Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies

As I was making the Fretwell soup tonight, I felt compelled to make oatmeal raisin cookies.  And as with brownies, Martha Stewart's recipe is the only one I need.

Small change of plan, however: my raisins looked weird. Honestly I couldn't tell you how old they are but they looked really dried out and withered, congealed in a sticky, solid mass inside the container. Yuck. What else could I use? 


Ah, of course, my usual three and a half bags of Trader Joe's dried Montmorency cherries in the pantry.  I love these things. I've always loved sour cherries: every year my Mom would pick, pit and freeze gallons of them to make pies. I would take a bowlful out of the freezer for a snack and eat them while reading. I consumed a lot of fruit and books in my youth, you can ask her about that sometime. 

Anyway, the dried variety at Trader Joe's was a spectacular discovery. Their sourness got me through being pregnant with Redman. They still help ward off carsickness on long trips and they are awesome with salted almonds while reading in bed. 

Now, what cozies up so nicely with cherries? Why chocolate, of course, and I happened to have exactly 1/2 cup of Hershey's dark chocolate chips in the freezer, leftover from Christmas baking. Thus is born...

Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (yes, that's what she said)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or a whole tsp if you're not paying attention, ahem)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (I found half butter, half coconut oil in solid state to be terrific)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (I made them scant cups because I was using chocolate)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins OR 1 cup dried cherries and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  Or any 1 1/2 cups of fruit-nut-chocolate combo as you see fit.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, wheat germ, chia, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and mix. Add vanilla. Turn speed to low and add dry ingredients. Then add fruit and chocolate.

Drop rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets. Bake 14 minutes, rotating trays halfway. Cookies will be brown on the edges but look slightly underdone on the tops. This is fine, they will collapse down and be lovely and chewy. Cool on wire racks. Get a big glass of milk and let 'er rip.

Chocolate Pear Pudding

In the world of fruit, pears are a cook’s greatest ally.
— Laurie Colwin

I bought too many pears. They were on sale, a big bag of Bartletts and in the time it took for them to ripen, everyone lost interest. Suddenly I had a bowl full of ripe pears and no takers. I needed to make something with all of them. Could I?

Why not?

Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking has an entire chapter devoted to pears, expounding on pears alone with cheese, poached pears, pear crisp and pear chutney. She writes of a recipe from Josceline Dimbleby's Book of Puddings, Desserts and Savouries for chocolate pear pudding. This sounded interesting. In the context of dessert, I usually associate pears with a spice or ginger cake, not with chocolate. But why not both? In the spirit of the chocolate ginger banana bread from A Homemade Life, could I make this a chocolate ginger pear pudding?

Why not?

Why Not Chocolate Ginger Pear Pudding

Original recipe is for a 8x8 cake pan. I doubled it for my supply of pears and my 9x13 baking dish.

  • 2 pounds pears, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized or candied ginger (chop fine—you want hints of ginger here and there, and not big chunks to bite into)
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter: the 1/2 stick cut into small pieces, and the full stick melted for the batter
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 generous tablespoons cocoa powder (stern look, and you are using the Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder, yes?)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp Lyle's Golden Syrup (which I actually used to have a bottle of, during Christmas cookie season, but not at the moment. So I used 3 tbsp molasses)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 baking dish, or spray with Pam. Spread the pears over the bottom of the dish, sprinkle the ginger bits on top, and then dot with the 4 tablespoons cut-up butter.

In a mixing bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa. Add the brown sugar to the bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the milk, eggs, syrup or molasses and begin to whisk. Gradually add melted butter, continue whisking until all dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter. There will be lumps.

Pour batter over the pears. It helps to dollop it here and there and then spread carefully with a silicone spatula. Don't fret if there doesn't seem enough or if it's not perfectly covering all the fruit. It'll be fine.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool, and serve alone or with ice cream.

This was a very interesting dessert. The top was very cake-like, but then underneath the texture was very much like pudding. And a scoop of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey with this cake was awesome.

We Make Quite a Pear

Poached pears are yet another thing I've had in the back of my mind to try but never got around to trying. Until tonight. By virtue of me slowly working my way through a stack of old Everyday Food issues I found in the basement, and putting post-its on the pages with things to try, and seeing Bosc pears in the store today and taking it as a sign.

And of course, having a willing sous-chef who loves pears, and who owes you big time for eating all your celery-radish slaw before you could get it on camera.

This recipe uses 1 dish (microwave-safe 2-qt dish with a cover), has 4 ingredients and takes 10 minutes. Watch.

Poached Pears with Vanilla Cream Sauce

  • 4 firm, ripe Bosc Pears
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup vanilla ice cream

Peel the pears. Slice the bottom so the pear will stand on end, and with a melon baller or sharp knife, core the pear from the bottom side.

Scatter the butter in the bottom of the dish. Scatter sugar on top. Stand the pears up on top of the butter and sugar.

Cover. Microwave 10-12 minutes. Carefully uncover as dish will release steam.

Transfer each pear to a small bowl or saucer, leaving juices in dish. Add ice cream to juices and stir until melted.

Evenly spoon sauce onto each pear.