Sunday, January 18, 2009

Great Frakkin' Cookies

Friday's premiere of the final season of Battlestar Galactica was a great excuse to make some oatmeal raisin cookies. We'd be watching the premiere at our friend Jeremy's house with a bunch of friends, so the cookies wouldn't be tempting Noah and I for weeks (okay, days). But I had yet to find the ultimate oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, so flipped through my plethora of cookbooks. None of the recipes sounded totally awesome to me, so I went to my go-to recipe site online - Epicurious.
I like Epicurious because it collects recipes from Gourmet and Bon App├ętit, as well as publishing some site-specific recipes. But its main draw for me is the in-depth user reviews people post. It did not take me long to find a well reviewed, adaptable recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I switched up some stuff right off the bat - I was out of purple raisins (actually, I'm just hoarding them for my week-day morning Steel Cut Oats breakfast) so I subbed in golden ones. I also swapped out and reduced the white sugar in the recipe for turbandino, which added a nice crunch. I used half whole wheat flour, half all-purpose and I killed the dates in the recipe, which were frequently sighted by reviewers as being too sweet and/or overpowering in the recipe. I also did half with walnuts and half without due to nut-allergic friends.

The results - A Big Fat Hit! Craig claimed to have eaten five, Sharra ate at least two and took home a baggie full. The kids who hang out on our front porch got first crack at them and all asked for the recipe for their parents to make later. I'd call that a resounding recipe success.
Oatmeal Cookies with Raisins, Dates and Walnuts
submitted to Bon Appetit by Charmaine Haravey of Niwot, CO - July 2003
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 c. whole wheat flour, 1 c. all purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves * (My addition)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg* (My addition)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used 2 sticks butter and omitted the vegetable shortening below)
  • 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (I subbed in 1/2 c. turbandino raw sugar)
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey (I upped to 1/3 c. but would probably reduce back to original measurement)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raisins (I used golden raisins, which taste a touch citrusy. In a good way.)
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates (I omitted)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I halved, as I used them in only half the cookies)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil; butter foil. Blend first 5 ingredients in medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat butter, vegetable shortening, and both sugars in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in honey, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, raisins, dates, and walnuts. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing mounds 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly.

Bake cookies until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

* I think you could easily make some tasty substitutions in the recipe. Maybe 1 c. dried cherries and 1 c. dark chocolate chips (you'll probably want to reduce brown sugar to 3/4 c. to compensate for the sweetnesss). You could also do dried cranberries and add some orange zest. Or maybe a combo of chocolate and peanut butter chips (again, decrease the brown sugar and probably omit the turbandino entirely). The possibilities are endless. And the recipe is good enough to try them all.

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