We’ve had a couple exciting events in the past couple of weeks, and by events, I mean excuses to bake. Chocolate shortbread cookies. Buckwheat coffee thins. Black sesame biscuits. For days, I couldn’t stop. I had bags of flour open on the counter – and not just all-purpose or cake: whole wheat pastry, barley, even amaranth. I was on the warpath through Pure Dessert and Good to the Grain, and I couldn’t be stopped.
Until last week, that is. I took a couple of almond shortbread cookies out of the jar for D and me after dinner. She took one look at the crumbly, sandy cookie in my hand, then looked at me, and then slowly shook her head. “I can’t eat those anymore,” she said. “Can’t you just make normal, ordinary cookies?”
And so, the gauntlet was laid down.
“Normal ordinary” generally means chocolate chip (these ones in particular). But this time, I pulled out my jar of oats. And the little jar next to it, which contains – of course – raisins. I was determined to show D and the world that chocolate chip is not automatically the standard bearer in the ordinary cookie category, and judging by the reaction these cookies got, I’d say I was successful.
These aren’t delicate or lacy. They’re chewy and thick. Unlike all those sad cookies that start out as perfectly-rolled balls but slowly deflate into flops when cooked, these cookies stay nice and plump, thanks to a spin in the refrigerator, which firms up the dough. Once they’ve cooled, you’ll find there’s plenty of cookie to sink your teeth into. I also managed to exercise unusual self-control when making these, so — despite my inclination — they have no cinnamon; just a dusting of nutmeg and cloves, which gives them a more subtle, delicate spice and really lets the oat flavor come through. But don’t take my word for it: D took one bite and nodded vigorously. “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”
Tall, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
A couple notes, because I can’t resist. First, if you’re not a raisin fan, substitute 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips. If you do this, I’d suggest sprinkling the tops of the cookies with a bit of flaky salt, which will offset the sweetness. Also, don’t skip the refrigeration part; it’s the key to getting cookies that stand tall.
1 cup (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, softened but still firm
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and evenly space two racks in the oven. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars, and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves together, then stir them into butter-sugar mixture with wooden spoon or mix them in on low just until the flour disappears. Stir in oats and raisins.
Form dough into about 40 1.5-inch balls, placing each dough round onto one of two parchment paper–covered, large cookie sheets. Refrigerate sheets for about 45 minutes, until dough has firmed up. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. (Halfway during baking, rotate cookie sheets from front to back and switch them from top to bottom.) Slide cookies on parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
Once cookies are rolled into balls, you can also freeze them uncooked for later. If freezing them, put the cookie sheets into the freezer until dough has frozen, about 1 hour. Put frozen balls of dough into a sealable plastic bag. Cookies will keep this way for a couple weeks.