Easy Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes.

We’ll get back to regularly scheduled healthy recipes in my next post. But, with Valentine’s Day on Friday, I thought this recipe might come in handy for you now!

If you’re looking for a simple but impressive dessert for Valentine’s day (or any occasion really), this dessert is perfect! Molten chocolate lava cakes seem so decadent and restaurant-worthy, but they can be whipped up in your home in a cinch. The entire batter is mixed in 1 bowl, so there’s virtually no clean-up. Start to finish, you can have these on the table in under 20 minutes. I’m telling you, this recipe is fabulous. The cake portion is tender but firm, and the gooey chocolate center? Obviously to die for. Silky smooth, super rich, and ultra-chocolatey. This is a chocolate lover’s dream!

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You can customize each cake to your preferences by adding your favorite flavors as toppings. I left mine plain with just a light sprinkle of powdered sugar because the cake itself is so rich, but I think fruit would be a perfect addition. Strawberries or raspberries sound great, don’t you agree? If you wanted to kick it up a notch you could even add a light drizzle of melted peanut butter. The options are practically limitless!

I have actually had this recipe tucked away since my junior year of college. I made it for my roommates and myself on a night when we were all snowed in, and it was a hit! Thankfully I had the recipe saved in an email because the website where it originally came from no longer works. This dessert is always perfect. Upon first glance, the cake seem so unassuming. Just a tiny chocolate cake…

IMG_20140116_203417689_HDRUntil you take your first bite and see what’s inside!

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The only tricky part about this recipe is flipping the ramekins after they come out of the oven. I really do set a timer for 2 minutes as soon as they come out of the oven so I know I don’t let them sit too long. I put my plate over the ramekin and give it a fast, confident flip! Remember the ramekins are still very hot at this point, so you must wear oven mitts to do this. It can also be helpful to have someone else on hand to help, but I have always managed to do this by myself without any trouble.

IMG_20140116_203600456_HDRI didn’t try to make this recipe healthy so just know this is a very, very indulgent treat! This recipe makes 2 cakes, but each cake is definitely big enough and rich enough to be shared. You may want to go ahead and plan on running an extra couple miles tomorrow. Just sayin’. : )

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS all-purpose flour
  • Cooking Spray
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F and microwave butter and chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 45 seconds on high, then whisk until smooth.
  2. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and whisk again.
  3. Add in sifted flour and powdered sugar and – you guessed it- whisk.
  4. Pour into a small and VERY VERY VERY well greased dish (I used a ramekin).
  5. Bake 12-13 mins until top is done but insides are jiggly.
  6. Let sit for 1-2 minutes then run a knife along the edges. Put a small plate upside down on top of the bowl and flip over quickly.

Servings: 4 (assuming you split each cake with someone you love!) Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 441 Carbs: 48g Fat: 30g Protein: 7g Fiber: 4g WW Points+: 13

Recipe courtesy of AudreysApron.wordpress.com.

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1 Year Blog Anniversary + Chocolate Puffs with Mascarpone Cream.

1 year ago today I decided to go for it and finally start my cooking blog! Now, here we are: 1 year, 100 recipes, and a few hundred followers later!

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you to each and every one of you who read this little blog of mine. Thank you so much for the comments you leave on posts, the emails you send, and the times you stop to tell me how a recipe turned out. It has been so much fun sharing my recipes with you and one of my favorite parts of blogging is your feedback!

Today I’m going to share with you the very first recipe I posted (exactly 1 year ago today). I’m re-posting it because at the time I had ZERO followers and I sincerely doubt many of you have looked back in the archives that far. This blog sure has grown a lot since then, but these chocolate puffs with mascarpone cream are still one of the most delightful, unique desserts I’ve ever made! You need to make them. Soon. They are amazing…but I’ll let you read the original post below for more details. : )

And so…

Without further ado…

Chocolate puffs with mascarpone cream! Is your mouth watering yet?

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Every now and again I make a dessert that really stands out. One that is truly special, both in flavor and appearance. This recipe defied the standard mold of cookie, bar, pie, or cake. It is difficult to put into words how delicious these were. Imagine silky mascarpone cream sandwiched between chocolate puffs as light as the name alludes, but rich and satisfying at the same time. Very decadent.

