Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesI won’t lie to you—I was tempted to take today off of blogging. I made fifteen cakes between last Monday and this Monday. I like making cake, but fifteen is A LOT.

My brain is fried and my feet hurt. I went to bed at midnight last night without protest. That never happens. I slept for almost nine hours (hooray for working from home!) and I’m still basically half-asleep.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesBut I love this little corner of the internet, so I’m here anyway–just taking it easy this week. I’m saying a big “NO” to yeast doughs, frying, and things that require a million step-by-step photos. I’m taking a hard pass on petit fours.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesBut I’m saying yes to tried-and-true cookie recipes.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to oats. (And butter and brown sugar and the tiniest pinch of nutmeg.)Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesChewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to chocolate chips. Yes to dried cherries.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to dough that doesn’t need a chill.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cherries

Place oven racks in center positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add light brown and granulated sugars and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix in oats, followed by chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and drop 2 inches apart on prepared pans (I like to use a medium cookie scoop for this). Bake 6 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front. Bake another 4-6 minutes, until golden at the edges. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns“Hot Cross Buns…Hot Cross Buns…”

I know the song, but I am not sure I had ever had one of the actual buns before last week. That seems fairly par for the course until you find out that I was raised by a fairly devout Episcopalian, and attended Episcopal church, school, and camp until I was well into my twenties. You’d think I would have had a hot cross bun sometime in all those Good Fridays.Hot Cross Buns

Alas, no soft cinnamon-raisin treats for me 😦 Well, I mean, until I started testing these last Friday 🙂 I’ve now made five batches of Hot Cross Buns and am definitely a fan of their soft, chewy texture and the touches of spice and fruit. Oh, and the icing. Of course, the icing!Hot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns go back centuries, with each of the main ingredients being a religious metaphor. Some even used to believe that these buns had healing powers. I don’t buy into any of that, but I will take any excuse to bake.

Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsMy Hot Cross Bun dough is made with both yeast and baking powder. Adding a leavener on top of the yeast may seem like overkill, but it makes the dough nice and puffy and ensures that the finished buns will be super soft. The dough comes together in about fifteen minutes. Once it’s been kneaded, it needs a ten minute rest.Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

Next up, fold in the raisins and spices. Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness, scatter some warmly-spiced sugar and plump raisins over the top, and fold it in thirds. Repeat this twice before gathering the ends and placing the dough in an oiled bowl for an hour-long rise.Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

When the hour is up, punch down the dough. Pull off golf ball-sized hunks and form them into boules by tucking under the scraggly ends. It’s okay if they’re not all perfect—my motor skills leave something to be desired, so mine are always a little, uh, rustic. After you’ve formed all the buns, give them another hour-long rise. This recipe isn’t quick, but I promise you that the results are worth the wait!Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

After the second rise, give the buns a brush with an egg yolk glaze and pop them in the oven for twenty minutes. They’ll be glossy and golden when they’re done.Hot Cross Buns

Let the buns cool while you prepare a simple icing. It seems antithetical to cool something with “hot” in its name, but it’s mandatory if you want the icing to stick properly. If you want warm Hot Cross Buns, there are plenty of recipes online that involve crosses made out of flour paste that are put on before baking. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take icing over flour paste anytime.Hot Cross Buns

Once the buns are cool, pipe on the icing. This is the easiest piping you will ever do, I promise. Let the icing set for a few minutes before serving.Hot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

Whether you’re a Hot Cross Bun connoisseur or this is your first time having one, you’ll love this take on the classic festive treat. They’re soft and buttery with the perfect amounts of warm spice and dried fruit, and the icing takes them from being everyday buns to a memorable yearly tradition. Make a batch to share this week!Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns
makes 15 buns

1 cup raisins (or currants), not packed
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons orange zest, from about 1/2 medium orange
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Glaze:
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk

Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
5 teaspoons whole milk

Combine raisins and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, or until hot. Set aside to cool a bit while you prepare the dough.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour and bread flour. Whisk in 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice, orange zest, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Add instant yeast and baking powder.

Combine whole milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let sit, swirling occasionally, until hot to the touch (about 115F). Pour into dry ingredients and fold together with a silicone spatula. Fold in beaten eggs.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and cardamom. Drain water from raisins. Grease a medium mixing bowl with oil.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a long oval that is 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle with about 1/3 of the sugar mixture and about 1/3 of the raisins. Fold in thirds and turn 45 degrees. Re-roll and repeat sprinkling processes two more times. Tuck loose ends under to form a ball/boule shape. Place in oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour. Dough will be puffy, but may not fully double in size.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

When an hour is up, peel off plastic and punch down dough. Lightly grease your palms. Pull off pieces of dough that are slightly larger than a golf ball. Tuck loose ends under to shape into buns. Place 1-2 inches apart on prepared pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Make glaze by whisking egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl.

Remove plastic wrap from pan. Gently brush glaze over buns. Bake 20-22 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make icing. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar and milk until smooth. It should be very thick and pipeable. Transfer to a zip-top bag and snip off a very small corner. Pipe a simple cross onto each bun. Let icing set for about 15 minutes before serving. Icing will fully set after several hours.

Hot Cross Buns are best the day they are made, but may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Hot Cross Buns

10 Minute Stovetop Granola

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaIf you’ve been around here awhile, you know I’m a bit of a granola junkie. I eat the stuff almost everyday. I have five recipes in the archives and another twenty that haven’t been posted. Heck, I even have a recipe for Granola Cookies! What I’m saying is that if you’re into granola, you’ve come to the right corner of the internet.

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaAll the recipes in the archives are made the traditional way—baked at a relatively low temperature with frequent stirring to prevent burning. Each variation makes enough for three weeks worth of breakfasts. Yes, granola is a great thing to prep-ahead and have stashed in your cabinet on busy mornings.

