oatmeal cherry pecan cookies
Cookies and Hostas began on a blustery March day in 2011. Three gardener friends had gathered at Nancy’s house for coffee and cookies. The conversation, as often happens among gardeners, drifted toward wishes for a speedy spring. Nancy’s had dozens of hostas in her gardens and was unsure about what to do with them come spring. One friend suggested that Nancy thin some of the hostas that were still dormant under six inches of snow. Another suggested that she sell them at the Fulton Street Farmers Market. Someone else mentioned cookies. Believe it or not, that is how Cookies & Hostas was born. Shortly after, Nancy applied for a license to sell hostas and began dreaming of the cookies she would sell with them.
Nancy, who sings in the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, wished she’d taken a snack to a long rehearsal, and as a result, volunteered to bring granola bars for her section the next night. But on the drive home she decided it would instead be oatmeal cookies. She knew she had oatmeal, eggs, sugar, and pecans. She realized she didn’t have any raisins, but remembered a package of dried cherries that she’d bought earlier that week. It seemed like an interesting twist. As it turned out, her section loved the cookies and Nancy decided to make cookies for the whole chorus, all 150 singers, for the concert that weekend. The chorus loved them and Nancy began a cookie tradition. She now brings dozens of cookies for each concert and uses the chorus to test out new recipes.
Below is Nancy’s first cookie recipe, which remains a favorite among chorus members and Nancy’s customers at the Fulton Street Farmers Market where she sells cookies and hostas on Fridays.
Oatmeal Cherry Pecan Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 table spoon good vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (You can buy whole nutmeg at the grocery store. The flavor of freshly grated nutmeg makes all the difference!)
- 2 teaspoons good cinnamon (Nancy uses Ceylon cinnamon which is sometimes referred to as “real” cinnamon)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups oatmeal (Nancy uses old fashioned rolled oats because she likes the texture)
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup dried cherries
- Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
- Cream together the butter and sugar. Nancy uses a stand mixer. If you don’t have one, use a hand mixer. This process takes at least a minute. If you can mix butter and sugar longer, go for it. This is an important process because the sugar crystals need to melt into the sugar and they also need to piece the butter molecules.
- Add the eggs and continue to beat this mixture for at least another minute. The butter, sugar, and eggs will get fluffy.
- Add the salt and vanilla. Salt is an important ingredient. It complements the sweetness and deepens the overall flavor. Good vanilla is also important. Avoid imitation vanilla.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg and add it to the butter, sugar, egg mixture. A stand mixer does this very efficiently. If you are using a hand mixer, add the flour in small stages so you don’t make a huge mess.
- Add the oats and mix thoroughly.
- Add the cherries and pecans and mix thoroughly. Nancy uses whole pecans. The mixing process breaks them up but leaves some nice large pieces for each cookie.
- Scoop the dough onto a greased cookie sheet, or use parchment paper. If you have a silicon baking sheet, use that. Nancy uses a one-ounce ice cream scoop and sets the cookies about two inches apart on a baking sheet. The scoop insures that the cookies are all the same size. All ovens are different, but generally it should take about 15-17 minutes for the cookies to bake. The centers should be set and the tops should be lightly browned.
- Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for about five minutes before you transfer them to a cooling rack.
- Store the cookies in an air-tight container. They should keep for three days (if they last that long!)