Many people would balk at the idea of eating holiday cookies for breakfast, but this recipe might make you reconsider.
These double-the-oats oatmeal cookies are so jammed with oats — making them tender and wonderfully chewy and rich — that I've been known to take them on vacation just so I can enjoy a familiar breakfast. Because if you could enjoy your morning bowl of oatmeal in the form of a cookie, why not?
The inspiration for this cookie actually began with my dislike of raisins. Most oatmeal cookies are packed with raisins, which usually turns me off. So I wanted to create my own take on this classic cookie.
I started with a basic cookie dough made with creamed butter, then added twice as many oats as a traditional cookie. I also substituted dried cherries for the raisins. The result was a good cookie, but it wasn't a great cookie. I wanted to be able to taste the individual ingredients, and I wanted a crispier texture.
I was at loss until a trip to Houston unexpectedly gave me the answer. I was visiting a friend whose mom recently had sent him a tin of her oatmeal cookies. I tried one and wanted to eat the entire batch. I loved the texture and the light, clean taste. They were crisp and toothsome, everything I was looking for.
The secret? She used vegetable oil instead of butter.
At first, I thought this was odd, but then I realized that a lot of my favourite cakes were made with oil, not butter. As soon as I got home, I tested my recipe with oil and I could not believe the difference. My cookies had gone from good to great and I started baking them weekly.
Because I like to eat these cookies for breakfast with a cup of coffee, I bake them and keep them in the freezer so I have them on hand most of the time. I generally bake the cookies with dried cherries and pecans, which makes me equate them with eating a bowl of granola.
But during the holidays, I love making them with dark chocolate chips and walnuts. The addition of the rich chocolate makes them more decadent and takes them from a breakfast cookie to a special occasion cookie.
DOUBLE-THE-OATS OATMEAL COOKIES
Feel free to substitute 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips and 1 cup of chopped walnuts for the dried cherries and pecans. Either version is delicious and perfect for a holiday — or any day — treat.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes 3 dozen cookies
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking), divided
1 1/3 cups dried cherries
1 generous cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla until frothy. Add both sugars and the oil. Mix until well blended and creamy in appearance.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Add to sugar and egg mixture and mix until completely combined. Mix in 2 cups of the oats, then the cherries and pecans. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of oats and mix well. The batter will be stiff.
Working in batches, use a teaspoon to drop cookie dough on the prepared cookie, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and still soft at the centre. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then use a spatula to transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Nutrition information per cookie: 180 calories; 80 calories from fat (44 per cent of total calories); 9 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 2 g protein; 70 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned."