Home cooking: Spicy oatmeal, dried fruit and nut cookies

November 29, 2011

When Heidi Coble taught at Clear Spring High School, she took the students in her life skills class to Fairview Outdoor School to clear trails and clean the pond. After working, the kids would beg for these cookies as they walked back to the school. The kids were getting a treat that was really very good for them.

Coble adapted this recipe from one on the Quaker Oats box for "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies." She adjusted the recipe to make cookies more healthful, using less fat, less sugar and whole grain in place of white flour. She expanded the dried fruit options to include blueberries, cranberries or other favorites. And she said the cookies are wonderful with black walnuts.

Coble adjusted the recipe 15 to 20 times before she got it the way she wanted it, and now she gets raves from people who try them. She keeps 20 copies of the recipe in her desk drawer, because every time she makes the cookies, people ask for the recipe.

She always doubles this recipe. Cookies freeze well and can be kept in the refrigerator in warm weather to prevent spoilage.

Spicy oatmeal, dried fruit and nut cookies

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup applesauce

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs (see cook's note)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (see cook's note)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon or to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon mace

1/4 teaspoon allspice

3 cups oatmeal, uncooked

1 cup dried fruit — blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins or your favorite combination

1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, applesauce and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and other spices; add to butter mixture and mix well.

Add oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts and mix well.

Shape into firm balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Cookies won't spread out, so you can place them close together.

Bake 14 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Cook's note: Eggs should be room temperature. White flour could be used in place of whole wheat.

— Courtesy of Heidi Coble. This recipe is included in "Special Family Recipes," a cookbook with more than 400 recipes from Special Olympic athletes and their families and friends. Proceeds benefit Washington County Special Olympics. Copies can be purchased for $10 by contacting Jo Anne at 301-739-4113 or Carolyn at 240-217-2330.

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