Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crispy outside Chewy inside Chocolate cookies and Palm Shortening

Not super healthy but hey, we all want a little chocolate time and again and these are probably the best chocolate cookies we've ever had!

I didn't have butter so I had to search for a cookie that used shortening or substitute it when the recipe called for butter. Though I don't seem to use it that often, I keep the organic Spectrum shortening made from Palm oil on hand for just in case moments.

I based these on a recipe from The Enlightened Cook with only a few modifications. I changed the sugar to brown sugar for the texture and cut back on it a bit, as I always do, but you could try 1 full cup if you like your cookies sweeter.

The cookies came out crispy on the outside outside (if you allow them to set and cool and don't devour them all while hot, which is easy since the batch makes a lot!) and chewy on the inside, they even pull when you tear them in half. For us, they are the perfect cookie with great texture and flavor.

Crispy outside Chewy inside Chocolate cookies:

3/4 cup dark brown sugar or Succanat
1/3 cup spectrum organic palm shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large organic egg
1/3 cup unsweetened Fair Trade cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon non alum baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and cocoa and mix well. Then just dump or gracefully add all the dry ingredients right on top of the wet mix in the order listed. I like whole wheat flour with chocolate recipes, it adds another dimension and more depth of flavor. Mix it all until blended just a minute or two, do not over mix it.

Using a smaller ice cream scooper make cookie rounds on a nonstick cookie sheet. I use a silpat. They will spread, no need to push them down. You will have slightly thicker cookies if you refrigerate the dough first or if the shortening is colder and they are a prettier cookie that way too (see the single above recently made in a new batch) but none less delicious either way.

Bake 9-11 minutes and cool on cookie tray a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or your mouth. Makes 31 cookies. Note: storing in an airtight container will keep the chewy texture but you'll lose the crispy exterior.

About Shortening:
Shortening is solid at room temperature and is traditionally lard or hydrogenated oils like Crisco. Nowadays, most of us don't like the idea of using lard which we know is a saturated fat. Saturated fats have been accused of clogging arteries and leading to cardiovascular disease. We all know that Crisco is full of trans-fats and is not good for us so we need to avoid that fake fat.

Palm oil is naturally solid at room temperature making it a perfect substitute for traditional shortening. Extracted from the palm fruit, organic palm oil shortening is a whipped white/clear shortening with no flavor so it works well for cooking (though unlike butter, adds little flavor) in baked goods, and it has a high melting point so can be used for sauteing and even deep frying. Organic Palm Shortening is non-hydrogenated and trans-fat free. Palm oil is a mixture of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids and is made up of short- and medium-chain fatty acids where lard is made up of all long-chain fatty acids. It is a source of antioxidants and MCT (medium chain trigylcerides) known to speed up the metabolism.

Palm shortening is prevalent in Europe and would be the most popular oil in the world but for the high soybean use in the U.S. The only real problem with palm oil is in its harvesting. Many companies will plow down forests instead of working the land sustainably. Choose a brand like Spectrum or another that works with nature, is organic, and fosters stronger communities and schools where the palm oil is harvested.

Have some on hand for those just-in-case moments and to use whenever. It has a very long shelf life (even well past the date stamped on there) and is a good pantry item to stock.


  1. They look delicious, Annie! I'm a big fan of organic coconut oil, which is also solid at room temperature, with a high melting point, and is great for frying, sauteeing, etc. I've never tried creaming it in the mixer, however. Not sure if that would serve as a good substitute, but it's definitely worth a try.

    Thanks for the recipe :)

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  2. I have to say, I thought you knew your stuff until you started doggin' on lard and saturated fats. First of all, lard is mostly monounsaturated fat, 70% of which is oleic acid -- the same fat found in olive oil.

    Secondly, yes, saturated fats have been accused of clogging arteries and the like, but that is just not true. Come on, I see you recommend Nourishing Traditions! And how can you say this and then promote wonderful palm shortening, which is like 97% saturated anyway?

    I'm just sayin'.

  3. I didn't say saturated fats were bad, I merely said that saturated fats were accused of those things, there are indeed good saturated fats and ones not good (the transfat junk of crisco for example)

  4. as for lard, I only said most of us don't want to use it, I think that's a tough hurdle to cross for many with how we've grown up, that's all, I in no way am doggin' anything natural and real, Gina, real is the way to go!

  5. Thanks for this great blogpost. At BE-organic I try to start the same. Not yet that far but a fair start is there. What do you think?


thanks for your comments! If you submitted a question or position on one of the points, I'll do my best to research that and respond promptly. Thank you for your part in creating a healthier world for us all.