Oat-tastic Cookies with Semisweet Chocolate Chips

It’s been a spell since I last posted, folks. School became pretty intense for a while there: I was blessed with the challenge of creating and carrying out a lesson plan to teach 7th and 8th graders about the connections between sugar consumption, obesity, and diabetes. At first blush this seemed like a straightforward task, but the lines between these three “epidemics” of our nation are more blurred that you might think. Perhaps there will be more on that in another post, this one’s about cookies.

Then last week I had my wisdom teeth taken out, an experience from which I gleaned a deep-seated gratitude for the ability to eat solid food. Even just 6 days of milkshakes, mashed potatoes, and pureed soups left me fantasizing about biting into a juicy cheeseburger or a fish taco or anything with more than a singular taste and texture. I haven’t graduated to caramel apples or chips and salsa yet, but I’m glad to report we made perfectly medium-rare grassfed burgers on the grill last night and I was able to satisfy my craving quite successfully.

And here I am now, on a gray Sunday morning taking in the sounds of robins welcoming spring: cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up and a pot of oatmeal amiably bubbling away on the stove (make that burning away on the stove, oops.)

Today’s recipe is for cookies I shared at dietetic student “eat and greet” (we organized as the dietetics club board a couple weeks ago). Sharing an hour of conversation with smart and dynamic women was a welcome respite from the harried school week. But I think maybe it was the promise of these cookies that auspiciously brought us all together. 😉

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found the recipe in a cookbook I borrowed from the library: The Kinfolk Table. It calls for vegetable shortening rather than the more commonplace butter. The payoff is a denser, more robust chew that preserves the luscious, fat-coated crumb of classic oatmeal cookies.

The oatmeal to flour ratio in these bad boys is 3:1, perfect for cookies that are both acceptable breakfast fare and nearly-guiltless nighttime snack. I switched out the AP flour for whole wheat pastry, my MO for most all baked goods. The vegetable shortening I use is a non-hydrogenated, organic palm oil made by Spectrum, who quells my fears of being an accomplice to orangutan murder with this pleasant blurb: “we craft our shortening from sustainably harvested organic palm oil sourced from dozens of small family farmers in Colombia.” (Palm oil has a rather complex reputation which you can read about here.) That said, if you’re leery of the ingredient you can certainly use butter, the texture will just be slightly different, as noted by the original recipe’s author.

Kinfolk Table cookbook

The recipe note also recommends combining all ingredients by hand, stating that using an electric mixer will alter the intended texture. (I gather the texture is paramount to the success of these cookies.) I must disclose I still used my Kitchen Aid to cream the butter and sugars, but the rest of the ingredients I mixed in manually.

The dough should be refrigerated for at least one hour before baking to ensure, you guessed it, optimal texture. For a fascinating NYT read on how cookie outcomes improve as dough is allowed longer fridge time, click here. Well, this post has taken me almost two hours to write, so I’m just going to get down to the recipe now, which is what you came here for anyway, right?

Oat-tastic Cookies with Semisweet Chocolate Chips

adapted from Julie Pointer’s recipe in The Kinfolk Table
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup organic vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups whole rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Method:

In a large bowl, combine the sugars and shortening and mix until creamy. Add in the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and eggs, and stir until just combined.

Combine the flour, oats, and chocolate chips. Incorporate these into the wet ingredients in three or four additions, stirring until mixture is more or less uniform. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until the dough is chilled and firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a spoon, or in my case a melon-baller, scoop the dough into approximately 2 tablespoon spheres and place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Press the dough down gently with your fingertips.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookie edges just begin to brown, rotating the sheets halfway through if your oven bakes unevenly.

Transfer the baking sheets to a rack and cool for 5 minutes then transfer the cookies directly to the rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes (eat at least three before they cool).

Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Oat-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookie // funkybeetss

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Sublime Lemony Goat Cheese Cheesecake

goat on the roof of Al Johnson's

Here’s a photo of a goat on the roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Door County, WI.  I took this photo the weekend my husband and I got engaged (swoon). Here’s a link to the Goat Cam where you can check out what those crazy goats are up to.  If you look now (January 29, 2014), you’ll see a goatless root covered with snow, but check back in May and you’ll see bright green grass and maybe some fine-lookin’ goat specimens! Henyway…

Why am I yucking it up about goats? Because I made this obnoxiously good goat cheese cheesecake yesterday. Yes that’s a mouthful, which is what you’ll want to have many of once you try this recipe.

goat cheese cheesecake

I had never made a cheesecake before. I thought it would be complicated and easy to fail at, but in reality it wasn’t too tough. Having a stand mixer made it simpler, as the recipe asks you to whip eggs whites to form soft peaks. And herein my friends lies the secret to the cloud-like texture of this cheesecake: whipped egg whites. Traditionally, cheesecake is dense, right? This one is a whole other animal.  It’s almost like cheesecake and angel food cake shacked up and popped out a lovechild. This lovechild happens to be flecked with sunny lemon zest, which plays well with the tanginess of goat cheese, the true star of this dessert.

Fresh goat cheese, which is usually sold in a log-shaped package, is soft and similar in consistency to cream cheese, but less dense. Aside from the unique flavor it lends, goat cheese is also a nice choice because it’s easier for some people to digest than cheeses made with cow milk. Goat milk only contains very small amounts of alpha-S1, an allergenic casein protein in cow milk. Goat milk also has less lactose than cow milk, potentially making it a better option for those with lactose-intolerance. (If you are allergic to cow milk, speak with your practitioner before trying the goat version.)

It’s been cold here, cold enough to call off school and close local businesses.  But the sun’s been pouring through the windows, the snow’s been sparkling and I can see a tiny speck of light that is spring at the end of this frigid tunnel.  All is well; there’s seven eighths of a lemon-flecked crustless goat cheese cheesecake in my fridge.

goat cheese cheesecake 2

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit, which I modified slightly by using whole wheat pastry flour rather than all purpose

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter (for pan)

3/4 cup sugar plus more for pan, plus 1 tsp for egg whites

12 ounces fresh soft goat cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks

3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

mixed berries for topping (optional)

Special Equipment: 9-inch-diameter springform pan

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 350°. Butter springform pan and dust lightly with sugar.

2) Using an electric (stand or hand) mixer, beat at medium speed: goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes (take a taste!)

3) Add egg yolks in three additions, beating at medium speed to blend, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Turn off mixer and stir in flour by hand until just blended.  Set mixture aside.

4) Using clean, dry beaters (or whisk attachment), whip egg whites and 1 tsp sugar in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.

5) Fold half of the egg whites into goat cheese and yolk mixture just until blended; fold in remaining egg whites just until blended.  The “batter” should be foamy and light; pour it into the springform pan and tap lightly to level.

6) Bake cheesecake 30-35 minutes until the top is set but still jiggles a bit in the center 30. (I let mine go a bit too long; pull it out as soon as edges are slightly browned.)  Transfer cheesecake to cooling rack; let cool completely in pan before removing outer springform ring.

Serve cold or at room temperature, topped with berries if you so desire.

Nutrition information, courtesy of Bon Appetit:

8 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories: 240 Fat: 13g Saturated Fat 7g Cholesterol 180mg Carbohydrates 22 g Dietary Fiber 1g Total Sugars 17g Protein 13g Sodium 210 mg

goat cheese cheesecake 3 IMG_0108