This winter really put the smackdown on California. It rained so much that Governor Brown declared an official end to the drought on April 7, 2017. Hooray! This is exciting news for Californians. The hills are alive with lush, vibrant green and a super bloom rainbow of wildflowers visible from space. Water is flowing in places it hasn’t flowed for years, and it’s downright breathtaking around here this spring. I am loving it. Not just the colorful, flowery benefits of now, but also all of those drizzly days that brought the blooms. As a Pacific Northwester living in Southern California, the rain feels like home to me.
I’ve been living in Santa Barbara for about 3 years, but I still hesitate to think of it as home. Don’t get me wrong, this place is a picture perfect paradise. Perhaps a little too picturesque for this born and bred PNWer. I am accustomed to dreariness for months on end. Here, the sun shines down on this living postcard of a town nearly every damn day. At times I just don’t know how to deal.
The sunshine motivates all kinds of uplifting, but that sunny-side up business can be a lot of pressure. I need days as dark as my bottomless mug of straight and strong Stumptown to slowly work through things. The rain lets me stay heads down, but this sunshine stuff reminds me all too often to engage with other humans, to get outside and exercise, or to take the dog on a long walk. The rain is my excuse to stay in and not participate in life. I mean, has anyone ever uttered the words “It’s too sunny to go anywhere today”? Never.
I have to cling to that dark PDX spirit, but also open the window to the Saint Babs sun. I created a recipe inspired by my Oregon Trail Cookies, but I shined a little more of that golden-state-of-mind into the original recipe. Up bloomed these Lemon Cherry Almond Oat Cookies. They’ve got a whole comfort-creature thing happening with the chewy oats, crunchy almonds, and a warm hit of cinnamon. But, the sweet zest from the Meyer lemon combined with the tart cherries gives a brightness to the hearty cookie base. These Lemon Cherry Almond Oat Cookies are equal parts Oregon comfort and California cool, bridging the gap between my steadfast love of Oregon and my slow developing feels for California.
Not only are these Lemon Cherry Almond Oat Cookies a balance of textures and flavors, they’re a balance of seasons and regions that hits home, wherever you happen to live.
Lemon Cherry Almond Oat Cookies combine creature comforts like hearty oats & crunchy almonds with bright lemon & tart cherries for sunny yet comforting batch of cookies.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teas baking powder
- 3/4 teas baking soda
- 1 teas salt
- 1/2 teas cinnamon
- 1 lemon zest and juice preferably Meyer lemon
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar lightly packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 teas pure vanilla extract
- 1 teas almond extract
- 2 3/4 cup whole rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups dried, tart cherries
- 1 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350°
Once the oven is preheated, bake the almonds and oats for 8-10 minutes until they begin to darken and give off a nutty aroma.
Measure the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and lemon zest into a bowl and whisk to combine.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated 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.
Adjust the mixer to a low speed and slowly add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon juice. 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, cherries, and almonds in the same bowl you used for the dry ingredients, then add them into the mix with the mixer on low speed. Mix just until everything is well distributed.
Use a cookie scoop to form the dough into ping pong size balls. Arrange on a prepared cookie sheet and chill for about 15 minutes to retain help retain shape while baking.
Bake for 10-12 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 on the baking sheets. They will continue to cook and should be crunchy on the edges with a warm and chewy center.
Recipe adapted from my Oregon Trail Cookies recipe.