The taste of goat’s milk is hard to articulate. There is a world of verbiage that others have affixed to it, but language fails me here. It’s not pungent, I don’t think… and it isn’t mild enough to be called “buttery.” But it seems too potent for the word, “earthy.” Whatever it is, it was such a novel tastebud sensation for me when I first detected these inscrutable traits — by accident, smothering asparagus (grassy, sulphuric) and scrambled egg (slightly metallic) in an omelet several years ago — that my face turned a wild flipbook of expressions, from shock to curiosity to disgust. The mind rejects such an unexpected onslaught on the body, and I decided that I hated goat cheese that day. Time and again, I would taste it and the once unfamiliar flavor became less overwhelming. But the thrill is not gone.
I like goat cheese now, but it’s a trepidatious like, in the way that you might like your most intimidating college professor: you don’t want to get too close, for fear of flunking or having some extremely weird encounter. Therefore, I don’t want to test my limits of like for goat cheese, and taste too much of it at once. I don’t think I could drink a glass of goat’s milk, for instance, straight. At least not yet.
So I had a crumbled half-block of chevre, after the kimchee frittata experiment. And I had a cookie-making request from a friend. One way to get better acquainted with a strange flavor (or foe), I suppose, is to place it in a variety of surroundings. Kimchee notwithstanding, oatmeal chip cookies, a classic, seemed a very new setting for goat cheese, for me. The cutesy notion that goats often eat oats had nothing okay a little to do with this decision. Okay, it was the only, random reason.
Let’s run with it. I don’t know why, but I added some honey to the cookie batter. Lovely, floral honey, and a few standard drops of vanilla.
There’s been an extra-large block of dark chocolate in my freezer for a while, which I’ve found good use for lately by breaking off pieces to whisk into a saucepan of milk. Hot chocolate nights are well underway this winter.
After chopping the chocolate into chunks, it was tossed in the creamed butter, sugar and egg mixture along with rolled oats. I love the chewy texture the oats give the cookies once baked.
Breaking up the block some more with a fork, the bits of chevre goat cheese were sprinkled onto the batter like fat snowflakes. After a quick fold and a spoonful-sized drop onto a cookie sheet, I think each cookie got a small dusting of powder and one or two larger chunks of cheese, just like with the chocolate pieces. Was it too much? Would the goat cheese overwhelm? I wondered. It all depends on what your relationship with the stuff is like. Like, love, hate — add however much you need to foster a healthy one. (Sometimes, I think my most complicated relationships are with food.)
And finally, the taste. A crisp oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie was all I could taste for the first two seconds or so, but the goat cheese hit hard eventually. And though it was in a relatively small dose (or because of it?) I really liked it in this new surrounding. When I brought a triumphant box of cookies to my friend’s office, she gasped, “Did you know that I love goat cheese?” after I explained them. No such knowledge. But it made me a little jealous, that she can obviously love this food more wholly than I.
Oat Goat Chip Cookies
(makes about 20)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled or quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (or however much you like) chevre, crumbled
1/3 cup (ditto) dark chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and honey until smooth. Add the egg and continue to beat the mixture until creamy and fluffy. Combine the flour with the salt and baking powder and add gradually to the batter, stirring until all incorporated. Fold in the oats and chocolate chunks. Fold in the chevre crumbles.
Drop a tablespoon-sized lump of batter an inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until just lightly browned around the edges and golden on the peaks. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool shortly before serving.
(for 20 cookies)
1 cup all-purpose flour (at $4/5-lb bag): $0.40
1 cup rolled oats: $0.50
1/2 cup butter (at $3/8 oz.): $1.50
1 egg (at $4.50/dozen): $0.38
1 tablespoon honey: $0.20
1/3 cup chevre (at $12.99/lb): $2.00
1/3 cup dark chocolate: $0.75
salt, baking powder: $0.10
Eight brownie points: Classic all their ingredients may not be, but these cookies are classic in calorie count. There’s excess sugar, butter, the whole nine yards — and then some, thanks to the extra fats and such in the chevre and chocolate. There’s a good dose of fiber, however, from the oats, and the whole rolled type is richer in this than quick or instant. Oats are also a heart-healthy food, good news for all that buttery richness.
Five maple leaves: It’s not much of a local and seasonal food, but then, it’s the middle of winter, so we’re giving ourselves a break this dessert course. My version did use a local dairy farm’s butter, and cage-free eggs from a farm in Pennsylvania — kitchen staples that I wished I didn’t go through so quickly these days of fewer choices from fruits and vegetables.