Cherry-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies aka “Triathlon/Pre-Race/Post-Race Cookies”

I recently responded to a New York Times Food tweet:

‏”@nytfood This cookie battled it out against other holiday treats in a ‪#CookFight. What’s your go-to cookie?”

My response was the Cherry-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, which I adapted slightly from a 1998 Bon Appétit recipe.  These cookies are also known among my athlete friends as “triathlon cookies” or “pre-race / post-race” cookies.  They are my go-to cookies during the holidays and to pack for out of town triathlon trainings or races.  I also stashed a few cookies inside my hydration pack when I raced my first 50 km ultra marathon this past weekend.  Packed with dried cherries, chocolate chips and toasted almonds, these cookies are great for refueling.

My good childhood friend Tracy, who is an accomplished 2x Ironman triathlete shared this recipe with me. Upon her advice, I eliminated the almond extract from the original recipe.  I also experimented with different ratios of sugar and butter in an attempt to make it a little healthier.  I found that the original dough recipe was pretty darn good as is.  So instead of altering the amount of sugar and butter, I decided to load the cookie up with more dried cherries, and chocolate chips.  Aside from the occasional runaway dried cherry left on the baking sheet, the cookie held all of it’s yummy stuff together. The trick is to refrigerate the dough so it firms up.  The dough can be frozen up to 3 months.  I like to have a few batches in the freezer to bake up a quick dozen or two.

Adapted from Bon Appétit, February 1998

Makes: 2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick or instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounce bag)
  • 1 1/4 cup dried tart cherries (2 5-ounce bags)

Directions:

Preheat over 325F.

Position one rack in the middle and the 2nd rack just above. You will be baking 2 pans of cookies at a time. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, handheld mixer or wooden spoon, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. If using an electric mixer, this will take about 4-5 minutes on medium speed or up to 10 minutes if using a wooden spoon.

Beat in the egg and vanilla extract for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl at least once to ensure all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Slowly beat in the flour mixture.  Scrape the sides of the bowl a couple times to ensure the flour is incorporated.

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Stir in oats, chocolate chips, cherries and toasted almonds.

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The dough can be baked immediately however I find that it bakes more evenly and forms into a better cookie shape if I chill the dough, covered, for at least 1 hour.

Scoop out an overflowing spoonsful amount of dough.  Using your fingers, press the dough together firmly ensuring the dried cherries and chips are sticking to the dough.  Shape into a slightly flatted rounds.  Place onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

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Bake for 12 minutes, then switch and rotate baking sheets and bake for 6 minutes longer, until golden brown on edges. Either cool the cookies on the baking sheet or carefully transfer the soft cookies onto a cooling rack or plate. I like to wait a couple minutes so the cookie starts to firm up a little before handling. The cookies will firm into a crisp cookie when cooled.

Note: To freeze dough, wrap in wax paper then place inside a freezer zip lock bag. The cookie dough can be stored frozen up to 3 months.

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Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse

Two physicians inspired this recipe.  One is my father, a retired pediatrician, who taught me how to live a healthy life by learning how to love eating delicious, healthy foods and learning how to enjoy physical activity through the love of sports.  Dad was also in love with chocolate mousse.  My father spent many years trying to perfect his chocolate mousse recipe.  The other inspiration came from a friend of mine who made me aware of the health benefits of cinnamon.  He also loves dark chocolate and has been known to enjoy licking a bowl of chocolate batter.

While the lab results are mixed, some research has found that cinnamon, may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, fight bacteria and may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.  For more information on cinnamon, check out this article:

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-cinnamon

This healthy chocolate dessert has a surprise ingredient.  Trust me.  You won’t be able to tell what it is when you eat this chocolate mousse, but read on.  You’ll quickly figure out what the surprise is.

Serving size: 6

Ingredients:

  • 11.5 oz. good quality dark chocolate chips (The Hungry Athlete prefers dark chocolate but semisweet chocolate chips maybe substituted)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large, ripe Bacon avocado*, pitted and peeled
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract*
  • 3 tablespoon agave syrup*
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 egg whites**
  • ½ teaspoon lemon
  • 6 strawberries for garnish

* NOTE: I used Bacon avocado because it has a mild flavor but a Haas avocado can be substituted.  In addition, if you are on a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

** NOTE:  If you have concerns using raw eggs, which can carry salmonella, use pasteurized egg whites which are available in supermarkets.  Make sure the label states that it is pasteurized.  Pasteurized egg whites may require more time to whip.  Adding lemon juice (an acid) will help the pasteurized egg whites to whip up.  I personally enjoy many recipes using raw or undercooked eggs such as eggs sunny side up, soft poached eggs, holladaise sauce, meringues and Caesar salad.

Directions:

Melt the chocolate with the cinnamon in a double boiler over hot water and set aside.

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Purée the avocado in a food processor until smooth.   Add vanilla extract, agave syrup and salt and continue to puree until combined.

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With the machine running, pour in the chocolate mixture.  The easiest way to do this is to transfer the chocolate mixture to a measuring cup first and then pour the chocolate mixture from the measuring cup.

Using a stand mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites until they begin to form soft peaks.  Add the lemon juice and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

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Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites.

Fold in portions of the chocolate mixture at a time.  Take your time to continue to fold until the chocolate is fully incorporated.  Resist the urge to stir.  You want to maintain the airy lightness of the egg whites.
Fold in portions of the chocolate mixture a big spatula full at a time. Take your time to continue to fold until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Resist the urge to stir. You want to maintain the airy lightness of the egg whites.

Pour the mousse into 6 small serving bowls, juice cups or wineglasses and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or covered with plastic wrap overnight.  Garnish with strawberries.

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