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While I love to bake, it was once much more of a passion than it is today.  I think baking provided a sense of accomplishment — a finished product, if you will — that cooking didn’t seem to. (But does now.) Do you consider yourself a baker or a cook? Or both?

Perhaps it was the beauteous buttery aroma of the pan of cookies as it finished baking, the decorative slashes in my pie crust, or a bread loaf’s crisp satiny crust awaiting its smear of butter, and then again…

Recipe here for Banana-Cranberry Bread with White Chocolate Chips

…it could have been the molded perfection of an easily-turned-out bundt cake showing off in all its naked  glory on the cooling rack. Of course it might just as easily have been my kids at home… or my sweet tooth. (Which has kind of loosened its grip lately.)

Skinny I’m not.

recipe here for Suzy’s Lemon-Almond Shortbread Bars

No matter, there comes a morning when someone needs batch of cookies…like much-loved folks at a church board meeting (my last real meeting as I rotate off February 1)…and the oven knob turns, the beautiful KITCHEN AID whirrs, and soon my crunchy-crisp cookies are flying out of the oven. I hope you like this new version of a really old favorite on the blog, Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies, my family’s very top choice, though there are usually raisins in a few for Dave.  Try this:

“CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY” OATMEAL COOKIES

Makes 26-28 3 1/2-inch cookies

Check your oven thermometer if you haven’t done so recently. These cookies truly are best baked at 375 degrees F rather than 350 or 400. They’re lusciously simple, but the devil is in the details.  Read on…

  • 1 1/4 cups salted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon EACH kosher salt and baking soda
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1 cup toasted nuts, chopped (I like a combination of almonds, walnuts and pecans)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 degrees F. Place rack at center.

BEAT BUTTER AND SUGAR: With an electric mixer*, beat butter and sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy–about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add egg and extracts; beat 1 minute. Scrape bowl again. Tip in the flour, salt and baking soda on top of the butter mixture and lightly mix while still on top.  Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until well-mixed.  Slowly, one ingredient at a time, add oats, cherries, chocolate, and nuts until dough is thoroughly combined.

MAKE COOKIE BALLS: Using your hands or a small scoop, roll cookies into balls about 1 1/2- 2 inches in diameter, making sure balls are totally firm and solid.  Put dough balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet without parchment paper and press down quite firmly into rounds until about 1/3-inch thick using the palms of your hands or a lightly-floured flat glass bottom. This will ensure an evenly and beautifully brown crispy bottom.

BAKE one sheet at a time in center of oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy at edges.** Don’t under bake. Cool sheet on a rack for one-two minutes (any more and they’ll stick–place sheet back in oven one minute to loosen) and using a thin metal spatula, remove cookies to rack until cooled.  Store at room temperature in containers with tightly-fitted lids for 2 days or in freezer for 4 weeks. (Plastic bags will not keep these cookies fresh longer than a few hours.)

*I had no electric mixer for many years of baking and made cookies with a wooden spoon. I recommend the electric mixer!

**Of course you can bake two sheets at a time, switching and turning them them mid-way through if you’re short of time. I do think these cookies bake better one sheet at a time as the obtainable crispness is increased.

BAKER’S NOTES:  For more intense cherry flavor, decrease chocolate chips by 1/2 cup and increase chopped dried cherries by 1/2 cup; use 1/2 teaspoon each almond and vanilla extract.

{printable recipe}

BOTTOMS UP:
The bottoms should be evenly browned and crisp if the the balls of dough have made thoroughly sealed contact with the metal pan itself before they’re baked. No grease. No parchment paper.

My favorite cookie sheets are these. They’ll last for many years if properly cared for and are worth the investment. I’ve bought them at Williams-Sonoma, but they’re available on amazon, too.

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Order the real deal here if you don’t want to make cookies.  Quite a treat back in day…

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Eat a cookie when you can,

Alyce