Dessert

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies - A Thought For Food
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I spent most of last week stuck inside.  Temperatures were in the single digits (with windchills below zero) and a snowstorm struck us on Thursday, which meant my time outside was limited to short walks around the block with Maki. I used the opportunity to get lots of cooking done, and I did something I do maybe a couple of times a year: I baked cookies. I've meant to share a recipe for oatmeal cookies for a while now, but I kept putting it aside. These are perfectly crisp on the outside, with nice chew on the inside (the key is not over-baking them). Of course, once you bake cookies, you have to find something to do with them. They couldn't all stay in the house. The great thing about living in the 'burbs is having neighbors to distribute treats to. So, that's where the majority of them went, and Eric and I enjoyed the rest with our nightly carafe of tea. 

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White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
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White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net
White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies from A Thought For Food - www.athoughtforfood.net

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies

Yield: Approx. 24 cookies
Special Tools:  Stand mixer (or hand mixer), cookie sheet

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 heaping cups rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and beat until smooth. With the mixer on its lowest setting, slowly add dry ingredients to the bowl. Mixture should be crumbly but start to come together. Beat in eggs and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and macadamia nuts. 

Transfer the dough to the fridge and chill for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Drop the dough onto baking sheets in 1.5 to 2 tablespoon scoops, leaving 2 inches of room between them.   Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden and the cookies have set. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the sheets for another 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to finish cooling.  

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies - A Thought For Food

Sweetened Whipped Ricotta with Berries and Tarragon

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When I was coming up with this summer dessert, it was 90 degrees and unbearably humid. I wanted something that didn't involve heat; not even the grill (going outside wasn't an option). Just the thought of turning on the oven made me sweat. But, of course, by the time I finally got around to preparing it, the temperature had dropped 30 degrees and, not long after, the rain came. Go figure! I have no doubt that the heat and humidity will return... and now I'll be prepared. 

No-fuss desserts are my jam and this one is about as no-fuss as you can get (though you'll definitely impress dinner guests with the presentation). Ricotta is blended with a bit of maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest, until light and creamy. Top with a mix of your favorite berries and herbs (I went with tarragon for its vanilla notes, but mint or basil would also work nicely). You can go traditional with your choice of fruit, or you can get a bit more playful. I like contrasting flavors, so I paired the deeper, sweeter blackberries and blueberries with tart raspberries and currants. The gooseberries (aka ground cherries, husk cherries) may be harder to find, but if you can get your hands on some, they not only look great, but they have a subtle sweetness (a blend of cherry and pineapple) that make them the perfect addition to your fruit salad.  

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SWEETENED WHIPPED RICOTTA TOPPED WITH BERRIES AND TARRAGON

SERVINGS
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and currants)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the ricotta, maple syrups, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt into the bowl of a food processor (alternatively, you can use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. 

2. Spread the ricotta out onto a platter or board. Top with berries and garnish with a sprinkle of tarragon leaves. 

3. Spoon berries and ricotta into bowls. 

Lemon Pudding with Blueberry Compote

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A craving for something sweet came over me the other night. I could've reached for one of the boxes of Girl Scout cookies we have tucked away in the freezer (the ones I try to pretend don't exist), but I was looking for something a bit more comforting. I looked in the fridge to find just a handful of ingredients: a few cups of milk, a half dozen eggs, and a pint of blueberries. There must be something I could do with these? And that's when I decided to research pudding recipes. I found a vanilla pudding that came together quickly, which I served with a blueberry compote. While rich and creamy in texture, the pudding remained a bit too soupy, even after hours of cooling. So, of course, I needed to try another batch to see if I could reach the perfect consistency.  I figured there were a few solutions to this problem. The first was to lower the amount of milk. Less liquid, thicker pudding. The other was to include more egg yolks. These two modifications did the trick. 

Having found a solid base to work with, I was ready to get playful. Lemon seemed the right direction, especially when paired with blueberries. Some zest and juice give it just the right amount of citrus flavor, without making it too zingy. 

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LEMON PUDDING WITH BLUEBERRY COMPOTE 

SERVINGS
Serves 4

SPECIAL TOOLS
Zester

INGREDIENTS
For the lemon pudding
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
2 ounces lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the blueberry compote
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

DIRECTIONS
1. In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks to break them up.

2. Put milk and cornstarch mixture into a medium saucepan. Set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. 

3. While whisking, slowly and carefully pour some of the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks. Once half of the milk is whisked in, return the pot to the stove and stir in the egg mixture, along with the lemon juice and lemon zest. 

4. Set pot over low heat and simmer, stirring consistently, until the pudding thickens. Once it reaches the desired consistency, stir in butter. Remove from heat. 

5. Strain mixture into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Once cooled, transfer pudding to a container fitted with a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.

6. Prepare the compote by transferring the blueberries to a medium saucepan. Pour sugar over blueberries and set pot over medium heat. Once the blueberries start to release their juices, give the pot a stir to mix in the sugar.

7. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end, stir in lemon zest and thyme leaves. Let cool.

8. To serve, divide pudding into ramekins. Top with a spoonful of compote.