Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Evaporating Oatmeal Cookies


I took a plate of cookies to work today.  It was an unassuming, large paper plate, filled to capacity with oatmeal raisin cookies.  I sent an e-mail saying "...plate of cookies...on my desk."  They evaporated!!!  By lunch time that big ol' plateful was GONE.  

Some people came back in the afternoon for more.  Ohhhhh, I'm sorry.  "I'll be happy to make some more," I meant to say, but it may have sounded more like "you snooze, you lose..."

So I think I'd better pass along my recipe, with a few hints that I've learned along the way:

Evaporating Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies

Get out 2 sticks of butter.  Let them sit on the counter for at least an hour.  Butter used in making cookies should be room temperature, otherwise it won't cream properly with the sugar. (I've only recently learned that fact, after a lifetime of taking it cold from the fridge or trying to not-so-gently warm it in the microwave - often ending with a puddle.)  The temperature of the butter makes a difference in the recipe because most cookie dough recipes depend on the emulsion that occurs when you cream butter and sugar together. Butter and sugar form the basic structure of the cookies; the sugar cuts small air pockets into the butter, which are stabilized by the flour and filled with C02 from the baking soda/powder. (TMI, I know...)  Basic theory is: this emulsion will not happen if the butter is too hot or too cold.  Old dogs, new seemed to work very well with this one.  Simplified:  if your finger leaves a dent, it's ready.

In a small bowl, combine 3 beaten eggs with 1 cup raisins and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Let that sit while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In your mixer bowl - or bowl with hand mixer - cream together the room temperature butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 cup regular sugar.  May I digress - again?  Perhaps only those who have experience with You Learn to Bake from 4-H when they were 10 (are you listening, Mary C?) - or paid attention in home ec class - or were my kids sitting on the counter when they were tiny - understand that butter is "creamed" when it has almost doubled in mass and it has lightened to a yellowish-white color.  With brown sugar, like in this recipe, it won't be quite so white and fluffy but you will note a difference in texture.  It takes awhile and will lead to a lighter, better cookie.

Add to the creamed butter and sugar a mixture of 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons baking soda.

Stir until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed.  Then stir in the egg/raisin/vanilla mixture.  By now the moisture of the eggs has helped the raisins to plump a bit and absorb the vanilla won't be sorry you took that extra step.

Stir in 2 cups rolled oats (either quick or old-fashioned.  I prefer old-fashioned but that's just me.  Ha, just ask my daughters...) and 1 cup chopped pecans.

The dough will be a little bit stiff - just drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet.  Normally a huge fan of using small-to-large ice cream scoops for dipping cookie dough or muffin batter, I really did use heaping teaspoons for this one and it turned out great!  This is a plenty-buttery recipe so you don't have to grease the baking sheets - but you can.  Side note:  I love Air Bake pans.  This is not a paid endorsement.  They are simply wonderful pans.  Insulated pans keep your bottoms from burning.

Bake for 12 - 15 minutes in the preheated oven - until the edges are brown and the centers are looking more cookie-like than mushy.  Cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.   

If you eat them while they are warm, I make no guarantee that you will be able to stop.

I know that at least one blog reader wants to know how to change this up a bit.  The thing about this cookie - and most - recipes is that there are some ingredients you can mess with, and some you should leave alone.  Leave alone things like the total amounts of flour (although you can mix up the flours a bit, use some wheat or other interesting types), and the baking soda and salt.  But this recipe is destined for flights of imagination!  Add some semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips in place of - or along with - the raisins.  Leave out the raisins and pecans altogether, and have plain oatmeal cookies...add some coconut...I'll suggest that you leave in the cinnamon, though - it was the most-commented-about ingredient from my happy taste-testers today.  They seemed to love the hint of cinnamon with the taste of the oatmeal. 

Enjoy!  Go ahead.  Oatmeal is good for you.


  1. You Learn to Bake - Oh my! (I'm listening!) The cookies look scrumptious!

  2. According to my mom, my grandmother would take the little bit of jelly left in the bottom of the jar that no one ever wanted to eat - and add it to her oatmeal cookies. And she would soak her raisins in hot water, then drain them before adding them to the cookie dough. Makes the raisins plump and moist.

  3. Thanks for that yummy tip, Mary. I love the jelly idea. And it does help to plump the raisins! They can get almost hard and not-so-pleasant.

    Remember taking those 4-H food projects to the fairgrounds...then waiting not-so-patiently for the results of the judging? Do kids even do ANYTHING like that any more?