By Erica H.
I believe most experts agree that cookies, generally speaking, are not an especially healthy snack option for children (I have not done the research re: adults). But somewhere along the line I became convinced that if you pack indentical ingredients into a bar-shaped package, an aura of wholesomeness will surround the entire enterprise. Bars are healthy! (I blame Big Granola for this particular line of brainwashing.)
Of course, along comes Lorraine Bodger to call me out on this point by titling her cookbook "The Four-Sided Cookie: 55 Recipes for Delicious Squares and Bars." Yes, well. I appreciate your opinion, Ms. Bodger. That will never change the fact that while I would feel a bit irresponsible sending my daughter to school with a bag of Chewy Fruit and Nut Cookies for her classmates, I feel just fine and dandy sending her bearing Chewy Fruit and Nut Squares, thank you very much.
The fact is, it takes only the most superfical analysis of this recipe to see that she has started with a chocolate-chip cookie dough base, added a touch of orange flavor, and mixed in dried fruit and nuts instead of chocolate. It's a bit genius, frankly. You can put anything you want into chocolate chip cookie dough! It's just dough! Sorry, it seems I'm still processing this breakthrough.
At any rate, these are tasty, not too sweet, and will keep you off the list of tragically indulgent cookie-pushers.
Chewy Fruit and Nut Squares from The Four-Sided Cookie by Lorraine Bodger
- 2 1/4 c. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. light or dark raisins
- 1 c. chopped dried fruit (I used a combination of apricots, prunes, and apples)
- 3/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. grated orange rind
- 1/4 c. orange juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the fruit and nuts.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg, orange rind, orange juice, and vanilla and beat well. Add the flour mixture and blend well.
Spread batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the edges are browned and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
And don't worry--the kids will eat them. They are cookies, after all.