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oatmeal cookies with cherries, chocolate, and almonds

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oatmeal cookies with cherries, chocolate, and almonds

What happens when you pack a rich buttery dough with an outrageous amount thick rolled oats, dried tart cherries from Traverse City, cacao nibs, almonds, and dark chocolate chips? Did you say pure heaven? Because I'm pretty sure that's what these cookies are.

I've been making versions of this recipe for years now - often packing them with whatever dried fruit or nuts I have in the pantry.  While they're always satisfying, I don't think any combination will ever match the perfection of tart cherries, chocolate, almonds, and crunchy roasty cacao nibs. So mix it up, make these on a whim, but do try your best to include the cacao nibs - they're my favorite part! 

I topped my cookies with a hearty sprinkle of this new salt from The Meadows here in Portland. Flakey sea salt from whales is absolutely covered in vanilla bean specks, creating a perfectly sweet, salty, and herbal infusion to top chocolate filled cookies. I've been itching to make some cookies since I bought it - knowing they would be the perfect use. 

This recipe will make a serious batch of cookies, and I'll be honest - it's more cookies than I want to have in the house unless I'm planning to bring them somewhere (or planning to have cookies for breakfast all week). Thankfully, this dough freezes like a dream! I love pre-scooping cookies and freezing them for later. Just give them time to freeze on a baking dish or sheet pan, then toss them into a freezer bag for later! You can bake them right out of the freezer (or just eat cookie dough straight from the freezer whenever you get a craving... you know you will!). 

I love making these with all whole wheat pastry flour. The fine grind of the flour results in a cookie that doesn't taste like it was made with whole wheat, and you can rest assured that you're getting in some whole grains when you eat a few too many cookies. Whole wheat flour + thick rolled oats is sure to equal a healthy cookie despite the two cups of sugar and big mound of butter! 

Depending on your tastes (and what you have in your cupboard), you can always make these with your typical all-purpose flour, or a mixture. You're in charge here! I will, however, take a moment to sing my praises for whole wheat pastry flour. While I've learned that it isn't a totally foolproof alternative for white flours - in more recipes than not you can replace white flour with this magic (a simple one to one substitute, or a mixture!) and have stunning results. I've aways been a little weary of baking with whole grains, because some baked goods I just want to keep as they are. Whole wheat pastry flour has been my glorious answer! Cookies, pancakes, quick breads, muffins, pasta and more. Whole wheat can be so much less overpowering than it often is! 

Okay. Stepping down from my little whole wheat pastry flour soapbox. Use it. Don't use it. It's up to you. But me? I'm a convert! 

Cherry Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 

1 cup cane sugar 

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs 

1 Tbsp vanilla extract 

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, all purpose flour, or a mixture of the two

 1 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp baking soda 

1/4 tsp salt 

2 1/2 cups thick rolled oats 

1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped

1 cup dried tart cherries 

1/2 cup cocoa nibs 

1 cup chocolate chips 

  • Cream together the butter and sugars in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, with a hand-held mixer, or with a strong arm and a good wooden spoon. 
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, stirring to incorporate after each addition. 
  • In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  • Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, and stir until just combined. If you're using a stand or hand mixer, do this on the lowest setting to avoid over-mixing the dough. 
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, and continue mixing just until they're evenly distributed. 
  • Scoop spoonfuls the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, silicone, or butter and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until just cooked. 
  • Let rest on a cooling rack until completely cool, 

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Citrus Olive Oil Cake with a Brown Butter Glaze

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Citrus Olive Oil Cake with a Brown Butter Glaze

This is one of my go-to cakes for when I want to make something simple, yet also insanely delicious. Both the cake batter and the glaze come together really quickly, and the joy of a glaze is that decorating the cake is as easy as pouring the glaze over the top. Voila, you're done! There is definitely a reason I've made this cake more times that I can remember. 

There is also a reason I'm choosing to share this cake with you now... it's been a pretty crazy few months in my life and this recipe is one of my stand-bys, a tried and true great recipe. The holidays hit me harder than usual this year - with a three week trip to Michigan from Thanksgiving through mid-December, a friend of my babes' visiting from Nashville for a long weekend, followed by both of our immediate families visiting Portland for the week between Christmas and New Years. There has been a whole lot of fun, very little alone time, and only the occasional meal cooked by yours truly. 

There is still one wintery weekend at Mt Hood left on the holiday schedule (it's my birthday celebration - the ultimate holiday extender!), but then I couldn't be more excited to get back in my kitchen and back to developing fun new things for all of you! 

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Now, back to this awesome cake! It adapts easily to whatever type of citrus juice you have on hand, and don't even think about skipping out on the brown butter glaze. I've omitted it before and while the cake is still delicious, it isn't nearly the same. 

Citrus Olive Oil Cake

1 cup all purpose flour 

1/2 cup ground almonds / almond flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt 

3 large eggs 

3/4 cup sugar 

1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil 

1/2 tsp vanilla 

1/4 tsp almond extract 

zest of 1 lemon or orange 

1/2 orange juice (or another citrus juice) 

1/3 cup sliced almonds 

  • Butter and flour a 9 inch round cake pan, 8 inch square cake pan, or two 6 inch round cake pans (options are the best!). 
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs just a bit then add sugar and whisk until fully incorporated. Add olive oil and whisk for about 45 seconds to one minute until the mixture starts to thicken and get lighter in color. Whisk in the extracts and zest, then the juice. 
  • Add dry ingredients and whisk gently until just combined. 
  • Pour into pan (or divide equally between the two pans if you're using 6 inch), and sprinkle with sliced almonds. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is lightly browned. 
  • Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then gently remove and let cool completely on a rack. 

