Cinnamon Raisin Oat Cookies
As I spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals for the family, Little Boy Green has taken it upon himself to be my assistant on many occasions. It is an activity that we can bond over while playing out the roles of dad and son. I get to be the "instructor" and he gets to ask a lot (a lot) of questions. This morning we made cookies. It was a friend's birthday, Little Boy Green loves cookies and it was an easy enough activity to keep him focused and busy for about 20 minutes.
While I do not have much of a sweet tooth, I do enjoy a cookie every now and then. I am not much of a baker, as it can be a little too precise for my liking and is rarely forgiving when it comes to the devil-may-care big-picture approach I generally favour. However, on the odd occasion when I can reign in my creative instincts and impulse to only read the first three lines of a recipe and do it right, home baking can be a real treat. Who doesn't enjoy a house filled with scent of freshly baked comestibles - as Mrs Green often wistfully asks. For this batch of cookies I did a quick search on Google and unearthed some interesting recipes.
The first site I landed on, and one I find myself looking through quite often is The Minimalist Baker. Her recipe for oat cookies is free from oil and refined sugar, which gets our thumbs up, however, it did call for a banana. Don't get me wrong, I love bananas, rarely a day goes by that I don't have at least four, but I have found that when used in baking, bananas can sometimes overwhelm the other flavours. So, as Mrs Green has oft noted, the key to substitutions in vegan cooking and baking is to understand what the function of the original ingredient and therefore the proposed substitute is. Here, the banana principally added moisture needed to bind the cookie. Instead, we used two tablespoons of rapeseed oil, which is effectively flavourless, and which had the added bonus of making the final result a little crisper. The Minimalist Baker also suggests using almond flour as well as oats, but this time we just used oats, albeit in two forms, as a flour and as whole rolled oats and in a larger quantity. Ground almonds lend a grittier texture and and a certain chewiness but we found that ground oats worked very nicely. I might try the ground almonds next time, though.
Raisins and cinnamon are very good friends and their friendship is appropriately celebrated in cookie form, so they made their way into the mix. The recipe could also handle a variety of alternative ingredients and combinations, like cranberries, walnuts, chopped dried apricots and chocolate chips, to mention a few.
Ingredients: (aprox. 20 cookies)
- 1 cup dates (roughly 10 pitted Medjool dates)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup oat flour (1 1/4 cup of rolled oats ground into a flour - you can use your blender)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 rounded tablespoons of peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (we used rapeseed oil)
Method: (see video below)
- Pit and soak the dates in warm water while preparing and measuring other ingredients (approx. 10 min)
- Blend 1 1/4 cups of rolled oats in a food processor fitted with the S blade into a coarse flour
- Place the oat flour along with the rolled oats, raisins, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well
- Discard the soaking water from the dates and place them in the food processor along with the vanilla, oil and peanut butter and blend to a paste.
- Add the paste to the dry ingredients and mix well to incorporate
- Place the cookie dough into the fridge for about 10 minutes, this will allow the oats to absorb some of the moisture and a colder dough is easier to shape
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Roll golf sized balls of dough and place them on a lined baking tray and then press down on them using the palm of your hand into discs roughly 2 cm thick
- We baked ours for around 15 minutes and they came out nice and chewy with a little crunch, but ovens can vary so keep an eye on them after the first 12 min or so checking to see that the cookies are not burning at the edges
- The cookies will come out moist and may seem underdone, but they need to cool completely before they harden. If, like us, you find it hard to wait, go ahead and have a few, they are delicious when warm.