Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This has been the kind of week that demands comfort food and one of my favorite comfort foods is an oatmeal cookie. (Or rather, 2-3 oatmeal cookies.) It’s never a popular choice, but I actually love the classic oatmeal raisin cookie with it’s chewy texture and cinnamon flavor and it’s little bursts of fruity sweetness. But my all-time favorite cookie, hands down, is an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

I know I’ve said it before, but I think people really undervalue the wonder that is an oatmeal cookie because, I suspect, the assume that oatmeal cookies only come with raisins. But the power of the baker is the fact that you can put anything you damn well please in your cookie batter. And the wonder of oatmeal as a cookie ingredient is that it gives the prized crispy-at-the-edges-chewy-in-the-center texture with very little effort.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

There are all kinds of recipes for the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie that can involve extra steps or unconventional ingredients. I really like Alton Brown’s “Chewy” recipe, which relies on the use of bread flour, a higher ratio of brown-to-white sugar, and the use of an egg yolk rather than a whole egg. It’s a great recipe that yields fantastic cookies, but it takes a bit more work and a bit more brain power than I always want to put in. If you’re looking at all these “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipes and you’re thinking “who has the time?” I say: try oatmeal. Not only do you get that coveted chewy texture with less futzing, but if you use rolled oats, you’re baking with whole grains. Feel free to eat those cookies for breakfast. You’re welcome.

I think I’m going to need to make a batch of these this weekend. Here’s to a better week!

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from BettyCrocker.com)

Note: This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

  • 1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c quick-cooking or rolled oats (I used rolled)
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 oz chocolate chips (I like to use semi-sweet)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar and butter. Add in the vanilla and the egg and beat until fluffy. Add in the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet, leaving about 2” of space between each cookie. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Let the cookies sit on the pan for a minute or two before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

The Chewy

I’m currently in the process of remixing this song. I will call my version “Fell in Love with a Cookie.” The Chewy, more specifically. I fell in love with the perfect chewy chocolate chip cookie.

We don’t have cable, but a while back I had the good fortune of stumbling on an internet conversation about an episode of Good Eats where, true to his food science nerdery, Alton Brown broke down the secret to achieving the perfectly textured chocolate chip cookie for your preferences–either thin, puffy, or chewy. Brilliant. I’ve talked about my preference for chewy cookies before, so you know I had to try his chewy recipe out. And I’m so glad I did.

I used to make cookies all the time–for a long time, they were pretty much the beginning and end of my baking repertoire. While I was in college, I would watch my youngest sister Sarah (who was 2 or 3 at the time) every Friday, and we would almost always make cookies together. (We would also do other things like wash the dishes together where she would inevitably dump water all over herself so she could wear one of my shirts and use the coin-operated dryer at the end of the building. Or play make-believe games where Sarah insisted on being ‘the mom’ or ‘the teacher’ so she could boss me around. I tell you, this kid was born with attitude in spades.) Sarah was an active kitchen helper and always got frustrated when I wouldn’t let her crack the eggs into the bowl. She’d put one hand on her hip, try to grab at the eggs with the other and yell, “I can do it by my own!” The one time she did manage to grab the eggs from me, she dropped them on the floor and then immediately looked at me and said, “It’s your fault.”

Anyway, when I started grad school, I had some kind of cookie amnesia where I seemed to lose track of all my good cookie recipes. I lost the cookie touch. And then when I started baking more seriously, the cookies I made just seemed to pale in comparison to other more delicious items I was making. Cookie recipes are a dime a dozen, and it seems like a lot of them yield good, not great, cookies. Good is not really good enough for me. I had just resolved to start a hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe when Alton Brown’s recipe appeared before my eyes and the search ended before it had even begun. I’ve made this recipe three times in the past month and even Aidan has jumped in to help with the cookie making–this is how serious we are in our love for these cookies.

The Chewy

There are a couple of things that make this recipe distinct from your run-of-the-mill, back-of-the-chips-bag cookie recipe. First, the call for bread flour, which has a higher gluten content to increase the “chewy” factor. (Incidentally, Brown also did a show focused on substitutions where he featured a gluten-free version of The Chewy.) Rather than the 1-1 ratio of brown sugar to granulated sugar that appears in most chocolate cookie recipes, this recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar to only a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, which results in a richer flavor. The first step of the recipe also calls for melting the butter rather merely softening it and then directs you to chill the dough before baking. And besides yielding truly delicious cookies, it’s the butter content that makes me love this recipe even more–the fact that you can get truly chewy cookie with an all-butter cookie recipe is heartening. Keep your shortening! I don’t want it.

Have any GREAT, not good, cookie recipes to share?

