Meeting Margaret Atwood + Oatmeal, Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

I have always wanted to meet Margaret Atwood.  Yesterday, my wonderful fiancé Jonathan made that possible!  He took me to her lecture at the University of Waterloo and I was in awe of how accomplished, well spoken, and wonderful she is in person.

When Jonathan and I first started to become close friends he was living in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.  I always joked with him how maybe walking down the street we might meet her (Ms. Atwood lives in the Annex).  In fact, “The Year of the Flood” was the first book that I lent to Jonathan.  He took great care of the book and returned it to me in perfect condition – so I knew he was a keeper.

Ms. Atwood gave her lecture yesterday as part of the 2012 Congress of the Humanities & Social Sciences, one of North America’s largest academic gatherings.  She outlined her history as an author starting out, but then moved forward to discuss how narrative is an innate human quality.  Then she explained how powerful narrative can be, and how in the digital age more people are self-publishing and writing.  Narrative of course can be political – the stories we tell our children and ourselves about power, empathy and justice have an impact.  Ms. Atwood truly is an advocate for a just society with transparent government – a society that cares about its fellow citizens.  The ability to think beyond ourselves – that is our strength as human beings.  Margaret Atwood is a phenomenal woman, who actively voices her opinions and works towards a better society.  For these reasons I admire her greatly.

When it came to looking for a recipe – I wanted to make something that was elegant, complex and delicious – just like Margaret Atwood’s writing.  The result was oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate cookies. There are many variations on oatmeal cookies, but these are truly a winner.  These cookies would also be wonderful with the Margaret Atwood blend coffee from Balzac’s.  Enjoy!


Oatmeal, Cranberry, White Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.

4.  Stir in eggs one at a time and vanilla extract.

5.  Add in flour mixture and mix until incorporated.

6.  Add in dried cranberries, white chocolate chips.

7.  Roll cookie dough into balls, about 2 tbsp per ball, and drop onto buttered cookie sheets.

8.  Bake 9 – 10 minutes until lightly golden.

9.  Cool several minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.  Store cookies in an airtight container.

10.  Enjoy!

Cranberry Blueberry Muffin Cookies

I have a baking addiction.  I saw the following recipe on Pinterest and had to try it out – the results were tasty.  In my defense, the portion sizes are smaller than a full muffin, so these muffin cookies are perhaps (a little) healthier – and they have fruit in them.

The texture of these cookies is light and fluffy like a muffin, but in cookie form.  Originally the blogger who wrote the recipe had a streusel topping for the cookies, but I have chosen to omit this step. Where the original recipe called for cottage cheese, I used a vanilla yogurt.  Jonathan was confused as to whether these were really just muffin tops, but I think these are distinct.

I am going up for lunch at my Grandma’s house today, so I will take a few for her.  I’m sure she will appreciate some homemade cookies.

Makes about 3 dozen 2 inch cookies.

Ingredients:

Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Muffin Cookie

  • 10 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 oz cranberries
  • 6 oz blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Instructions:

To make streusel

  1. Place flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add cold butter into bowl and using a pastry blender or a fork cut butter into dry mixture until it resembles small pellets. Set aside.

To make muffin cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat and heat until butter becomes brown and smells nutty. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Place granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and with a whisk stir until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the egg, once beaten add to the dry ingredients.  Add in the vanilla extract and yogurt and stir thoroughly.
  5. Mix in the melted butter.
  6. Fold in frozen blueberries and cranberries (dusted with a teaspoon of flour).
  7. With a small ice cream scoop or two small spoons form small cookie balls and place on baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.
  9. If you are going to make the streusel topping see instructions below.

*Drop two tablespoons on parchment lined bake sheet. Bake one tray at a time for 8 minutes. Remove cookie filled bake sheet and heavily sprinkle streusel on top of cookies and gently press onto cookie, about 1 tablespoon per cookie (don’t worry if it spills onto the bake sheet). Return baking sheet to oven and bake for another 4 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on bake sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Jonathan and I were at COBS Bread before Easter buying hot cross buns and I decided to buy a cranberry white chocolate chip scone.  The scone was very tasty and I held the flavour combination in the back of my head – and added it to my baking to-do list.  While I was at the grocery store yesterday, I thought I should pick up some cranberries and white chocolate chips to make a muffin version.

Usually my stomach is sensitive to cocoa and milk chocolate, however some brands of white chocolate don’t cause any stomach pain.  I did some reading on Wikipedia about why this might be and the answer seemed to be because white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids.  I am also very cautious about if nuts are processed in the same factory.  The Chipits brand doesn’t seem to aggravate any stomach sensitivity or allergies, so I used them for this recipe – hooray!

I love cranberry and the sweet and tart combination was definitely a winner.  I enjoy baking my own sweet treats and muffins are a splendid treat.  Making my own baked goods is really the only way to know they are allergy safe.  I made them in a mini version so that I can eat more of them and not gain ten pounds.    It probably wouldn’t be the best idea to eat these every day, but every once in a while they are great.  The mini muffins are rich and decadent, sweet and tart – simply yummy!

Some of these muffins are in the freezer for when I see Jonathan next.  I am sure he will enjoy them just as much as I do.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder

½ cup milk

¾ cup sour cream

¼ cup canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup frozen cranberries – dusted with 1 tsp of flour

¾ cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together in a large bowl the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add in the milk, sour cream, canola oil, eggs and vanilla extract.  Stir until thoroughly combined, but do not over stir.
  4. Dust the frozen cranberries with a teaspoon of flour and then fold them into the muffin batter.  Add in the white chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed.
  5. Grease the mini muffin pans with margarine or cooking spray.
  6. Fill the muffin batter ¾ of the way full.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes.  If you want regular sized muffins the cook time will be longer 20-25 minutes.
  8. This recipe makes 3 dozen mini muffins.
  9. Enjoy!

Scones


Scones

Jonathan and I made these scones and were delighted with the results.  Together we went to the Bulk Barn and selected dried red currants and dried mango infused cranberries.  The secret to delicious and slightly cake-like scones was the buttermilk!  Make sure to chop the butter with a knife into pea-sized pieces in the flour.  This was my attempt at The Joy of Baking recipe for Coffee House Scones.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in middle of oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently and form into a round that is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet and brush the tops of the scones with a little milk.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Makes 6-8 scones.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup organic sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

2/3 – 3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup – ¾ cup of dried fruit

YUM!