recipe ideas for our lunch. After all, who better to suffer your kitchen experiments than fellow bloggers? A nice quiche, green salad, and molasses spice cookies followed a morning snack of walnut-raisin biscotti. Made with white whole wheat flour and not much sugar, these healthier cookies get their sweetness from golden raisins, which also keeps them just moist enough. We were so deep in conversation that we forgot to dunk, but the next morning I slid a leftover biscotto into my coffee, the perfect way to start the day.
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A perfectly balanced, sweet and crunchy cookie has the power to make you forget all about your resolve to stay away from carbs. Not all cookies possess this power, but these molasses spice cookies deliver. You'll see in the recipe more than the usual amount of powdered ginger plus cinnamon and nutmeg, warm spices that pair so well with molasses. Rolled in sugar before baking, the cookie stays soft on the inside while the outside crisps. It's an easy cookie to make; the hardest part is remembering to leave time for the butter to soften at room temperature. (You can let the sticks of butter sit out on the counter overnight, and then the dough comes together in minutes.) I used white whole wheat flour, my favorite way to sneak whole grains into my baking. The original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, so you can make it either way.
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First, mow the lawn. Don't have a lawn? Walk for an hour, go to the gym, work in the garden. You need to bank a lot of worked-off calories before you bake these chocolate chunk brownies, because once they come out of the oven and cool down enough, you're going to want to taste. And once you taste, you're going to eat more than one. (I know. I ate two. I mowed a lot.) One thing you need to know: when these brownies first come out of the oven, they look soft, undercooked, and just plain unattractive. Let them cool completely, however eager you are to taste. The top will get crusty and the bottom blissfully chewy. Just be patient, and keep mowing.
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On one of those days when silly little things were going wrong -- the bank machine was out of cash, and the office where I need to get my dump sticker was closed at 11 a.m. for no reason at all -- I absolutely, positively needed chocolate to restore my equilibrium. With no stash of candy or brownies in the house, I pulled out a recipe I've been saving for months from Ingredient, a cooking magazine for children. Chocolate cake in a mug (or an old glass measuring cup), made in less than two minutes. Almost like a brownie, the cake, kicked up from the original recipe with grown-up pantry items (walnuts, cinnamon, crystallized ginger, sea salt), delivered nearly instant gratification. The dump sticker could wait.
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