Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thick Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies - November 3, 2009

The name of this recipe caught my eye first and lured me into trying it out. First, it's from the Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball, one of the folks behind Cook's Illustrated and Baking Illustrated so you think he's got to know what he's doing, right? Second, it had one of the key components I look for in a good oatmeal cookie recipe, namely that it calls for more oatmeal than flour. There are some cookies masquerading as oatmeal cookies but hardly have any oatmeal in it. They lie.

Unfortunately, so did this recipe. They didn't come out thick at all. I made this dough last weekend and froze the dough balls. So I baked these straight from frozen dough which should've given them a great shot at not spreading too much. Didn't matter. The recipe says to bake them for 15 minutes and no longer even if they look underdone. Underdone is one thing but raw is another which is how they still looked at 15 minutes. I left them in for almost 20 minutes. They had pretty much spread out in the first 10 minutes anyway. You'll notice the 2 cookies look very different from each other. The one on the left was baked in my regular oven. The one on the right was baked in my little convection toaster oven. It's hard to tell in the picture but besides the more brown color of the cookie on the right (which baked faster to get to that color in the convection oven than its pale cousin on the left from the regular oven), the convection oven cookie did end up thicker as advertised in the recipe. So I guess Christopher Kimball didn't lie but only if you use a convection oven. Which not all of us have. I know I can only bake 3 cookies at a time in my convection oven because that's how small my cookie sheet is that will fit in there. But it just goes to show you that even cookies from the same batch of dough can come out very differently, depending on your oven.

So overall, I'd consider this recipe a failure. Not because of the spread but there was something about the taste I didn't like either, almost like it's got too much spice. I didn't add the ground cloves because I didn't have any but I did use the cinnamon and allspice. I'm thinking it would've been better just to stick with only the cinnamon. The allspice might be what's throwing this off, at least for my taste buds. The other modification I made was to substitute chocolate chips for the raisins. I can't abide raisins in cookies, oatmeal or otherwise. They're mushy and squishy. I'd rather have them as the grapes they should've been (although not in cookies either).

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still firm
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups roll (not quick-cooking) oats
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup raisins

1. Heat oven to 350˚F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars by hand with a wooden spoon until pale yellow and very light. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add oats and mix to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except the raisins and fold them into the oatmeal mixture using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir in raisins.
4. Place dough in heaping tablespoons on parchment paper and bake about 15 minutes, or until edges are brown. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time for even browning. The cookies will still feel slightly undercooked and soft when removed from the oven. Slip parchment paper off of baking sheet and place on cooling rack. Repeat with a new sheet of parchment until all the dough is baked.

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