Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cranapple-Oatmeal Cookies

Making cookies for an afternoon meeting at the office led me to recipes with a bit of heft and fuel, not just my preferred sweet and chocolate, or crispy and delicate. A cookie issue of Fine Cooking had this cranberry oatmeal cookie with walnuts and honey, which I modified into the version below.

I have been using some whole-wheat flour that has negatively impacted the texture of some of my baked goods. But I thought that with a few adjustments in advance, I could compensate for it, and that it would actually be really the right thing for these snack cookies.

My experiences so far with it had been that it was a bit tougher, drier, and grainier. I thought it needed more liquid to tenderize, and maybe more egg to add structure. I decided to add applesauce to the recipe both for flavor and moisture. I also let the dough sit overnight in the fridge, which is something I learned from a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. The resting allows the moisture to distribute evenly among the ingredients and "soak in" to the flour better so that the cookies bake more evenly and have a more consistent texture.

The resulting cookies had excellent flavor, with a pleasant crispy texture around the edges, and a soft, apple-y center. But they were a bit crumbly, and the only thing I think might address this is to add another egg, or part of an egg, but I don't want to sacrifice the crispiness; I worry that they would become too cakey. If any readers want to try with a second egg and let me know how it goes, I'd appreciate it! Meanwhile, as long as these don't have to pack in your day-pack for the hiking trail, they are delicious, and maybe even a bit nutritious!

Cranapple-Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 35 2-inch cookies, recipe can easily be doubled
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or garam masala, or nutmeg/allspice blend)
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats (my oats are large, so I like to grind-up about 1/2 of them in the food processor or a coffee grinder to make more of a flour. You get the great oatey flavor but a finer-grained cookie less like granola.)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dried cranberries
optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 1/2 cup chocolate chips (white or dark)

Grind oats, and mix with flour, soda, salt, and spice.

In stand mixer, beat butter with sugars until fluffy and light. Beat in egg, then applesauce, syrup and extract until well-mixed. Blend in flour mixture until completely incorporated. Stir in cranberries and any optional ingredients. Cover bowl tightly and allow to rest in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet, allow room to spread. Bake for 10 minutes in middle rack of oven. Remove when edges are golden but tops are still soft, but set. Allow to cool on sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely.

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