Trail Chef: The Great Trail Cookie Debate

Get energized with another reader recipe finalist
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Get energized with another reader recipe finalist

Believe it or not, cookies can get pretty controversial around here. Take this reader recipe for Trail Cookies, which scored quite well in our Readers' Choice recipe test. They missed out on that final cut by a hair, but that didn't stop a spirited debate around the office. On one side: Nice try—trail cookies are cookies, not trail food. Automatic DQ. On the other: Trail cookies may operate under the name cookie, but in reality, they're hearty and packable enough to rival any trail bar. (The wildlife clearly think that cookies are suitable for the trail.)Plenty of staffers declared that they'd pick these cookies over a bar any day. (A typical comment: "These are fantastic. I hate trail bars, so this is a perfect substitute.") They're durable, with little to no chance of crumbling all over your pack. The ingredients list is also packed with trail-bar-esque items like sunflower seeds, rolled oats, and apricots. On the other hand, there are about a million ingredients, and trail food is supposed to be easy. Plus, you make them at home, not actually on the trail.

So, do these indisputably delicious treats really count as trail food? Only you can decide. Guess you'll have to bake a batch yourself, then tell us what you think!

Trail Cookies

Submitted by Jeffrey and Heidi Fitch, Laurel, MT. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups plain rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped

1/3 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup dried apricots, chopped

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter

1/4 cup solid margarine

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

2 large eggs

At home

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another large bowl, cream butter, margarine, and the two sugars with an electric mixer until well-blended. Add eggs, yogurt, honey, and the almond and vanilla extracts, beating well. Add flour mixture in two portions. Using a large spoon and mixing well after each item, add the following, one at a time: oats, nuts, raisins, apricots.

Lightly butter cookie sheets. Drop dough by large spoonfuls to form mounds about two inches in diameter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies are done when they have a very pale brown color on the edges, but remain pale on top. Remove them from the oven when they still appear slightly underdone. Cool on wire racks, then pack in zip-top bags and freeze for future use on the trail.

In case you're wondering, here's what Jeffrey and Heidi have to say about this little debate:

"We were always disappointed with the usual overly sweet, frosted, or rock-hard commercial granola bars, and also with the messy-to-handle-and-eat gorp (most of which is lost on the ground). So we devised these all-purpose, durable trail cookies. They remain pliable and tasty for days and can be eaten as survival food, dessert in camp, or while moving along the trail with no time to stop for lunch."






—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Image credit: Tomi Tapio