Chewy, not chalky

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Oh the oatmeal cookie.  Such potential, yet, like the skin of my heels, such an inherent propensity for dryness.  Who knew that the perfect oatmeal cookie is actually pretty simple, requires no mixer, calls for basic ingredients, and tastes totally delish?!
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The process of moving to a new state 400+ miles away requires lots of boxes, lots of tape, and lots of patience — not to mention lots of limbo time, in which the exact location of certain essential items (ahem, underwear, scissors, stand mixer, …) is not necessarily known nor is it necessarily accessible.  Yet still, the cookie calling continues (as does the need for socks and undies).

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Luckily, not all cookies require a stand mixer (though bowls and measuring devices are typically a plus).  As fate would have it, I was watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen in which they tackled a battle that I frequently wage:  achieving an actually crave-worthy oatmeal cookie and doing so without the aid of a Kitchen-Aid.

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In the ATK recipe, the brilliant test kitchen chefs lent lasting moisture to the dough through a combo of butter and oil, amped the chewiness with a higher brown:white sugar ratio and bonus egg yolk, and added additional flavor with browned butter (a personal favorite of mine, see here for soliloquy).  Also, no stand mixers were exercised in the making of these cookies — just what the nomadic chef needs!
I added a few additional flavor boosters, including a double-punch of vanilla, using both whole vanilla bean and vanilla extract, along with toasted flaxseed, a flavor that’s hard to describe but meshes beautifully with these cookies.
Though you can totally stay classic and just put a 1/2 cup of raisins in these cookies, I was on a bit of a pantry purge when making these gems, and I thought that the white chocolate chips would play nicely with the super-vanilla-ey-ness of the dough and that the butterscoth chips would synergize with the warmth of the brown butter and toasted flaxseeds.  Yep, that happened.

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A cookie scoop really makes forming these cookies a breeze, especially because the more stuff you add to the dough, the harder it becomes to form the cookies.  Also, since no chill-time is recommended with this dough, it’s rather sticky, so, unless you’re a reptile (which, if you are and you’re still reading this, power to you), good-old palm rolling isn’t really an option.  These cookies keep beautifully at room temp and require no frostings or glazes, just a tall glass of ice cold milk!

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Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Based on: America’s Test Kitchen‘s “Big Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies”
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Scrapings from 1 whole vanilla bean pod
1/4 cup whole golden flaxseed (optional, but HIGHLY recommend)
1 cup bread flour (can sub A-P flour, but texture will be slightly different)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup raisins (if not adding nuts/chips, bump up to a 1/2 cup of raisins)
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup butterscotch chips (optional)
In a light-colored skillet or small saucepan, melt butter, & continue to cook, swirling pan occasionally, until browned (butter will foam up, then start crackling, then go silent, at which time you’ll see small browning bits forming at the bottom of the pan as the liquid part suddenly turns amber-colored — DO NOT LET BURN).  Immediately transfer hot browned butter to a glass dish, scraping all of the browned bits into the dish as well, using a heat-safe rubber spatula).  Stir cinnamon into hot butter, and allow to cool at room temp for 20 minutes.  Reserve skillet, as-is.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine both sugars with the scrapings of the vanilla bean, submerge the scraped pod into the sugar mixture, and set aside while butter cools.
In the same skillet you used to brown the butter, toast the whole flaxseeds over medium heat, stirring regularly with a heat-safe rubber spatula, until you smell the rich, toasty aroma.  Remove from heat, and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, & nutmeg.
Remove the scraped pod from the sugars, and discard pod.  Whisk oil into the sugar mixture, then whisk in the cooled browned butter until totally smooth.  Whisk in egg, then yolk, then vanilla extract, whisking until thoroughly combined.  Add dry ingredients to bowl, and quickly whisk together, using firm strokes, until JUST combined (do not overmix).  Use a rubber spatula to fold in the oats until uniformly dispersed.  In a separate bowl (go ahead and use the one you mixed your flour in), combine the raisins, walnuts, and chips. Fold mix-ins into the cookie dough, along with the toasted flaxseed, if using (which you really, really should).  The dough will likely not form a single, cohesive clump at this point, but do not worry!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out dough, using the side of the bowl to really compress the dough into the scoop — for larger cookies, make heaping scoops, and use a damp palm to compress the dough.  Hold scoop firmly against the lined baking sheet, and release the dough from the scoop.  Place 8 scoops per baking sheet, then use lightly dampened fingertips to flatten the dough mounds to ~1/2″ thickness, with neatly rounded edges.
Bake for 5 minutes, rotate baking sheets, then bake for an additional 4.5 – 5.5 minutes, until edges closest to baking sheets have started to brown and tops appear slightly moist but not wet (you want them ever-so-slightly underbaked at this point).  Remove from oven, and allow cookies to sit on hot sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks for complete cooling.
Cooled cookies may be stored in airtight containers, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.

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