I had plans of making a delicious and slightly healthier version of a standard Chocolate Chip Cookie today. I have made it once before and thought to tweak the recipe a bit to make them just right. Unfortunately, when it came time to assemble I had no idea what proportions I had combined last time. Somehow I lost my notes (wait, did I make notes?) and so I had to start over, otherwise known as wing it. They did not come out as planned. Instead of chewy and delicious cookies they turned into little free-form Chocolate Chip muffin-type things. Tasty, but not quite right.
Instead I bring to the cookie platter some delicious Oatmeal Cookies. Crunchy on the outer rim, soft and chewier in the center. Instead of the typical cinnamon, this recipe calls for nutmeg which apparently adds the spice you look for in an oatmeal cookie without overwhelming the flavor of the oats. All in all, a classically simple and delicious addition to your standard Christmas Cookies.
Since I still had the dough from the cookie experiment last night sitting in the fridge in my mixing bowl, and since it was now a solid immovable mass I decided to make these by hand. This of course meant that I would have to really let my butter soften to "room temperature", a rather relative term considering how chilly my kitchen was. We intentionally keep the thermostat low (compared to most households) figuring that we can put on a sweater or (hopefully) move around and warm ourselves up. Of course, this often backfires as I just want to curl up under a blanket with the kids. Baking projects are therefore an excellent way to warm things up around here (which then creates even more of a need to get moving). All of which is besides the point.
Instead of waiting for hours (days?) for the butter to soften in my cold kitchen, I decided to preheat the oven to around 100°F and let the butter sit in a glass bowl there for the 10-15 minutes it was going to take for Little Man and I to get everything else together and the dry ingredients mixed. This worked very well. The butter wasn't melted and liquidy, but it was nice and soft. Just right to use my potato masher and a little bit of muscle to mix it all up.
Some people prefer their oatmeal cookies plain (me), others prefer them with raisins (eww, why?), or butterscotch chips (my mom), or chocolate chips (okay, also me), or craisins (has possibilities), etc. etc. Oatmeal cookies are such a blank canvas and feel so wholesome because of the oats (just forget about the butter and sugar, okay?). Take this base and change it up at will. Add in your favorite goodies whether they are nuts or dried fruit, or even replace some of the flour with some cocoa powder. Switch the nutmeg back to the standard cinnamon if you like (or don't. I liked them just as much this way). Whatever you do, don't forget to scoop out a couple of balls of dough and freeze them (like I explained here) to save for later. You know, after your guest have eaten the cookie platter clean.
adapted from Baking Illustrated
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 sticks softened butter
1 cup brown sugar (it says light, I used dark because it's what I had)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups raisins, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chopped nuts, craisins, etc. etc. (you get the idea. Or not, your choice)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients, flour through nutmeg. (Leave the oats separate).
2. In a large bowl, use your mixer to beat the butter until it is creamy (or use a potato masher and your muscles to beat it into submission, if you feel like you have to earn these cookies). Add the sugars and keep mixing until they are thoroughly combined and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
3. Using a sturdy spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter starting with the flour and then adding the oats after the flour is combined. If you are adding any extras in, mix them in a the same time as the oats.
4. Use a 2 tablespoon (or larger) cookie scoop to portion out the dough onto your cookie sheet. Space them around 2 inches apart to allow for some spreading.
5. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, especially the edges (the centers might not look quite done but they will be just right). The original recipe said to bake them for 22-25 minutes which sounded terribly long for drop cookies. I baked mine for around 12-15 minutes and they were just right so maybe I just made them smaller then I thought or my oven runs hot (I've never noticed that before though). Use your best judgment. Let the cookies cool on their cookie sheets for a few minutes before removing them to a cookie rack.
Make sure you check out what everyone else is baking up for Christmas, we only have a few weeks left!
Week 10 Twelve Weeks of Christmas: