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AUTUMN inspired COOKIE jar {3 recipes}


Scenic Fall brings me inspiration and a reminder to slow down.
It's with this embrace that I'm coaxed into baking cookies again.



Nature’s stunning Fall colors, aromas and textures elate me.
I actually can become very forgiving of the undesired extra chill in the air.
It does quickly remind us that Winter is quickly setting itself up for a roar in our direction.


Fortunately, slowing down the pace a little can lead us to surprising treats.




When a few experimental baking tweaks turn cookies less sinful...
my healthy heart and hips are grateful for these efforts.

Dried fruits...apricots, raisins and my cherished cranberries have all been...
hanging around to be validated into something crunchy and delectable.
Chocolate is also never far behind.  
It’s an ingredient that certainly can excite me about any recipe.
Nuts, of course, figure prominently in most of my baked goods, therefore...
surely, a cookie recipe is usually a wide invitation to a multitude of nut varieties.



This is what inspires me during the start of chillier months.
No longer capable of truly sitting around outdoors..
I’m indirectly inspired and pushed indoors to warm up the oven.



FALL color inspired COOKIE jar 
The following first two recipes were originated by others, however...
with time, they soon became very much my own.  
Hope you get the chance to adapt these recipes to please you as well ;o)

The last cookie is purely a creation put together while fooling around in the kitchen.  
At times, it does succeed on the very first try.  
Ohh...how I wish I had many more of those moments.  

Here's sharing 3 cookies which may one day also find their way to your baking sheets.  

***

CHOCOLATE banana PEANUT butter OATS cookie
Initially adapted from this recipe.
This is one of my latest takes on a classic peanut butter chocolate cookie.  
Chocolate along with ripened bananas worked together to create soft, cake-like tasty treats.
The flavour of peanut butter does not over-power the rest of the ingredients.

Makes about 32 cookies.

Click HERE for a PRINTER version of this recipe



INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1/4 cup / 1/2 stick (60ml) unsalted butter, softened
. 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar, packed
. 1/3 cup (70g) granulated sugar
. 1/4 cup (60ml) Peanut butter, softened
. 2 large eggs
. 1 cup (250ml) {2 medium, overripe} bananas
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) vanilla extract
. 1-1/2 cups (225g) All-purpose flour
. 1/2 cup (50g) premium, Cocoa powder
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) baking soda
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) salt
. 1 cup (90g) rolled oats, flakes
. optional garnish: peanuts and/ or a few dried apricots



PREPARATION:
Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4...for later on.
Position rack on the 2nd level from the bottom of the oven.
Prepare two large baking sheets to be lined with parchment paper.

1. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the first 4 ingredients.  Now, add the next 3 ingredients.  Continue beating until everything is well combined.  Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the next 4 ingredients.   Add this mix gradually into the butter mixture. Afterwards, with a strong spatula, add the oat flakes last.  
3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (over night is fine also).  If baking soon...pre-heat oven now.
4. With the aid of a small ice-cream scoop (flat measurement) and a spatula, roughly scoop and form 16 rounded mounds of dough per cookie sheet.  Arrange them about 2 inches (5cm) apart. 
5. Bake one tray at the time for about 15 minutes.  Once out of the oven, leave them on the sheet for 5 more minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Let them cool at room temperature before eating or storing.
6. Meanwhile...the first batch of cookies are baking, repeat the process for the next tray.  
...If desired, place the optional decorative garnishes:  The apricots are sliced in half and then lengthwise. Cut again twice within each half lengthwise and being careful not to cut to the end.  Press the garnish into the dough and fan the tips slightly.  The peanuts can be placed in any direction and lightly pressed in.
. Afterwards, the cookies can either be stored in an airtight container for about a week or frozen in batches within the parchment papers which were used for baking.  Slip into a freezer bag and use within three months.  Once out of the freezer, leave them out at room temperature for 15 minutes or lightly warm them in the oven for a few minutes on very low heat.  Enjoy.


***

The next challenge and conquest came from taking a very popular cookie and...
spinning it enough to be healthier without losing its initial ‘perfection’ to...
Cook’s Illustrated ‘Perfect Chocolate Chip cookie’.



Don’t misunderstand...I do appreciate the talented team at Cooks illustrated.  They certainly do assist in making many of our baking experiments easier and understandable.  However, once and a while, I do tend to veer away to suit my quest in making sweets just a little less sinful without sacrificing a memorable experience.


Besides using a premium 65% chocolate pastille instead of regular semi-sweet chocolate chip...here is what I did differently:
. completely replaced the All-purpose flour by organic ‘white’ Whole Wheat flour 
. 3/4 cup of butter was altered by replacing a 1/4 cup with applesauce
. 1/2 cup white sugar was reduced to 1/4 cup
. 3/4 cup of brown sugar was reduced to 1/2 cup
. 1-1/4 cup chocolate chips was reduced to 1 cup (which was plenty...believe me)
. walnuts were used this time...however, I wouldn’t shy away from my preference of pecans next time.


Therefore, here is my version of a very popular cookie:

CHOCOLATE chip NUT cookie
with wholesome grain ‘white’ WHOLE WHEAT flour

Makes 16 large or 32 standard size cookies
Click HERE for a PRINTER version of this recipe
(Note: see below for a revised and simpler version)


INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1/2 cup /1 stick (120ml) unsalted butter, separated in two
. 1/4 cup (55g) granulated sugar
. 1/2 cup (100g) fresh, brown sugar, packed
. 1 tsp. (5ml) salt
. 2 tsp. (10ml) vanilla extract
. 1/4 cup (60ml) unsweetened applesauce
. 1 large egg
. 1 large egg yolk
. 1-3/4 cup (225g) ‘white’ Whole Wheat flour*
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) baking soda
. 1 cup (180g) bittersweet (65%) chocolate pastilles**
. 1/2 cup (60g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
* Although, ‘white’ Whole Wheat flour' is similar to the nuttier tasting 'regular Whole Wheat flour'...it is somewhat distinguishable in flavour which is less bitter.  This white variety also has a much lighter quality which gives a desirable texture for most baking.   NOTE: All-Purpose flour can replace the Whole Wheat flour partially or fully.
** CHOCOLATE pastilles (premium chocolate chips): come from the French Chocolate house of Michel Cluizel.  My preference is a 65% bittersweet cacao from Madagascar.   This can be found in specialty chocolate or pastry shops.


PREPARATION:
Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C/Gas5   
Position rack in the center of the oven.
Prepare two large baking sheets to be lined with parchment paper.

1. In a small pot, melt half the amount of butter on medium-high heat.   Swirl the butter constantly until it becomes golden brown and develops a nutty aroma.  Remove the pot from the heat.
2. In a large heatproof bowl, pour the browned butter as well as the remaining butter that was reserved initially.    Once the butter mixture is blended, add the sugars, salt, vanilla and applesauce.  With a strong hand whisk, blend everything until fully incorporated.   Both the egg and the extra yolk can now be whisked into the mix until it becomes smooth.   Let this rest for about 3 minutes and then whisk again for about 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. 
3. Afterwards, using a strong spatula, add the flour and baking soda gradually.  Fold and stir for about one minute until everything is well combined.  Lastly, the chocolate and nuts can be added and folded in.  
...BAKING: (one tray at the time...and rotate while baking)
Note about rotation baking: halfway during the baking time, the cookie sheet needs to be rotated.  The cookie edges will have begun to turn golden, while the centers remain reasonably soft.   This turned out to be the best method for these specific cookies.  
...for 16 large size cookies: Divide cookie dough by using a regular ice-cream scoop and measuring out flat before scooping out onto the cookie sheet.  Place 8 balls per baking sheet and space them about 2 inches (5cm) apart.  Baking time:  No more than 12 minutes total.  
...for 32 standard size cookies:   Divide cookie dough by using a small ice-cream scoop and measuring out flat before scooping out.  If you don’t have a smaller sized ice-cream scoop, divide dough ball again and lightly round out before placing onto the cookie sheet.  Place 16 balls per baking sheet and space them about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart.  Baking time:  No more than 10 minutes total.  
. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.  Afterwards, the cookies can either be stored in an airtight container for about a week or frozen in batches within the parchment papers which were used for baking.  Slip into a freezer bag and use within three months.  Lightly re-warming the cookies will bring out the freshness and the re-living of the baking aroma once more. Enjoy.
***
UPDATE - Here's a simplified version-2 


CHOCOLATE chip NUT cookie

Makes 32 standard size cookies

INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1/2 cup /1 stick(120ml) unsalted butter, separated in two
. 1/4 cup (55g) granulated sugar
. 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar, packed
. 1 tsp. (5ml) salt
. 2 tsp. (10ml) pure vanilla extract
. 1/4 cup (60ml) grape seed oil (canola is fine too)
. 1 large egg
. 1 large egg yolk
. 1-3/4 cup (225g) all purpose flour
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) baking soda
. 1 cup (180g) quality chocolate chips
. 1/2 cup (60g) walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

