Is it possible to gain weight just by looking through a cookbook?
Because I just want to inhale everything I see in “BraveTart” (W.W. Norton & Company).
The new cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by the talented Stella Parks, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, a James Beard Award-nominated writer for Serious Eats, one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Pastry Chefs,” and creator of the BraveTart blog.
It’s a good bet you’ll find yourself equally smitten with this book, because it’s all about iconic American desserts, the treats you grew up loving — only done way better here.
These aren’t fussy, chef-y plated desserts with an overload of flourishes that just make your head spin. Nope, these are thoroughly do-able, designed for a home-cook to make in a home kitchen and to enjoy with friends and family at home.
Where to start with the 100-plus recipes? “Glossy Fudge Brownies” (with that coveted crinkly papery crust)? “Red (Wine) Velvet Cake” (colored by Cabernet Sauvignon and raw cocoa powder)? “HomeMade Pop-Tarts” (with homemade colored sprinkles, no less)? With most of the recipes, Parks also suggests easy ways to riff on the original recipe. Oftentimes, she also includes directions for turning the recipe gluten-free.
I was drawn to “Triple-Oatmeal Cookies” because it indeed incorporates oatmeal in three ways: oat flour, old-fashioned rolled oats, and steel-cut oats.
It’s also loaded with toasted pecans and sweet-tart dried cranberries, making it an ideal Christmas-time cookie.
As Parks notes, the rolled oats give the cookies the heartiness of a granola bar, the steel-cut oats lend a toothsome-chew, and the oat flour ensures a tender crumb.
These cookies bake up with crisp edges and soft interiors. You get a pop of crunch here and there from the nuts and the steel-cut oats. They are especially homey tasting, the kind of cookies you want to curl up with alongside a glass of milk or cup of hot chocolate.
Dare I say they’d even be quite the treat for breakfast? After all, there is a lot of oatmeal in them. And in my book, that darn well qualifies as a way to start the morning — especially during the holidays.
Triple Oatmeal Cookies
(Makes 32 three-inch cookies)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour such as Gold Medal
3/4 cup oat flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills
1 2/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
1/4 cup steel-cut or Irish oats
1 1/4 cups pecan pieces, toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
2 sticks unsalted butter, soft but cool — about 65 degrees
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (half as much if iodized), plus more for sprinkling (optional)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, straight from the fridge
Adjust the oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Sift flour into a medium bowl (if using cup measures, spoon into the cups and level with a knife before sifting). Add oat flour, rolled oats, steel-cut oats, toasted nuts, and dried fruit. (Stored in an airtight container, this mix will keep for 2 months at room temperature.)
Combine butter, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to moisten, then increase to medium and beat for about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, crack in the egg and continue beating until smooth. Reduce speed to low, add the dry ingredients, and mix to form a stiff dough.
Arrange thirty-two 1-ounce (2 tablespoon)portions of dough on parchment-lined aluminum baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. Flatten into 1/2-inch discs; if you like, sprinkle each with a pinch of a salt. Bake until puffed and light gold around the edges but pale and steamy in the middle, about 12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet until set, about 5 minutes.
Enjoy warm, or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.
Make Ahead: Divide the portioned dough among several heavy-duty zip-top bags and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months. Let stand at room temperature until quite soft (about 70 degrees) and bake as directed.
Gluten-Free: Replace the all-purpose flour with 2 ounces (1/2 cup) tapioca or arrowroot and 2 ounces (1/2 cup) coconut flour. Prepare the dough as directed, but flatten each portion into a disc prior to baking.
From “BraveTart” by Stella Parks
More Oatmeal-Related Recipes to Try: Minute-Oatmeal Puffs with Anise and Grapes