Classic Baking: Oatmeal (C)raisin Cookies
When I was a young baker, one of the first recipes that I mastered was oatmeal raisin cookies. I loved the buttery flavor with the craggy texture of oatmeal, nuts and raisins. And my memory of those cookies was that they were sweet spicy in flavor.
Over the years, I drifted away from making the classic cookies. I was focusing more on breads and other baked goods to bother with the old fashioned classics. However, a couple of years ago, I had a craving for those oatmeal cookies from childhood. My recollection was that I used the recipe for oatmeal cookies included in my old Betty Crocker cookbook. So Ipulled out my book and reviewed the recipe. Hmm. The Betty Crocker recipe didn't seem to be what I remember making because there was only cinnamon in the dough. I recalled using other spices including ground cloves. Okay, memory is a funny thing. Maybe I really used the recipe for oatmeal cookies on the side of the oatmeal box. Like Betty Crocker, Quaker Oats' recipe only called for cinnamon.
So I made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies using the Betty Crocker recipe. As I tasted a cookie, I knew that this was not what I used to bake. The cookie was good but kinda plain Jane. I knew my memory was right and that I used a recipe that called for more than just cinnamon to flavor the cookie.
I searched the Internet and finally found an oatmeal cookie recipe on allrecipes.com that called for the addition of ground cloves and allspice in addition to cinnamon. I gave it a try and knew that I had found a keeper. The oatmeal cookies tasted just I remembered - buttery, nutty and spicy. Wanna try 'em? Okay! Let's mix up a batch.
First, pull out your butter to let it soften up while you preheat the oven and gather your other ingredients. While oatmeal cookies already have a good amount of whole grain with the oatmeal, you can push up the whole grain count even further by using white whole wheat flour in place of half of the all purpose flour. No one will be the wiser! Mix together all purpose and white whole wheat flours with baking soda, ground cinnamon, cloves and allspice and salt.
Measure out your oatmeal and raisins and nuts, if your using them. Since it's fall, I chose to use dried cranberries in place of raisins. I also skipped the nuts. I love nuts but I am baking these cookies for my friends at the dog park. One of my friends has a nut allergy so I will often avoid adding nuts to a recipe (or I'll add nuts to half the recipe leaving the other half nut-free) so that he can enjoy the treats with everybody else.
In your mixer, cream together softened salted butter and both granulated sugar and light brown sugar. What do I mean by creaming? Using medium speed, you want to beat the sugar into the butter until the mixture is light and fluffy. This creates air pockets in the butter which will make your cookies (or cakes) light. If you have creamed your butter and sugar properly, the mixture will look like the photo to the right.
After creaming the butter and sugars, beat in two eggs. When you beat in eggs, you want to add them in one at a time (unless the recipe tells you otherwise). You want to be sure that each egg is beaten in thoroughly before adding the next egg. How do you know if an egg is thoroughly beaten in? If you did it right, you should not see any remnants of egg yolk or white in the dough. In the top photo, you can still see the egg. The bottom photo shows no evidence of an egg. When you add in your second egg, add in a teaspoon of vanilla with it and beat to incorporate thoroughly.
Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture and then fold in the oatmeal and the fruit and nuts, if your using them. As you can see, this is a substantial dough. Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough (I use my cookie scoop!) and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten the dough balls slightly and slide the sheet into the oven. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they are lightly golden. After removing the cookies from the oven, let them cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes before removing them to cool completely.
Why should you wait to let the cookies cool on the sheet? A cookie hot from the oven is very tender and will break and crumble on you as you try to lift it from the pan. Letting your cookies set up the baking sheet a few minutes before removing them helps to avoid the cookie crumble.
And there you are, dear friends! Delicious sweet spicy oatmeal cookies. Where's the milk??!