Some food, some drink.
Nutrition under cover of baked good: Zucchini Cranberry Walnut Breakfast Cookies.
I love a good donut as much as the next guy, but have you ever looked at the ingredients that go into most breakfast pastries and baked goods? A treat? Sure; but that jumbo lemon poppy seed muffin probably isn't something you want in a regular breakfast rotation. I'm looking to take breakfast back for the sake of my kids with the help of some garden-grown zucchini. Not only does this breakfast cookie recipe contain a full half pound of green vegetable, but it's also completely whole-grain and chock-full of cranberries and walnuts that will give my munchkins the right kind of energy to stick it out until lunch rolls around. I'll pretty much guarantee that your kids will eat these; but whether or not you tell your children what's actually in 'em is your own business.
It occurred to me that what with all the hub-bub I've been giving rhubarb and barbeque this summer in my posts, that my old friend zucchini's been sorely neglected. Fear not! I got just the thing to resolve that. One of my favorite resources for solid zucchini-based baked goods has a recipe for a cookie that's quite good; albeit a little pedestrian, and lacking a real direction. I'm not dissing anyone's baking here; I mean sure, you could bake a cookie and dump a little zucchini in there, but what's the point? I don't have time to bake for baking's sake; I need a recipe with purpose. I figured that if I upgraded an already decent recipe in the right places that It might make for a pretty good breakfast cookie; and with school having already started again for my oldest, I'll take all the help I can get in the morning to ensure my kids start their day in a way that's healthy for them and convenient for me.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
In the stand mixer, thoroughly mix sugar and oil on medium speed until combined. Add egg, vanilla, salt and spices and mix for 3 minutes more on medium speed until smooth and creamy, ensuring that the sugar is integrated, scraping the bowl as needed. Next, slow the mixer to stir, add baking soda, then flour and grated zucchini in small portions, alternating between the two. After the mix is integrated, stir in the walnuts and cranberries. Using a #50 disher (or a measured tablespoon) portion out onto a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan.
Bake at 375°F for 11-13 minutes, or until the top of the cookie browns completely. Let rest 5 minutes on the sheet pan before de-panning to a cooling rack.
- Again, I will sing the praises of hard white wheat flour. Where has this stuff been all my life? Whereas standard red wheat flour insists you not replace more than a third to "healthy-up" an a.p.-based recipe, you can easily go halfsies or more with the white stuff. Absolutely the best kind of flour for whole wheat baking, bar-none (and the folks at Stafford County Four Mills who make Hudson Cream Flour do it the best).
- If you can't be bothered to hunt down hard white whole wheat flour, you could probably go ahead and use that all-purpose flour combined with "standard" hard red whole wheat flour, but I don't think I'd swap out more than 2.5 oz (or about a half cup) of the whole wheat stuff in that case.
- Zucchini is almost entirely made up of water, and there's so much in this cookie that unlike most cookie recipes, you actually want to brown the tops to ensure that they've baked completely thru. Don't worry, you'll burn these cookies before you dry them out, so bake a minute longer if you're unsure.
- Portion size is important to ensure even and consistent baking amongst cookies. My #50 disher (looks kinda like this) not only guarantees that, but makes the portion size appropriate to boot.
- Unless you just like to make things difficult for yourself, I'm going to insist you bake these on a Silpat (or parchment at the very least). If you kick it old-school on a greased or non-stick sheet pan, you're going to burn the bottoms of the cookies; and a mouthful of char never makes for a good morning.
- Because we know the weight of our ingredients ahead of time (thank you, Mr. Digital Scale), nuts and dried fruit in this recipe could be swapped out in seemingly endless permutations; though given the consistency of the batter, I'm not sure how chocolate chips and the like would fare (if you try it, lemme know how it goes).
- On the subject of weight, I was just telling someone the other day that the concept of measuring vegetables by volume is more absurd (and certainly less practical) than measuring dry goods (flour, sugar, etc) volumetrically could ever hope to be. If you're rocking a recipe that employs chopped or grated plant matter, and you want total repeatability (we science nerds call that "precision"), you need a scale in your kitchen.
Hearty, nutty, sweet, satisfying. This is one of those times where I'd really like to know just how good for you this cookie really is. That said, the point's probably moot, as this is breakfast cookie recipe contains as much zucchini by weight as it does sugar. There are also plenty of walnuts and cranberries swimming around in a base anchored with whole wheat flour, and if you gotta bake with some fat, you'd be hard pressed to find a more sensible candidate than olive oil.
The first time I got my son to try grilled zucchini, I practically had to beg him to eat it; and even then it was under stipulation that he could use as much ketchup as he deemed necessary. With these cookies however, he knows exactly what's in 'em; and yet they're so damn good that he and his little sister beg for them at breakfast (and sometimes lunch). My kids could care less about the green things swimming around in there amongst that whole wheat matrix that's suspending wall-to-wall fruits and nuts; all they know is that these cookies taste good, and Dad never complains when they ask for another.