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Low-fat Soft Spiced Pumpkin Hermits

The term “hermit” refers to soft, cakey molasses and spice cookies made with raisins and nuts – a perfect vehicle for pumpkin. Adding pumpkin boosts their nutritional benefits, but don’t think you have to buy fresh pumpkin and clean out all the squidgy goo cup for cup, canned pumpkin is more nutrient-dense, containing far more beta carotene than fresh. So not only is it easier, it’s better for you. Besides, who wants to cut, cook and mash pumpkin just to make a batch of cookies?

If you don’t use the whole can of pumpkin puree, freeze it in small zip-lock bags – it’s great to add to muffins, quick breads, pancake batter and other baked goods, particularly if you’re looking for something to add moisture when you cut back on the fat. (By the way, these cookies are worth baking just for the aroma that comes from the oven – they’re better than the very best potpourri.)

Pumpkin Hermits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups raisins, dried cranberries and/or chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir by hand until almost combined; add raisins (or other dried fruit) and nuts and stir just until blended.

Drop large, rounded spoonfuls of dough 2″ apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 12—14 minutes, until just set — springy to the touch around the edges, but you still leave a slight dent if you touch them in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Per cookie: 136 calories, 2.3 g fat (1.3 g saturated fat, 0.6 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 28.2 g carbohydrates, 14.2 mg cholesterol, 1.8 g protein, 1.2 g fiber. 15% calories from fat

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