Honey Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Raisin Cookies

Honey Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Raisin Cookies and Milk
Some days there is no better idea than to rise with the sun and start a batch of cookies almost immediately.  Today was one of those days.  I was up at 4:45 and raring to go, with a quiet house and an idea:   Honey Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Raisin Cookies.

Now I won't deny that I may have had one of those cookies somewhere around breakfast time, but before you judge, stand back a little and consider that these have nearly all of the components of your morning granola, only I've swapped the nuts for chocolate and the olive oil for butter.  I replaced all of the sugar with honey purchased locally and now I am anticipating dipping one of those gorgeous cookies into a glass of milk, because that's just how things ought to be done, for the kid within us.

Chocolate Chunks.  Red, Yellow, Black Raisins.  Oatmeal.  Honey.  Oh my.
When I was a kid, we'd buy peanut butter in gallon-sized jars.  The jars, once empty, were perfect for storing an admirable quantity of cookies - usually chocolate chip.  I never liked raisins when I was young, and in that way I've not really grown up as I'd still generally prefer to skip them.   So though I liked the flavor of oatmeal cookies, I always felt compelled to pick out the raisins, which kind ruined the cookie, so they weren't the ones I reached for.

And then one fine day at a cafe somewhere in Europe, there were Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chunks and Raisins.  They looked delicious:  crisp around the edges, soft in the middle.  When I bit into one the chocolate sort of oozed into my mouth and then there was the chewy texture of the oatmeal and the raisin that had me grinning in gleeful surprise.
Maybe I'm thinking of cookies.  I'm definitely happy to be outside in the sun!
I've been itching to remake them ever since, but somehow years have gone by, and it wasn't until I bought a jar of local honey this weekend during a Slow Food field trip to Kristinestad, Finland that they came to my mind again.

One of the two churches in this town of 7000 people
Kristinestad is a long haul from Helsinki - we rode a train for 3.5 hours to Seinäjoki, through the frozen, sunlit countryside, and then hopped in a taxi for a slightly bumpy 1.5 hour ride.  The honey was a surprise purchase from the taxi driver,  whose son & daughter-in-law are beekeepers.  We had plenty of time to discover this by the time we arrived in Kristenstad, a Swedish-speaking town formerly a shipping hub for transporting goods to and from Finland to places all over Europe, and now the supplier of most of Finland's potatoes.

House owned by a ship captain.  Ship captains were among the elite and most wealthy during the boom.
Since it is currently still cold and snowy all over the country, we didn't see many potatoes other than those that accompanied the dinner on the first night and lunch the following day.  I was hoping to meet producers in K-town - the people who actually grow the potatoes and crayfish, make the sausages & bread, etc, but unfortunately, not this time.  So I was extremely thrilled with my two jars of honey.

The town's beautiful old wooden buildings and quaint feel have been well preserved.
Back to the cookies.  I decided today was the day to create the recipe for them.  I've read a lot about using alternatives to white sugar and white flour when cooking and baking.  White flour is something that has been easy to replace - in this recipe I used whole-grain spelt flour.  Sugar, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery as I'm not always certain how a recipe will behave when a sugar alternative is used.  I had purchased two kinds of honey in Kristinestad:  one was the runny type and the other was the nearly solid form.  I decided to take the gamble that the latter would be a reasonable substitute for sugar, and to my great pleasure, the cookies turned out to be as delicious as hoped for.

These cookies will freeze well and I can imagine them as part of a phenomenal ice cream sandwich, with a reasonable sized slab of high-quality vanilla ice cream nestled between the layers.   Mmmmm.  Summer is coming.

Honey Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Raisin Cookies and Milk
But for now, I'm sticking with a glass of milk for dunking a few, and freezing the rest to eat over Easter weekend.   Seriously.  So good.  Maybe not really a replacement for my morning granola, but certainly coming with me on the next hike.


Honey Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Raisin Cookies

Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.

1.  Prepare the following items first in separate small bowls:
3.5 cups old fashioned oats / 7 dl Iso Kaura Hiutaleetä
1 cup / 2 dl mixed golden, red and black raisins, chopped
300 g / 12 oz milk chocolate bar, roughly chopped

2.  In a small bowl combine with a fork:
1 + 3/4 cup / 3.5 dl whole-grain spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl if you are using a hand mixer put:
16 oz (2 cups) / 230g butter, softened
1 cup / 2 dl firm honey

Beat the butter and honey together until well combined and the mixture looks light and fluffy.  Add:
2 eggs 
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat again until eggs and vanilla are fully incorporated.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time until the it is fully incorporated.  Pour in the raisins, chocolate and oats and mix with until just combined.  I usually remove the mixing bowl from the mixer at this point and mix by hand with a spatula.

Place spoonfuls of the dough onto a parchment covered baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread. Bake 9-12 minutes until crisp around the edges and soft in the middle.  Remove from oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes on the pan to firm up a bit.  Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Makes about 48 cookies.

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