Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oatmeal Pecan Dark Chocolate Cookies

Dark chocolate and nuts... nuts and dark chocolate... they're so made for each other.

Pecans are my nuts of choice in today's recipe for oatmeal cookies. They are so packed with flavour but don't normally get much attention, and are totally underused in baking.

It's rare you'll find pecans in the "mixed" nuts selection at the Pub and they're not the first thing you see in some paleo granola bar recipe.

Peanuts always make the cut at the Pub. Almonds are a health bar favourite. Cashews let vegans eat something that resembles cheesecake (plus cashews are awesome), and macadamia nuts will forever live in the white chocolate cookie at Subway.

Well, let me be a bit frank. The pecan tree doesn't grow just for Pecan Pie.

I love them with dark chocolate... like really dark. Bittersweet chocolate with 70%+ cocoa solids matches that somewhat slightly bitter tang from the thin skins on pecan nuts. 

Guess what else is so right about these cookies? 

I use whole wheat flour. Uh huh. I went all in - 1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour all up in this recipe. I didn't go halfsies with white flour... or try a 1:3 ratio. I just went for it because it makes sense. 

Whole wheat flour is made from the whole grain of wheat. That means it contains all the parts including the germ, endosperm and bran layers. 

White flour is made by grinding mainly the endosperm which is the starchy bit. 

The germ contains oils and the bran contains protein and fibre. Clearly whole wheat flour gives us more nutritional bang for our buck, but unfortunately it doesn't taste great in just any recipe. And these Oatmeal Pecan Dark Chocolate Cookies aren't just any recipe...

Bran gives whole wheat flour a nutty taste.

Dark chocolate is a product of a reaction called Maillard browning that happens during roasting of the cocoa nibs, and it creates distinctly nutty and caramel-like flavours.

And pecans... they just taste like nuts!

Combining these three ingredients is either genius or written in nature.

I'll stick with genius...and delicious. 

Oh! PS - because of the oil content of the germ, whole wheat flour has a tendency to develop rancid flavours and doesn't last as long as white flour. So, if you need to search to the back of your cupboard to dig up your long lost bag of it - right behind the 4-year-old jar of nutmeg and box of raisins - then you may want to consider a trip to the shop. A fresh bag of flour will make all the difference. 

Don't underestimate the power of rancidity. It will taint the whole batch of cookies and what a waste of chocolate that would be. Don't waste chocolate. Just, please.... I can't handle it.

I'm about to handle a stack of these cookies though!
Happy Monday to you!

Oatmeal Pecan Dark Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies

½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (110 g) packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 ¼ cups (130g) rolled oats
1 cup (142 g) whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup (120g) bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup (80g) chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the butter, both sugars and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and beat well.

Whisk together the oats, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Stir through chocolate and pecans. 

Drop tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking tray, spacing them 2-inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let cookies cool on baking tray for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
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