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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Brown sugar sweetens easy shortbread

By Elaine Magee

Q. I noticed this recipe for brown-sugar shortbread on an Internet recipe site. It appealed to me because it sounded easy. But I don't want to use 2 sticks of butter if I can help it. Suggestions?

A. I've got a house full of shortbread cookie lovers, so I jumped on this recipe. I love that you just pat the dough into the pan and that's pretty much it. This might help you Girl Scout cookie people (who are in hog heaven right now) when that last box bites the dust.

Instead of 2 sticks of butter, I used 3/4 cup of a less-fat margarine blended with 1/4 cup of light cream cheese. I cut the calories from sugar in half by using half brown sugar and half calorie-free sweetener. If you don't want to do this, just use 1 cup of the brown sugar. I've had a lot of baking success using half whole-wheat flour and half white flour, and this shortbread was no exception. The whole-wheat flour adds fiber and phytochemicals, and the shortbread might be more filling too.


  • 3/4 cup less-fat margarine (with 8 grams fat per tablespoon)

  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese

  • 1/2 cup dark or golden brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 cup Splenda or Sugar Twin Granulated Brown

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 cup unbleached white flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9-inch nonstick cake pan or springform pan with canola cooking spray.

    Add margarine and cream cheese in mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and Splenda or Sugar Twin and beat until blended. Add flours and salt to mixing bowl and beat on low speed just until blended (do not overmix).

    Press dough into prepared pan. Combine the tablespoon of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the shortbread in the pan. Cut into 12 wedges (cut through the dough, but the wedges stay in the pan).

    Bake until the shortbread is lightly brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center (about 50 minutes). Cool the shortbread in the pan on a rack. Re-cut the cookies into wedges if needed.

    To make the chocolate dip, put semisweet chocolate chips and canola oil in a 1-cup glass measure and microwave on half-power for 1 minute or until chocolate is smooth and melted when you stir. Dip the rounded edge of each shortbread wedge into the chocolate. Use the edge of a fork or knife to smooth the end, and let any excess chocolate fall back into the measuring cup. Decorate the chocolate with sprinkles if you desire.

    Makes 12 shortbread wedges.

  • Per serving (not including chocolate): 180 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (1.8 g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 3.5 g polyunsaturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 206 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 40 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids, 0.5 g (depending on the margarine); omega-6 fatty acids 3 g (depending on the margarine). Weight Watchers points, 4.

  • Per serving, the chocolate adds: 37 calories, 0.3 g protein, 4.5 g carbohydrate, 2.4 g fat (1.3 g saturated fat, 0.9 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), no cholesterol, 0.4 g fiber, 0.8 mg sodium.

  • Original recipe (not including chocolate): An estimated 283 calories, 15.5 g fat, 9.5 g saturated fat and only 0.5 grams fiber per serving.

    Visit www.recipedoctor.com to find out about Elaine's newest cookbook, "Comfort Food Make-overs," and to join the free Recipe Doctor Club.