Thursday, October 24, 2013

Eats: Fruit and Nut Oatmeal Cookies

Hello! Although I rarely order from it, I receive the Penzeys Spices catalog on a regular basis.(when I buy from Penzey's, it's usually at one of their stores.) 

Penzeys Spices is more than just a catalog, though - it's a cross between a catalog and a food magazine. There are recipes from Penzeys customers, along with short essays about the people behind these recipes. There is a theme each month that creates a commonality between the featured customers, such as being teachers, volunteers, and so on. (this month's catalog has an Abraham Lincoln theme, in honor of it being the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln declaring Thanksgiving to be a national holiday). 

I've tried a number of recipes from the Penzeys catalogs over the years, and they have generally been very good. A couple of months or so ago, a recipe for a oatmeal cookie loaded with fruits and nuts appeared, and I knew I had to try it. They're actually called Raisin and Fruit Oatmeal Cookies, but I changed the title - after all, raisins are fruit too, so the original title seemed redundant to me.

Fruit And Nut Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (not instant or quick cook)
1 1/4 cups mixed dried fruits - raisins, apricots, cherries, dates, cranberries, etc - any combination you like)
1 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds or a combination)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup shortening or butter
1 egg
1/4 cup water (or apple cider, apple juice, or apricot nectar), plus 1-2 tablespoons more if needed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

Place the oatmeal in a food processor or blender and pulse into fine crumbs. Leave in the processor and add the dried fruits (if using dried apricots, chop them before adding them to the food processor) and nuts and pulse to break up. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugars and shortening or butter until fluffy. Add the egg, water or juice, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and flour and mix well. Fold in oatmeal mixture. Let sit for 15 minutes for the oatmeal to absorb the liquid. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350. If the dough becomes very stiff, add 1-2 tablespoon more water or juice. Drop the dough by the tablespoon onto greased cookie sheets, flatten slightly and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a minute to firm them up and then transfer to racks to cool completely. Yield: about three dozen cookies. 

My notes: I used raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries and walnuts in this recipe. I had homemade apple butter on hand, so I thinned a little of it with water to equal the 1/4 cup liquid called for in the recipe. Figured this would add a nice flavor boost. I used butter, and subbed white wheat flour for white flour.

Here's how one of these cookies turned out:

If you like oatmeal/raisin cookies, you'll probably enjoy these. I liked that the oatmeal, dried fruits and nuts are chopped up first; that step gives these cookies a more even, less chewy texture. But you can still tell that there's different kinds of dried fruit in them. 

And with those fruits, the nuts, and the oatmeal, you could almost say that these cookies are a nutritious snack or maybe even a meal-on-the-run option. I did find them rather sweet and a little too rich in fat, though. Next time I'll cut back on the sugar and butter. 

After having a couple of freshly-baked cookies, I stuck the rest of the batch in the freezer, ready to nibble on as desired. They seem to be holding up just fine that way. 




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