Marisa Churchill, contestant on Top Chef, is all about nutrition. In her cookbook, Sweet & Skinny ($24), she has a plethora of sweet treats that won't leave you with a stomachache. So nix those sugary Halloween candies and whip up a batch of these scrumptious PB&J Cookies instead!
PB&J Cookies - Makes 16 cookies
Per cookie: 130 calories, 6 grams of fat
Per cookie (sugar-free): 90 calories, 6 grams of fat
Nonstick pan spray
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup reduced-fat smooth peanut butter, preferably natural style
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
5 tablespoons Truvia (18 packets)
3 tablespoons liquid egg substitute
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About ¼ cup sugar-free strawberry jam or sugar-free grape jelly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center position. Coat a baking sheet with pan spray (even if it is nonstick), or line it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter, cream cheese, butter and sugar (Truvia) together on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is well blended. (If using a standing mixer, use the paddle attachment.) Add the egg substitute and vanilla and mix for 2 minutes longer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour mixture on low speed, beating for 1 minute, just until it is incorporated.
Set aside 2/3 cup of the dough for the cookie tops. Scoop the remaining dough into 16 equal portions and roll them between your hands to form balls. Use your thumb or index finger to press a hole about about ¼ inch deep into the center of each ball, gently pinching the dough to create a well about the size of a quarter. Fill each hole with ½ to ¾ teaspoon of the jam.
Roll out the reserved dough between two large pieces of plastic film until it is 1/8 inch thick. Peel off the top film and use a 1 ½-inch round cookie cutter to cut 16 rounds, rerolling the scraps as needed. Use the tines of a fork to press crosshatch marks onto the flat cookie tops, dipping the fork into flour as needed to prevent sticking. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, freeze it for 5 minutes and try again.
Lay one cookie top over each of the filled cookies and press the tops and bottoms together all around the edges to seal in the jam. Space the cookies evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until the dough no longer appears wet or shiny but has begun to brown. Halfway through the baking time, rotate the pan from front to back.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 15 minutes. Then transfer the cookies directly to the rack and let them cool completely. Store any leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.