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Top them of with melted chocolate or chocolate ganache, based on your preference. Here’s what they looked like before the additional chocolate drizzle:

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The original recipe is from the great baker Dorie Greenspan, someone about whom I had read over and over again on cooking blogs. Until now, I had never dared to replicate her recipes. I now realize I misunderstood the uniqueness of her recipes (and sometimes lengthy steps) for difficulty, as was almost the case with these chocolate puffs. But, due to the convenience of having leftover mascarpone, heavy cream, and chocolate ganache from a previous baking endeavor a few days prior, I decided to go for it. Just for the record, they are worth making a special trip to the store for those ingredients. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. Just follow the directions, enjoy them, and share them with someone you love. Valentine’s day is coming up, you know!

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Chocolate Puffs with Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients

Cream Puffs:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or whole milk)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • My not-so-optional addition: 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Also optional (but not really): melted chocolate or ganache for drizzling over top of the filled cream puffs.

Instructions:

  1. Let eggs stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Position oven racks to divide oven into thirds; preheat to 425F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. (I did not do this and it still turned out fine)
  2. For cream puffs, in a medium bowl sift together flour and cocoa powder. In a medium saucepan combine water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt; bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Add flour and cocoa mixture all at once; lower heat slightly. Using a wooden spoon or sturdy heatproof spatula, stir vigorously. The mixture will come together in a ball and there will be a film on the bottom of the pan, but do not stop stirring; give it another minute of energetic beating. Transfer hot dough to a mixing bowl; let rest for 2 minutes.
  3. Using a whisk (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat dough 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating very well after each. You’ll have a smooth, shiny dough.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop or small spoon, place 8 even mounds of dough on each of the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch of space between mounds.
  5. Transfer baking sheets to oven; immediately reduce heat to 375F. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until the puffs feel hollow and lift easily off the paper, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to pack at the halfway point. Cool to room temperature before filling.
  6. For filling, in a medium bowl gently stir mascarpone with a spatula to loosen. Beating makes mascarpone turn grainy, so go easy. Set aside.
  7. In a medium bowl beat whipping cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to whip until the cream holds medium peaks that stand up nicely and just start to fold over at the top. Stir a spoonful of the cream into the mascarpone to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining cream.
  8. To assemble, cut cream puffs in half. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (or a spoon), pipe filing over one half; top with remaining half. To serve, drizzle with chocolate ganache (or melted chocolate), if desired. Makes 16 cream puffs.*A note about storage. Unfilled cream puffs will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Filling will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Fill cream puffs just before serving.Nutritional Information per Cream Puff (will change depending on if you use heavy cream or whole milk, chocolate or ganache, etc.): 130 calories, 10 g fat, 51 mg cholesterol, 54 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g protein.Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Better Homes and Gardens February 2013.

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls

I stumbled upon this recipe a few weeks prior and immediately jumped up and made them. I already had every ingredient sitting in my pantry, and it only requires one bowl for mixing it all together. Literally, within 5 minutes they were ready to go!

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These energy bites are no-bake, which is helpful if you’re limited on time (or trying to avoid heating up your house with the oven). These are great on-the-go snacks or a delightful sweet treat that’s not too indulgent. I was especially pleased that there’s so much ground flax seed in this recipe. Flax seed is full of Omega-3’s which are so important and good for you!

These may not be the best pictures but they certainly were delicious! These are gluten free and can be dairy free depending on what chocolate chips you buy. I think this would also be a great treat that kids could enjoy as well!

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Just take a look at the ingredients list. You more than likely have everything you need to whip up a batch right now. Go make them!

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1) Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.

2) Roll into balls and refrigerate.

Servings: 26. Serving size: 1 ball. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 84 Carbs: 10g Fat: 5g Protein: 2g Sugar: 6g Fiber: 1g

WW PointsPlus: 3

Recipe via Pinterest, but no link to original source.

Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Peanut Butter Brownies

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Yes, you read that title correctly.

Chocolate-covered pretzels.

On top of fluffy peanut butter frosting.

With a homemade brownie base.

It is so good!!!

Let me say up front, plan to share this dessert with friends because this is in no way, shape, or form even remotely healthy. This may actually be the most decadent dessert I’ve ever made! Sometimes, though, you need to have a real dessert up your sleeves for special occasions. This one is a show-stopper, and if you are a fan of peanut butter and chocolate/salty and sweet, you will absolutely love these!

