Recently I bought a sack of delightfully-crispy Boskop apples, my favorite of all French apple varieties.
After a quick rinse, I eagerly took a bite, my teeth breaking through the tight skin, anticipating the cool, crisp-tart flesh of a just-harvested apple.
But instead I spit it out: the flesh had gone soft and my precious apple was completely inedible.
Now any normal person would have tossed the rest of that apple in the garbage and grabbed another one. But not me. Since I am my mother’s son, I can’t throw anything away, no matter how trivial. But being quick-witted, I thought I would combine my frugal nature with my amazing generosity and the need to present a recipe here on the site, which is something I haven’t been able to do in a while due to my travels and travails.
I’ve been working on an interview with master baker Nick Malgieri, who just came out with a new book, Perfect Light Desserts: Fabulous Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and More Made with Real Butter, Sugar, Flour, and Eggs, All Under 300 Calories Per Generous Serving (whew!). Look for that interview here, which became so lengthy and interesting that I’m still working on it, and will appear in the next week or so here on the site. I’ll talk to Nick about teaching, being the pastry chef at Window’s On The World, why he steals recipes from me, and what it’s like to write cookbooks.
Because the recipes in his latest book have less-calories than regular desserts, several recipes use applesauce as a base. So like the abnormal person I’ve become living alone in my Parisian garret, a reclusive phantom of le gâteau Opera, I made The World’s Tiniest Batch of Applesauce, but managed to turn it into two baking sheets of Nick’s exceptionally chewy, dense, and delicious oatmeal cookies.
Here’s my adaptation of the recipe from Nick’s book. Although he calls for raisins, I didn’t have any, so instead of actually leaving my apartment, I dug deep into my valuable expat stash for the benefit of my readers (yeah, right…) and substituted tart, bright-red dried cranberries instead. But you could use any diced dried fruit that you want.
I didn’t have any oatmeal on hand either. So I used tofu.
Ok, just kidding (that was for all the ‘substitution’ people…and you know who you are!)
I used a mixture called cinq céréales, a blend of rolled oats, wheat, rye and other rolled grains that I stock up on at Naturalia, which is Paris’ health-food store chain and a great place to explore, and see how ‘healthy’ Parisians eats. (If you’re expecting to see Birkenstocks and draw-string pants, though, you going to be disappointed.) And although I’ve become un pea Parisian, I guess you can take the boy out of America, you can’t take America out of the boy, and I supersized them, making my cookies bigger using about 2 tablespoons of the batter per cookie. I got 16 cookies, which were gone in a flash, since I bribed…uh, I mean…brought them to vendors at my local market who had no idea what an oatmeal cookie was. Needless to say, I got a few more stranger looks than usual yesterday, handing out cookies from a sack, but no one seemed to mind. The French are pushovers for anything delicious, which has made my life a whole lot easier around here, let me tell you.
Unfortunately, though, I ate quite a bit of the dough before it could be baked. How could I resist? It was like the most delicious, yummiest ‘bowl of’ oatmeal I’ve ever tasted, all bound together with a touch of French butter and golden brown sugar. And although my tinkering with the size probably screwed up the calorie guidelines, they were delicious and I figure I’ll just have one less glass of wine this month to make up for it.
Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
About 36 cookies
Adapted from Nick Malgieri’s book, Perfect Light Desserts: Fabulous Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and More Made with Real Butter, Sugar, Flour, and Eggs (HarperCollins).
- 1 cup flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/2 cup dark raisins (or dried cranberries)
2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, foil, or silicone mats
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and set the rack on the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Mix in the brown sugar, then the egg, applesauce, and vanilla.
4. Stir in the dry ingredients, then the oats and raisins.
5. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoons 2-inches apart on the baking sheets and use a fork to gently flatten the dough.
6. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they “look dull on the surface but are moist and soft”, according to Nick. Rotate baking sheets during baking for even heating.
(I made mine bigger, so whatever size you make them, just bake them until they look as directed by Nick.)
Storage: Once cool, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.