Posts Tagged ‘Cookies’
I realize that chewy almond butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies is a pretty long title for a cookie to have. Is it a little bit over the top? Maybe. But these ones surprised me because they live up to every bit of their attention-grabbing name, and maybe even more so. When I first read about them on Amanda’s blog, I thought they sounded good because, sure, I like chew and almond butter and oatmeal and chocolate and cookies—yes, especially that last part. I figured they would be a nice excuse to bake and eat some treats on a deadbeat weeknight since they hide so cleverly behind the facade of “healthy” by being made with all rolled oats, healthy fats from the almond butter, with a little boost of nutrients from the flax seed.
But let’s not kid ourselves. Cookies are cookies are cookies. It’s like when one of my roommates buys knock-off oreo “Who-Nus” that have “as much iron as a cup of spinach” or “as much calcium as a glass of milk.” Are those petty nutritional stats supposed to make a person feel better about eating a whole 24-pack of low-quality cookies? Because seriously, next time I’d personally rather just stick with the oreos and take a vitamin on the side.
These cookies do have some nutritionally redeeming qualities about them, but yeah, they’re still most definitely a treat. I baked them off earlier this week when I wanted some treats for my roommates and me that wouldn’t make me feel too guilty if I ate 4 of them in one night (it worked). And while the whole nutrition deal was a good excuse to make them, it was the chew and the flavor that surprised me and made me like them more than about 90% of all other cookies I’ve ever tried. These are really, really great. They are super chewy and a little soft, have some great texture from the rolled oats, and the cinnamon-almond-chocolate flavor combination is spot-on perfect. I’d make them for friends and company without any hesitations and without the need for the preface of something along the lines of “oh, these are kind of healthy-ish cookies…” These are some good cookies to keep in mind—whether you care about the whole healthy fats-whole-grain-flax-nutrients part or not. I wasn’t going to blog about these, but a friend urged me to after eating one or two or three of them. If you need any more convincing, Amanda’s post is really great.
Anyway, I have no real segue into talking about this so I’ll just go right ahead: Last night for Valentine’s Day my best friend and I hosted something of a girls-night-dinner for all of our single friends (I was included in this group because basically when you are in a long distance relationship, for all-intensive purposes, you are single on national holidays). I made a big batch of risotto with parmesan and peas, served with these chicken meatballs piled on top. For dessert I made this chocolate-almond torte, and it made for a nice chocolatey-filled end to the evening. It’s like a mix between one giant meringue and a chocolate flourless torte. Flaky, dense, rich, but light. It was perfect. And! yesterday while making it, I realized that it is completely fat-free. Like, there’s not even egg yolks in it. But, like the cookies, I would hate to emphasize some random health property as one of its defining features because it is too great of a torte to have “fat-free” be a blanket over its identity.
And, speaking of the Valentine’s Day that just passed, I hope you all had a lovely one. While I have no qualms with the holiday—I am neither repulsed by it nor attracted to it—I do like excuses to get together with friends and/or loved ones and cook and talk and laugh and all that nice stuff. I have to say though, if I read how someone is “blessed” to have a significant other or whoever in their life one more time on facebook, I am going to cry. So, to restate all that, I hope you had a very nice…unblessed Valentine’s Day. If not, there are always cookies.
One Year Ago: Homemade Soft Pretzels & a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (these are awesome, so much so that I’ve made these about 6 times since that post a year ago—including only less than 2 weeks ago)
You may substitute an egg for the flax-water mixture, just as you can substitute coconut oil for the butter to make it vegan. Also, you do not need to refrigerate this dough to firm it up before you bake it (awesome), but if you do, press down the chilled dough balls a little bit because they will hardly spread out at all if you don’t.
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
heaping 1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick mat. In a small bowl, mix together the flax with 3 tablespoons of water; set aside for at least 5 minutes so that the flax can soak up the water and set up. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, almond butter, and the granulated and brown sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and the flax-water mixture and combine to blend. Add in the dry oatmeal mixture, along with the chocolate chips, and mix until fully combined. The dough will be pretty moist but will hold together really well.
Roll golf-ball sized portions of the dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, making sure to leave at least 2 inches between each cookie. Do not flatten them (unless you’re baking them after refrigerating them). Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies have gotten puffy and a little brown around the edges. They’ll look a little underdone on top, but they’ll continue cooking and setting up after you take them out. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or baggie.
I think there’s something breezing through the entire country, but all I know is that it’s been chilly around here lately. Quite chilly. It’s a little strange when it gets to freezing temperatures here in the Northwest, because I think a lot of people in the area have a hard time comprehending it. Things are usually mild in these parts—mild winters, mild summers, always lots of rain throughout—and people here wear the same type of uniform whether it’s 65 degrees out or 30 (which, among my generation, usually just involves a hoodie or some sort of zip-up waterproof jacket).