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The brownie base can be made according to the recipe below, or if you are short on time you can use a boxed brownie mix. There are several steps to making these decadent bars, so you may not want to make these if you are in a last-minute rush. Did I mention they are worth every second?

The best part of this dessert, in my opinion, is the combination of textures. The brownie is thick and chewy, the peanut butter frosting is light and fluffy, and the chocolate-covered pretzels are super crunchy. There’s so much greatness going on that I can’t imagine anyone not loving these!

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Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Peanut Butter Brownies

Ingredients:

For the brownie base (use this recipe or use a boxed mix):

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 8 oz semi-sweet baker’s chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Chocolate Covered Pretzels:

  • 25 mini pretzels
  • 2 oz semi-sweet baker’s chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar

1). Let’s make the brownie base first. Preheat the oven to 350F, and spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

2). In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and chocolate over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted together, about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes.

3). After butter/chocolate has cooled, stir in the sugar and begin whisking in 1 egg at a time. Add the vanilla extract and whisk. Slowly fold in the flour and salt and mix until well combined. Pour into prepared 9×13 pan and bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick barely comes out clean.

4). Next, make the chocolate-covered pretzels. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Mix, then continue to microwave the chocolate in 10 second intervals, stirring the chocolate each time, until the chocolate has melted. Toss the melted chocolate with the pretzels and set aside to harden, or pop in the fridge to cool just a few minutes. Once cooled, chop the pretzels roughly.

5). For the peanut butter frosting, use a stand mixer or electric mixer to beat the butter and peanut butter together until combined. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until the frosting is very thick. I used 1.5 cups.

6). After the brownies have cooled about 1 hour, smooth the peanut butter frosting in an even layer on top of the brownie base. Then, sprinkle the chopped pretzels on top and gently press them into the frosting. Place the dessert in the fridge to set the frosting for 30 minutes to an hour. Cut into (small) pieces, serve, and enjoy!

Serving: about 28, depending on size preference.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 281 Carbs: 32g Fat: 17g Protein: 5g Sugar: 22g Fiber: 2g

WW PointsPlus: 8 Old points: 7

Recipe originally from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/07/09/chocolate-covered-pretzel-peanut-butter-brownies/

Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

These may be some of the best muffins ever! Truthfully, these “muffins” may as well be cupcakes without frosting because they’re so sweet. No oil or butter is used, but there is quite a bit of sugar. They taste so rich and decadent that you would never imagine each one clocks in under 175 calories!

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The banana flavor is almost undetectable here. Muffins are the only way I can get my husband to eat bananas, so I always try to find muffin recipes that call for them. It helps that I always have plenty in the freezer waiting to be used!

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One look at these muffins and you know it has to be chocolate.  The cocoa powder addition elicits the dark brown, almost black, color of the batter, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips ensures that each bite is sweet and chocolate-y.

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I could not believe how light and fluffy the texture was, considering I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. I’d like to test it out with all whole wheat flour but I’m afraid it may weigh down the final product too much. Next time I will at least do 3/4 whole wheat and 1/4 all-purpose!

I will definitely be making these again!

Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe large bananas
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

1). Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until there are no lumps. Add the sugar, egg, and applesauce and mix well.

2). Add the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder to the wet ingredients. Fold but do not overmix! Evenly divide batter between 15 muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Servings: 15

Nutritional information per Serving: Calories: 173 Fat: 5g Carbs: 33g Protein: 3g Sugar: 21g Fiber: 2g

WW P+: 5 Old points: 3

Recipe adapted from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/11/11/skinny-chocolate-banana-fudge-muffins/ 

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Perfectly Chocolate Cake with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Homemade chocolate cake…that tastes like it’s from a box,but it is free of MSG and preservatives. Just a few simple ingredients blended together to create the moistest, fluffiest chocolate cake you’ll ever make. I promise!

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Having said that, make no mistake about it: this is not health food. This is a rich, indulgent dessert that should be made sparingly to preserve it’s appeal. And maybe your waistline. But I digress…

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I have experimented with several chocolate cake recipes in the past, all of which left me slightly disappointed because they came out too dense or too dry.

