When the Rubber Meets the Road — or putting my acorns where my mouth is

OakTreeRobertsRoad

Majestic oak where my rubber bike tires frequently meet the road.

[Before I launch into my corner of this blog, I want to assure you that you don’t need a bag of acorn flour in your pantry to continue; I will provide non-acorn bailout suggestions along the way.]

While Ann has moved on to crunchy salads, I am still up barking up the oak tree (is it coincidental we named our dog Oakley?). I recently made the case for giving acorns their just deserts relative to other edible nuts even though I had never cooked with an acorn. That has all changed.

It started with our Christmas gift exchanges which I mentioned in my last post. You can imagine the scene around the tree as one by one family members feigned excitement upon unwrapping presents from Ann of bags of pecans, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds! But the crescendo of the excitement reached its peak when Ann opened my gift to her – a pound of acorn flour (purchased online from Royce Native Orchards).

AcornFlour

Eating acorn flour might do all this – PLUS “keep you bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and improve your tree climbing agility!”

What does this have to do with a blog on crunchy salads? As it turns out, lots! Although Andy’s Corner generally is bereft of practical contributions to the Big Little Meals’ mission of testing and turning out fun recipes, this time around I decided it is time to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. In short, the rubber will meet the road and I will put my acorns where my mouth is (hence, the clever title for this blog entry).  Actually, I am putting Ann’s acorn flour (which she gladly allowed me to use) where my mouth is.  I will introduce you to acorn-based desserts that can be an effective counterbalance to our salads. To do this I will share with you two very cool recipes, one for not-so-crunchy acorn brownies and the other for ever-so-crunchy acorn lace cookies.

But first, a cautionary note. This blog could go viral and threaten our wild acorn resources. Much like near depletion of the Louisiana redfish population following the publication of Paul Proudhomme’s blackened redfish recipe in the 1980’s, I can see these acorn brownie recipes creating a demand for acorns that endangers our oak woodlands.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at the Scientific American article we posted in Food for Thought which suggests that widespread harvesting of acorns could have an adverse effect of the sustainability of our oak forests.

Prudhomme Redfish Mag

Prudhomme’s famous blackened redfish nearly depleted the redfish population in the 1980s

With that in mind, here is my first foray into the acorn baking arena. The recipes I am recommending are by Wendy Petty which I found on the ZesterDaily blog.  I pretty much followed her recipes with just a few small tweaks. I have to admit that both turned out to be awesome and won rave reviews from those lucky enough to try them. By the way, Petty’s own blog, Hunger and Thirst, has some great recipes (as does the Royce Native Orchards facebook page) .

When I first saw the photo of Wendy Petty’s acorn lace cookies I assumed that as a novice baker I would never be able create cookies as gorgeous as that, at least on my first try.  Much to my surprise the cookies came out perfect and tasted even better than they looked.  Ann was just as astounded as I was that I could pull it off.

We liked the cookies so much we hated to see anyone without access to acorn flour miss out on such a treat.  So I experimented with a gluten/acorn-free version by substituting 2 1/2 T fine almond flour for the acorn and wheat flours.  The cookies came out just as crunchy and delicious, although without the picturesque laciness.

 

Acorn Cookies

My results using Wendy Petty’s recipe for “Acorn Lace Cookies”

Almond_orange cookies

My alternative almond flour version of the acorn cookies.

If these sweets don’t make you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, nothing will.  Enjoy!

Acorn Lace Cookies

  • Servings: makes approximately 16 cookies
  • Print
Note: if you do not have acorn flour on hand you can substitute 2 1/2 T almond flour in lieu of the acorn and wheat flours. Alternately, for acorn glucose-free cookies you can leave out the wheat flour and add an additional 1/2 T acorn flour.   Adapted from a recipe by Wendy Petty.

Ingredients

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • zest from half an orange
  • 1 1/2 tsp flour
  • 2 T acorn flour
  • pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the cream, sugar, and orange zest.  Stir to combine the ingredients, then increase the heat to medium-high, and let it bubble for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flours and salt.

Let the mixture stand until it is solid but not completely cool.

Make the dough into teaspoon-sized balls (more like lumps to me) and place them onto a small sheet of parchment paper (you should get about 16 lumps of dough give or take one or two).

Place 6 of the balls onto the parchment covered sheet pan, allowing plenty of room for them to spread as they bake.  Do not try to cook more than 6 at one time.  Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking.  Watch them very carefully over the last two minutes so they don’t burn.  When fully cooked, the cookies will be a deep caramel color (if using acorn flour) and shiny.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let then sit on the sheet pan for at least 2 minutes before handling.  Once you can slide a spatula under them without deforming their shape, they can be transferred to a cooling rack.

Recipe brought to you by Big Little Meals.com and Andy and Ann.

The “100% Acorn Brownies” are a chocolate lover’s dream.  But if you just have to have brownies and do not have any acorn flour on hand,  you can substitute almond flour for the acorn flour, or, you can’t go wrong with the Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies we blogged about last April.

Acorn Brownies Batch

Wendy Petty’s “100% Acorn Brownies”

100% Acorn Brownies

  • Servings: makes 16 pieces
  • Print
Adapted from a recipe by Wendy Petty.

Ingredients

For the Brownies:

  • 10 T butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c plus 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup acorn flour (almond flour may be substituted)

For the swirl:

  • 3 ounces goat chevre, room temperature
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 F and make a parchment paper sling for an 8″x8″ pan, so that the bottom and two sides are covered.  This makes it easer to remove the acorn brownies once they’ve finished baking.

In a large bowl, stir together the still-hot melted butter, sugar, cocoa and salt.

Beat in the vanilla and eggs until the batter looks shiny.  Then stir in the acorn flour.

Pour the acorn brownie batter into the prepared pan.

To make the swirl, in a bowl, beat the goat cheese, sour cream, and sugar with an electric mixer until they are smooth.  Add flour, egg, and vanilla and continue to beat until they are fully incorporated.

Drop a spoonful of the cheese mixture at nine points atop the brownie batter.  Drag a table knife through the brownies in swirl patterns to partially mix the cheese and brownie batter, making a pleasing marbled design.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.  Traditional brownies would bake for less time.  Acorn brownies need a bit longer so they don’t come out to the oven with the appearance of raw batter.  [note: it took my brownies a full 45 minutes to bake].  When cooked, a toothpick inserted 2/3 of the way to the center will come out clean.

Once cooled, you can lift the brownies out of the pan using their parchment sling (which I found to be a very effective trick), then cut them into 16 pieces.

Recipe brought to you by Big Little Meals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

2 Comments

  1. Helen Weaver says:

    Your cookies & brownies look delicious and almost made me want to bake. Instead I am giving your e-mail address to a couple of my friends. One on a gluten diet and the other a vegan & very interested in cooking with acorns. Maybe they will share their cookies with me & I won’t have to bake after all.

    Like

    • theRaggedys says:

      I am looking forward to hearing from your friends. I just made two batches of the cookies again, this time with only the acorn flour. They came out great again! I’m afraid the butter in both recipes will not sit well with a vegan diet, but other acorn flour alternatives can be found on line. Cheers.

      Like

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