Mexican Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries and Walnuts

Yes, I realize that the name of these cookies constitute their own paragraph; maybe their own zip code, but that's what they are and no one can take that away from them.  They are also delicious, pragmatic, and are great to eat while playing charades.

I stumbled upon the idea by the heuristic "kitchen sink" method.  If oatmeal cookies are made better with chocolate, then why wouldn't they be even better with cinnamon, vanilla, and coffee?  And once you have added all that, why stop there?

That's exactly where Chef Amy usually stops me, but something was in the air this time and she kept egging me on.  "We have dried cherries," she declared, "Why don't you add some of those?" So I did.  "What about nuts?  Aren't you going to add nuts?" Ergo the circle of life perpetuates.

One batch yields about 3 dozen 3 inch cookies.  You could swap the nuts out, or substitute them for another type.  You could also add chocolate chunks or chips.  If I get my druthers next time, I'll add just a hint of Cayenne pepper, maybe just a half teaspoon.

They are hearty enough to satisfy a sweet tooth with just one, or two, and they make a decent breakfast along side a cup of coffee.  Don't judge, they do have oatmeal in them...

 

Mexican Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries and Walnuts (printable recipe)

  • 3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or add another 1/2 stick of butter if you don't have any)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons of instant coffee/espresso, or 3 shots (or 1/4 cup of the strongest coffee you can brew)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups oats
  • 2 cups dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cream the butter, coconut oil, brown and white sugar well, this is easiest in a stand mixer.  Slowly add the vanilla, cinnamon, instant coffee, salt, and the eggs one at a time and allow them to incorporate well.

In a separate bowl add the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda and whisk briefly to combine.  Turn the stand mixer to its lowest setting and SLOWLY add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar.  Slowly, unless you want to get antiqued.  

Once those are mixed, add the dried cherries and the nuts.  Dollop out onto a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 11-12 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

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Authordavid koch
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Avocado Almond Cookies

The idea for these cookies came to me when I got shocked by a bolt of static electricity getting out of my car on a hot day in Riverside, CA.  I was thinking of a way to replace some of the butter in a cookie and yet still keep the richness; the green glow they emit was only a cool side effect.

We started with a basic Peanut Butter Cookie recipe as the baseline.  We added the almond extract because after tasting the dough, we needed something to bring out the subtle creamy flavor of the avocado.  The chopped almonds add great texture.

These make for a light, fluffy, almost cake-like cookie.  It you are looking for a dense, crumby cookie with a snap, then look elsewhere.  They are also not ridiculously sweet, I might go as far as to call them, "an adult cookie" - with no XXX connotation intended.

Avocado Almond Cookies (printable recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smashed ripe avocado
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds plus 24 almond slices to top each one
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375.  Cream the butter, avocado, and sugar together for 2 minutes; a stand-mixer works well for this or you could do it with a whisk and get your daily workout in for the day.  Once they are well incorporated, mix in the egg, the vanilla, and the almond extract.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt well.  Add this dry mixture to the stand mixer in three batches so that you don't make a flour explosion.  Mix just until they come together, do not over mix.

Use 2 teaspoons to portion out each cookie onto a baking sheet; we lined it with parchment paper so that they wouldn't stick.  Place an almond sliver into the top of each one before you pop them into the oven.  Bake for 5-8 minutes or until they develop a nice golden brown crust on the outside.

Makes about two dozen cookies.

More Avocado Almond Cookes

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Authordavid koch
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I was inspired by a canister of sprinkles. Inspired to make 6 dozen cookies for a Halloween party we were hosting. Inspired because my daughter is 19 months old and I figured she'd love the colorful sprinkles upon the adorably shaped cookies. So, with the sprinkles, I purchased cookie cutouts and a rolling pin.

I found a sugar cookie recipe on epicurious.com, made sure I had the ingredients and then procrastinated. Luckily, the night before Halloween, as I was making some pumpkin muffins (from a box, thank you Trader Joe's!).

I scanned the sugar cookie recipe and noticed that

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AuthorHeather Ward

OK, so they aren't very scary but it is Halloween and Simple Ginger Snaps doesn't sound very cool.  I adapted the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker sans the molasses because we didn't have any in the "test kitchen."  I also added Black Pepper and Grains of Paradise to make them a little more spicy and savory.

I recently purchased a second pepper mill and some Grains of Paradise and I have been experimenting with them.  The little known spice is reminiscent of black pepper but also lends a pie-spice nuance that I thought would go well with

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Authordavid koch
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photo by Dave Koch

Adapted from Ina Garten's Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies from her book Barefoot Contessa Parties!  I cut the recipe in half (because it makes 40 cookies) and instead of putting all the white chocolate chips in, I used half macadamia nuts from our friend's tree on the Big Island of Hawaii...

