nick of time cranberry-white chocolate (and a whisper of oatmeal) drops

One of the perks of being a habitual baker is that I usually have a fairly well-stocked pantry. And even when it’s not well stocked, there are usually enough odds and ends that I can pull something together in a pinch if necessary. Case in point — this morning I received the call to send in a sweet goodie with L. for tonight’s teen book group. After perusing my pantry, I managed to cull enough oatmeal, dried cranberries and white chocolate for this recipe from the King Arthur Flour site. I didn’t have a ton of any of these particular ingredients so I halved the batch (just as well — we have a lot of other baked stuff in the house already).

oatmeal cinnamon chips cookies

I have a real weakness for oatmeal cookies. Maybe it’s because I can tell myself that they aren’t really naughty to eat, but are actually very healthy, like teeny disc-shaped bowls of oatmeal. I found this recipe on a bag of Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips.

Texturewise, they resemble Oatmeal Scotchies — thin, delicate and chewy. I don’t love how fragile they are — not great for gift giving or even storing for that matter. They are fairly light tasting, particularly when you take into consideration what I consider an almost ungodly amount of butter. And I love the caramel-tinged cinnamon chips. But all in all, they’re really just an average tasting batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. It won’t stop us from polishing them off lightning fast, but I don’t think I will be making them again.

oatmeal date cookies

Essentially the same cookie as the oatmeal raisin cookie I made a couple of weeks ago — I just substituted dates for the raisins. I thought they would be amazing, as I LOVE dates, but they were just okay. The relatively pure sweetness of the dates just didn’t contribute anything special to the cookies. I also inadvertently overbaked them; I used my new cookie scoop instead of shaping them by hand, so these cookies were about half the size of the earlier cookies. The overbaking actually makes them quite crunchy and somewhat more interesting texture-wise, but I still prefer the raisins.

oatmeal raisin cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies fall into a gray area for me. While I acknowledge that they are cookies, the fact that they also contain oats and raisins allows me to tell myself that they are more health food than guilt-inducing treat. I’ve even been known to let my kids eat oatmeal raisin cookies for breakfast. I understand that this smacks of bad parenting in some people’s eyes, but I stand firm.

Tomorrow L. and his compadres in his teen youth group are going on a hike at Blue Hills, so I decided to bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for their trek. I made a different recipe than my usual — this one was from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book (read Andrea’s Recipes‘ post about the same recipe here). I had misgivings initially because unlike the one I usually use, there is no molasses in America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe. Also the recipe does not contain that spice which screams oatmeal cookie to me — cinnamon (but I added some anyway, in addition to the nutmeg in the recipe). The resulting cookies are oversized, and crisp but chewy, very much like the America’s Test Kitchen’s chocolate chip cookies. L. can’t stop eating them — hopefully there will be some left for tomorrow!

chewy choc-oat chip bars

Chocolate chips and oatmeal are always a winning combo for me. In fact, I love oatmeal in almost any cookie, but I’m not sure everyone does, and chocolate can certainly make it more palatable for those folks. Oat bran/fiber AND chocolate? How can you lose?

Usually when I bake goodies for L.’s teen gatherings, a few come home, so I wasn’t too concerned that I wouldn’t get to sample one later. However, this time there were no leftovers at all. So you’ll have to take L. and friends’ collective word for it that they were delicious. The recipe was from Nestle’s Very Best Baking site, and they were a snap to make and contained ingredients that most bakers have handy — which was a very good thing for me since I had forgotten to pick up a snack at the grocery store for L. to take!

whole wheat sourdough bread

I refreshed my still-kickin’ sourdough starter to make this whole grain sourdough bread yesterday. In addition to the whole wheat flour, I added brown rice and oats to the dough, which resulted in a moist and very flavorful bread. My only complaint was that where some of the brown rice made contact with the hot baking stone, those rice bits became very hard, so some mouthfuls of bread had a little painful surprise when you bit down. No idea why this happened, because I didn’t have this problem with earlier loaves containing brown rice.

cranberry whole-grain muffins

Now this is a proper whole grain muffin! It’s made with whole wheat flour and oats, and also has fresh cranberries, orange zest and chopped walnuts. The original recipe actually calls for an orange glaze, but I omitted it because I didn’t feel it needed more sugar. Without the glaze, the muffins still have a touch of sweetness which contrasts very nicely with the tartness of the cranberries. And best of all, they are moist and tender, not tough like I feared a whole grain muffin might be.

whole grain banana muffins

I’m perpetually on the hunt for THE banana muffin. And these days, I’ve been consuming so much bread (and other white flour baked goods) that I’ve become a little preoccupied with adding more fiber into my diet. So when I had a couple aging bananas on my counter, I decided to try this oatmeal banana muffin recipe from the Quaker Oats site. Really, it just has oats in it, so I’m not sure it qualifies as Whole Grain with the more earthy folks, but it works for me.

For the chopped nuts, I used some chopped hazelnuts I had in my freezer, and I cut out one of the tablespoons of butter (so I used 4 rather than 5). I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon. And finally, I opted to use a whole egg instead of the 2 egg whites. The muffins are really tasty and aren’t overly sweet. They have a little chewiness to them from the oats, and a little crunch from the nuts, and are moist from the bananas. I can see them being good with some grated coconut or dried pineapple in them, but they’re great with just the banana too.

my thursday with dorie — chunky peanut butter and oatmeal chocolate chipsters

Tuesdays with Dorie is a group of very dedicated baking bloggers who, once a week, select, prepare and post a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. Although I own the book and I’ve often considered participating, I haven’t yet, I think mostly because I’m frightened what weekly goodies will do to my waistline. So today, I thought I would have my own day with Dorie. I baked her Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters (page 73 for those who wish to follow along).

Maybe it’s because I’ve been so (relatively) good in the past week, but the combination of oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate came to me several days ago and just sounded so appealing. I proceeded to google cookie recipes with that combo only to discover that I already had such a recipe in my own house! I actually halved Dorie’s version since I wanted to continue being (relatively) good, and opted to use creamy peanut butter (it’s what I had in the house) and semisweet chocolate chunks (ditto) instead of bittersweet chocolate. The house smells amazing — baking brown sugar, peanut butter, cinnamon and chocolate — and (mmmmmmm) the cookies are even more amazing.

oatmeal scotchies

I recently worked our church’s Holiday Fair and brought home some oatmeal scotchies (along with dozens of other types of cookies). I made these for a church gathering L. is attending this evening (per his request). When I suggested that perhaps some might find neither oatmeal nor butterscotch appealing, he said “Oh well… more for me!”

I actually ran a little short of the amount of oatmeal called for (by about a cup) but preceeded with the recipe. As a result I think they spread a bit more than they normally would. Of course, the 2 sticks of butter didn’t help with the spreading either!