A few weeks ago, I clicked on the recipe image for rainbow vanilla cheesecake bars on Pinterest. Their bright and cheerful colors immediately caught my attention, but as I read through the blog post, the writing and stories captivated me even more. The warm and familiar feel, the welcoming tone, and the cute tale quickly turned me into a regular reader of Jocelyn’s well-known blog, Inside BruCrew Life.
Then at the BlogHer Food Conference in Miami this past weekend, I spotted her at the hotel across the room and smiled like my usual friendly self, yet I was absolutely positive she wouldn’t recognize me. Compared to most of the other bloggers attending, I was fairly small and definitely far from famous!
But Jocelyn smiled back and walked over, giving me a huge hug like an old friend and asking how my flights had been. Yes, me… Little ’ol me… I was completely floored and ecstatic!
When I finally read over the detailed conference agenda that first night, I realized Jocelyn was on the panel for the closing keynote session! Two day later at breakfast, I noticed her standing in the back and waved. After coming over to say hi again, she quietly mentioned she already felt butterflies in her stomach and planned on relaxing all day so she wouldn’t get too nervous. With the ballroom as big as a football field and filled with hundreds of bloggers and PR reps, sitting on stage to talk sounded as scary to me as the monsters on Halloween!
But when we sat down at the tables that evening and watched the 4 panelists settle into the armchairs on the platform, Jocelyn looked poised and collected, speaking eloquently and offering valuable tip after tip. I scribbled down a full page of notes—I was really happy to absorb her advice!
As one of my blogging role models—someone who balances work and family and health and life, yet still always comes up with creative ideas—I was so grateful to have the opportunity to meet her. With her sweet personality and compassionate nature, I wish we lived closer so I could bump into her more often!
Just like Jocelyn, these Cherry Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies are classy and sweet. The tangy cherries really shine again the irresistible hearty oat and peanutty backdrop, and the thick honey keeps them unbelievably soft and chewy. With their cozy flavor and texture, nobody will believe that they’re low fat and contain NO butter, refined flour, or refined sugar!
Like in my other clean-eating cookie recipes, it’s incredibly important to measure both the whole wheat flour and oats correctly. Use a light hand with the spoon-and-level method to prevent measuring out too much. (For a quick refresher, see my Baking Basics.) An excess of either ingredient will dry out your cookies, instead of resulting in the soft and chewy texture that we want.
For this easy recipe, I skipped the butter and coconut oil and simply used peanut butter as the main fat source. You’ll only need ¼ cup. It adds a light peanut taste—not too overpowering—and balances nicely with the earthy oats and bright cherries. It practically makes these healthy cookies taste like a dessert-style PB&J!
Chilling is mandatory. Due to the extra liquid in honey, the dough is initially very sticky, and chilling gives the oats time to absorb more of that moisture. Leave the cookie dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but if chilling longer than 1½ hours, cover the top with plastic wrap.
Note: For the cookies in these photographs, I chilled the dough for just 30 minutes.
You’ll bake these at 325°F, slightly lower than typical cookie recipes, because honey caramelizes at a lower temperature than brown or granulated sugar. The dough spreads a lot, so drop it into rounded scoops—basically as tall as they are wide! (Although if you chill longer than 1½ hours, you may need to flatten them slightly.)
After 11-13 minutes in the oven, pull them out! They’ll look and feel underdone, but leave them on the warm baking sheet for 15 minutes. This extra time allows the centers to cook through without turning the outsides crisp and crunchy. If baked this way, your cookies will stay soft for over a week—if they last that long!
After explaining that they were clean-eating friendly, I actually shared one of these Cherry Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with my body-builder seat neighbor on the airplane this past weekend. (Yes, he participates in shows and competitions!) As he chewed his first bite, his eyes widened and he paused. I had to reassure him twice that they were whole wheat and fit into his diet before he happily gobbled down the rest.
Yes, they’re that good! So go bake a batch, grab a glass of milk, and head on over to say hi to Jocelyn! ♥