The desserts emerging from my kitchen lately have ranged from the multi-stepped and complicated to the not-quite-right and downright disastrous. So it shouldn’t have surprised me when the need for a dessert arose and I eschewed all recipes involving layers and hours of cooling/chilling and rolling and candy thermometers.
It was time for a good old-fashioned cookie bake. Two bowls, one cookie sheet, an eager cookie-dough-taster, and no more than an hour later, the cookie jar was filled. Continuing with the simplicity streak, I opted for oatmeal-chocolate chip. The only real hiccup between me and the finish line with these cookies was deciding between a “best of” kind of recipe or a more well-behaved recipe. I consulted the person who I knew would be eating most of the cookies and, being that he was fresh off a week of per-diem-fueled restaurant eating, he opted for the more restrained cookie.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos and the recipe.)
I selected a well-reviewed recipe on Cooking Light’s site. My only changes were to omit the pecans, double the chocolate chips (I did omit the pecans, did I not?) and use bittersweet chips in place of semi-sweet. And I got to use my brand new, easy release ice cream scoop. It’s a kitchen gadget I never thought I needed, but after wishing I had one at least 13 times (such as here), I finally caved and got one. And, as promised by many a baking maven, it produced very uniform (if smallish) cookies.
And while I was pleased with the uniformity, I had some pesky doubts about the cookies, in terms of texture and taste. I mean, 1/3 cup of butter in 36 cookies? Other recipes I’d seen called for 3 to 4 times as much. Similarly, most of the “normal” recipes topped out with around two cups of sugar (total; most recipes, like the one I used, call for a combination of white and brown sugar). Also notable, was the absence of any lighter baking “tricks” (like natural, unsweetened apple sauce, for instance).
Luckily, I didn’t have too long to ponder all these potential pitfalls. Before I knew it, the cookies were baked. They spread and browned beautifully while baking, producing lacy, thin rounds. And they had the ultimate oatmeal cookie texture: crispy and very nearly brittle at the edges, but bendy and chewy in the middle.
All that was left was the taste test. While these cookies are certainly not the most over-the-top, decadent cookies you’ll ever taste, they are good. Surprisingly good, in fact. They were like a bakery’s oatmeal cookie taken down a notch (um-bam!-ed if you will). They were slightly rich, with hints of sweetness. And like any great oatmeal cookie (in my book), they were earthy, spicy and studded with dark chocolate. I will say that the cookies that made it past Day One did get harder and drier. But that just gives me an excuse to share one of my favorite kitchen tricks (which I gleaned from my mom) with you: stick a slice of bread in the cookie jar. You won’t believe how soft it will keep your cookies or, in the case of these cookies, how it will soften and moisten them up if they become too crispy and dry.
Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1 cup regular oats
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips*
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk; set aside.
Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in pecans and minichips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.
* I used only bittersweet (not semi-sweet) chocolate chips (no pecans).