Want to add flavor and lots of vitamins and minerals to your sweets? Try substituting avocado for butter in your cookie baking. What you give up in calcium, you gain in more nutrients. Plus avocados have less saturated fat and no cholesterol. You also give up about half the calories that you would find in cream cheese and four and half times the calories in butter.
If you like your cookies to be crunchy and your recipe calls for a cup of butter, use ¼ cup of butter and ¾ cup of avocado. If you like your cookies to be chewy, then use a one to one substitution between butter and avocado. Since so many of us wait until Christmas to bake, the added green color to the dough will be just right for the season. It is also perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.
The word avocado comes from the Aztec language and means testicle. Although large ones are grown in Florida (avocados, that is) and can weigh as much as four pounds, most avocados come from California and average around five ounces. The external skin can be rough or smooth and range in color from green to almost black. The two most common varieties are Hass and Fuerte. They can be hard because they are picked before they ripen. However, they should give somewhat when squeezed, if they are ready to eat. You can always put them in a paper bag at room temperature to quicken the ripening process. Choose ones that seem heavy for their size.
Like an apple, avocados will discolor when exposed to the air. Since they are most often associated with guacamole, sprinkle them with lemon or lime juice when preparing ahead of time. Slice one onto sandwiches to add moisture or include chunks of avocados in your salad. Serving them with something crunchy like nuts in a salad is a nice contrast. Because they are so neutral tasting, you can pair them with something tart and flavorful like raspberries or oranges. A honey mustard dressing is also a good match with avocados, whether served on salads or sandwiches.
In spite of avocado’s delicate composition, don’t be afraid to add chunks of it at the last minute to a stir-fry. It can help cool down a dish that you have spiced up with too many hot peppers. Mix up some corn and black beans with tomatoes and picante sauce or salsa and serve this as an appetizer over a pitted avocado half. For those who can’t take the heat of chile peppers, serve a mild salsa and offer your guests a glass of chardonnay. Its tartness will help bring out more flavor.
Another alternative to get your taste buds zinging is to serve that sliced avocado with grapefruit sections and drizzle French dressing over the top. Other spices that go well with avocado are garlic, scallions, chiles, cilantro and oregano. If you have made guacamole and want to use up the leftovers, stuff it into celery or serve it on crackers.
Now that you can see that avocados have more uses in your home and are a healthy addition to your diet, spend some time with your children and whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies minus the butter. Who knew you could have a flavorful vegetable as part of your dessert?