Thursday, October 8, 2015

Counting New Recipe Carbs

Polish up those math skills, ladies and gents. I don't mean trig or calculus, not even algebra. (Like Peggy Sue, I never ever have needed those, and whatever I learned is vanished. Some, like calculus, were wiped clean two minutes after I walked out of the final. Aced it, by the way.) No, I'm talking the basics: addition, multiplication, division.

Ever notice when you're talking about carbs, calories, stuff like that, there is never any subtraction?

Back to the task at hand. I was given a new "simple" recipe by my sister-in-law, in this case meaning Steve's younger brother's wife, Alta. Raising 4 rambunctious kids, easy is her preferred version of cooking unique treats for the family. This one was pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies.

While easy is also my preferred method of food prep, I have the kind of brain that finds so many alternative ways of interpreting contents and instructions that a host of questions arise before we even get to the store to shop for ingredients. Good thing this recipe has only three of them.

Here are the directions: combine a spice cake mix, a can of pumpkin (pie filling), and a bag of chocolate chips. Drop onto a cookie sheet like you would any cookie, bake 10 minutes or more at 350.

I bet you could go right out and get busy. Me? I need to know what size can pumpkin? What size cake mix? Do those still come in sizes? I do presume the smaller size bag of chocolate chips, though my favorite grocery store has double-sized ones, because the larger quantity of chips would be just too good to be true.


Then I need to know whether you follow the directions on the cake mix box for eggs, water, etc. Turns out you don't, that the pie filling adds all the moisture needed. Armed with this information, and Alta's assurances that this is a very favorite treat for her whole family, you'd have them half made by now. Not me. There's one more step I need to take. Here's where the math comes in.

I get to count carbs. Steve and I both need to count those these days. So we have to know, once the cookies are done, how many carbs we're talking about. Can we have one? Two? Only half a cookie?

First, the chocolate chips. The label believes that there are a total of 220 carbs in the whole package. That of course isn't that simple. They arbitrarily pick a number out of the air that nobody would ever actually consider a full serving, then assign a carb count, leaving us to multiply it back out for a package count. In this case, 220.

The cake mix box presumes that somebody can cut their baked cake into 10 pieces. Ten? Really? Twelve, maybe. Sixteen if you're stingy, two if you're really into cake. But ten? And by the way, this time of year it's impossible to find spice cake mixes unless you know to look at the island display that holds all the goodies that somebody might conceivably use for Halloween holiday baking. That aside, the total carb count for the cake mix is 360, with or without adding the eggs and water. (If you don't know why, well, you need a lecture on carbs vs. protein vs. fats....)

The can of pumpkin pie filling lists a total of 42 carbs, once  you can get past the concept of 3 1/2 servings. (C'mon guys: really? Who only gets the half serving? And how do you cut a pie into 3 1/2 pieces? Think of the fights around the table that that would create!) That gives a total for all the cookies of 622 carbs. Divide that by your number of cookies, which you're only going to figure out after you see how many you've spooned out on the sheet. Burnt ones that  you toss in the garbage, not that we know anybody who ever does that, still count towards that total.