Monday, April 16, 2007

Mondays with Maida - Chocolate Oatmeal Crispies

Page 214 in the old book / page 240 in the new book

Light and crunchy with lots of texture from rolled oats and coconut and a deep dark chocolate flavor - can't complain about that! I expect these cookies would keep very well and despite the fact that they shatter into tasty bits in your mouth, they seem relatively sturdy too. Definitely one to remember next time you're thinking about mailing cookies to someone special.

For some reason lately I've been in a dither over what kind of coconut to use. In years past I've always relied upon either Baker's or the store brand of shredded coconut and never thought twice about it. But these days I do most of my shopping at Whole Foods and neither type is available there. That together with my sense that the product I've always used has been getting sweeter and stickier over the years has led me to seek out an alternative. I'm confused about the kinds of coconut too and suspect there are some alternatives that either are not available to me or I haven't stumbled upon yet. For these cookies I used Bob's Red Mill Medium Shredded Coconut, which is a dried, unsweetened coconut. I rehydrated it in warm water, then put it in a paper towel and blotted out the excess moisture, and then measured it. I've also used frozen (the one I was able to find was sweetened, but presumably less so than Baker's), and I've used the "coconut powder" available in Indian grocery stores, but can't remember for what. I'd be curious to hear what types of coconut you use and any tips you may have about swapping one kind for another.

OK, back to the cookies. They use semisweet chocolate, which give them a surprisingly dark color and taste. They're very easy to mix and shaping is just like a peanut butter cookie: roll a blob of dough into a ball and then press a fork in two directions to flatten the cookie slightly. They spread during baking, so though they're shaped like peanut butter cookies, they don't look like them.

Here's the panel...

Laura: "Tasty, crunchy, and deliciously chocolaty. A little bit drier than I like my oatmeal cookies to be... but still very yummy! Rating - 3.5"

Denny: "Very good. Crunchy and chocolaty with lots of texture. Better than you'd think just by looking at the name. Rating - 4.0"

Drucie: "You can't go wrong with chocolate! These cookies were nice and crispy. The oatmeal and the coconut gave the cookie a nice texture. And best of all - no nuts in these cookies! Rating - 4.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.0

Next week - Chocolate and Peanut-Butter Crescents

Nutrition Facts


Leigh said...

Ah, good old Bob's Red Mill. I love their wheat gluten. I didn't know they had unsweetened dried coconut. Also, good tip about rehydrating it, I wouldn't have thought to do that (and then would have grumbled 'cuz the coconut was too hard.)

Anonymous said...

I've always used Baker's flaked coconut at home but at work we also had a dessicated, grated coconut for our macaroons (with not much flavor at all). I always added coconut extract in conjunction with it.

Nevertheless, even before reading what the panel had to say, I knew they would agree with one thing...the chocolate!

Niki said...

In Australia we have dessicated coconut and shredded coconut, which we use in baking and decorating. It's always unsweetened and we don't rehydrate it. The classic Aussie lamington is covered in dessicated coconut!

Cathy said...

Hi Leigh! I like to browse the shelf with all the Bob's Red Mill products - so many interesting ingredients! I've hardly tried any of them, but like knowing they're there!

Hi Rowena! Adding coconut extract is a great idea - I have some I bought for some recipe a while back and haven't used it since. I have to say, the fact that you use the Baker's is quite an endorsement, what with you being Hawaiian and being a baker! I may have to reconsider :)

Hi Niki! OK, now you've got me curious about lamingtons!

Anonymous said...

I usually only use unsweetened coconut when the recipe calls for it, and I hadn't thought to rehydrate it, but it does seem a lot drier than the sweetened kind. The main thing I make with it, though, is coconut macaroons and they actually have a combo of both dried and sweetened. As far as sweetened...I don't have a preferred brand...can't even remember what's in the cupboard right now. These cookies look great! I think I would like them better chewy, though...would it be possible to make them more chewy by cooking less or something...or would it just be better to find a different recipe?

Cathy said...

Hi Alice! You know, I had hoped that by working my way through this book I would get a better sense of what does what in a cookie recipe, but I have yet to fully understand what leads to a crispy or a chewy cookie. I don't think a shorter baking time would do the trick with this recipe, since they crisp as they cool. I suppose you could try replacing some of the sugar with honey or corn syrup, but your best bet is probably to look for a different recipe.

Anonymous said...

Cathy- I love your blog! I buy coconut in frozen 1# bags at our local asian market. It is very wet, so I dry it in a moderate oven on a cookie sheet.
I turn it and mix it up every 5 minutes until it is the texture I need it to be for whatever recipe I am making. It has the best flavor of any coconut product I have tried. I have often subbed it for sweetened coconut in many recipes and I have not been disappointed.

Cathy said...

Hi Cindy! Thanks and thank you for a great tip! I just bought a pound of frozen from the Indian grocery store, so I'll definitely try drying it in the oven as you suggest. I was happy to find that the coconut I just bought is not sweetened at all