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And then, I stumbled upon this recipe! I will never go searching for another chocolate cake recipe again. It really takes only slightly more time to make than using a boxed mix, and the taste is even better. The almost black color of the batter alerts you to the intense chocolate flavor awaiting you once it bakes.

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One important note to make here: the batter will be super dark, and very runny when you pour it into your baking tins. You may think you have done something wrong, but I assure you, it will come out perfectly. Because it is so liquid-y, do NOT try to use a cake pan with a removable bottom. You know, the kind with the latch on the side so it can come apart. Use a plain, normal, run-of-the-mill cake pan.

Unless you want chocolate batter dripping all over your kitchen as you frantically try to salvage the cake.

No? I didn’t think so. That may or may not have happened to me the first time I made this cake, so please learn from my errors and save yourself some cleaning time!

Scroll down for an exquisite, unique frosting recipe: Nutella Buttercream!!

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Perfectly Chocolate Cake

(recipe adapted from Hershey’s)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup reduced fat buttermilk (or milk + 1Tbsp lemon juice after it sits for 3-5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans, and flip over onto wire racks. Cool completely. 10 to 12 servings.

VARIATIONS:
ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Servings: 18. Nutritional Information: Calories: 140 Fat: 6g Carbs: 21g Protein: 1g Sugars: 16g

 

Now for the Nutella frosting…

It really deserves an entire blog post all to itself, but I love how well it compliments the chocolate cake above, so I will post it here. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I might spare the details of how fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and Nutella-y this frosting is and just hope you will make it one day. It’s totally worth the extra miles you may have to run the next day!

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Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup Nutella or other hazelnut spread
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons heaving whipping cream

1) In the bottom of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on low until well combined. Add the Nutella and increase speed to medium. Beat for two minutes.

2) Add the vanilla extract and salt, beating for an additional 30 seconds.

3) Last, add the whipping cream and continue to beat for about one minute, or until frosting lightens slightly in both color and texture.

*This made more than enough to frost an entire cake, however that may be because I do not pile on frosting as much as most people!*

Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 279 Fat: 21g Carbs: 21g Protein: 2g Sugar: 20g

Recipe adapted from: http://www.kitchentreaty.com/fluffy-nutella-buttercream-frosting/ 

The BEST Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

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I’ve mentioned on the blog before how much I love chocolate chip cookies. They are, quite possibly, my most favorite dessert. I am very particular about their texture and flavor. They are also an indulgence I try to stay away from most days!

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Luckily, if you have a sweet tooth and love chocolate chip cookies like me, I have the perfect waist-friendly recipe for you! I was SO skeptical when I first tried this recipe. I figured these cookies would be hard as bricks or taste as dull as paper, but as it turns out, they were none of those things. Instead, they are fluffy, chewy, sweet, and chocolate-y. For low-fat and low calorie, these are amazing. The first time I made these for my husband I didn’t tell him they were “healthy” and he raved about how good they were! So, if you have friends and family that might be skeptical about a healthy cookie, test these out!

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Just to let you know, half of the flour used in this recipe is whole wheat, and there are only 2 tablespoons of butter in the entire batch! The original recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, but I never have that on hand, so I use either white whole wheat or regular whole wheat. The regular whole wheat is drier and does change the texture of the cookie ever so slightly, so you may have to add a few more drops of water to smooth out the batter. If all you have is all-purpose flour, I’m sure that would work too, but you won’t get all the nutritional benefits of whole wheat.

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The Best Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1). Preheat oven to 350F.

2). In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3). Mix to blend. In another bowl, combine the sugars, butter, egg white, apple sauce, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

4). Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions until the batter is very well blended. *If the batter looks crumbly and not shiny/smooth, add a drop of water at a time until it smooths out. Fold in chocolate chips.

5). Drop by level spoonfuls on cookie sheets (spray them if your pans require it-mine do not!). Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to rest 5 minutes before removing cookies from pan onto wire racks.

Serving size: 2 cookies. Servings: 12. Nutritional information for TWO cookies (because you probably won’t stop at one!): Calories: 170.7 Fat: 5g Protein: 1.4 g Carbs: 34.5g Fiber: 1.4g Sugar: 24.4 g Sodium: 113.1 mg

Recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com