Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fail-Safe Oatmeal Cookies

Last week's post on my fail-safe chocolate chip cookie recipe made me think I should likewise share my fail-safe oatmeal cookie formula, so here it is! It's one of those recipes you can confidently customize with added ingredients as you see fit.

My sixteen-year old son likes these with raisins only--he's a minimalist with this kind of food. My twelve-year old son likes them best with big milk chocolate chips--he's not a big fan of raisins. I like them in just about any incarnation and so does the hubby. Today I made a big batch of dough and divided it up before putting in any of the add-ins. Then I made about two thirds of it into the boys' two favorite varieties, and to the remaining third portion I added raisins, toasted chopped pecans, and sweet shredded coconut. Yum.

This recipe makes a lot of cookie dough (you'll get dozens of cookies out of it). If your mixer bowl is not very large, you might want to halve the recipe or be ready to takeover and do the final mixing steps by hand.

Jane's Fail-Safe Oatmeal Cookies

(For a printable version of this recipe click here!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
A few drops of lemon extract (optional, but I think it helps brighten the flavor very subtly)
A few drops of almond extract (optional, but " ")
3 and 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 and 1/4 tsp. salt
1 and  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
6 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned, either will work)
2 cups raisins, moistened if they are very dry (per recipe below)

Measure the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Combine lightly with a fork or whisk and set aside.

Measure the oats into a medium bowl; set aside.

Measure the raisins into a bowl. Especially if you're using sun-dried raisins, I recommend you spread them out in the bottom of the bowl and cover them completely with warm water, or fruit juice. Let that soak for about ten minutes. Drain the raisins and gently squeeze them with paper towel to remove excess water. Set aside.

Measure out any additional ingredients you want to add in--like walnuts, pecans, coconut, or any type of chocolate chips--in whatever reasonable proportions you prefer, and set those aside.

Beat the sugars, butter, and shortening for no more than about two minutes at medium speed, until well mixed.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, still at medium speed until well combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, on low speed until it's just blended.

Add in any raisins, nuts, chips, etc. mixing on the lowest speed (or by hand if your mixing bowl seems too full).

At this point, if I were you, I'd divide the dough into a few clumps, wrap each in plastic, and freeze or refrigerate them for at least an hour, until firm. Also, I recommend you chill your cookie sheets in the freezer or fridge for at least 15 minutes before using them.

Cover your cookie sheets with parchment and portion the cookie dough about two inches apart. If you want hefty cookies use a no. 24 scoop (that's about a three-tablespoon scoop). Or, just roll the dough into balls with your hands; make the balls about the size of big walnuts, working quickly so as not to warm the dough. If you want smaller cookies, feel free--just be sure to bake them for a shorter amount of time. For flatter cookies, versus a puffier and more rounded-on-top version, press them down a bit before baking--not too much.

Bake for at least 13 minutes, checking as needed to prevent over-browning. The longer you bake them, the crispier they'll be. I like to have partly chewy, versus completely crispy, oatmeal cookies so I always try to remember--not always successfully--to take them out before they get very dark.

Let them cool on the pan for five minutes, then complete cooling on racks.

Now, go get a glass of milk, or a cup of coffee, or a nice glass of iced tea. Sit down, relax, and have a cookie.

(To comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the word "COMMENTS" just below.)


Mariana Menezes said...

Hey, I loved the receipe and everybody else at home enjoyed too. I never cooked anything before other than rice and eggs and the cookies turned out beautifully. Thank you so much. Mariana (São Paulo, Brazil)

Jane said...

Hi Mariana, Thanks so much for letting me know that you tried this recipe and it worked out so well for you! I just love hearing that. I'm glad your family liked the cookies!