Sunday, July 28, 2013

Whole Wheat Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini. The reality of zucchini season is even more true this week than it was last week, and as a result I've got many a recipe to share. This time I'm going for sweet instead of savory, because when you've got as much zucchini as I do, you've got to make a real effort to mix it up and avoid zucchini burnout.

When it comes to sweet treats, zucchini bread or zucchini cake is probably the first thought for most people, but I wanted to bake some healthy work week treats I could keep the freezer, opting instead for healthy cookies. Whole wheat pastry flour makes the best baked goods in my opinion, its light texture and subtle flavor the perfect partner for the hearty, tender oats used here. Rich and crunchy walnuts and sweet and chewy raisins each bring their own contrasting flavor and texture, the whole magical mixture kissed with lovely flecks of green zucchini. The only less-than-wholesome elements come in the form of maple syrup and butter, two ingredients that nearly guarantee happiness whenever they appear. Honey could be substituted for the maple syrup for a more economical option and applesauce used for part of the melted butter, but I love the complex sweetness and richness these ingredients add and wouldn't dream of swapping them out.

The temperatures and humidity of summer don't often lend themselves to baking, but storms darkened the skies the day I decided to bake, the fierce winds carrying the irresistible aroma of these cookies throughout the house. Our current reprieve from the dog days of summer is the ideal time to play Betty Crocker, so take the opportunity to get creative with the bounty of zucchini, be it the one you grew yourself or picked up at the farmers' market or roadside stand.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Hilltop Hanover Farm
makes about 20 cookies

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts, optional
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil a cookie sheet.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Stir in the nuts, raisins, and zucchini.

3. In a bowl, whip together the maple syrup, oil or butter, and vanilla.

4. Stir liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until well blended.

5. Using a two tablespoon ice cream scoop (or rounded tablespoons), drop onto the prepared cookie sheet, flattening slightly.

6. Bake until golden brown, 11-13 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Makes about 20 cookies.

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