Revisiting Trail Mix Cookies

Two great friends came to stay with us last weekend from Chicagoland for a wedding. They decided to extend their weekend trip a bit and take advantage of the great camping opportunities on the Skyline Drive. With the camping in mind, I decided to make Trail Mix Cookies.


But I wanted to improve on my previous recipe. Those cookies had an awful lot going on… much like Everything Cookies. I wanted to tone it down a bit, so I replaced the peanut butter chips and white chocolate chips with additional semi-sweet chocolate chips. This allowed a little more enjoyment of the dried cranberries, almonds and golden raisins with a hint of chocolate.


Please do read my previous post for some information on agave syrup, what I used in place of sugar. It’s a more natural sweetener, especially good for diabetics. It also makes the cookies soft – you won’t get a crunch using agave.


What will throw you off the most about working with agave is that you’ll think you messed up when combining ingredients. Agave doesn’t blend very well at first with the butter and it seems to separate a lot… but when you add in the dry mixture you’ll see that everything is fine. Just have a little faith!


New & Improved Agave Trail Mix Cookies

3/4 cup Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola with Omega-3
3/4 cup trail mix (a mix of dried cranberries, almonds and golden raisins. I also threw in some sunflower seeds for fun.)
1/2 cup oats (regular, not instant)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded coconut
7 ounces (slightly more than 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine granola, trail mix, oats, semi-sweet, white and peanut butter chips, and coconut. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.

Beat room temperature butter until smooth. Add agave syrup, vanilla and egg. Beat well (don’t get discouraged when it looks clumpy and like it isn’t holding together… that’s normal!). Fold in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then fold in granola, oats, trail mix, chips and coconut.

Use a tablespoon to scoop large balls of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place balls approximately 2 inches apart. Bake approximately 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely (these cookies cooled surprisingly fast). Store in an air-tight container.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Dessert for Breakfast – Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Ice Cream

Hello, hello! If you were on the east coast this weekend, then you enjoyed some incredibly gorgeous and mild weather. I was in Richmond celebrating some birthdays, and it was a little disconcerting to experience almost 80 degree weather in the same city that saw 11 inches of snow earlier in the week.

Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Ice Cream

In any event, the return of the sun made me crave a cool and creamy treat – nothing that a little dessert for breakfast couldn’t fix!

I absolutely love maple & brown sugar oatmeal, and I don’t think I’m alone. I remember in college when I was an RA I set up a snack station in the study lounge during exam week; the maple & brown sugar oatmeal all disappeared over night.

Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Ice Cream

So it occurred to me to try making Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Ice Cream, inspired by my favorite ice cream recipe book, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks, And More by Bruce Weinstein. You will need an ice cream machine for this recipe. You can actually buy some fairly decent yet inexpensive ones these days; I own a Deni that is probably 6 or 7 years old at this point.

It does have a bit of a chewy consistency because of the oatmeal. If you’d like it to be less noticeable then you can use Quick Quaker Oats (not instant) instead of Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats. To get that maple taste I used pure maple syrup, feel free to use your favorite brand. It’s just enough to add sweetness, without being overpowering.

Also, because I try to lighten the fat content of things wherever possible, I used light cream instead of heavy cream. Most great custard recipes call for heavy cream, and if you’re making this ice cream for guests or to impress then you’ll probably just want to use heavy cream as well. Every time I use light cream it just doesn’t freeze as well in the ice cream machine, and I wind up having to freeze it overnight in a separate container so that it’s not soupy. I don’t mind doing this but it can be a hassle, and of course it delays the immediate gratification of enjoying the ice cream right out of the machine.* Good luck!

Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Ice Cream

Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Ice Cream
inspired by Bruce Weinstein

3/4 cup brown sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups roll oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups light cream*
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

In a medium bowl, beat sugar and egg yolks until thickened. Set aside.

Bring the milk to a low boil in a medium saucepan. Add oats, salt and cinnamon. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring continuously until the oatmeal is thick and creamy (if you taste it at this point you’ll think it’s too salty… but don’t worry, it all comes together). Slowly beat the hot oatmeal into the eggs and sugar (this will kill any harmful bacteria present in the eggs). All the mixture to cool slightly, then stir in the cream. Cover and chill or refrigerate overnight.

Once chilled, stir the mixture into your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished, the ice cream will still be very soft. Transfer to a freezer-safe container (I usually use corningware or a covered glass bowl) and freeze overnight. Before serving, let it sit out for three minutes so that it’s easier to spoon the ice cream into your favorite bowl.

*Update: Hello, everyone. I received a few questions about light cream versus heavy cream. As you might guess, heavy cream has a higher butterfat content than light cream. This higher fat content lends itself to thickening and increasing in volume. Heavy cream can also hold its form a little better for pastries or cheesecakes. Substituting light cream for heavy cream in something like cheesecake will probably not work out well. I noted above that substituting light cream for heavy, as I did in this recipe, really doesn’t work well in ice cream machines and so you need to do extra freezing to harden the ice cream. If you choose to use light cream, make sure you plan ahead to allow plenty of time for freezing.

It occured to me recently as I was preparing for the day that I was on my 6th straight box of cereal without having an alternative for breakfast. (unless you count sleeping through breakfast) This was a problem. Variety is the spice of life and provides some welcome balance. Plus, cereal was beginning to get really old. Enter steel cut oats.

The Cauldron Boils.... Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are the super heroes of the oatmeal family. Everyone knows oatmeal is good for you, being high in fiber and proven to help lower cholesterol; but steel cut oats are also whole grain and have a lower glycemic index to boot. Steel cut oats are from the inner part of the oat kernel (known as the groat) that have have been chopped into smaller pieces. Your classic rolled oats is the groat that’s been steamed, rolled and flaked. Quick cooking oats are the same as rolled oats except chopped.

Steel cut oats offer a nuttier flavor and have a chewier texture than rolled oats. Rolled oats sometimes can resemble a paste or porridge. Steel cut oats are thicker. Creamier. The only down side is the time it takes to cook. Because it’s less processed you’re looking at approximately 30 minutes to cook. I think it’s well worth the effort. Give this recipe a shot or any variation that you apply to your regular oatmeal. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Steel Cut Oats with Apple and Coconut

Steel Cut Oats with Apple and Coconut
Adapted from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
If you like your apples crisp like me, then add them at when serving. Otherwise, add with the oats and coconut.
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 large apple; chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (if you can only find sweetened, opt out on the sugar)

Put the water, cinnamon stick, salt and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the oats and coconut (and potentially the apple); simmering for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with milk, ground cinnamon and additional sugar to taste.