Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oatmeal Crispies - Two Ways or any way you want! Plus, some baking tips.

This morning, I was making a bowl of Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal, sweetened with pure maple syrup, for breakfast.  I noticed an unopened carton of Quick-Oats, and it triggered memories of an oatmeal cookie recipe that I've been making for years. I originally found it in a book "Best of Country Cookies".  I remember when my son was around 10 years old, I'd whip up a batch of these cookies, and his friends were so impressed.  This is a cookie recipe that is about as perfect as you could ask for.  While it's still hot, it's crispy on the outside, and chewy in the middle.  They bake perfectly round, and they just make you look like a baking expert!

Now that my son is all grown up, I had forgotten about this recipe.  My cooking styles have changed a lot, since then.  For one, I try to avoid using shortening and I've permanently banished products like fake whipped cream, from the freezer section-- whose Brand Name shall remain nameless).   Living in California, where Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are all over the place-- it's so convenient for me to buy better alternatives.  When I re-read the recipe, I realized that it calls for all shortening, and I paused.  I used to buy Crisco Butter-Flavored shortening-- though I admit the product has improved and isn't so bad anymore. Crisco does work really well for this recipe, so if you like it-- then go for it! I pondered a bit, and then I decided to go half butter and half shortening.  Using all butter doesn't really work for this cookie recipe-- unless you like rock cookies.  If that's your case, use all butter.  As usual, let me show you:


The ingredients are, most likely already in your pantry-- brown sugar, white sugar, all-purpose flour, butter, eggs, vanilla and Quick Oats.  Old-Fashioned Oats don't work as well with this recipe.  I'm speaking from experience.  TIP: The reason my eggs are soaking in hot water, is to bring them to room temperature.  Whenever I bake, I find I get much better results when my butter and eggs aren't ice cold, from the fridge.

This is my first time using this product.  I bought it a while ago, with the intention of using it to make pie crusts.


This shortening is a little harder to work with, by the way. Pun intended.

I think the reason that cooks say they don't like to bake, is that it's precise. Eliminating or substituting dry ingredients is risky-- and you need to measure!  Here are a few tips that make baking more efficient for me.  Mis en place, is essential!  That is, organizing all of your ingredients in advance is key.  There's nothing worse than running out of an important ingredient!  I like to measure all of my dry ingredients (flour, leaveners like baking powder or soda, salt, spices etc.) and then I whisk them all together.  The dry ingredients, for this recipe, are all-purpose flour (I use unbleached), salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. TIP: This might seem like a hassle, but I've developed a habit of separating my eggs in a single bowl, and then adding them into one bowl. Why?  Look closely at the bottom right photo. That's an egg shell.  It's easier to fish out.  It's never happened to me, but it's also a way of catching a "bad egg" before it contaminates the rest.  You can smell a bad egg, right away. Ew.

Some people like to mix cookie batter by hand.  My hat's off to you!  My stand mixer is my worker bee.
First step is to cream the butter/shortening (or all shortening, if you wish), with the sugar.  This took about 3 minutes to become really creamy.  The eggs are added, one at a time.  Now, it's time to add vanilla.  I added one more ingredient--  "Buttery Sweet Dough Emulsion" is a product that I used to make "Perfect Pound Cake".  I read that this extract/emulsion is great for cookies, so I added a scant teaspoon. (This later, proved to work beautifully. I love this stuff!)

There's a lot of cookie batter, because I doubled the recipe.  You'll see why, in a moment.  I have a "guard" for my stand mixer bowl, so that flour doesn't fly everywhere. Ha!  I recently learned a cool trick-- when I dump all of the flour (as opposed to a little at a time) into the bowl, then I pulse the machine a few times.  This does a nice pre-mix of flour and I don't end up having to vacuum the mess from the floor. It so works!  I transferred the batter (which is quite soft) and blended in the oatmeal.

GADGET TIP: I have an assortment of scoops.  These make cookie baking so much easier. This one is about 2" wide. I have a smaller one, but I tend to grab this size the most.

I have Silpat mats, but lately I find that I prefer parchment paper. Either way, they make life a whole lot easier-- especially with clean up.  These go into 350F for about 11-13 minutes.  You want them to look golden, but a little gooey in the very middle is fine-- if you like chewy.  Otherwise, add another minute or two, to the baking time.
It's hard to resist, but you need to let these cook for a minimum of five minutes.  Otherwise, they can fall apart.  These are so delicious-- the flavor of the cinnamon and nutmeg work in harmony.  They don't overpower the cookie, but give it a special "mmmmmmmmmm" factor.  

