By Emily Paster
After I spent all last week wanting to eat my Glazed Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies for breakfast, it occurred to me: why not eat cookies for breakfast? I brought up the idea of a breakfast cookie to my friend Chef Druck, who informed me that in France, where she grew up, the breakfast cookie is a veritable phenomenon. The French actually call it "un cookie," in a delightful example of Franglais. (The proper French word for cookie is un petit biscuit, which is a mouthful to say the least.) I believe breakfast cookies are catching on here as well. After all, who doesn't need a quick and portable, yet healthy — no microwave "breakfast sandwiches" filled with sodium and chemicals, please — breakfast food?
As I researched breakfast cookies recipes, of which there are plenty, I noticed that most if not all the recipes I found contained nuts or peanuts. Now, I certainly understand why this might be the case. Nuts and peanuts are both excellent sources of protein and other nutrients as well. But these days, so many families, like mine, have a child with a nut or a peanut allergy, which renders these recipes useless. Even those families who are allergy-free may well send their kids to a school with a no-nut or no-peanut policy, which means that they cannot send a breakfast cookie containing these ingredients to school as part of a snack or lunch. Thus, I think there is room in the pantheon of breakfast cookies for a nut and peanut-free variety.
As a self-respecting mother of two, I knew that my breakfast cookie had to be nutritious and filling. But as a baker, I wanted my cookies to be delicious and eye-catching. I have endeavored to satisfy both of these requirements with this recipe. The maple syrup glaze may tip these cookies over the line from healthy to indulgent. But I stand by the addition. Each cookie has only a little of the glaze and it both adds to the cookie's curb appeal and makes it moister.
One of the things I did to pump up the nutritional value of my breakfast cookie, besides using whole wheat flour, is to add Kretschmer Wheat Germ. Wheat germ is part of the kernel of the wheat plant — the most nutrient-dense part in fact. It is typically removed in processing because the healthy oils in the wheat germ can go rancid quite quickly. (What that means for you is that when you buy wheat germ, store it in the fridge.) Wheat germ is rich in protein, fiber, iron and vitamin B and is low in sugar and calories. That's a lot of nutritional bang for your buck. You can easily sneak wheat germ into baked goods without anyone really noticing. I use it frequently when I bake bread in my bread machine. If you don't want to be a sneak about it, you can sprinkle wheat germ in your yogurt, use it in homemade granola or even use it as a crunchy coating for chicken or fish. It adds a nice crunch in addition to all those nutrients. If you want to try wheat germ for yourself, look for it in the cereal aisle of your supermarket – you will find yourself wanting to sprinkle it into everything.
To achieve a slightly nutty taste and texture in my breakfast cookies without the nuts, I added pepitas — green pumpkin seeds. These too are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in protein, vitamin B, beta carotene and minerals like calcium, potassium, niacin and phosphorous. The dried cranberries add sweetness and a pop of color. All in all, I think the combination of ingredients in these breakfast cookies will please everyone in your family. JR actually ate a whole cookie, which astonished me. Then my visiting cousin put away two of them as an afternoon snack. I think that is pretty reliable evidence of their deliciousness.
Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies with Pepitas and Dried Cranberries
Makes approximately 27 cookies
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 TB wheat germ
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 TB vanilla extract
Zest of one orange
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 TB orange juice
Preheat oven to 350. Line three baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, the baking soda, the salt, the cinnamon and the wheat germ. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, the vanilla extract and the orange zest and combine well. Gradually add the flour mixture and combine thoroughly, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in the rolled oats, the dried cranberries and the pepitas. With damp hands, scoop ping-pong ball sized balls of dough onto the cookie sheets. You should get about nine cookies to a sheet. Flatten the balls gently with a spatula or your hand. Bake 15017 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool on a wire rack.
While the cookies are cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together sifted powdered sugar, maple syrup and orange juice. Drizzle the glaze on cooled cookies. Allow the glaze to harden before storing cookies.