Friday, February 15, 2013

Pomegranate and Almond Oatmeal Cookies

I am not a big fan of Valentine’s day.  It always seemed like this occasion was made up to break the long Christmas to Easter dry spell for retailers.  So let’s jack up the flower prices to high heavens and re-wrap stale chocolates in shades of red, and while we are at it, let’s give all those poor teddy bears from China good homes…  The restaurants hate this holiday the most, with Mother’s day being a close second.  The menus are slashed in half and simplified so that an over busy kitchen doesn’t have to deal with crazy custom requests.  You can’t get a reservation to any decent restaurants anyway unless you have made your Valentine ’s Day plans back in June and  even if you are lucky enough to get a reservation, you are rushed through dinner with a velocity of speed dating.  After all, there is a whole line of suckers, just jumping at the opportunity to shell out big bucks for a mediocre pre-fix, waiting to take your seat.  No, thank you!  I’ll take a romantic dinner any other day of the year (except Mother’s day).

The only good thing about Valentine’s day is that it is the day when my countdown to spring begins.  I can’t explain it, I know that spring warmth and bloom are far, far away, but it is in mid-February when I start the “Wait”… This is when I start getting anxious and winy and start mentioning every day that I can’t wait any longer.  It may also have to do with the fact that by mid-February my vitamin “D” deficiency hits the ultimate low and my cabin fever hits an ultimate high… I don’t know, it just seems to coincide with Valentine’s day….

So let the wait for spring begin… I start by buying the flowers that scream spring.. No more pom-poms in my kitchen… I clean my closets… I sweep the deck (yes, I know it will be the while before I can use it)… and while I am in a good mood why not bake something delicious?

Oatmeal cookies have a bad rep, first of all, they give an impression that they may be good for you.  And who would ever want to eat a healthy cookie?  Second, they tend to be either too chewy or too dry and most taste like cardboard.  The key to delicious oatmeal cookies are toasted oats and lots of butter.  A load of delicious additives such as dried fruits and nuts don’t hurt either.  And of you insist to think them healthy, go ahead, and eat them for breakfast instead of your granola… after all, it will be awhile until you have to squeeze into your bathing suit…

Pomegranate and Almond Oatmeal cookies.
Note: feel free to substitute the nuts and fruit for any other.

2 ¾ cups of old-fashioned oats
1 cup of sliced almonds (toasted or not)
1 cup of dried pomegranate (cherries are delicious as well)
8 oz butter at room temperature
2 eggs
1.5 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup of granulated sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spread the oats on a baking sheet and toast for 15 min until light golden brown.  If toasting nuts you can add them to the same baking sheet 5 minutes before the oats are done, otherwise they will burn.  Set aside and let cool. 

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together.  Set aside.  Cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, add vanilla an eggs and stir until combined.  Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and stir until just incorporated.  Stir in oats, nuts and fruit.

Use a small scoop or a spoon to form the cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Leave enough room as these will spread.  Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your cookies.  The edges should just begin to brown lightly. 

These will come out perfectly chewy on the inside, crispy on the edges and utterly heavenly.

And if you eat them in front of a spring bouquet of flowers, you can pretend that the snow in your driveway is going to shovel itself… It is spring over here!

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