This week Mochi attended an event hosted by the French Culinary Institute, showcasing alumnus Chef Richard Ruskell, the executive pastry chef of the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Chef Ruskell is a frequent participant (and winner) of Food Network’s assortment of dessert challenges, and a man after my very own heart.
“Don’t be afraid of butter,” asserted Ruskell, as he whisked up a batch of his Sayonara Trail Mix cookies, filling the room with an aroma I can only describe as a warm, sugary hug. While a few women in the audience cringed when he admitted to using butter with 83 percent fat, I wanted to give him a big hug.
This cookie, which was originally created with a “funky, Asian twist” for a Food Network Challenge was unexpected for me in two ways. First, Ruskell is a self-proclaimed “chocolate snob.” Thus, the absence of his preferred medium came as a surprise. Secondly, I’m not the biggest fan of raisins but this cookie had such a complexity of flavors and textures that the raisins were quickly forgotten in my palette. Believe me—I was eating very slowly and trying to savor every bite.
The candied ginger gave the cookie a gingersnap flavor and the black sesame provided an earthy quality that pairs well with the mixture of nuts and oatmeal. Now this is a cookie you can eat repeatedly since it’s not sickeningly sweet. The best part: You can keep the batter in your freezer for up to a month. Too bad this is irrelevant for me, since I’ll probably go through a batch in two days flat.
The Sayonara Trail Mix Cookie
By: Chef Richard Ruskell of the Montage Beverly Hills
¾ cup cashews, toasted
¾ cup walnuts, toasted
2 ½ cup raisins
1 1/3 cup pepitas (or pumpkin seeds)
½ candied ginger, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup butter, softened
1 heaping cup brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ cup honey
½ tbsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ tsp. baking powder
2 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
Black sesame seeds
Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Set aside.
Stir the cashews, walnuts, raisins and pepitas together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars together until light. Scrape the bowl and add the honey. Mix and scrape. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix. Add the flour and oatmeal, scrape and mix. Then add the nuts mixture. Mix to combine.
Drop onto greased cookie sheets and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Bake at 350° F for about 12 min. Remove from the oven, cool and eat.
Diana Chang is a contributor to Mochi.
Photos by Diana Chang