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Snack Attack: Hearty Breakfast Cookies

We're kicking off Snack Attack, our new series of blog posts about delicious homemade snacks, with this longtime favorite of mine that teaches littles not only how to bake but also how to take something notoriously "junky" and turn it into something healthy--COOKIES! I've been teaching this recipe for so long, I can't even remember when I started it. I know I found it in now-longtime-defunct Cooking Light Magazine, but have since beefed it up in a way that both attracts picky eaters and satisfies parents who often have to eat on the run.

This recipe teaches children about the creaming method, which is a basis technique for both cakes and cookies. That is, sifting dry ingredients in one bowl, and mixing sugar, butter, and eggs in a separate one. Then joining them together by adding the dry into the wet mixture in parts. Young bakers learn that this is the best way to fully incorporate both wet and dry ingredients so that everything is evenly distributed and the gluten in the flour can properly do its job of holding everything together. I also like it because it requires some knife skills (chopping apples), which is rare for a cookie dough recipe!

The cheddar cheese in this recipe often leaves first viewers of it skeptical, but seriously. WAIT 'til you try it before you diss it. This is the one ingredient that really makes it hearty, aside from the nuts. A stick-to-your-ribs breakfast or after-school snack that is worth the initial weirdness of adding in something like cheese. You can also turn this into a holiday brunch snack by using dried cranberries and pistachios. Or a charcuterie board accompaniment, if you bake them smaller, by using chopped dried pears, blue cheese, and pecans. The sky's really the limit for how you can change this up for just about any occasion. As always with most of our baked desserts (except pie crust!), start with room temperature eggs and butter. You can also grate the apple for a better blend into the recipe. Make some tonight for breakfast tomorrow!

Hearty Breakfast Cookies

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature (12 tablespoons)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cup quick-cook (instant) oats

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a second large bowl using a hand mixer), cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg and beat well. Add flour mixture and mix until combined and no white flour streaks are seen. Add apple, cheese, oatmeal, nuts, and raisins and mix well by hand until full incorporated.

Scoop with a 2-inch cookie scoop or by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool before enjoying! Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours or freeze for up to 3 months. Dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days, rolled into a log and plastic-wrapped, then sliced and baked. Logs can be frozen for up to 3 months as well.


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