Speaking of which, yesterday while I was walking to class I saw one of my peers wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It was 28 degrees at that moment. Shorts and a t-shirt, in 28 degree weather. I don’t know if I’ve been particularly moody or something lately, but I almost found that offensive! It was seriously troubling to me, that he woke up that morning and picked out an outfit, more fit for the summer than anything else, to wear that day. I know I shouldn’t be judging others (or something like that), but what else can one do when something like that happens?
I should focus such negative energy to more positive things, such as baking or cooking. That would be the smart thing to do, wouldn’t you say? And when it’s so cold outside, I really feel like the food we are nourishing ourselves with should be fitting. By that, I could mean nice hearty stews that simmer away on the stove for a good couple hours, or a nice citrus salad that provides us with all the vitamins Mother Nature is not-so-subtly reminding us that we need this time of year. And those are all fine things, good for the soul and body. But what I’m really referring to is sweets. Treats made of sugar and fat that most definitely nourish the soul more so than the body but are necessary nonetheless.
I think this treat fits the bill quite nicely: a dense and buttery shortbread glazed with a spicy-sweet layer of caramel-like icing. The spiciness comes from ginger, and it makes this shortbread both exotic and addicting. David Lebovitz, where this recipe comes from, stated that it tastes “somewhat familiar, but so different from any other kind of bar cookie I know of,” which I would agree with completely. The people who didn’t know I put ginger in it couldn’t quite put their finger on what it was that made this treat so different. At the same time, it tastes comforting and familiar. It’s a strange thing.
I made this twice within the last week I was at home before returning to school—a very necessary thing to do as my father (trying to be nonchalent but failing) asked 4 times in one day only a day after the first batch was eaten up if I was planning to make it again. He liked nibbling on pieces with his coffee, both for breakfast or as a snack throughout the day. The second time I made it, I chopped up some candied crystallized ginger to add to the shortbread base as well as sprinkle on top. While I would keep the shortbread base as in the original, I did love the addition of the candied ginger on top. It not only added another dimension of ginger flavor, but also made a more obvious signal to its tasters what the exotic, elusive spicy flavor actually was.
This last picture represents when I added some candied ginger on top (I also increased the amount of glaze—something I thought sounded intriguing but I wouldn’t recommend it as it throws off the balance). You might notice that this shortbread has a lipped edge to it, which I am attributing to the fact that I added 1/2 teaspoon baking powder too much the second time I made it, by accident. I think the whole thing puffed up more, than sank when cooling, to create that little mutant-like feature. It didn’t detract from the taste though, but it’s not as aesthetically pleasing. Just thought you should know that it’s not the fault of the recipe but rather more my own mistake.
One Year Ago: Chunky Sweet Potato and Corn Bisque
Adapted, barely, from David Lebovitz
Makes 1 9-inch pan
I made mine in a 9-inch cake pan, though next time I would use my 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. As I write below, if using a regular cake pan, it’s handy to line it with aluminum foil first to make a sort of “sling” you can pull the shortbread out with when done. David uses a rectangular tart pan, which I would use if I had one. Feel free to use one if you have one, though.
Also, you might notice that instead of calling it Ginger Crunch as David has, I called it Ginger Slice. That’s because I think both names are common in Austrailia—where the treat originates from—but mine didn’t turn out very crunchy. I’m not sure why, maybe it was due to my substitution of honey for golden syrup or something, but I just throught Ginger Slice was more fitting.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
9 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tablepoons finely chopped candied ginger, crystallized or not
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (or, like me, fit aluminum foil into a regular 9-inch cake pan and then coat that with butter). Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of ginger in a medium bowl.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the mixture, and continue to mix until well-combined, about 1 minute.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough so that it comes together and is relatively smooth. It will be naturally crumbly; don’t worry about that. Press the dough evenly down into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
About 5 minutes before the dough is done, make the icing. Heat the 5 tablespoons butter and honey together in a medium bowl in the microwave until melted, about 15 seconds or so. Add in the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon ginger, stirring until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.
As soon as the shortbread comes out of the oven, pour the warm icing over it. Let sit to set up for about 15 minutes or so, then sprinkle the chopped candied ginger (somewhat) evenly over the icing. Place in the fridge to set up, about 20 minutes. To serve, remove from pan (using the removeable bottom or aluminum sling) and cut into slices. I liked it both cold and at room temperature.
I returned home last weekend, after turning in my last essay and haphazardly grabbing some random books from the library to do preliminary thesis research over this break (I know, I know). But before I guilt myself into doing some very obligatory reading, it’s break, Christmas is one week away, and there are more important things to do. Like make cookies.
These cookies are what Talley calls palle di neve, or snowball cookies in Italian. But they could just as easily be called Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cookies, because they have that same nutty, sandy, shortbread sense about them. They’re not overly sweet, but the little roll or dusting of powdered sugar balances everything out just right. Waylon says these are his favorite cookies he’s ever had, only because he likes anything that he can eat alongside a cup of coffee and that isn’t too sweet. I’m more of the gluttonous kind who covets chewy-gooey-soft cookies, but I can very much respect and enjoy these shortbread-like cookies.