The Chewy (Adapted from Alton Brown)

The original recipe says it yields 2 1/2 dozen cookies, but Aidan and I have been using an ice cream scoop to make really big cookies. With an ice cream scoop, we get more like 16-18 huge cookies. The original recipe also lists the bake time as 14 minutes, which I’ve found too long. 11-12 minutes is more like it in my experience.

  • 2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 c bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  1. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the melted butter and the sugars. (It takes a bit longer than you might expect to incorporate all the liquid from the melted butter. It will look a lot like caramel when you’re done.) Add in the egg and egg yolk, the milk, and the vanilla, beating until well incorporated.
  4. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough for about an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scoop 6 cookies onto the pan. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes (see the note above). Allow them to cool on the pan for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sugar Cookies

It’s been a month since my last blog post?! I have no idea where that long blog vacation came from, but I suspect it has something to do with the laziness that marked the second half of my winter break, the stress of the first weeks of the semester, and a lot of not feeling well throughout it all. Last week after I was taken out by an innocent bowl of ice cream, I began to suspect that I might have joined the ranks of the lactose intolerant. I’ve gone dairy-free for the past week and discovered that the food hangovers, chronic indigestion, and general pain that I had chalked up to eating “bad” food and/or stress have all gone away. So good-bye to feeling like crap and back to the blogging . . .

In addition to breaking up with dairy, there have been a few new additions to my humble kitchen, including a rockin’ new set of knives, some Pyrex pie plates bought at a ridiculous discount, and–most importantly–a sleek and sexy black KitchenAid Artisan Mixer given to me by my dad. For years, I’ve had a Sunbeam Mix Master that has been a tireless companion through a million baking efforts as I’ve tried to hone my skills. In fact, I ran the damn thing ragged so that by the end of November, every time I turned it on, it would grind and scream in protest–the death rattle of the small kitchen appliance. I had been pricing KitchenAid mixers for awhile, but they are expensive and I am broke broke broke. So I had just come to terms with the fact that I was looking into a baking future without a stand mixer when my dad swooped in and used the points he had accrued through a work-related incentive program to have an Artisan mixer delivered to my door. It was awesome. Just like my dad is awesome.

I picked this sugar cookie recipe at random to baptize the mixer, and I’m glad that I went with something that was simple and familiar so that I could really appreciate the difference a KitchenAid mixer makes. I am not a brand whore. In fact, part of my process of coming to terms with the fact that I would not be able to afford an Artisan mixer any time in the near future was convincing myself that it couldn’t possibly be *that* much better than the much more affordable Mix Master. But I kid you not–it is incredible. It’s simple and intuitive to use, it gets the job done right, and it’s a hell of a lot faster. Less time mixing, no need to continually scrape down the sides of the bowl. I am in love. That’s not to say that I don’t still have love for my now-deceased Mix Master. I do, because it was the perfect appliance for me during the many years where I was only baking casually and then while I was just starting to take on more complex and complicated baking challenges. But now that 80% of my waking thoughts revolve around baking, the upgrade to the Artisan mixer is GREATLY appreciated.

sugar cookies in the jar

But enough gushing. These cookies were good, and the recipe is quick and easy to throw together with things you’re already likely to have on hand. My one regret is baking these at the recommended time, which didn’t yield the “chewy” texture the original recipe claimed it would. I would describe the texture more as occupying a nice middle ground between a crispy and a cake-y sugar cookie. Frankly, I’ve come to realize the I prefer my cookies slightly under-baked and I think I need to start pulling them out of the oven a minute or two early to yield the kind of product I really want. Still, these cookies were tasty, not overly sweet, and would probably make for a great base recipe for playing around with different ways of flavoring the dough. If you chill the dough for a couple of hours, I think it could make for great cut-out cookies since the dough doesn’t spread or puff up during baking. But regardless of the shape they take on, the sprinkles will definitely brighten up your day and what middle-of-winter day doesn’t need some brightening?

sugar cookies

Sugar Cookies (adapted from Food Network)

  • 2 3/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c softened butter
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 to 4 tbsp buttermilk
  • sprinkles for decorating
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add enough of the buttermilk to make the dough soft, but not wet. (I used 2 tbsp)
  3. Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Moisten the top of each cookie with some of the remaining buttermilk and slightly flatten the top of each cookie. You could use a pastry brush for this step, but I simply dipped my fingertips in the buttermilk before flattening the cookies. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the sprinkles.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 375 degree oven, or until the cookies are slightly golden. Let the cookies stand for two minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Oatmeal Scotchies

I’ve been out of commission in the kitchen for the last two weeks or so because of finals. I will not bore you with the details of those two weeks or with a rant about how I hate finals with the fury of a thousand fires and would definitely punch the embodied form of finals in the face if there were such a thing. Suffice it to say I am glad that crap is over. Plus I managed to turn two out of three projects in on time this year, which (sadly) is probably the best my track record has been for a very, very long time. Today, after laying around and watching a bunch of crappy tv, I finally got around to cleaning up the post-apocalyptic scene that was our kitchen. And then I promptly messed it all up by making some post-finals cookies.

