Almost healthy

By Sarah

I’ve been teaching an after school class to high school students and yesterday was our final day. To celebrate, and to mitigate all of our anxieties over the final exam, I decided to bring a treat for my students. (Alright, one of the students asked for snacks for the final day of class. I find the students very fun and admire their willingness to take classes and exams on top of their normal schoolwork, but these teens are a little more audacious than I was at their age.)

Being me, I had to bring something homemade and sweet. And, because they are naturally perfectly portioned, cookies seemed like a good idea. But I kind of felt bad giving the students some indulgent sweets on the same day they were taking an exam on cardiovascular physiology and disease. Isn’t that perfect: “What are the major risk factors for heart disease that can be modified? Not sure? Have a couple of cookies while you think it over.”

So I chose a recipe full of heart healthy oatmeal and nuts, but which also contained chocolate so its a definite treat. And the result? They taste so good that I’m doubting there’s anything healthy about them. I’m a sucker for chewy cookies and these guys have the most amazing texture. The edges are nice and crispy, but the centers are oh, so, soft and chewy. Even the batch that I was sure I had left in the oven too long had multiple, delicious textures. I’m not at all surprised (though I’m still a bit disappointed) that I wasn’t able to bring any back home with me after the class. Oh well, I’ll guess I’ll just have to make more soon.

There is one thing I will change next time and that’s the spices. The cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange in the recipe below give the cookies a nice sophisticated flavor, but I found it distracting from the things I really wanted to savor. I bite in and all I want to think is chocolate meets chewy deliciousness but my mind has to now ponder spices and citrus. I’m not up to the challenge. There’s a reason that chocolate chip cookies are a classic. And these babies are good enough to eat as a classic chocolate chip (with oatmeal! and pecans!) without any “half spice cookie” gimmicks. So if you want to try the sophisticated version please do, but next time I will leave out the spices and orange zest. All I will add is a cold glass of milk.

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies

Adapted from Katy Sparks and Andrea Strong via Epicurious

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat (I received one of these as a birthday gift and totally adore it, so of course this is what I used). Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add sugars, salt, and vanilla, then beat until well mixed. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove in a separate bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter with the mixer on low speed. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the second half. Stir in the oats, pecans, orange zest, and chocolate chips. (I refrigerated my dough for 24hrs, mainly because of time constraints, but I always find this adds more depth to cookies.) Drop the dough, by the tablespoon, onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. For me, this recipe made 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Yum!

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