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oatmeal cookies with cherries, chocolate, and almonds


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, 


chocolate hazelnut macarons


chocolate hazelnut macarons

I am WAY late to the game on the whole macaron trend, but here I am! I finally took the time to try my hand at these little beauties and the result was amazing. Part of my hesitation on macarons has been the obsession with brightly colored cookies packed with food dye. Color for color's sake, as opposed to color created from whole food ingredients that also provide flavor, is just something I've never been excited about. 

So... I decided it was high time to make what some may consider to be blandly colored macarons. The kicker of course is that the flavor is anything but bland, and that my friends is was really matters in our food! Serious deliciousness. 

macarons, chocolate hazelnut, dessert, recipe
macaron, chocolate hazelnut, french, classic, dessert, recipe

I started my experimentation with classic almond flour macarons (partly because I had egg whites left over from my Meyer Lemon Curd project), but after learning the process I was super interested to mix things up and create a macaron made with hazelnut flour. I've had a thing for hazelnuts since I was a kid (thanks to my mama being a big fan of them as well), but rarely found them outside of chocolate bars until I grew up. 

Since moving to Portland over the summer, I've been in Hazelnut heaven! Oregon is known for their production of hazelnuts, as the climate and soils are perfectly suited for the crop. This means hazelnuts are abundant, affordable, and available at my favorite farmers market! A win-win-win in my eyes and my belly! 

Hazelnut Macarons

1 cup hazelnuts (107 grams) 

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (175 grams) 

3 large egg whites 

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp cane sugar (80 grams)

  • First, using a food processor or a blender (I did this in my Vitamix), pulse the hazelnuts and powdered sugar together to form a flour. Sift this mixture through a sifter or a fine mesh sieve. If there is more than a Tablespoon or so remaining, return to your machine and repeat the process. 
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or an electrical hand mixer), combine egg whites and cane sugar. Using a hand whisk, give the mixture a quick stir to combine the two ingredients, then move on to the electrical help! Whip the mixture at medium speed for a few minutes, then increase the speed (8 on a Kitchenaid, as high as it goes on a hand mixer) and continue to whip until the mixture becomes glossy and forms stiff peaks. This will take about 5 minutes. The mixture should stand up strong even if you take the whisk out and hold it upside down! 
  • Remove your bowl from the mixer, and pour in the hazelnut mixture. Using a wide rubber spatula, gently fold the two mixtures together. Resist the urge to stir, and just keep gently folding until it all comes together. You don't want to ruin all that great texture you created by whipping it for so long! 
  • Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large round pastry tip. If you don't have tips, just cut a small whole in the corner of a plastic bag. Holding the tip about 1/2 inch from a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, pipe little mounds about 1 inch in diameter, leaving 1 inch between each one. As you finish each mound, pull the tip over to the side. You want to avoid too large of points forming where you pull away. 
  • Finally, we're going to drop the pan before baking. Holding it flat about 1 foot from a sturdy table or the floor, drop the pan 6 times. This will flatten out the cookies a bit. 
  • Bake at 325 for about 14 minutes, turning the pan halfway through. You want them to be firm and dry to the touch, but not browned. 
  • Cool completely on the parchment or silicone mat before removing. 

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream 

4oz butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar 

1 tsp vanilla 

heaping 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

  • Melt the chocolate. I like to do this in a double boiler (or simply a heat-proof glass bowl over an inch or two of water in a pot), but you can also do it in the microwave. once melted, set aside to cool slightly. 
  • While the chocolate is melting and cooling, whip the butter using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer. it will get nice and fluffy if you give it enough time - the key to the light texture of this decadent frosting. 
  • add the vanilla and powdered sugar, whipping until fully combined. lastly, pour in the cooled chocolate and heavy whipping cream. continue to whip frosting for a few minutes longer. it will take in a lot of air during this final stage, adding to that light fluffy texture! 

