Those who lived in Calgary in the 90s might remember a coffee shop on a corner in Sunnyside called the Heartland Cafe, in the space that now houses Vendome. One of the most popular baked goods on the wooden rack behind the cash register, along with hefty raspberry yogurt muffins, were big, grainy cookies loaded with nuts, seeds and dark chocolate chunks – they called them Nutri-Cookies.
The term nutri applied in a very 70s manner; anything loaded with seedy, grainy things or served with sprouts or yogurt earned that label. When I acquired the Heartland Cafe Cookbook from a friend’s mum, the recipe called for a cup of margarine and as much brown sugar – decidedly not nutri, but definitely delicious, with a wonderfully fine texture. And yes – loaded with good things.
This is the type of cookie that could easily pinch-hit as breakfast, rounds out a lunchbox well and fills the gap in that late afternoon lull between school and dinner. You could, of course, add any number of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and the like, but this particular combo brings be right back to the cafe, pre-coffee addiction, mid-cookie addiction.
The dough is very thick – it will give your stand mixer a workout. Drop big scoops onto your cookie sheet – I broke one ice cream scoop doing this – and then flatten each with your hand into a small pattie. I imagine these would freeze well, if you don’t want to bake them all at once.
If you don’t already know these, I’m certain you’ll want to make their acquaintance.
Cookies of Power
Adapted from The Heartland Cafe Cookbook
1 cup butter, at room temp
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose, half whole wheat)
2 cups oats
1/3 cups bran or oat bran
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup sunflower, sesame and/or pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 325F. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar for a few minutes, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. It may look separated – that’s OK.
Add the flour, oats, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder and salt; stir or mix on low speed until almost blended. Add the chocolate, nuts and seeds and stir just until combined.
Drop 1/3 cup scoops onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet; flatten each to 1/2-inch thick with your hand. Bake for 20 minutes, until pale golden around the edges and set, but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen large cookies.