A Great Grown-up Cookie

Whole Wheat Cookies with Currants
This healthy little cookie is such a nice package: nuts, cocoa nibs, and currants (think, sweet like a raisin but not nearly as big, so not quite so much chew). I loved that it works so well with whole wheat. It’s just such a nice afternoon snack, both for me and the kids. Definitely one you could have on hand all the time, especially because it keeps well in an airtight container for up to two weeks. You could also swap out the nuts and fruits for other favorites, but Alice Medrich imagined it well how it is. This recipe comes from her book , which I love.

Whole Wheat Hazelnut Cookies with Currants and Cacao Nibs

1 c. (5 oz.) whole hazelnuts
1 c. (4 oz.) white-whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
1 c. (4.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 sticks (14 T.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar plus 1 T.
3/8 t. coarse or fleur de sel salt
1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. roasted cacao nibs
2/3 (scant) c. currants

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until they smell toasty and are golden brown in the middle when you cut one in half. Once cool enough to touch, rub the nuts together to remove as much of their skins as possible (using a towel, if you want). Chop the nuts medium to small.

Combine the flours in a medium bowl and mix with a fork. With a mixer or a strong wooden spoon, beat the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth but not fluffy. Mix in the nibs and nuts. Add the flours and mix until just incorporated. Finally, mix in the currants. Scrape the dough into a mass and knead it with your hands a few times to make sure the flour’s incorporated evenly. Form the dough into a 12 x 2-inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into slices 1/4-inch thick. Place cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

Whole Wheat by Lucy

This is the picture my daughter Lucie drew for the cookie. Love it!

Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before moving them onto a wire rack where they should cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Bun

I know it’s past Easter, but I’m sure I’ll forget which recipe I liked so much if I wait until next year to think about these great rolls we made this year. Plus, I need to share this with a few friends! This bake was inspired by an early morning lament of my good friend that Easter just wasn’t right without Hot Cross Buns. I wholeheartedly agreed, having never had one before, but seeing them many times in some of my favorite Italian bakeries in Rhode Island.  Besides, I love the idea of metaphor and meaning in our food, especially around holy times of the year. Well, at least metaphors that my husband and I can enjoy. This is a great recipe from King Arthur Flour, although I did change things just a little. Can’t wait to bring them out of the oven again next year!

Hot Cross Buns

  • 1/4 c. apple juice
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins
  • 1/4 c. dried currants
  • 1/4 c. candied orange peel (or another 1/4 c. currants or other dried fruit)
  • 1 1/4 c. milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, 1 separated
  • 6 T. butter, room temperature
  • 2 t. instant yeast
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 4 1/2 c.  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

topping

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 T. milk

icing [Instead, I used Cream Cheese frosting. Perfect!]

  • 1 c. + 2 T. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 t. milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing

Lightly grease a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.

Mix the apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to “shrink wrap” itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Note: If you worry about using plastic wrap in your microwave, simply cover the bowl with a glass lid.

When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, till the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.

Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.

Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You’ll make 12 to 14 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.

Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.

Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.