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These cakey cookies are more like brownies, not too sweet, with a rich cocoa flavor. You can do a lot of variations: roll them in powdered sugar or coconut, or my favorite: make them into thumbprint cookies and fill them with strawberry or raspberry jam. The nice thing about them is you don't need any special ingredients and they're low fat (~2.5g/cookie without chocolate chips). Be sure not to overbake them - they should be set around the edges but still soft in the middle.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs or 3 large egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla
~1/2 c. chocolate chips

icing sugar, for rolling
optional: strawberry or raspberry jam, sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl (or the bowl of a food processor) combine the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and blend with a fork, whisk or pastry cutter (or pulse the food processor) until well blended. You might need to add a splash of milk to moisten the dough. Fold in chocolate chips (if using).

If you're using a food processor, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until the dough comes together (you may need to use your hands for this) - at first it will seem like there isn't enough liquid, but it eventually works! You may need to get in there with your hands - don't be afraid to - you'll need to roll the dough into balls by hand anyway.

Put some icing sugar in a shallow bowl and spray two cookie sheets with nonstick spray. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll the balls in icing sugar to coat; place an inch or two apart on the cookie sheets. Flatten slightly (they don't spread out much)

For thumprints: make a shallow indentation in each cookie, fill with a small spoonful strawberry or raspberry jam.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, until set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Original recipe

This unusual cake is Italian inspired with the flavors of ground almonds, lemon zest, and olive oil. Grapes stud the surface for an elegant presentation.

2 large eggs
1/2-2/3 cups sugar
4 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (feel free to substitute flour here if you don't have almonds, or even scale back the flour a bit and add more almond flour)
3/4 tsp baking power
a pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
2 cups flavorful grapes
Equipment: a 9″ round cake pan
Butter and flour a cake pan, then set it aside. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until they're thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in milk, butter, oil, and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt. Add the zest, tossing it to make sure it is well-distributed. Then stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, making sure it is well-combined. Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes to make sure the flour has absorbed the liquids.

Gently stir in 1 1/2 cups of grapes, then transfer the batter to your cake pan.

Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pull out your cake and top it with the reserved grapes. Sprinkle coarse granulated sugar overtop. Bake for about 40 more minutes, until the top of the cake is golden and springy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
Original recipe
A modification of the chocolate pudding posted earlier, also from Betty Crocker. Best served with fresh berries and/or cake.

1/3 c. sugar
2 tbs. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbs. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Combine milk and egg, stir in sugar mixture
Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
Remove from heat; add butter, vanilla. Chill

Betty Crocker
These low fat cookies have a sesame flavor from tahini that is a lot like peanut butter. The 'crunchy' in the title is literal- a bit of cornstarch in the batter makes them extra crispy. Rolling them in sugar gives them a pretty crackled surface.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup tahini (roasted sesame-seed paste)
1 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon light-colored corn syrup or honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk; set mixture aside.

Place brown sugar, tahini, butter and oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add syrup, vanilla, and egg; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until combined.

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Shape dough into 36 balls (about 1 inch each). Place granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough balls in granulated sugar; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten balls slightly with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 3 dozen (serving size: 1 cookie)
Nutritional Information
Calories: 71 (27% from fat)
Fat 2.1g (sat 0.3g,mono 0.8g,poly 0.9g)

Original recipe

This traditional Cummings birthday cake is very moist from layers of cake, pineapple, pudding, and whipped cream.

1 box yellow cake mix

Topping 1.
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
3/4 C. sugar

Topping 2.
2 Instant vanilla pudding packages (3.4 oz)
3 C. milk

Topping 3.
2 C. Whipping cream
confectioners sugar
3/4 C. flaked coconut (optional for topping)
Bake cake according to instructions in 9x13" pan. Cool. In saucepan, cook pineapple (with juice) and sugar until mixture is fairly syrupy, about 15 minutes on medium heat. Poke holes into cake (so juice can penetrate) and spread pineapple mixture on top. Mix pudding and milk with wire whisk until well mixed. Spread on top of cake/pineapple. Finally, beat whipping cream until firm adding sugar to taste. Spread on top. Cool for at least 5 hours before serving.