PREPARATION:
. Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas5.   Position rack in the center of the oven.   Prepare two large baking sheets to be lined with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Proceed:
1. In a small pot, melt half the amount of butter on medium-high heat.   Swirl the butter constantly until it becomes golden brown and develops a nutty aroma.  Remove the pot from the heat.
2. In a large heatproof bowl, pour the browned butter as well as the remaining butter that was reserved initially.    
3. Once the butter mixture is blended, add the sugars, salt, vanilla and oil.  With a strong hand whisk, blend everything until fully incorporated.   
4. Both the egg and the extra yolk can now be whisked into the mix until it becomes smooth.   Let this rest for about 3 minutes and then whisk again for about 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. 
5. Afterwards, using a strong spatula, add the flour and baking soda gradually.  Fold and stir for about one minute until everything is well combined.  
6. Lastly, the chocolate and nuts can be added and folded in.  

BAKING: (one tray at the time)
Note about rotation baking: halfway during the baking time, the cookie sheet needs to be rotated. The cookie edges will have begun to turn golden, while the centers remain reasonably soft. 
7. Divide cookie dough by using a small ice-cream scoop and measuring out flat before scooping out.  
8. If you don’t have a smaller sized ice-cream scoop, use a tablespoon to round out 32 dough balls. Place 16 balls per baking sheet and space them about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart.  Baking time:  No more than 10 minutes total.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.  
Afterwards, the cookies can either be stored in an airtight container for about a week or frozen in batches within the parchment papers which were used for baking.  Slip into a freezer bag and use within three months.  Lightly re-warming the cookies will bring out the freshness and the re-living of the baking aroma once more.   Enjoy.

***
With all these goodies in my pantry...
this rustic cookie really envelops how I feel about Autumn.



 rustic NUT and FRUIT cookie SPELT rocher
yields: 40 cookies
So many ingredients are interchangeable in this recipe...don't hesitate to make this cookie your own.

Click HERE for a PRINTER version of this recipe


INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
Wet mix:
. 1/2 cup /1 stick (125ml) unsalted butter
. 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar, packed
. 1/4 cup (55g) granulated sugar
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) vanilla extract
. 1/2 cup (125ml) unsweetened applesauce
. 2 large eggs
Flour and Flakes mix:
. 2 cups (260g) unbleached All-purpose flour
. 1-1/2 cups (90g) rolled Spelt, flakes*
. 1 tsp. (5ml) baking soda
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) ground cinnamon
. 1/2 tsp. (5ml) salt
Nuts mix:
. 1/2 cup (90g) sunflower seeds
. 1/2 cup (70g) pumpkin seeds
. 1/2 cup (65g) hazelnuts, lightly pre-roasted
. 1/2 cup (85g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
Fruits (dried) mix:
. 1/2 cup (120g) dried cranberries
. 1/2 cup (110g) / (about 10) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
. 1/2 cup (120g) dried raisins
* Spelt flakes: can easily be completely replaced by either Kamut flakes or rolled Oats.


PREPARATION:
Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4
Position rack on the 2nd level from the bottom of the oven.
Prepare two large baking sheets to be lined with parchment paper.

1. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the first 4 ingredients.  Add the applesauce and the eggs.  Continue beating until everything is well combined.  Set aside.
2. In a separate, medium bowl, mix together the flour and flakes mix.   Add this gradually into the wet mixture and combine.  
3. Afterwards, with a strong spatula, fold in both the nuts and dried fruits.  Combine well until there are no traces of flour.
4. Make small-medium mounds of cookie dough, enough to place 20 per baking tray.
5. Bake one tray at the time for about 18-20 minutes.  If you desire to have flatter cookie shapes...gently, press down with a fork and bake for about 13-15 minutes.  Once out of the oven, transfer them to a wire rack as soon as possible.  Let them cool at room temperature before eating or storing.
6. Afterwards, the cookies can either be stored in an airtight container for about a week or frozen in batches within the parchment papers which were used for baking.  Slip into a freezer bag and use within three months.  Once out of the freezer, leave them out at room temperature for 15 minutes or lightly warm them in the oven for a few minutes on very low heat.  Enjoy.



Did I inspire you to invite a few more treats to your cookie collection?

Just remember, no matter how healthy we try making these treats...the calories do unfortunately pile up.  Let's help each other be reasonable.  Who am I kidding...I've already polished 3 cookies as I finished off this post. Shhh...let this be our little secret.  I never did say I do willpower very well ;o)


Have a blessed week everyone.
Ciao for now and flavourful baking wishes,
Foodessa


Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com


Go HERE for more SWEET creations.




Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.