Saturday, February 20, 2010

Everything Oatmeal Cookies

I meant to just make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  I really did.  But then this thing happened where I realized that I only had 6-grain rolled cereal instead of just oatmeal, and I didn't have enough of one type of chocolate or nuts, and then I over-salted my dough on "accident", which lead me to believe that I should probably put some pepper in there too.  Who doesn't like salt with pepper?  Then I realized that I had a tiny bit of pumpkin pie spice that really needed to be used up, and it seemed silly to just let it sit there.  Right?  You can probably see where I'm going with this.

But here's the thing: they're really lovely.  They're both chewy and crispy, the ridiculous mixture of spices and flavors is actually quite subtle, and they almost kind of sort of seem healthy.  I guess they would be if it weren't for all of the butter and sugar, but if that were an issue we wouldn't be talking about cookies at all.  Oh, whatever.

I like recipes that leave room for adjustment.  I cannot/do not ever follow a recipe the exact way that it is written, and I don't think that you (whoever you are) should feel obligated to, either.  It's what makes cooking so enjoyable for me.  The fact that no matter what recipe or idea I'm working from- I can always find a way to make it my absolute own.  Thursday night I made creamy roasted mushroom and sausage soup with potatoes and herbs de provence.  I'd love to blog about it, but creamy soup with brown bits floating in it- while delicious- is actually quite hideous to photograph.  The point being- is that I went looking for a mushroom soup recipe- found one- and then completely changed everything about it.  And it was exactly what I wanted.   I just didn't know it beforehand.

I'm rambling.  This is about cookies, not ugly soup.

So, here is the recipe, as I made it.  It comes with lots of notes, because some things can be subbed and changed, and others can't.  I think it's generally good to know which are which.

- 1 cup butter, softened (melted is fine if you're working with cold butter- you'll just need to put your dough in the fridge for an hour before baking)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use homemade, so I like a stronger flavor)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (if you aren't into salty cookies just stick with the 1 tsp, if you are- go with 2 tsp, but not over)
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (optional- you can also use a combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice, but stay heavy on the cinnamon and ginger and light on the others)
- 1/2-1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (if this is just too weird for you it's fine to leave it out- but it adds a really nice spiciness that I love in sweets)
- 3 cups oatmeal (or rolled cereal- I realize that most people will only have oatmeal on hand- but if you want a really good chewy, toothsome cookie- Bob's Red Mill has a great 5 grain variety, and I find my 6-grain (plus sunflower seeds) mixture in the bulk bins at Ballard Market)
- 1 cup chopped nuts (I used a combination of walnuts and hazelnuts, plus a tablespoon of flax seeds)
- 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate bits and pieces (mine was half semi-sweet chocolate chips, and half dark chocolate that I cut into chunks/slivers with a knife)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 C)
2. Using a whisk, cream together butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix into the creamed mixture until just blended.
4. Add oats, nuts, and chocolate, and stir until combined.
5. If you used melted butter- let your dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
6. Drop dough by heaping teaspoon-fulls onto ungreased baking sheets.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes (check at 12 to see if they look wet still).  Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.

These cookies are easy to veganize- I'd use shortening rather than Earth Balance, unless you cut the rest of the salt from the recipe.  Eggs would work well with pretty much any sub, although I'd personally do flax, or Ener-G rather than tofu/applesauce/banana subs.

Got it???

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