Friday, February 24, 2012

Frosted Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with Walnut Butter

Having set out to make an oatmeal cookie for grown-up tastes, my initial thought for Frosted Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with Walnut Butter was to bake them as bar cookies, as if this would somehow make them more sophisticated than the usual round shape. Fortunately, I abandoned that approach almost immediately. For although they are designed for grown-up tastes, and contain plenty that’s “good for you,” these aren’t health bars. They’re oatmeal cookies, and there’s no reason to hide that proud heritage. So round it is!

Any similarity between these oatmeal cookies and the ones we all grew up with, however, ends with their round shape and the base ingredients (oatmeal, for example). While children will enjoy them too, the flavor blend includes several items more likely to be appreciated by grown-ups. Specifically:
  • This recipe combines the usual all-purpose flour with ragi flour, which is found in Indian markets. Aside from packing a ton of nutrients, ragi flour has an earthy flavor that combines beautifully with the oats and deepens the flavor. 
  • Coconut, which is often used in combination with ragi flour, provides not only good flavor but a kind of after-texture I hadn’t expected but was very pleased with. 
  • The use of fresh cranberries adds a lively touch to the texture of the cookie, and brings a natural tartness that contrasts with the sweet ingredients. (And don’t get me started on how much more nutritious fresh cranberries are compared to the dried ones!) 
  • The use of walnut butter lends a delightful, grown-up, nutty flavor that’s a change from the familiar peanut butter. (Where do you get walnut butter? Easy: you make it yourself in a matter of minutes. The recipe is described below, but here’s the short version: put a couple of cups of toasted nuts in a food processor, add a small amount of a few simple ingredients, and process the living daylights out of it until it’s smooth and creamy. Everything should be so easy!) 
  • Adding a simple frosting to almost any baked good can take it to an entirely new level. In this recipe I went with a raspberry liqueur frosting, but swap any fruit liquid (orange juice, lemon juice, cranberry juice, etc.) for the liqueur and you’ve got a child-friendly version.
And did I mention these delightful treats are reduced fat?

This recipe makes 30 – 36 2-1/2” cookies. (You might want to make them a bit smaller for children or some adults. I just like larger cookies.)

First, let’s make the walnut butter. (You can skip this part if you decide to use store-bought peanut butter or almond butter instead.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread 2 cups of shelled walnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven for a few minutes until lightly toasted.

After the toasted walnuts have cooled, place them in a mini food processor and process until powdered but not pasty. Add a generous pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of flavor-neutral oil (grapeseed, canola, or similar)

Process until creamy, about five minutes.

Set aside until ready to use.

Next, we’ll make cookies.

In a bowl, combine ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup ragi flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together 3/4 cup butter substitute, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, and ½ cup granulated sugar until creamy.

To the butter mixture, add 2 egg-substitute eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and ½ cup of the walnut butter.

Stir in 3-1/2 cups of uncooked oats, ¼ cup of untoasted shredded coconut, and the flour mixture. When mixed, fold in 1 cup of fresh cranberries.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment-lined cookie sheets. (For smaller cookies, drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture instead.)

Bake 12-15 minutes (a little less for the smaller cookies) or until golden brown, reversing the baking sheets half-way. (When putting two baking sheets in the oven at the same time, stagger them as in the photo for better heat circulation.)

Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then move them wire racks to finish cooling.

When the cookies are cool, make the frosting by combining 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar and 1-1/2 tablespoons of raspberry liqueur or other flavoring liqueur or fruit juice. (Don’t apply the frosting to warm cookies.)
Mix the frosting until smooth.

Using a spoon, drizzle the frosting on the cookies, and let harden before serving. (Placing wax paper under the cooling racks before applying the frosting is recommended.)
I found these cookies can be pretty addictive. You’ve been warned!

Looking forward to meeting again next week for another fun, delicious recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-) 

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