We solve a Connecticut banker’s baking problems with ingredient modifications and a change in technique.
Credit: Randy Mayor

The Reader: Scott Javor, 30, corporate finance banker, Stamford, Connecticut

The Story: After sampling this luscious take on a traditional wedding cookie―a shortbreadlike sweet studded with crunchy nuts and chewy dried cherries, and then blanketed in powdered sugar―Javor was hooked. However, he strives to maintain a healthy weight and knew this butter-rich recipe needed a major overhaul so he could enjoy the cookies for more than special occasions.

The Dilemma: With one cup of creamy butter, one-half cup pistachios, and plenty of powdered sugar, the original version of each bite-sized cookie was packed with 118 calories and seven grams of fat, nearly 60 percent of which were the saturated type. As Javor can attest, it is hard to stop at one cookie, so fat and calories add up quickly.

The Solution: The butter, which helps give this dessert its characteristic crumbly texture, is also its main fat and calorie contributor. To start, we halved the butter amount, cutting 25 calories and about 2.8 grams of fat per cookie. To maintain a shortbreadlike texture, we used a food processor to incorporate air when combining the flour and butter while handling the delicate dough as little as possible to ensure tender results. And since we reduced the butter (the key source of moisture in the original recipe), we added a little water to moisten the dough, plus cornstarch to maintain the cookie’s texture. To manage calories, we halved the amount of pistachios, finely chopping them for better distribution among the cookies. Reducing these elements trimmed another few calories per cookie.

The Feedback: Javor likes the revamped cookies and finds them easier to make. Even with fewer chopped pistachios, Javor says he still enjoys the slight sweetness they contribute. “These cookies are good,” he says. “They are just sweet enough, and the delicate, crumbly texture was what I wanted.” The cookies can be made up to four days ahead and stored in an airtight container. Now he can have his cookie and eat it, too.

Before | After
Calories per serving
118 | 86
7g | 3.4g
Percent of total calories
53 percent | 36 percent