Friday, January 8, 2010

Cleo Coyle's Healthier Oatmeal Cookie

First a shout-out of thanks to Rene Lynch, the Assistant Food Editor of the Los Angeles Times! Thank you, Rene, for the nice mention in the column this week! Woot! To see the LA Times column where Mystery Lovers' Kitchen was mentioned, click here.
And now here is...

A “good for you” cookie
that’s still a good cookie!

Who doesn’t love cookies? I certainly do, and so does my amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi. In Espresso Shot, Clare describes the deliciously decadent Italian cookies she plans to serve with some of the world’s rarest coffees at her ex-husband’s wedding. (And, yes, I include two of those Italian wedding cookie recipes at the back of that book.) In the recipe section of Holiday Grind, you’ll find many more cookie recipes courtesy of Clare and her baristas. But let’s be real...

Now that the New Year is here, most of us are resolving to choose lower calorie options to fattening snacks. My “healthier” oatmeal cookie recipe attempts to do just that. Sure, you can find oatmeal cookie recipes everywhere—even on the underside of a Quaker Oats box lid. But beware: most traditional recipes are full of butter, sugar, and white flour.

*My recipe reduces the sugar and cuts the butter in half. It also cuts down on the white flour, replacing it with more healthy whole grain oats. So what’s the big deal about whole grains? For one thing, fiber-rich whole grains take longer to break down in your body, which means your glucose levels will remain more constant instead of shooting up and crashing down (so you won’t be craving another snack an hour later). With a warm cuppa joe, one or two of these cookies are very filling, curbing the appetite between meals. But what I really love about this healthier cookie is its versatility.

For friends or family who crave more decadence, just dress up some of them with my maple glaze. Now a single batch of cookies can satisfy the weight-watcher and the sweet-lover. For more recipe ideas, or to find out more about my Coffeehouse Mysteries, visit my Web site:

Cleo Coyle’s Healthier*
Oatmeal Cookies

To get a printable version
of these recipes,

Servings: 3 to 4 dozen, depending on size


1-1/2 cup raisins (+ water to soak)
3-1/2 cups Oats (I use Quaker old fashioned)
½ cup butter*
½ cup white sugar*
½ cup light brown sugar*
3/4 cup all-purpose white flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1-½ teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs (beaten with a fork)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup applesauce (I use the no-sugar added kind)
1 cup chopped walnuts

*My recipe uses half the butter & white flour and less sugar than traditional recipes.

(1) Soak your raisins: Measure out your raisins, place them in a bowl, and cover with plain water. Let them soak for 15 to 30 minutes then drain. You’ll now have a plumper, moister raisin for your cookie.

(2) Create your oat flour: Measure out oats, run through a blender or food processor until the rough oats have the consistency of all-purpose flour.

(3) Melt butter and sugars: In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Do not let brown or burn! Add white and light brown sugars, stirring frequently to keep mixture from burning. When ingredients are melted into a smooth liquid, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.

(4) Marry dry and wet ingredients: Into a mixing bowl, measure out white flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add oat flour that you made in Step 2. Add the butter & sugar mixture that you melted together in Step 3. Add beaten eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. Stir into a smooth batter. Finally, fold in your drained raisins and the chopped walnuts. Do not over mix, but make sure all of the dry ingredients are fully blended into the wet.

(5) Chill, drop & bake: Chill loose dough for 30 minutes to firm up. If you make the cookies right away without chilling the dough, they will bake flatter, which you may prefer anyway. Experiment with what appeals to you. Bake on a lined or greased baking sheet, in an oven pre-heated to 350° Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes. Cookies are done when tops have firmed up. If cookie is still wet and spongy when touched, keep baking.

(6) Optional Maple Glaze: For a dressy, slightly more decadent touch, frost some or all of your cooled little heart-healthy oat cakes with an easy maple glaze. See next page for recipe.

Cleo Coyle’sMaple Glaze
This glaze is delicious on oatmeal cookies. It’s also great on muffins and quick breads. Try it on banana, pumpkin, carrot, or spice varieties.

Ingredients:2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons butter

(1) Heat liquids: In a non-stick saucepan, warm water and maple syrup over medium heat.

