By Emily Paster
Back in March when I attended the Good Food Festival, I met some folks from Hazzard Free Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown farm near Rockford, Illinois. Hazzard Free Farm grows heirloom grains, like blue and red cornmeal, barley, wheat and oats, and sells them to many of Chicago's best restaurants. Recently, with help from a grant from Rick Bayless's Frontera Farmer Foundation, Hazzard Free Farm was able to acquire the equipment needed to make rolled oats, in addition to polenta and wheat flour that they made already. I could tell from first glance that the Hazzard Free Farm's rolled oats were no ordinary oats. These rolled oats were fluffier and fresher than any I had seen. In a stunning turn of events, I bought a two-pound bag as an experiment.
As instructed, when I got home I immediately placed my rolled oats in the freezer. (I store all my whole grains in the freezer, people.) And that's where they have remained for the past six weeks. I just couldn't think of a way to use my $5 bag of rolled oats that was, well, special enough. Then a few days ago, I got an email from Saveur entitled One Ingredient, Many Ways: Oats. It was kismet. Here were a dozen ways to use my heirloom rolled oats that would allow the ingredient to shine.
Naturally, while the article had all kinds of healthy ways to use rolled oats, like Pistachio Coconut Olive Oil Granola, I went right for the cookies. Glazed Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies, that is. With rolled oats and dried cranberries, this recipe will almost convince you that it is healthy. You could even contemplate eating these cookies for breakfast. ("Oats! Dried fruit! It's got to be healthier than Starbucks oatmeal.") But the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon glaze tell the real story. This a chewy, nutty, toothsome cookies that will please kid and adult palates alike. With a glass of milk, you have one heck of a afternoon snack.
I made very few tweaks to this recipe. I replaced the original lemon zest with orange zest because dried cranberries and orange is a great combination, in my opinion. I also added a drizzle of maple syrup to the glaze because, well, I shouldn't really have to explain that, right? It's maple syrup glaze on an oatmeal cookie. But there is no need to play around too much with a recipe this good.
I promise you that this is an easy and straightforward cookie recipe that you can make as an after-school or rainy day project with or without your kids. And any old rolled oats will do fine. But if you happen to have $5 heirloom rolled oats, then you are really in luck.
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of one orange
1 ½ cups rolled oats
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 TB milk
Drizzle of maple syrup (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and 1 tsp of the cinnamon. Set aside. In the bowl of standing mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the egg, orange zest and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Gently incorporate the rolled oats and dried cranberries and stir until thoroughly combined.
Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and with slightly moistened hands, roll them into balls. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Flatten balls gently with your hands. Your should get about 2 dozen cookies. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden-brown. Cool on a rack.
While cookies are cooling, whisk together milk, confectioners' sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon until a thick glaze forms. Add a splash of maple syrup if you are so inclined. With a spoon or your whisk, drizzle the glaze over the cookies in a zigzag pattern. (Place a board or wax paper under the rack containing the cookies for easier clean-up.) Allow glaze to harden before serving or storing.