But first, some evidence of our record-breaking snowfall this month. I believe these were taken shortly after the end of our 90 or so straight hours of snow.

Our snowy street

buried car

Kids Sledding

Now back to the cookies. I have a deep, deep love for oatmeal cookies. There are a lot of people who do not feel the same way. As a kid, I assumed these people really just hated raisins and were too stupid to recognize that oatmeal cookies could be made with other wonderful things like chocolate chips. Now, I’m more inclined to think it has to do with texture preferences. I will eat a crispy cookie, but in the grand scheme of things, I think they kind of suck unless you have something good to dunk them in. I prefer my cookies to be of the chewy variety, and oatmeal almost always guarantees a chewy result. Thus, I love oatmeal cookies. As add-ins go, dried fruit and nuts are okay, chocolate is a million times better, and today I’ve discovered that butterscotch chips are also a big win. Despite the fact that the recipe is called “oatmeal scotchies,” which smacks of cutesy-ness in a most unpleasant way, these cookies are definitely a new favorite. Easy to make, homey, and oh so good.

Oatmeal Scotchies

On the subject of chewy cookies, I was flipping through a book at the bookstore the other day called Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies. All the recipes are arranged by texture. Brilliant! Why didn’t someone think to do this sooner? And I’ve read some good reviews to boot. This book is going on the wish list, especially since the chewy cookie recipes come first.

Scotchies 2

Now that finals are over, I’ve been making big plans for all of the things I would like to get done over break, none of which include anything remotely school related. I’m a big list maker, so I’ve been compiling lists of all kinds of things–lists of things to clean, lists of things to read, lists of things watch. One of the many lists I’ve come up with is a list of ten things I want to make before the semester starts again:

  1. Bagels
  2. Salted Caramels
  3. Cinnamon rolls
  4. Peanut Butter fudge
  5. Cornmeal biscuits
  6. Biscotti
  7. Beer bread
  8. Crackers
  9. Cranberry Orange scones
  10. Soft pretzels

Blog, I expect you to hold me to this list. I’ve got until January 16th to whip all these up. Think I can do it?

Oatmeal Scotchies

I used the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse Butterscotch Chips bag, but I’ve seen the same recipe posted all over the place. These had a tendency to stick like crazy-pants when the butterscotch chips came in contact with the pan. It might be worth laying down some parchment before you scoop these out.

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 c oats
  • 11 oz bag of butterscotch chips
  1. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until combined. Stir in the oats and the chips.
  2. Drop cookie dough by the spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

Costumes and Cookies

This past weekend, our friends hosted a Halloween party at their house full of good food, plenty of drinks, fun costumes, and one incredibly nerdalicious rap from one of my office mates about composition and rhetoric. I’m sure pictures and video of said rap have been posted to facebook by now (I don’t know for sure because I don’t do the FB thang anymore) but the best part was definitely the last two lines, which were something along the lines of “Like that Burke guy, can I get an ‘I identify’?” Seriously. We grad students are a strange breed.

Aidan and I went as Stan and Wendy from South Park, and I knit hats and mittens for us to wear for our costumes. This is what Stan and Wendy look like on the show:

SP Stan and Wendy

And this is what Aidan and I looked like in our costumes:

Aidan/Stan and Anna/Wendy

Not a great picture, but you can see how something that was supposed to be a fun costume got a little frightening when I put a black wig on. Still, we had fun.

For the party, I made another batch of the pumpkin cupcakes I made for a department potluck a few weeks ago, but I also made a batch of some peanut butter candy corn cookies using a recipe featured that week on Tasty Kitchen. These start with a basic peanut butter cookie dough with some peanuts mixed in. You shaped the dough into balls with a piece of candy corn in the middle so that the candy corn melts while the cookies bake. Then after you pull the cookies out of the oven, you top them with a couple more pieces of candy corn. The result is a nice sweet and salty combination and the melted candy corn in the middle of the cookie adds a nice chewy texture.

PB Candy Corn cookies

And here, I have to cite Aidan who gave the best synopsis of these cookies when he told me that they weren’t the best but were “tweakable.” These are definitely a “good, not great” kind of cookie. I like the concept, but I also would have preferred a slightly softer cookie, which I think might be achieved by cutting some of the butter with shortening. Aidan also suggested that the peanuts were too much texture, and I agree. At times, the addition of the peanuts also made it difficult to get the candy corn into the cookie dough. You would probably get just the right amount of crunch with these cookies by simply substituting crunchy peanut butter and omitting the peanuts. If anybody out there makes these or has made them, I’d love to hear about it.

more cookies

Great cookies or not, we had an excellent Halloween. Hope you did too.