Brown Butter Glaze

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp whole milk

1/2 tsp lemon juice

  • Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Let it bubble while occasionally swirling it in the pan until it starts to turn a golden brown color and smells nutty (aka, like heaven). Remove from heat immediately to prevent it from burning. This process of browning the butter caramelizes the milk solids and gives the butter an amazing nutty flavor. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk, then slowly whisk in the butter and lemon juice. 
  • Pour over cooled cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. 
  • Optional: decorate with long strands of citrus zest or a very thin slice of citrus! 

 

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Gingerbread Carrot Cake with Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting!

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Gingerbread Carrot Cake with Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting!

I'm going to keep this one short, folks, since I know we're all over our heads busy this time of year. And really, we should just focus on this absolutely amazing cake. We start with a hearty spiced carrot cake packed with ginger and molasses, from one of my favorite blogs - Lady and Pups. I've topped it with my favorite go-to cream cheese frosting spiked with a bit of cardamom and a variation on the ginger fries recommended in the original recipe. 

Believe me - if you love ginger as much as I do, you're going to want to start frying up ginger sprinkles on a regular basis! Absolutely genius. 

Gingerbread Cake Recipe, Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is really pretty darn easy to make, and it stores in the fridge over night making it an impressive and convenient holiday dessert! Packed with all the spices we crave this time of year, there really is no going wrong here. 

So, here you are! Gingerbread carrot cake, cardamom cream cheese frosting, and ginger sprinkles. All the holiday dessert you've ever dreamed! 

Gingerbread Carrot Cake 

10oz (or about 2 small) carrots, grated finely 

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 1/2 tsp ground ginger 

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

/4 tsp ground allspice 

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 

1 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp baking soda 

1/2 tsp salt 

12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 

1 cup molasses 

3/4 cup dark brown sugar 

1/3 cup cane sugar 

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger 

2 large eggs 

3/4 cup whole milk 

  • Prepare two 8 inch round cake pans by buttering and flouring the edges, and lining the bottom with a round of parchment paper. 
  • Toss grated carrots with flour, cocoa, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
  • In a large bowl whisk together melted butter, molasses, sugars, fresh ginger, and eggs until smooth. 
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the milk and carrot mixture into the wet ingredients. Continue folding until the mixture is just incorporated. 
  • Divide batter between two cake pans, using a spatula to smooth the batter in each pan. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Carefully run a knife around the edge of each pan to separate the cake from the walls of the pan, then let the cakes cool for about 20 minutes in the pans. 
  • Turn the cakes out of the pans and let cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting. 

Ginger Sprinkles 

3 inches fresh ginger 

3/4 cup vegetable oil 

  • Prepare a space to place your cooked ginger by setting a few layers of paper towel over a plate or baking sheet. 
  • Peel the ginger, then slice it into shoestring pieces as thin as you possible can. 
  • Combine ginger and oil in a small pan, and place over medium heat. Allow the oil to heat to a temperature where it is bubbling gently with the ginger. If the oil ever starts to smoke, be sure to turn it down! 
  • Continue cooking the ginger in the hot oil until it starts to crisp up and turn a golden brown.
  • Scoop ginger out of the oil using a slotted spoon, and place it on the paper towel to cool. Alternatively, strain oil through a fine mesh sieve into another container then place ginger on the paper towels. Either way, I definitely recommend straining your oil and saving it for later use (it'll have a nice gingery flavor!). 

Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting 

16 oz cream cheese, softened 

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened 

1/3 cup maple syrup 

1 Tbsp vanilla 

6-7 cups powdered sugar 

3-4 Tbsp whole milk 

1/8 tsp cardamom 

  • Start by whipping the cream cheese for about 1 minute, using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. It should start to get just a little fluffy. 
  • Add the butter and continue to whip for another minute or so, again allowing the mixture to fluff up a bit. 
  • Add syrup, vanilla, and cardamom and continue mixing until just combined. 
  • Add about 2 cups of the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Then alternate adding sugar and milk. First add about 1 cup of sugar and mix to combine, then about 1 Tbsp of milk and mix to combine. Continue this process until the frosting reaches a good consistency, or you've used all your milk and sugar. 
  • Finally, whip the frosting for about 4 minutes until it is light and fluffy. 

Assembling the Cake 

Once you have all of your pieces ready, this cake is a synch to assemble! Make sure to peel the parchment paper off of the bottom of your cakes, and take a moment to slice the top off of one cake should the tops be rounded (so they stack nicely!). 

  • If you did slice the top off one cake, use that one as your base. Set it on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve the cake on. I like to use three strips of parchment paper, about 4 inches wide to keep the plate clean. Slip them just a bit under the cake, working your way around so that the entire base of the cake has parchment between the cake and the plate. 
  • Scoop  cup or so of the frosting onto the top of the layer. There will be no shortage of frosting, so go heavy if you're a frosting lover. Smooth with an offset spatula. 
  • Set the second layer on top of the frosting, and frost the entire outside of the cake. 
  • Use the ginger sprinkles to decorate the top of the cake however you like! 

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