Friday, January 15, 2010

52 Cookies - Chapter 2

Okay, this week's installment of my year-long project is an oldy but goody. I have been making oatmeal cookies my entire life, but I've never really found that one recipe that makes me want to stop looking for an oatmeal cookie recipe. My kids and I love the oatmeal raisin cookies that they sell at Panera. They are big and soft and chewy and so delicious. I contacted their corporate headquarters once and asked them if they would share their recipe. I know, it was a long shot, but you never know if you don't ask. Why give out the recipe when they can charge nearly a dollar a cookie?! I think I'm in the wrong line of work. Definately in the wrong line of work. So I turn to a very reliable baking source for a different perspective on oatmeal cookies. I got this recipe from one of Marcy Goldman's cookbooks. I can't tell you which one because I got it from the library, made a copy of this recipe and returned the book. I can tell you that it did not come from "A Passion for Baking" because I own that book. If you have never used one of Marcy's cookbooks, you are in for a real treat. I love her cookbooks and writing style, she gives such good, basic helpful tips too. These cookies did not disappoint. But, alas, they are not the cookies from Panera. So my quest likely continues...

Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons water or half-and-half

To start out with, I changed it up a bit. I had no raisins in the house, but I did have dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Okay, you had to have known that I was going to find a way to work chocolate into this recipe. Afterall, last week's recipe had none whatsoever. So, I divided the dough in half and added 1/2 cup chocolate chips to one bowl and 1/2 cup dried cranberries to the other half of the dough. It's about giving people a choice.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer. Add the brown sugars and sugar and mix until fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in both kinds of rolled oats, the coconut. If you were using raisins, you would add those right now too. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well blended. Lightly beat the eggs, vanilla and water or half-and-half. I used water since I don't keep half-and-half in the house. Blend the egg mixture into the cookie dough.

Now, originally, Marcy has these cookies titled "Oatmeal Cookies the Size of Plates." As you can see, she has a sense of humor, which I really appreciate in the kitchen. As much as I admire Martha Stewart's sense of order and perfectness (is that a word?), you just can't go through life being so serious. So Marcy makes these cookies really big...REALLY BIG. In her cookbook it says that this recipe makes 8 to 12 large cookies. When I made them I ended up with a little over 5 dozen! I needed enough to take to church for the homeless folks, so I made them normal-sized. Scoop up the dough as you wish and put them on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart - they spread a bit. I line cookie sheets with parchment paper. It just makes for easier clean-up and they don't stick to the pan either. If you are making your cookies monster-sized, then Marcy says to bake for 12-14 minutes. I started out with 10 minutes and ended up settling on 11 mintues. Important note...if you like your cookies soft and chewy, please take the cookies out while the dough is still wet in appearance or you will end up with very crisp cookies. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack. As much as I love chocolate, I have to say, I think the cranberry variety is better. I think the moisture in the cranberries lends itself to a chewier cookie. Jenna chose the cranberry variety for me to pack in her lunch this morning. The great thing about an oatmeal cookie is that you can eat them totally guilt-free. Oatmeal is good for you afterall!

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