In the past few years, goji berries, or 枸杞 (gouqi) in Mandarin, have become one of those new “it” foods highly touted in the media. Everyone from health gurus to fashion magazine editors raved about how gojis were rich in antioxidents, good for your eyesight, and so on. As a kid I had eaten them in herbal soups my mother made, but as a 20-something New Yorker my disinterest was purely economical: they cost upwards of $10 or $12 a bag, even on sale.
Of course, here in China you can get the exact same goji berries for 6 or 7 renminbi a bag, if you don’t mind the less fancy packaging. (Which makes me wonder why I’m not stocking up to sell for a killer profit back home.) Also called wolfberries, gojis are said to have Tibetan and Himilayan origin, but most sold nowadays come from other parts of China.
Gojis taste like a cross between a raisin and a date. I don’t like to eat them on their own, since they are a bit dry. But I do like a spoonful in green or black tea with honey. (Note: Whenever you consume goji berries you should first rinse them in water to rid them of any chemicals they may have.) They’re also great to bake with; the berries’ natural sweetness makes them great for muffins, scones, and especially cookies.
Today I made oatmeal cookies using goji berries in place of raisins for a twist. I also added some coarsely ground almonds. It’s a rare cookie that can be at once deliciously crunchy, sweet, and somewhat healthy.
Goji Oatmeal-Almond Cookies
Makes 30 to 40 cookies
- 1 cup goji berries, rinsed
- 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely ground
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C.) Lightly grease the baking sheets. In a bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and airy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Add the oat mixture and goji berries and mix until well-combined.
- Drop the dough by spoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. Bake the cookies in upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching position of sheets halfway. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.