 
All I can say is, "yummy!"  If you don't like nutmeg, that's a shame. I didn't, at one time.  The nutmeg, I think, is what makes the overall flavor so incredibly good.  I stored half of the plain dough in a bucket and put it into the refrigerator.  Now, let's get creative and make these my way!  One version I like is to add raisins, sometimes chocolate chips, and walnuts. My son hates these ingredients.  As for me, I'm a big fan of pecans.  Caramel or butterscotch makes me weak at the knees. Here I go:

I hoard baking chips. I don't know why, but I can't resist buying different flavors.  I decided to experiment with butterscotch morsels.  I added about 1 cup of morsels (half a bag, for a double recipe) and about one cup of chopped pecans. My pulse rate was going up, in anticipation...

Pretty...

 

I wasn't kidding! These cookies are fool-proof, if you follow the directions.  They smell amazing!
This cookie fell apart, because I didn't let it quite cool enough.  I call these "mine"!

Can you see the butterscotch bits? 
I'm telling you the truth... these rock my world. They really do.

These will be in my lunch box tomorrow-- guaranteed.The beauty is, I have a lot of unbaked dough.  I like to scoop out cookie-size dough, freeze them, and then store them in the freezer.  That way, I can bake just enough cookies, at a time, without the temptation of eating them all.  The dough is plain, so I can add any combo of extras that I want.  Next time, raisins!  


Back to work tomorrow,




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20 comments:

Frieda said...

This is a fabulous recipe! I do prefer the butter/shortening combo and I have never seen non-hydrogenated shortening~ If you like toffee, you should try some Heath toffee chips in these cookies. They are sooooo good!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

We love oatmeal cookies and yours look fabulous. I can understand why they "rock your world." They would mine also.
Sam

TKW said...

Oatmeal cookies are awesome--especially with those chips in them!

The Chef In My Head said...

Debby,
Your cookies look perfect and tasty! Thank you for all of the great tips. You were right, not blind. We did some work on my blog and forgot to put "Followers" back on. I got it added, thank you!! Have an awesome day ~LeslieMichele

Phoo-D said...

Oatmeal cookies are my Dad's favorite. I'll have to make these the next time he comes to visit!

Joanne said...

These cookies look quite dreamy! I love a really chewy cookie. I've heard that applesauce can also give it that chewy factor so I really want to experiment with different ratios of that and butter to see if I can get it right. One of these days...

Oatmeal cookies are my favorite...especially with butterscotch and pecans!

Mary said...

What a great recipes. The cookies look absolutely wonderful. I adore oatmeal cookies, si I'll have to give these a try. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Megan said...

These do look good and I have been having a thing for butterscotch lately! Wish I had a couple fo my lunch. ;-)

Cheryl said...

That looks like the perfect cookie and that pound cake, I am making it this weekend!

The Olive Oil Shop said...

I agree with your comment about most cooks and baking. Baking is an artform. It takes total attention and mastery of the ingredients being used. Not to mention, it takes more love for what one is doing.

Kim said...

I like to soak my eggs in warm water to bring them to room temperature too! Much quicker that way. I have issues with shortening too, but it does work really well for cookies. These look great!

WizzyTheStick said...

What a neat tip about soaking your eggs in warm water to bring them to room temperature. So simple. NOw why have I never thoughth of that before! Shortening gives a better texture, butter a nicer flavour - oh what a dilema to be sure:-)

dining room table said...

Thanks for sharing your tip about the eggs. And this recipe looks fabulous. Oatmeal cookies is something that my kids really like.

Debinhawaii said...

Mmm...I am making oatmeal cookies this week. These look crisp and delicious! ;-)

Karen said...

Good tips! I really like using the small scoops for cookies, too. One of the first things my Mom taught me about baking was to crack one egg at a time in case there was a bad one. Have been doing that for years and it's saved me a couple of time!

Darius T. Williams said...

You make this look sooo freaking easy. It looks amazing though. This is something I'm going to need to try out!

bella said...

Debby, I've never heard of organic shortening, so it's off to Whole Foods to get some. We don't have Trader Joe's in SC yet, but I can drive to Hotlanta (a very good excuse to go shopping!) to a store t there. I love hot oatmeal for breakfast and have it every day. I'll have to try your oatmeal cookie recipe, but have to admit that I've got a good one too (from a friend, and not from me) that I'll do a comparison with my hubby who's got the real sweet tooth! Thanks, Roz

Cristie said...

You give great tips! I do love this recipe.

r4 ds card said...

Cool recipe! Very easy to follow. Thanks!
I will make it at Halloween as a treat.

The Merlin Menu said...

I make a very similar recipe to this one, but add sea salt to the tops before baking. Out of this world.