But there are times when I am out of town for a week, or that I am working on a breakfast recipe for an extended period, or even that I just don’t have time for breakfast at home. And, very occasionally, I come up with a flavor combination that simply doesn’t work (Orange-Pistachio comes to mind), and then I’m stuck eating subpar breakfasts for three weeks so that I don’t waste food…10 Minute Stovetop Granola

…until recently, that is.

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaI started making granola on the stovetop this past October and I totally love it. Not only does it take just a quarter of the usual cook time, but it makes a smaller batch! This means that I don’t have to worry about it turning stale in a few weeks or just growing tired of the flavor combination—it’s gone long before that happens.

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaToday’s granola recipe was made as most of mine are: as a way to use up odds and ends from my mix-in cabinets. There are oats of course, but the rest is just based on ratios.

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaFor two cups of oats, I add in one cup of chopped nuts and seeds (pecans, pepitas and sunflower seeds, in this case). Those get toasted in a dry skillet until they are fragrant and the seeds are starting to pop.

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaNext come three tablespoons of oil (I used coconut) and six tablespoons of sweetener. I went for maple syrup and dark brown sugar for this batch, but if you don’t like the idea of straight-up sugar in your breakfast, you may sub coconut sugar or use all maple. Don’t forget to add some salt for balance.

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaCook the granola a few minutes more before removing it from the heat and adding in some dried fruit. I went with dates—I impulse-bought a huge bag of them on a recent trip to Costco and now I’m throwing them in everything. If dried fruit isn’t for you, leave the granola as-is.

10 Minute Stovetop Granola10 Minute Stovetop GranolaSpread the granola out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let it cool. If you’re the type of person who adds chocolate chips to granola, this is the time.

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaPile your finished granola into a jar. Who knew oats, nuts, and seeds could look so pretty?!

10 Minute Stovetop GranolaThis Stovetop Granola doesn’t cluster much, but that can be remedied by using a thicker sweetener like honey or brown rice syrup. Real cluster enthusiasts might want to add an extra tablespoon or two, just in case.

I, however, don’t mind clusterless granola. Paired with some plain yogurt and a full French press…well, I have no complaints at all.10 Minute Stovetop Granola

10 Minute Stovetop Granola
makes about 1 quart

2 cups old-fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats for gluten-free granola)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raw pepitas
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup chopped dates (I used deglet noor)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add oats, pecans, pepitas, and sunflower seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant and toasted (about 4-5 minutes). Do not burn.

Remove pan from heat. Add coconut oil and allow to melt. Stir to coat the oat mixture. Stir in dark brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Return pan to medium heat and cook/stir for 2-3 additional minutes, until sweeteners are incorporated. Remove granola from heat. Stir in chopped dates.

Transfer mixture to parchment-lined pan and allow to cool.

Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

10 Minute Stovetop Granola

Tropical Cashew Granola

 It’s officially summer, and I can’t wait to get to the beach. I’m only four weeks away from a trip to Maine with a bunch of friends–it can’t get here soon enough! It’s super woodsy and we definitely won’t see any palm trees, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be eating tons of tropical fruit while we’re up there.

How, you may ask, will we have tropical fruit in the wilds of Maine? In the form of my new favorite granola! 
Yes, I am that person who packs homemade granola into her luggage. And why wouldn’t I? It’s full of whole grains, nuts, and fruit, so it’s super satisfying. It’s also refined sugar-free, gluten free, and vegan, so this is one recipe that will fit all my friends’ various dietary needs.

Between easy breakfasts and snacks, I know we will go through the full two-quart batch in no time. I mean, who can resist this Tropical Cashew Granola?! It’s loaded with dried mango and pineapple, toasted coconut, and cashews–perfect for any day at the beach. 
Normally, I am not a huge fan of dried fruit (especially in granola), but I make exceptions for dried mango and pineapple. I’ll eat a whole six-ounce bag in a day! The sweet mango, tangy pineapple, and toasted coconut work incredibly well with the crunchy oats and cashews. A moderate amount of sweetener and a full teaspoon of salt keep it all just sweet enough to enjoy with your favorite yogurt and fresh fruit. I can’t get enough. 

Having made a lot of granola in the last few years, I can tell you that the homemade stuff is a snap to put together and infinitely better than any boxed variety. When you make something from scratch, you can control the ingredients and customize it to your taste.

For instance, I love my Maple Pecan Granola (which I used as the base for this recipe), but sometimes I want my granola to have more clusters than that recipe allows. So, I took the basic formula and swapped half the maple syrup for brown rice syrup. It’s super thick and allows the oats and cashews to cluster a bit without adding excessive amounts sweetener. And since brown rice syrup has a mild flavor, the maple is still front and center!

Tropical Cashew Granola is like summer in a bowl! Don’t be surprised if the combination of mango, pineapple, coconut, and buttery cashews has you packing a jar for your vacation, too! 

  Looking for more granola? Check out my Peanut Butter Granola!

Tropical Cashew Granola
makes about two quarts

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup*
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups raw unsalted cashews, chopped
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
6 ounces unsweetened dried mango, chopped into bite-size pieces
6 ounces unsweetened dried pineapple, chopped into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats, cashews, and coconut. Spread mixture on prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks to prevent burning.

When granola is done baking, let cool five minutes before stirring in dried mango and pineapple pieces. Let granola cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

Note:

Brown rice syrup can be found near the honey and syrups at most well-stocked grocery stores, or on Amazon. If you cannot find it or do not wish to use it, you may use an equal volume of mild honey or maple syrup. Your granola will not have many clusters, but it will still be delicious.