Assembling the Macarons 

I like to make the frosting while the cookies are cooling, or if I'm itching to divide up the time it takes to make these, I'll hold off on making the frosting until I'm ready to do the assembly as well. That said, you can refrigerate the frosting if needed. Just let it come to room temperature and give it a good whip before putting it into the cookies to ensure a good texture! 

Assembly is super simple. A lot of folks will use a pastry bag and pipe the frosting, but if you're not worried about absolute perfection in the looks (which honestly, I wasn't) all you need is a spoon! 

First, make your pairs of cookies. Just separate all the cookies you have out into pairs that are as close in size as possible. This will keep them looking nice even if your cookies have a wide variety of size.

Then just dollop a spoonful of frosting into the center of the bottom of one cookie and gently squeeze it's pair on top until the frosting reaches the edges. 

Place all of the finished macarons on a baking sheet, and slide it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This will harden the frosting and help to keep those beauties looking beautiful! Once they've hardened a bit, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 


Meyer Lemon Curd


Meyer Lemon Curd

My obsession with lemon curd began many many many years ago with the amazing lemon and lime curds made by American Spoon Foods (purveyors of the most impeccably flavored preserves you've ever encountered). Growing up in Petoskey, their products were staples in our household and no trip downtown was complete without stopping in to sample their latest creations. 

While I could go on and on about the wonders of Spoon, the lemon curd has long been the one product I can't resist eating straight from the jar. Spoonful after spoonful after spoonful. When not in northern Michigan, I would buy other lemon curds from the shelf at the grocery store, but nothing could compare to the fresh creamy citrus of American Spoon Foods' curd. 

The first time I made lemon curd in my own kitchen, it was a total game changer. I discovered the reason I was so obsessed with that particular curd - it was the closest I could get to the flavor of freshly made lemon curd without actually making it myself. The amazing news is that curds are SUPER easy to make at home, all it takes is about 15 minutes and some constant stirring! Serious danger for this curd-lover. 

The citrus selection at my local grocery spot, New Seasons, is currently bordering on out of control. They're boasting 60 plus varieties of citrus, and that endless bounty of color is beyond magical during this cold, grey, and rainy time in Portland. Just as the mid-winter blues are starting to set in, I can't help but get excited to explore the endless opportunities of citrus flavors! I wanted to start with something classic - the meyer lemon. 

meyer lemons

Meyer lemons were created by crossing a mandarin orange with a classic lemon, gifting us with a sweeter and more deeply flavored type of lemon. I consider these to be the perfect citrus for baking (although, there may be another 50 varieties to explore this winter!), as well as for curd-making. These days meyer lemons can be found in most grocery stores with an ample produce section for a few months each winter starting in December. 

I'll be honest - when the meyer lemon season arrives, I go all meyer all the time until they're no longer available. Regular lemons just don't measure up in my mind! 

Meyer Lemon Curd, Food Photography, Food Styling, Recipe, Food Blog

This recipe is specifically written to make use of meyer lemons. If you're not able to find them, you can still make an absolutely amazing curd from regular lemons. Just be sure to increase the sugar to about 1/2 cup as your juice won't hold as much sweetness as meyer lemon juice. 

Meyer Lemon Curd 

1/2 cup meyer lemon juice 

1/3 cup sugar 

2 egg yolks 

2 eggs 

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed 

pinch of salt 

  • In a double boiler over medium high heat or a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, and eggs until thoroughly combined. 
  • Add butter and whisk continuously. The butter will melt, and after a bit more whisking the mixture will begin to thicken. Continue whisking until your whisk leaves clear lines in the curd as you stir. 
  • Remove from heat, and strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer.
  • Store your lemon curd in the refrigerator, and eat it within a few weeks (though good luck having it last more than a few days!). 

Serving: I've definitely given away that my favorite way to eat lemon curd is straight from the jar, spoonful after spoonful... but there are so many wonderful things to be done with it! Spread it on toast, serve it with scones, fill your cake layers or individual tarts (check out my full-size lemon tart recipe for the appropriate curd for filling tarts you'll be slicing).