(2) Melt sugar: Add powdered sugar to the warm liquid. Using a rubber spatula, stir constantly as the sugar melts to create a smooth, loose glaze

(3) Thicken with butter**: Add in the butter, continuing to stir until the butter is completely melted. As the butter melts, you’ll see the glaze thicken. Remove from heat and work quickly with a spoon or pastry brush to glaze your cooled cookies or muffins.

CLEO’S TIP: WORK QUICKLY! The glaze will harden as it cools. If the glaze hardens up on you as you work, reheat again over medium heat, stirring until you regain a smooth consistency.

**NOTE: If you think you can cut calories by omitting the butter in this recipe, think again. Without the butter, what you’ll get is a sticky mess of clear syrup on your cookies and not true glaze that dries properly. Believe me, I’ve tried to reduce fat and calories by leaving out the butter, but it just does not work without it!

A Note for Waistline Watchers: My last batch of oatmeal cookies produced 43 cookies. Here’s what the glaze added per cookie: about 1/8 teaspoon of butter per cookie (less than what you’d use on a slice of toast); a little less than 2 teaspoons of sugar per cookie (about as much as many people put in a single cup of coffee); and a trace amount of maple syrup. Not bad for an afternoon coffee break snack!

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Mystery Scene Magazine: "Coyle's greatest strength is writing characters that feel real. Clare and company are some of the most vibrant characters I've ever read...Coyle also is a master of misdirection and red herrings. I challenge any reader to figure out whodunit before Coyle reveals all."

Kirkus:“Coyle’s coffeehouse mysteries (Espresso Shot, etc.) are packed with believable characters and topped with serious coffee lore and holiday recipes. This one will keep your cup piping hot.”


  1. Hi Cleo!

    I've been reading a lot lately about the health dangers with white flours, enriched breads, etc. While far from being a health nut (although I *should* be one!), I try whenever possible to substitute whole grains...especially for my kids. This looks like a wonderful recipe and I appreciate the help with getting healthier!


  2. This is great, Cleo. I can't wait to give this one a whirl. We love oatmeal cookies anyway, and I never thought to pre-plump the raisins. Great idea.
    Thank for all the background and tips. Excellent post!


  3. I wouldn't pass up that maple glaze! I love oatmeal cookies, but haven't made them in a long time. Since I'm trying to lose a little weight, it's nice to see your healthier version!

  4. Cleo-

    Your photos are fantastic! And the maple glaze --
    sheer brilliance! I can not wait to try it.

  5. Oatmeal raisin cookies are my absolute favourite! I was interested to read that you soak the raisins. When I was a kid my Mom made "Boiled Raisin Spice Cake" but haven't run into this pre-plumping of the raisins since then. Your photography is amazing. Thanks for this.

  6. Soaking raisins is definitely key. What a difference it makes! I've never put a glaze on oatmeal cookies but it's a wonderful idea that I'll have to try.

    ~ Krista

  7. Healthier cookie... you know, i am against the concept... But luckily that maple glaze covers all sins!

  8. Maple glaze? I'm so there! You and I must be on the same track - I just posted a gluten-free, sugar-free, whole grain oatmeal cookie. Nothing like an oatmeal cookie to make your day!

  9. I love oatmeal cookies. But the maple glaze?...OMG that just puts them right over the top!

  10. Oh, these comments are wonderful! I'm composing answers for each of you...stay tuned...


  11. Cleo,
    I was just thinking of looking up healthy oatmeal cookies with less white flour yesterday and today I see your mail in my box! I'll be trying this one out for sure.

  12. Although it sounds like an oxymoron, I'm always trying to find ways to make healthy cookies. Of course, there's no point in being healthy if it doesn't provide the pleasures of a real cookie. I'll have to give this a try.

  13. Oh your cookies look fantastic. I resolved to bake more in 2010. This is one for the must try list, with that lovely maple syrup!

  14. Replies to:

    @Riley/Elizabeth – On the health thing, I think most people are on your page, me included. My own philosophy is moderation in all things—even moderation. (Splurging is good for the soul, after all.)

