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. 

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

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies

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

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

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

White Peach and Candied Ginger Muffins


Not long ago, I was invited on a tour of America's Test Kitchen and they gave everyone a recipe card for some truly scrumptious fig and chocolate chip muffins. The batter is thick; borderline scone dough. Once baked, they have a crusty exterior, but remain light, almost cake-like, on the inside. So, I was prepared to share a rhubarb variation everyone today. Alas, when I went to the store to purchase more rhubarb, they were out. Looking around frantically, my eyes locked on a tower of white peaches. Now, if I'm craving stone fruit, I'm going for cherries or apricots. Point being, it's not often that I see peaches and say "Yes! I must cook with those!" But something came over me and I realized that what I really needed in my muffins were peaches. And candied ginger. And almonds. Ok, there were a lot of things. But, hey, sometimes you know when these things will work. And, if I may say, they do. They really do.


A few things: 1. I suggest using firmer peaches, as they're easier to chop, plus it prevents the mixture from getting too mushy when you cook them. 2. If you're like me and didn't look to see if you had unsalted butter before you started cooking, you can use salted butter and just omit the salt from the recipe. I did this and they came out tasting great.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Makes 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups chopped white peaches (use firmer peaches)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger

1. In a pot, toss peaches with 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peach starts to break down and juices are released, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. 

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Flour and grease a 12 cup muffin tin. 

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. 

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, butter, and eggs. Add the vanilla extract and almond extract and whisk until combined. 

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Stir in sliced almonds and candied ginger. 

6. Spoon half of the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tin and then spoon 1 teaspoon of the cooked peaches into the center of each. Top with remaining batter. 

7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for 2 days. 

Sweet Potato Scones + A Vanilla Bean Baking Book Giveaway

I'm struggling to find the words to express how I feel, so today I'm just going to share what's going on in our lives and some things that make me happy and have inspired me.

Friendsgiving. Menu planning, shopping, and cooking for 23 friends. I can't wait to have everyone gathered around the table this Saturday. 

Thanksgiving in New Jersey. Also, menu planning and cooking. Most of it's done... but I still need to figure out a cocktail.

Fires. We split a cord of wood with our neighbors. So, we're planning on having lots of fires this winter.

With everything that's been going on, I've been inspired to give a bit more than I have in the past (something I'm trying to be better about). A few organizations I like to support: Planned Parenthood, The Posse Foundation and The Trevor Project (I'm always looking for more suggestions)

This is the Album of the Year... maybe the Album of the Decade. (And here's a video for We the People...)

Went to see this movie and this movie. Both are moving, important pieces of cinema. 

If you missed SNL this weekend, check out the opening tribute to Leonard Cohen, Dave Chappelle's monologue, Kate McKinnon as RBG, and A Tribe Called Quest.

Two weeks until our trip to the Dominican Republic. A few days away spent on a beach, reading books, drinking cocktails. 

This (certified organic and fair-trade) cold brew coffee.  Besides being delicious, they're also giving back, with a percentage of the proceeds going to an organization that assists injured veterans.  It's sold in stores throughout New England and online.

My friend, the talented food-stylist Catrine Kelty, is currently displaying her work at the Bedford Public Library. There will be an opening reception on December 4th

And speaking of talented friends... I'm so excited for Sarah Kieffer and the release of her first book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. Her passion for baking and her inventive creations have always been an inspiration. Her book does not disappoint.

Sarah explains in her book's introduction that cookies were her gateway to baking. For me, it's scones. I find most baking to be stressful (it shouldn't be... I'm just not big into measurements), but not scones. It doesn't require as much finesse as other pastries. You can do all the work by hand (no fancy appliances necessary), they can easily be altered to fit with whatever seasonal ingredients you're working with, and they're supposed to look rustic, so imperfections are welcome. I made my first batch of scones years ago and, ever since, I've been hooked. I've lost track of all the kinds I've prepared for myself and friends (like Sarah, I find "contentment in both baking to keep and baking to give away." 

I was thrilled to see a couple of scone recipes in Sarah's book. However, before I decided to make one of them, I asked her what recipes from her book were her favorite. When she listed the pumpkin scones, it was a done deal. Instead of the pumpkin puree, I included sweet potato (which I find is underused in fall baking).  They came out just how I wanted them, golden brown outside with a crumbly, moist interior. The scones aren't all that sweet on their own, so the maple glaze is a nice addition (also, I give her a big thumbs up for including some salt in the glaze... something I've never seen before).  



To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Only one entry per person. Eligible to US residents only (sorry international friends)! Giveaway ends at 12PM EST on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. The winner will be notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another name will be drawn. (Note: Be sure to fill out the e-mail field in the comment form) 

Sweet Potato Scones

Adapted from the pumpkin scone recipe from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer

12 scones

For Sweet Potato Scones
2 ¼ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
⅓ cup (66 g) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened sweet potato puree, recipe below
⅓ cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½-inch pieces

For Maple Frosting
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup (113 g) confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stack two baking sheets on top of each other and line the top sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the sweet potato puree, heavy cream, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter to cut it into the mixture until the flour-coated pieces are the size of peas. Add the wet ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead until it comes together, 4 to 6 times, adding flour as necessary if the dough is sticky. Flatten the dough out until it is about 1 1/2 inches thick and about 9 inches wide.

Cut dough into rounds with biscuit cutter that’s 2-3/4″ in diameter (if you don't have a biscuit cutter, you can use a water glass or just cut them into triangles). Transfer rounds to the baking pan. (This should result in approximately 12 biscuits.) 

Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little heavy cream, making sure it doesn’t drip down the sides.

Bake 18 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the scones cool slightly. Top with the Maple Frosting.

FOR THE MAPLE FROSTING: In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth.

Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Sarah Kieffer, 2016.


Sweet Potato Puree

1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.  Using a fork, poke holes into the sweet potato.

Place pan in the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove from oven and let cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, use your hands to remove the skin.

Place peeled sweet potato in a food processor and puree with 2 tablespoons whole milk (alternatively, place in a bowl and use an emersion blender to puree.)