The rest of my family loved them, too. That is, everyone except Lindsey, my twin sister, who has just returned last night (!!) from studying abroad in Rome. I suppose she ate a few and liked them, but they weren’t exactly the homecoming cookie I think she was expecting. As she said, every morning she woke up while studying abroad, she wondered whether that day would be the day where she would taste a cookie in Rome that didn’t have nuts in it. Apparently even when she went into an American-style bakery one day in Rome, ecstatic to find a chocolate chip cookie inside, the chocolate chip cookie was made with almond flour. I guess the Italians like nutty cookies? Which makes sense, seeing as these are after all palle di neve.
You can go ahead and find these cookies right here, on Talley’s site, since I didn’t change anything to the recipe and her photos are too good to pass up. I will note though that I shaped my cookies into about 14 gram or 2-centimeter balls, unlike the recommended 9 grams listed in Talley’s instructions. I seriously tried to make 9 gram balls but I literally couldn’t! They all ended up being 14 grams on the dot, which made me end up having to cook them to an extended 12-14 minutes. I guess it’s that gluttonous American in me.
PS: Or, in other words, more gluttony: I have seen A Christmas Carol 3 times in the past two days. A little much? Maybe, but when a movie that good can only be watched one time a year, my family has to get their fill of it.
One Year Ago: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
This post is going to have a few opening caveats.
Firstly, I realize that baking up a batch of chocolate chip cookies goes against the somewhat honest intentions I mentioned earlier about using fresh summer produce and keeping away from the oven. But, at least for this moment, that is neither here nor there. Moving on.
Secondly, I hope you recognize these cookies. They’re from Kim Boyce, and they’ve been endlessly featured on the internet, most notably through my own experience here, here, here, and here. I’m happy to continue that cycle, because as Talley said, this is the type of recipe you have to love and then pass on.
To be honest with you, I’m not one for recipes-made-internet-sensations, and especially when that recipe is for chocolate chip cookies. (That’s a conversation for another post, but let’s just say chocolate chip cookies usually are not for me. Too chocoaltely, too crunchy, too cliche.) But when I had a hankering to have some treats lying around the house last week, I finally decided to give this recipe a try. Because, you know, it’s not like I hadn’t gotten constant reminders from the blog world that I should do just that.
I’m glad I did, and I’m now happy to say that this recipe is what they call a “keeper.” I’ve only ever found one other homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve approved of (once again, that’s a conversation for another day), and this one will always be for those days when I want thick, chewy, darker and deeper-flavored chocolate chip cookie to dip in a glass of cold milk. Which, in case anyone is keeping a record, would be just about every other day if I didn’t have a sense of will power. But, because I have portioned-out scoops of the dough in a ziploc-bag in the freezer, I can pretty much have fresh-baked cookies whenever I’d like and do just that anyway.
I will make a quick note that don’t read the “whole wheat” in the title and immediately associate that with “healthy.” These cookies are made like all good ones are: with a good dose of butter, and a good amount of sugar. Yes, the complete use of whole wheat flour here does boost the nutritional profile of the cookies, but I think most of all I like the flavor and texture it brings to the final cookie.
So, if you’ve seen this recipe lingering persistently around the internet, and have hesitated to try it out, this is your reminder! If by some rare and odd chance you haven’t come across this recipe before, here is your first boost of encouragement to get in on this one trend. And if you’ve made them (and consequently loved them, I’m guessing), then congratulate me! I’ve joined the Kim Boyce Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie fan club, and I’m proud of it.
One Year Ago: Blueberry Crumble Pie
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted slightly from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
Makes about 18 to 20 big cookies
I changed the process of how these cookies are made, just slightly. Taking a hint from Molly, I decided to go the route of freezing the cookie dough in pre-formed balls first before baking. Because of that, I creamed the butter at room temperature, rather than chilled, since the dough would be chilled first before baking anyway (room tempurature butter is a lot, a lot easier to cream than cold butter). Also, I used chocolate chips, but I really want to try making them with chocolate shards, cut straight from a hunk of chocolate. Go ahead and use what you like, or have on hand. Also! Importantly, let these cookies cool all the way. That’s when the soft and chewy develop.
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature or slightly softened
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces, or chips (see note)
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until blended and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the side of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, and blend on a low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Do not overmix. Add the chocolate shards or chips, and blend on low speed until mixed, about 15 seconds.
Scoop mounds of the dough roughly 3 tablespoons in size onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the freezer to chill completely, at least one hour. Once chilled, you can store the portioned-out scoops in a ziploc bag in the freezer and bake off as many as you’d like, whenever you want.
Once ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place frozen portions of the dough on the sheet, making sure to leave about 3 inches between each cookie. Bake cookies for 17 to 18 minutes, until the cookies are browned along the edges but still look a little under-cooked and gooey in the middle. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet, until completely cool. Trust me, it’s worth it to wait!