Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spicy Oatmeal Crisps (with Hershey's Kisses "Frosting")

The urge to do some baking that was somewhat fall-themed hit me big time recently. Among other things, I wanted to make some oatmeal cookies that had nice, warm, fall-ish spices in them. I had found an intriguing recipe some time ago in Cooking Light magazine that called for freshly ground black pepper as one of the ingredients.

Meanwhile, I had gone shopping at Target while I was brainstorming cookie ideas. There, I found some awesome Hershey's Kisses in a couple different fall flavors. Since I have a weakness for Hershey's Kisses, particularly the ones in unique flavors, I picked up a couple bags. After I got them home, though, I decided that I didn't really want all that candy just lying around the house. I needed to be able to do something with them that would use up a whole lot at once.

Suddenly, inspiration struck! I could make the oatmeal cookies, and then place a Kiss in the center of each, just like those yummy peanut butter cookies that you see a lot around the holidays. I was excited to see if it would work.

Well, it didn't turn out exactly as I had dreamed. Turns out that because the Kisses (in Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple flavors) were filled with a creamy center, they did not really hold up well to being placed on a freshly-baked cookie. I had taken plenty of pictures of the Kisses melting on top of the cookies, but....well, they actually looked a little bit offensive! These oatmeal cookies spread out a lot while they are baking, so just one Kiss on top of each cookie looked silly, considering how wide the cookies are. However, when I started putting two Kisses on top of each cookie, it just looked even funnier. Plus, they were melting into two little puddles and just generally not obeying my wishes at all! Sigh.

But then, I had a fantastic idea. If the Kisses were going to have a mind of their own, well, then I was just going to have to work with it. So I turned the Kisses into frosting! I just took out a little spatula and started spreading out the Kisses while they were still warm and gooey. The goo easily covered the surface of each cookie, and after a while the Kiss "frosting" hardened up enough that the cookies could be stacked on top of one another. Despite their shiny appearance, the finished cookies I photographed are completely dry.

As for the taste? Well, if I do say so myself, I came up with a pretty inspired pairing! The warm spices in the cookies were just a great foil for all the sweetness of the Kisses. Plus, the pumpkin and apple flavors of the candy were a perfect match for the cinnamon, and the cloves, and the allspice, and even the pepper! The cookies were fabulous on their own, as well. Just spicy enough to be interesting without being distracting. Plus, they're from Cooking Light! Bonus.

Spicy Oatmeal Crisps (with Hershey's Kisses "Frosting")
adapted from Cooking Light
makes 24-30 cookies

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. grated whole nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (optional, but it makes such a difference)
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened (the original recipe called for 5 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup regular oats (I used quick oats)
24-30 Hershey's Kisses, any flavor (Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple work very well)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (flour through pepper) in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Stir in flour mixture and oats.

3. Drop by level tablespoons two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes, or until crisp (they will spread out a lot). Cool on pan 2-3 minutes, or until firm. Remove cookies from pan to a wire rack.

4. While the cookies are still warm, place two Hershey's Kisses on top of each. Allow them to melt and soften for about 5 minutes, then spread the Kisses all over the surface of the cookie. Allow cookies to cool completely, and for the Kisses to dry and harden. Store cookies at room temperature.

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