Cummings Family Recipe
Inspired by Ina Garten's recipe, but using the lighter topping from the Blueberry Crisp recipe posted earlier (you don't want to know how much butter the original recipe had). Creme de cassis intensifies the fruit's flavor, which can be rather mild otherwise.

3 pounds Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons creme de cassis liqueur
Topping (same as Blueberry Crisp):
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup regular oats
4 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the fruit, in a large bowl, combine the plums, brown sugar, flour, and cassis. Pour the mixture into a 12 by 8-inch shallow baking dish.

Combine 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, oats, and walnuts cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Scatter evenly over the plum mixture.

Bake the plum crunch for 40 to 45 minutes, until the plums are bubbling and the top is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.

Original recipe
This fairly low fat fruit crisp is easy and flexible for all types of seasonal fruit - peaches, blueberries, plums, blackberries, etc. Can be easily halved or doubled.

6 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup regular oats
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; spoon into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon, and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over the blueberry mixture. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Top each serving with 1/4 cup frozen yogurt.

Note: Topping may also be made in the food processor. Place 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon in a food processor, and pulse 2 times or until combined. Add butter; pulse 4 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal.

8 servings
Nutritional Information
Calories: 288 (26% from fat)
Fat: 8.3g (sat 4.8g,mono 2g,poly 0.9g)
Original recipe

This spectacular dish is quite dangerous, so be careful when lighting the liquor. Also, don't skimp on the rum without adding another liquid to balance it out: without enough liquid the sauce can turn into a chewy caramel. However, those dangers aside this is a quick, elegant dessert that can be made from ingredients we usually have around.

2 tbs. unsalted butter
¼ c. dark brown sugar
¼ tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tbs. banana liqueur
2 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise
¼ c. dark rum
½ tsp. finely grated orange zest

Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, allspice and nutmeg and stir until sugar dissolves.
Add banana liqueur and bring sauce to simmer. Add bananas and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over bananas as they are cooking.
Remove bananas from pan to a serving dish. Bring sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. If the sauce is very hot, the alcohol will flame on its own. If not, using stick flame, carefully ignite and continue cooking until flame dies out, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. If sauce is too thin, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it is syrupy in consistency.
Add orange zest and stir to combine. Immediately spoon the sauce over bananas and serve. Serve with waffles, crepes, or ice cream

Original recipe

These biscotti are not too sweet, but full of banana flavor. Basically banana bread in dip-able form. Serve with coffee, tea, or milk.

1 3/4 -2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Combine banana, oil, vanilla, and egg in a medium bowl; stir in flour mixture and pecans (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; shape dough into 2 (8-inch-long) rolls with floured hands. Place rolls on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; flatten to 1/2-inch thickness.

Bake at 350° for 23 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 12 (1/2-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 250°; bake 15 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 15 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire racks.

Makes ~2 dozen
Nutritional Information
Calories: 72 (25% from fat)
Fat: 2g (sat 0.3g,mono 1g,poly 0.6g)

Original recipe

choc_souffle_sm.jpgThese are light (less than 1g fat!) but taste rich and chocolaty. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and raspberry jam.

Cooking spray
4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon powdered sugar

NOTE: Makes two. To serve four, use five teaspoons flour and double the remaining ingredients. Doubling the flour would make the base too heavy.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat 2 (6-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray; sprinkle each with 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar.

Combine 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring until smooth. Spoon chocolate mixture into a medium bowl; cool 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

Place egg white in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Add remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Gently stir 1/4 of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon mixture into prepared dishes. Sharply tap dishes 2 or 3 times to level. Place dishes on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until puffy and set. Sprinkle each soufflé with 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Calories: 152 (4% from fat)
Fat: 0.6g (sat 0.3g,mono 0.2g,poly 0.0g)

Original recipe

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