Caroline Cooks

A modest documentation of my culinary exploits.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oatmeal Cookies from Orangette

I have a secret fondness for oatmeal cookies. They're like that simple, loutish guy who is utterly unrefined and devoid of aesthetic sensibilities, yet all the more endearing for it. Certainly, it could be worse-- I'd rather be caught red-handed with a homemade oatmeal cookie than with an Oreo-- but oatmeal cookies are neither dainty nor sexy enough that I'd feel comfortable serving them to general company. Still, there's something pleasantly quaint about a stack of clunky, hearty oatmeal cookies, and I often find myself covertly making my own personal batches.

For years I relied upon my own recipe, which produced the finest oatmeal cookies I had then experienced. But this time, I decided to see what my fellow food bloggers had to offer. Unable to resist Orangette's stunning photography, I decided to give her oatmeal cookies a go.

...And I reluctantly admit that I have been bested in the realm of oatmeal cookie-baking. I'm not sure what she does differently-- I'll have to compare recipes, because they're very similar-- but something about these cookies makes them subtly superior to mine. I suspect it's the use of melted, rather than softened, butter, which melds more evenly with the brown sugar to yield a melt-in-your-mouth consistency and flavor.

To Orangette's recipe I made three modifications, one of which was unintentional and two that were not. Instead of adding chocolate chips, I used a combination of pecans, walnuts, and dried cranberries. While I normally hold no reservations about adding chocolate to something, I think nuts and berries offer better companionship to the grainy oats. Plus, it makes me feel like less of a weirdo when I'm eating the cookies for breakfast at 7 am.

I also baked the cookies for a scant 15 minutes-- Orangette bakes hers for more than 20-- because I like the moist and chewy texture that results from underbaked cookie dough.

The unintentional modification was the use of 3 cups of oats instead of 1.5; perhaps having The Hours on in the background while I'm supposed to be measuring things isn't a good idea. Surprisingly, the accidental oat quantity seemed perfect, and I would be reluctant to make the cookies without doubling the oats again.

The original recipe can be found here. I'm posting it again, just in case.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs best-quality vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups best-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (or nuts, craisins, whatever)
3 cups quick-cook oats, or rolled oats zizzed in a food processor for a few seconds

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease cookie sheets with cooking spray or line them with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter and brown and granulated sugars until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk, mixing until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients, working until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and oats by hand, using a wooden spoon. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour. Use a table knife to scoop and press dough into ¼-cup measuring scoops, and plunk the mounds onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be three inches apart.

3. Bake cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cook completely. Eat.


Blogger Molly said...

Caroline, I'm honored to know that my cookies have been tried, tasted, and found so delicious! I'm pretty partial to them, myself, and I think part of the reason lies in their ever-so-slight hint of salt. And you may be right about the melted butter - it melds with the sugar in a way that is entirely different from softened butter. Whatever the reason, three cheers for a good, nubbly oatmeal cookie!

All the best to you and your lovely blog.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Molly, thank you for your kind words!

2:43 PM  

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