Friday, February 13, 2015

Oatmeal Almond & Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I’m a huge fan of San Francisco pastry chef, Emily Luchetti.  Her recipes are meticulous and trustworthy and the results are always delicious.  I still remember an almond cake with quince I enjoyed at one of her venues many years ago.  It was absolutely fabulous.  I love her celebration of seasonal ingredients and sense of balance when it comes to fat and sugar levels. 

Last summer, Emily launched #dessertworthy, a project intended to start a conversation about our sugar consumption and our health with an emphasis on making sure that when we choose to consume pastries and desserts, we select only the very best examples that ensure an incredible taste experience, one that is worthy of our calorie intake.  It may seem odd to see a pastry chef talk about calories but it’s really what most of the people I know in the profession are really invested in as we become more aware of how important it is to develop a lifestyle that includes a balanced diet full of vegetables and fruit, whole grains and lean protein.  So it's really just about mindfulness.  Emily writes:

“It might seem counterintuitive for me, a pastry chef, to start this conversation but if not me then who? We need to change the way Americans are consuming dessert. This isn’t about forcing people to eat “healthy” desserts. It’s a movement to get people to reduce the amount of sugar and fat they consume and recognize which desserts are worth enjoying, which ones aren’t and when. Considering the amount of food those of us in the food business are surrounded by every day we eat pretty healthily. If we can do it the public can do it too.”

In my own work, I’ve always strived to emphasize flavor and keep the fat and sugar content just at the level where they provide sumptuous texture without masking other ingredients.  It’s something I learned from some of the pastry chefs I worked with and for whom I hold the highest regard.  I thought of Emily’s project a few days ago when I saw a recipe for pound cake that looked delicious but called for 12 oz of butter, 8 oz of cream cheese, 3 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 6 eggs, among other things.  Honestly, I can’t even fathom that.  So Emily’s project resonates with me.  You can follow her on twitterInstagram and Facebook. 

This Oatmeal Almond & Chocolate Sandwich Cookie is a combination of some very basic ingredients that I think are in good proportion.  The oatmeal and almonds are ground with a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour.  It’s sandwiched with a dab of good dark chocolate.  And it’s constructed for maximum pleasure, so please do enjoy every bite!

Bench notes:
- I use old-fashioned oats in this recipe.
- I prefer sliced almonds rather than whole because they seem to grind finer in a food processor.
- I’m kind of a freak about chilling cookie dough.  It helps cookies hold their shape during baking. 
- If you prefer, roll the dough into logs.  Chill thoroughly or freeze.  Slice about 1/4” thick and bake.
- Add a slight pinch of good salt to the surface before baking if you enjoy a salty cookie.
- I like bittersweet chocolate with this cookie but you can use semisweet or a combination of both.
- Alternatively, fill the cookies with a small dab of your favorite jam.
- Best "something different" cheesecake ever, Emily Luchetti's Goat Cheese Cake.

Oatmeal Almond & Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 20 sandwich cookies                    

1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour                   
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) whole wheat flour
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) oatmeal
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) sliced almonds
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

6 oz bittersweet chocolate                                    
3 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

Place both flours, oatmeal, almonds, both sugars and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the oatmeal and nuts are finely ground.

Cut the cold butter into small 1/2" cubes and add to the flour and nut mixture.  Process until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  Combine the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and add.  Process until the dough starts to form larger clumps around the center of the machine and holds together when pinched.

Divide the dough in half and place each portion on a piece of plastic wrap.  Put another piece of plastic wrap over the top of each portion of dough and flatten into discs.  Using a rolling pin, roll out each disc of dough between the two sheets of plastic wrap to about a 3/8” thickness.  Slide onto a baking sheet and chill thoroughly.

When the dough is thoroughly chilled, peel off the plastic wrap from both sides and cut out cookies using a 2 1/2" cookie cutter.  Gently re-roll scraps for additional cookies.  Chill while the oven heats up.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

Place 12 cookies per baking sheet.   Bake until just lightly browned around the edges, about 10 - 12 minutes, rotating the baking pans halfway through to ensure even baking.  Place the pans on a wire rack to cool completely.

Chop the chocolate into very small pieces. Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pot with an inch or two of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes or so.

Spread a dollop of chocolate on the underside of half the cookies.  Top with remaining halves.  


SallyBR said...

Now, those are considerations that I find very important, and a real voice of reason

I get a bit tired of two currents more or less head to head: you deprive yourself of everything in the name of "healthy living", or you decide that gastronomic pleasure should rule your life.

neither makes sense.

Love this post, and of course, any cookie with oatmeal has my full attention!

Happy Valentine's Day, hope you are headed to a great weekend!

La Table De Nana said...

Oh I am sure I would enjoy these.Thank you.

pastry studio said...

SallyBR, thank you. I think it can sometimes be difficult to strike a good balance between self-consciousness about everything we consume and pure enjoyment but it's certainly worth pursuing. It's important to balance our needs and desires but it needn't be so torturous. I'm really grateful I have access to amazing fresh and healthy food of all sorts.

Happy Valentine's Day to you as well!

La Table De Nana, I hope you do enjoy these cookies. They're simple but delicious.