You can just buy some macadaima nuts from the store if you don't know anyone with their own tree.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, well packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs until incorporated well. Stop the mixer, add the cocoa continue. 

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into another bowl. Slowly add the dry sifted ingredients to chocolate batter with the mixer on low. Stop the mixer, pour in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips, and mix again briefly.

Drop about a tablespoon of dough for each cookie on a baking sheet with a Silpat (or lined with parchment paper).

With your fingers, press down each cookie slightly and top with a few more white chocolate chips.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the pan as they will still be a little soft.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Posted
AuthorAmy Koch

Samoas vs. Caramel deLites

Have you ever wondered why are there Samoas AND Caramel deLites?  

  • Do-si-dos AND Peanut Butter Sandwiches? 
  • Trefoils AND Shortbread?  
  • Tagalongs AND Peanut Butter Patties?  
  • All Abouts AND Thanks-A-Lots?  
  • Lemon Chalet Cremes AND Lemonades?

The reason is there are 2 major companies that produce the cookies for the Girl Scouts and they keep some of the names to themselves.  There is Little Brownie Bakers - and there is ABC Bakers both making Cookies for the Girl Scouts.

From Wikipedia: "Little Brownie Bakers (LBB), a subsidiary of Keebler (which is owned by Kellogg's); and ABC Bakers, a subsidiary of Interbake Food (which is owned by George Weston Limited.)  ABC Bakers has been making cookies for the Girl Scouts since 1939."

I always thought the different names were regional (like places with a heavy Pacific Islander population had somehow rejected the name "Samoas."  However, I found another juicy tidbit on Yahoo! Answers posted by Shahid who seems to have an inside scoop:

"[Samoas are] one of the few cookies in the group that has differences depending on the bakery. The reason there are two names is because while similar, the cookies have some differences.

Samoas are made by Little Brownie Bakers. They are circular, with an orange color and are thicker from top to bottom, usually they also contain more caramel per coconut, and they are made with dark chocolate.

The Caramel deLites, made by ABC Bakers, are actually hexagonal, with a more yellowish tinge, are made with milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate, and more of the cookie comes through in the flavor because of the lower caramel content."

 Caramel deLites

Samoas

 

So there you have it.  Case closed.

 

 

 

 

 

What can we expect in the coming months from the Girl Scouts?   Cinna-spins and Sugar Free Chocolate Chips were introduced in 2008.  Cinna-spins are cinnamon-flavored cookies that come in 100-calorie packs and Sugar Free Chocolate Chips are exactly that.  

For 2009, they will introduce the Dulce De Leche, a Latin inspired caramel cookie.  

 

Dulce de Leche

Mmmm. 

 

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Authordavid koch
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photo by Pictures from Heather

So it's 2009 and parents everywhere are teaching their daughters to become sidewalk sales superstars, hawking their cookies to the masses.  A tradition for more than 90 years, as early as 1917, they began encouraging the Scouts to bake their own cookies locally.  They've been going strong ever since - except for WWII when they sold calendars instead.   

According to an article on CNN Money titled, "Girl Scout Cookies: A tasty lesson in business," - what began as a simple way to raise funds has turned into a $700 million business and that the cookie drive teaches young women to become entrepreneurs.

It's no joke.  Supposedly in 2008, 15-year-old Jennifer Sharpe from Dearborn, Michigan sold 17,328 boxes of cookies.  As if that's not enough; "The Cookie Queen" Elizabeth Brinton is attrubuted for having sold more than 100 000 box in her time as a Girl Scout between 1978 and 1985.  

"I push a lot," she is quoted as saying, "Sometimes they would try to sneak past you, and you look them in the eye and make them feel guilty. After all, the cookies taste good, and it for a good cause."

 

Here is a recipe from girlscouts.org (possibly from the 1930's):

AN EARLY GIRL SCOUT COOKIE® RECIPE

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

"Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies."

- Dave Koch

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Authordavid koch

The Roasting Plant - Chocolate Chip Cookie - photo by ccho

I have an "Aunt" Alice, with whom I have absolutely no relationship to, but I care tremendously about - and she makes the most phenomenal chocolate chip cookies.  They are crispy around the edges and gooey in the middle.  They are packed with awesome chocolate chip goodness.  They really are the BEST chocolate chip cookies.

I asked her for the recipe one time and she confided in me how she came to develop them.  She said that she took the Original Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe and she added 50% more butter and 50% more chocolate chips.  Basically, add more of what makes cookies delicious.  Was that a surprise?  Done and done.  So here in all its glory is "Aunt" Alice's "Secret" Recipe:

 The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups  flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

And instructions from the Nestle website 

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars. 

SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION: 
PREPARE
 dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. 

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks. 

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes."

 

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Authordavid koch