Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Classic with a twist

I'm incapable of leaving a recipe alone. When I first started to cook, I followed every recipe to the letter, measuring out precisely. Since I've gotten more experience, cookbooks have become more of a guideline than anything. Now, baking requires much stricter rules, but you can still make a few tweaks here and there as you gain more experience, just never forget the chemistry. Don't mess with the amounts of liquids, flour or fat, or you might get something quite odd.

For this, I took a childhood favorite, oatmeal raisin. Now, this wasn't one of mine. Remember the fruit aversion? Yes, that extended to raisins and anything involved in desserts. Anyways, I took the dried peaches that came with my C.S.A. and figured the best way to introduce myself to them was coat them in butter and sugar. But, in an attempt to be healthy(er) this holiday season, I figured I add some whole grains in the form of oatmeal & whole wheat flour for a nuttier flavor.

I've found with dried fruit that doesn't come in nice bite sized pieces (like raisins or cranberries) the best way to cut them up is with scissors. Also, you can use preground spices in this, but grating your own cinnamon & nutmeg with a microplane grater adds amazing flavor. The only real cost is investing in the grater, and your spices keep their flavor longer. If you have kids, cutting up fruit and grating spices is a great way to get them involved.

Adapted from The King Arthur Baker's Companion

Peach & Pecan Cookies
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flower
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup yogurt (I use low-fat plain)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups oats
1 cup dried peach pieces
1 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together butter, oil and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then beat in yogurt & vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg, stirring until thoroughly combined. Finally, mix in oats, peaches & pecans.

Drop by tablespoon full onto lined baking sheet, then bake for 14 minutes. These guys won't spread, and if you pull them out right at 14 min, they'll be cooked throughout and stay nice and soft. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.

Makes 48 cookies, if you don't eat too much dough.

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