Last weekend I had an oatmeal cookie craving attack.
This was odd for two reasons:
1. It’s rare that I all of a sudden have a craving for a specific food. Well, except tacos.
2. Oatmeal cookies, really?
But then I thought about it. The days had been gray and a little gloomy, certainly a glimpse of sunshine here and there, but February was doing what February does best: being a winter month that you simply can’t trust. I was tired, moderately homesick and all I really wanted to do was to crawl into an overstuffed chair at a cafe, sit with a huge cup of coffee and read a book.
While I was envisioning this type of cozy cafe that at that exact moment I really wanted to find myself in, I started thinking of the big oatmeal cookies these types of places often serve.
Being from the West Coast, I am used to big hearty oatmeal cookies, people buying them because it seems like a moderately healthy choice. “It’s oats and dried fruit” you say to yourself, before downing the cookie in a few bites.
Now I know that some of you will say, “an oatmeal cookie has nothing on a French pastry… aren’t oatmeal cookies a little boring?” But maybe that’s the beauty of it. Sometimes you want to curl up and be cozy. Sometimes you want a pick-me-up that isn’t overly sweet and has a big of healthy chewiness to it. Blame that belief on my West Coast roots, but treats to go with coffee don’t always need to be over the top. Sometimes the simplest ones are the best.
I then thought back to my childhood kitchen, where from an early age I was allowed to make my own oatmeal cookies without the help of my mother. We had a ceramic Quaker Oats cookie container, probably my mother picked up at a second hand store. On the back was the classic Quaker Oats Oatmeal Cookies recipe. Easy enough for a budding food lover to follow.
So I tracked that recipe down and made some changes. Because here’s the thing: you don’t need butter to make oatmeal cookies. Nope, they are just as good (if not better) with olive oil. And I cut down the sugar amount, because honestly, you should cut down the amount of sugar in any baked good recipe. And for a mid-winter pick me up, a little addition of lemon zest and dried figs. Ok, that’s not totally true, I would have done this recipe with raisins, but figs were all I had on hand.
It was raining outside, but I immediately felt better.
Olive Oil Oatmeal Cookies with Fig and Lemon
Makes: 12 big cookies
Recipe note: these cookies work great in a vegan version as well. Switch out the egg for 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 3 tablespoons warm water, and the honey for a vegan friendly sweeter.
1/3 cup (80 milliliters) olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey (or vegan-friendly sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 a large lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces, 60 grams) buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (2 5/8 ounces, 75 grams) chopped dried figs — about 4 to 5 calimyrna figs
1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 ounces, 150 grams) oats
In a bowl, whisk the egg and brown sugar until frothy- If you are doing the vegan version, combine 1 tablespoon flaxseed with 3 tablespoons warm water, and let congeal for about 5 minutes before whisking with sugar. Add in the olive oil, honey and vanilla and mix until well blended.
In a separate bowl, mix together the buckwheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the rest of the batter and stir together.
Work in the chopped figs and oats until a sticky dough forms.
Scoop out the dough and place on a greased baking sheet, or one with a silicone mat. Flatten the cookies out. I like to make mine big, in which case, 12 fit perfectly on the same baking sheet. You can make smaller ones if you like, but you may need to adjust the baking time.
Bake at 350°F (175 °C) for 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two before transferring to a cooling rack.