Wednesday, December 13, 2006

nutty oat cookies

Two posts in two days. Crazy, I know. I bought a new cookbook yesterday at my favorite bookstore (all Cooks Illustrated books are 10% off right now, so if you are looking for a good holiday present you should check them out) as a late birthday present to myself. Anthony already teases me for all the cookbooks I have (it's not like I have 101 or anything... yet), but I couldn't resist getting this one. First off, it's really comprehensive and there are a lot of tips and diagrams, which I always appreciate. It's huge and the recipes range from really simple to the ridiculous. There are plenty of recipes in there that are special occasion recipes (just because it's whole grain doesn't mean it's healthy), but there are even more that are simple, easy and nutritious.

Very often when I try to make a dessert that is healthy it winds up 'tasting like health', which I think is Anthony's way of saying 'tasteless' without making me feel bad. Dessert is dessert, however. It doesn't need to be fat free, sugar free and full of 100% of your daily vitamins and minerals. It's a treat and should be thought of as that, but it doesn't mean that I am going to start making cupcakes with almost 1 T of butter in them each to eat on a daily basis. There is a middle ground and I think these nutty oat cookies are a great example.

I've been seeing a lot of recipes with cashew butter in them recently. Bakingsheet had one up recently which extolled the mild flavor of the nut butter while making chewy cookies and Dreena Burton uses cashew butter to make a dip for fruits and veggies that is nice and mild. Armed with my new cookbook and a jar of cashew butter from Trader Joes, I thought I'd put both the butter and the cookbook to the test, and let me tell you they both passed with flying colors. Also, you only need one bowl to make these, so clean up is a breeze.

Nutty Oat Cookies, adapted from Whole Grain Baking

2/3 cup cashew butter (the original calls for peanut butter)
4 T (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
scant 3/4 cup sugar (I used sucanat)
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup oats (old fashion or quick, NOT instant) ground in food processor or blender for 30 seconds to form a coarse meal
1 1/2 cup oats
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c dried berries (I used a berry mix, but just cranberries would be great as well)

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
2. In a large bowl, cream the cashew butter, butter, sugar, vanilla, baking soda and salt.
3. Add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Make sure to wipe down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything gets worked in.
4. Add in the oats, chips and dried berries.
5. Drop by the T onto the cookie sheets and bake for 11-13 minutes, just until the cookies begin to brown around the edges.
6. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan.

Makes 30 cookies.

It also helps to have a buddy around when you bake them to stare and sniff:

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