Sometimes I just need an excuse to make cookies. Believe it or not, my kids actually are not huge sweet eaters (although they do love their ice cream), but they do appreciate good home baked cookies once in a while, especially chocolate chip cookies (but only if they’re soft and fresh out of the oven…I know…they are so picky!).
If you have ever heard of Maida Heatter, you would know that she has written lots of cookbooks on sweets…pies, tarts, cookies, and lots of other desserts. Although most of her recipes use white flour and white sugar, you might be surprised to know that she uses whole grains in some of her recipes, not something I would have expected to see in a cookbook published over 20 years ago.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t have a cookie here and there, we all need our treats. Although I don’t bake cookies that often (perhaps out of fear that I’ll gobble them all up myself!), now that school is back in full swing, I’ve been trying to come up with after school snacks to tide them over until dinner.
Fortunately, my kids like hummus and bean dips, but once in a while, they like a sweet treat. One of my kids runs 6 miles a day after school for cross country, and is always looking for a protein bar or something else to replenish his system on the ride home from school. This week, he grabbed one of these cookies to snack on after his run.
Last school year, I made a few different kinds of granola bars that my kids really liked, but since we are celebrating Maida Heatter today, as one of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food, I chose one of the healthier whole grain cookies in her cookbook, Maida Heatter’s Best Dessert Book Ever…her Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (which happen to be gluten-free), except my kids hate raisins, so I left them out. Instead, I took her suggestions of adding roasted peanuts and some chocolate chips.
Maida Heatter has been described as “the doyenne of desserts, queen of cookies, and sultana of sweets,” by the New York Times. A doyenne is “a woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field.” Although she started out in the fashion industry, even starting her own line of fashionable jewelry for Macy’s, Maida Heatter got into the food industry when she moved to Miami Beach and opened a little coffee shop in a chic Miami Beach neighborhood, which evolved into a full-scale restaurant.
Her career as a professional cookbook author took off after she came to the attention of Craig Claiborne, then the food editor for the New York Times. He encouraged her to write a cookbook and gave her numerous endorsements, which resulted in her first cookbook, Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts. She is the author of ten best selling cookbooks, three of which were James Beard Foundation Award winners.
I chose these Oatmeal Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies because the combination of sweet and salty appealed to me. As it turned out, my kids really loved these cookies. Given Maida Heatter’s reputation for being the queen of desserts, I decided to stick to the original recipe in her honor, which produced these gigantic cookies, so I would suggest making smaller cookies and cutting the baking time back. I also made just half a recipe as this recipe makes a lot of giant cookies.
If you’re interested in joining our group as we cook our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, just ask Mary from One Perfect Bite.
Oatmeal Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Best Dessert Book Ever. I made these cookies dairy-free simply by substituting Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks for butter. I also used unprocessed sugar – gluten-free brown rice syrup and raw coconut sugar. To make these vegan, use an egg substitute such as Ener-G Egg Replacer. If you like raisins, by all means, add them in instead of the peanuts or chocolate chips. This makes a big batch of giant cookies, so I only made half this recipe.
- 4 ounces Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
- 1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter or other nut butter (sunbutter would also work)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 cup raw coconut sugar
- 3 large eggs or egg substitute
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 cup salted roasted peanuts (shake in a strainer to remove excess salt)
- 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, beat Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick until soft.
- Add the peanut butter and beat until mixed
- Beat in vanilla, brown rice syrup, organic sugar and coconut sugar.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating until mixed.
- Add baking soda and mace.
- On low speed, add oats.
- Stir in peanuts and chocolate chips
- Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup, firmly packed, to form cookies. Shape cookies with your hands (wet your hands a little bit) into cookies, 1/2 inch thick, and about 2 3/4 inches in diameter.
- Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart (place only four cookies on each cookie sheet).
- Bake 12-14 minutes, turning sheet front to back halfway during baking time. Do not overbake – these will firm up slightly as they cool.
- Let baked cookies stand on sheets for about a minute to firm up a bit. Then, transfer cookies to racks to cool.
Makes 22-24 large cookies.
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