    @Julie, Janel, and Jenn (the “J” Girls…hey, that’s a great name for a band, lol)…Thank you all for the nice words. I think of these as my “little oat cakes.” With a nice warm, fresh cup o’ joe, they really do take the edge off between meals in the afternoon—a good plan for reducing my own, er, assets.

    @Bobbi – Your mom’s Boiled Raisin Spice Cake sounds like a winner! Glad to know I’m in good company with the raisin plumping step. You can’t go wrong with mom.

    @Krista – Oh, yes, I love the glaze on these cookies. While it does increase the calories per cookie, it also increases the satisfaction level.

    @A Year on the Grill – Lol – You know, I know exactly what you mean. When diet desserts taste hinky, my cravings don’t get satisfied and, brother, is that a dangerous state to be in—far too many temptations out there! These cookies, esp. with the glaze, do the trick for me, I must say.

    @My Man’s Belly – Thank you – and I love your profile name, lol!

    @Simply Life – Thank you! (You know, on a blog like this one, written by a bunch of crime writers, we would end up inverting your profile name to describe our plots – “simply death” – lol!)

    @Shirley – Hello! So nice to see you here. Thank you for stopping by. I’ll bet any talented baker could work this recipe into an even more healthful one. This is my stab at keeping that balance between healthiness and tastiness. And speaking of healthiness and tastiness, your (Indian) Gooseberry Jam post is colorful and informative. For anyone who would like to check out Shirley’s beautifully photographed post Click here.

    (more replies to come!)

    ~Cleo Coyle
    author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  15. Replies to:

    @Beatrice – I could not have said it any better. I agree. The “healthy” cookie must also be tasty or it fails. I think of these cookies as little “oat cakes” – the whole grained oats makes them good for you while the raisins, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple glaze provide a lively mix of flavors for the taste buds. I find them both filling and satisfying on the level of a nice coffee-break or school-lunch-box cookie.

    @redkathy – LOL on baking more in 2010. I made a similar resolution to bake more bread, especially! During the Depression, my grandmother baked bread every morning in an outdoor, wood-burning oven. I am so inspired by her memory (and was so frustrated over the past few weeks that our neighborhood bakery was always selling out of my favorite artisan bread), that I baked my own loaves – three in the past week! It’s not only more economical to bake at home (for me) it’s fun, and (indeed) a great foodie resolution for the new year!

    Cheers and thanks again for stopping by!
    ~ Cleo

  16. Replies to:

    Caveman cooking - Thanks again to Caveman for stepping away from his primeval fire to comment on my little recipe, lol!

    Tasty Eats at Home - Love your post on the gluten-free oatmeal cookies -- fascinating experience you had with the Xagave people and your use of coconut and buckweat flour is so creative. For anyone who would like to see Tasty's inventive recipe for gluten-free oatmeal cookies, click here


  17. I love both how chunky these cookies are, and the healthy changes you've made (which I guess will in turn make the eater less chunky?) ;)

  18. I am an oatmeal cookie fan from way back. I love that you've lightened up my favorite cookie!

  19. You completely got me with the maple glaze! Yum!

  20. Replies to:

    @Mother Rimmy - Thank you, Kristi! I'm inspired by your own wonderful "Cooking Light Done Right" recipes, especially the waffle recipe you devised recently. For anyone who'd like walk on the lighter side with Kristi (aka Mother Rimmy's), you can see her recipes by clicking here

    @Bromography - Oh, yes! Maple glaze really does pump this cookie up to an amazing level, especially for people who think they would never like healthier, whole grain cookie! :) Thank you for stopping by, B. Check out Bromography's own fantastic foodie blog by clicking here!

    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  21. I love oatmeal cookies but feel guilty about the sugars. This recipe looks fabulous & I can't wait to try it! Thanks Cleo for another super recipe!

  22. being one of gods minions [male]when in trouble i must turn to the lady author and her readers.i cook and look after myself very well.cake and pies ect.but i am in trouble when trying to cook shortbread.i need an easy recipe.
    can you please help me.i have read all of the books and all of your chat.i love it so could you please help a poor soul?????????