Weekly Bits: Holiday Baking

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Between holiday parties and cookie swaps, December is definitely the month for baking. Before you heat up the oven, check out this week's list of reader comments for tips on trimming the sugar and fat in cookies and other baked goodies.

"I've done a bit of baking with agave nectar, and since it is much sweeter than sugar, I start with 1/3 or 1/2 the amount that the recipe calls for. You also need to lower the temperature (i.e. 325 instead of 350) for agave and honey because they tend to burn at the higher temps." --maebyn

"Along with the pureed fruits that were mentioned, I have also tried replacing fats with canned pumpkin. This was in granola bars, so it also added a nice fall flavor." --Sarah

"I substitute the white flour in a recipe with whole-wheat pastry flour. The whole-wheat pastry flour gives a smoother texture than regular wheat flour. And I cut the sugar by 25% in most muffin and cookie recipes. The baked goods will be less sweet on a side-by-side comparison, but nobody will know the difference." --Melanie

"I bake often and, after some experimenting, I always use Smart Balance butter now. I find that it actually makes cookies softer and chewier...Mmm." --Greta

"I like using applesauce, plain nonfat Greek yogurt or baby food. For instance, when making carrot cake, I use canola oil, and replace half of it with pureed baby food carrots or sweet potatoes. You don't even notice a difference. For a basic, plain, three-egg cake, I replace half the fat with vanilla custard baby food, and the results are awesome. Also, if you use powdered ginger in cookies or cakes, try using candied ginger, chopped very fine. It has a clean, fresh ginger taste." --SnowCookie

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