Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oat-Nut Crisps: Wheat Free and Easy

As a mother of twin boys who are three years old and don't stop talking/moving/doing/being, I am living proof that you don't really need much time to bake from scratch. You can do it while you are doing other things, and do things in steps. Indeed, this is often how I operate because there typically is no other way.

But all of that doesn't really apply to this recipe, except to say that I put this together while I was talking with Desmond, who was home from school today recuperating from a fever he had yesterday. I asked him what kind of cookies he wanted, and he said, "oatmeal." (My other child would have said, "chocolate chip" had he been here and had I asked.)

I adapted this recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, which calls it "All Oats, All the Time." I decided a couple of things before I even made it: it needed some maple syrup and I wanted to see what would happen if I added a bit of flour to part of the batter. I also, as one might predict, upped the cinnamon. I discovered that my oven browned these more quickly and they became super crispy--almost too much and moreso than the recipe perhaps would have indicated. I attribute this to my convection oven, and the fact that I added a bit of liquid sugar in the form of maple syrup. Still, it seemed too fast and I'm wondering if it's a typo.

Oat-Nut Crisps

2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (2 ounces,  1/2 stick, etc.)
3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar (I used light)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. real maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. maple flavor (not imitation maple extract, but something quality, like from Boyajian)

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease or line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Combine the nuts, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped and evenly distributed.
  3. Beat the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the maple syrup and combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side as necessary, and beat until smooth.
  4. Stir in the vinegar, extract and maple flavor, and then the oat mixture.
  5. Drop the dough by teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are barely browned. Make sure to rotate the trays at the halfway point. Here's where I deviates from the recipe, which advises 14 minutes. My oven is a bit fast, but even still, I had edges that were a bit too browned at 7 minutes. I would advise you to set your clock to five minutes and use your judgment. You may need another five minutes, like I did, or you may need more.
  6. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the pan for five minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  7. Yield: About 42 cookies
Notes: If you're using regular rolled oats, which you can, pulse them first in the food processor to break up a bit, and then add the cinnamon, nuts, leavening and salt.

You may look at these cookies and think there is not enough structural integrity for them to stick together as they cool. Don't worry. The nuts are strong--and the eggs help, too. 

When I got halfway through the recipe, I decided I wanted to see what would happen if I added flour: if I would still like the cookie, if it would be soft and chewy, etc. I'm happy to report it was, but I didn't like it as much. I added just a 1/4 cup to about half of the batter, and let them bake for about 10-11 minutes. The flavors weren't quite as intense as they were in the wheat free version; next time I will try half the batter with whole wheat pastry flour, which will be more delicate and perhaps more appropriate. Just 'cause.

I think I prefer them as thin as this, though:

What do you think?

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