Thursday, January 13, 2011

Walnut & Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

   I'll admit it.  I'm a cookie monster.  No, really!  I love cookies and bake them more than anything else.  I think I get this from Papa (my dad).  He is a picture of health, but still knows how to enjoy a chewy cookie, from time to time, with vanilla ice cream.  One of his very favorite has always been oatmeal raisin.  YUM!  So in turn, I've always loved them too! 

   I'm calling these walnut, cranberry oatmeal cookie because whenever I baked them this time that's what I put in.  The original recipe calls for pecans and raisins...and they are super fabulous that way, too!    Honesty, I'm a little more of a pecan gal but didn't have any this time hence the walnuts.  You really can't go wrong here!  My husband prefers dried cranberries to raisins.  They do seem to be a little sweeter and I do love the ruby red bits scattered around.  White chocolate chips would be delicious with the cranberries.  It's really all up to you and your taste!  I have to give credit to Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), because this recipe came from her Back to Basics cookbook which I love and highly recommend!

   I made these healthier by using mostly whole wheat flour.  You can easily find this at any grocery store.  In something as hearty as oatmeal cookies, it doesn't even change the texture!  So, whenever you think about the whole wheat flour, old fashioned oats, walnuts, and cranberries--we're talkin' about a pretty healthy cookie! 

   One of the more original things about this recipe is that it also calls for kosher salt.  This is something I keep in the kitchen. One box has lasted me forever!  Anyways, it gives this recipe a surprisingly good contrast from the sweet.  Every now and then you get a "salty" bite and it's wonderful.  Also, remember to toast your nuts before adding them in.  I can't emphasize enough how this really amplifies their taste and makes them taste fresher and somehow nuttier.  Just trust me on this one!

   Try these out and let me know what you think of them.  Healthy version or not, they are a really delicious cookie!  So frost your milk glasses and get ready to go back to your childhood!

Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 c. pecans or walnuts
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter,softened
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 c. old fashioned oats
1 1/2 c. raisins or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the nuts in a sheet pan and bake for about 5 minutes, until crisp.  Set aside to cool.  Chop very coursely.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on med-high speed until light and fluffy.  With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together into a medium bowl.  With the mixer on low, slowly add ingredients to the butter mixture.  Add the oats, raisins (or cranberries) and nuts and mix until combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop two inch mounds onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper.  (I didn't use the parchment paper, but maybe should have!)  Flatten slightly with a damp hand.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.  Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.  Let cool on the pan for chewier cookies.

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