Politics. We’re all over it, am I right? This is a baking blog, so I am got going to dive too deep into politics, but bear with me as I climb up on my mini soapbox. As a blue-blooded, born and bred American, I often find myself hanging my head in shame when it comes to the current state of our union. With the force-fed, nonstop coverage of hairstyles, email corruption, tax records and penis size comparisons, it’s enough to make us all lose HOPE for CHANGE. Lately it feels as if we are just unwilling participants in some sort of un-reality show. It’s exhausting.
It’s easy to get caught up in a reality show binge of American politics and lose sight of what makes this country great – and it is pretty damn great. We live in a vast land of greatness, from the diverse landscapes of natural beauty to the interesting and inspiring people who inhabit it. We are beyond lucky to call this place our home and should be proud to take ownership in what we the people have created.
Whether you’re feeling the Bern or hoping to make America great again, one thing should always ring true blue; “This land was made for you and Me.”
Memorial weekend is about to kick off the summer season and I hope the sunny shift lightens the mood a bit on the current political storm. Instead of dwelling on the impending doom of the November election, I plan to make the most of the summer and enjoy the bounty of greatness the good ol’ US of A has to offer. To get the ball rolling, I came up with a recipe that I think captures the transition from cold doom and gloom into the sunnier side of the calendar.
This recipe for Oregon Trail Mini Skillet Cookies politicizes the essence of American made greatness with regionally inspired ingredients and down-home comfort. Combining one of my favorite recipes, my rustic Oregon Trail Cookies, inspired by the rugged state and packed with OR centric ingredients like Thick Rolled Oats from OR based Bob’s Red Mill, toasty chopped filberts (hazelnuts, the official nut of Oregon state), chewy, sweet, dried cherries, and most important of all, coffee! Stumptowners are pretty intense coffee aficionados, so I had to incorporate a punch of espresso powder, which ruggedly compliments the dark chocolate chips.
California is also a big part of what makes America great, so I topped the warm and squishy Oregon Trail Mini Skillet Cookies with a fat scoop of Santa Barbara based McConnell’s R.R. Lochhead’s classic “McC’s Blend” Golden State Vanilla Ice Cream. And just to round out all of that sweetness and send an appreciative shout out to the bottom right corner of the US, I served it with a glass of Bulleit Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2 rocks.
I highly recommend you cool off the politics with some hot Oregon Trail Mini Skillet Cookies and just chill out and enjoy the holiday weekend. Let’s all raise a glass (and a mini skillet) to the people who make this beautiful country so damn great.
- all purpose flour - 2 cups
- baking soda - 1 teaspoon
- baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
- salt - 2 teaspoons
- unsalted butter at room temperature - 1 cup (2 sticks)
- granulated sugar - 1 cup
- brown sugar - 1 cup
- eggs at room temperature - 2
- pure vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- Bob's Red Mill extra thick rolled oats - 1 3/4 cups dark chocolate chips - 1 1/5 cups
- hazelnuts - 1 cup
- dried cherries - 1 cup
- espresso powder - 1 1/2 tablespoons
- vanilla ice cream - scoops as you like
- bourbon - drinks as you like
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Once the oven is preheated, bake the hazelnuts for 8-10 minutes until they begin to darken and give off a nutty aroma.
- Once the hazelnuts have cooled you can remove the skins by rolling handfuls of the nuts around in your bare hands or in a clean kitchen towel. Don't worry if the skins don't come off completely, they give the cookies character.
- Measure the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder into a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until fluffy and light in color. Be sure to scrape down the bowl a few times during the process.
- While the butter and sugar are mixing, roughly chop the hazelnuts and set aside.
- Adjust the mixer to a low speed and slowly add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla (I like to crack the eggs and add the vanilla in a measuring cup before adding it to the butter and sugar mixture). Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients in 2-3 additions with the mixer on low speed. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the butter and sugar.
- Combine the oats, chocolate chunks, cherries, and hazelnuts in the same bowl you used for the dry ingredients, then add them into the mix with the mixer on low speed. Mix until everything is well distributed.
- Use a large cookie scoop (4 tablespoon sized) to form the dough into balls. Arrange on a lined cookie sheet and press into 1/2 inch thick disks. Place the dough balls into mini 3.5" skillets to bake.
- *At this point, I like to chill the remaining dough disks in the fridge for about an hour and then transfer them to a baggie and freeze so I have dough balls at the ready whenever my sweet tooth strikes.
- Place the mini skillets on a baking sheet and bake the cookies in the skillets for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. The edges of the cookies will begin to brown and the middle should appear slightly underdone. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheets in the skillets. They will continue to cook and should be crunchy on the edges with a warm and gooey center.
- While the skillet is still warm but cooled enough to handle (please be careful not to burn yourself), carefully top with a scoop of ice vanilla ice cream.
- Serve with a glass of Bulleit Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey , 2 rocks. And chill.
- *Warning, You may want to serve with an oven mitt or kitchen towel to prevent burns!