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Monday, August 22, 2011

No Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

BB asked for a home day today while BJ was at school, so we spent the morning making cookies. I haven't been doing much baking ever since our household went on a low sodium diet, so it was interesting to see what I could do with the new dietary restrictions.

Chocolate chip cookies are a family favorite, so I wasn't surprised that BB requested them. Since S especially likes butterscotch chip cookies, I was happy to make them as well -- an easy task, simply dividing the dough in half before adding the chips, and putting in chocolate in one half and butterscotch in the other. Since the flavored chips are pretty low in sodium themselves (only 5 mg of sodium in a tablespoon of chocolate chips and 10 mg of sodium in a tablespoon of butterscotch chips, and each cookie has much less than a tablespoon of chips in it) I figured it would be fairly easy to end up with a lower sodium version of the classic cookie recipe.

After a little research and a browse through the low-sodium cookbooks that I've purchased, I discovered that the recipes I could find involved either egg whites only (which I tend not to like in cookies, unless we're talking meringues) or extra ingredients like corn syrup, which I didn't have. So I decided to just try the recipe I used to make, omitting the salt. The recipe called for a teaspoon of baking soda, which is also a source of sodium, so I decided to try replacing half of the baking soda with baking powder, which is a source of sodium as well but a much smaller amount.

My final recipe entirely omitted 2300 mg of salt (1 teaspoon). The original recipe had a total amount of 3500 mg of sodium in the ingredients, not including that from the chips. I reduced that to 860 mg of sodium (600 mg from 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 260 mg from 1/2 teaspoon baking powder). Since it makes about 4 dozen cookies, including a rough estimate for the added sodium from the chips, that's only about 20-25 mg of sodium per cookie in this recipe, compared to about 75-80 mg of sodium per cookie in the original recipe!

And the most important thing: they are still really yummy! I mean, eyes-closed-while-you-eat-them yummy... that's a cookie in her left hand, from which she just took a bite!

Here's the recipe for Mama's Magic Reduced Sodium (No Salt) Fill-In-The Blank Chip Cookies!

Oven 375 degrees

2 1/4 cups flour (I used unbleached white flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups flavored chips of choice (semi-sweet chocolate and/or butterscotch chips)
optional: 1 cup nuts (i didn't include nuts in the recipe or in any sodium counts, but unsalted nuts wouldn't add much if any)

Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl.

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg, beating well until combined. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chips and nuts if desired.

Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cook 9-11 minutes, until golden brown.
(Watching the oven while they bake is entirely optional.)

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.
They were a wee bit flatter than the cookies from the classic, higher sodium recipe --and they are more crisp today than the cookies with salt would have been. I've read that salt interacts chemically with the fat ingredients in the cookies, so maybe that's part of what's going on. The flattening was more obvious with the larger cookies (the ones that BB measured out; getting a good consistent small cookie dough amount was challenging for her). But not really a noticeable difference.

Next time, to reduce the sodium even further, I might try replacing all the baking soda with baking powder and see what happens!

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