Friday, April 1, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


I hesitated for a long time about sharing this recipe.  It's not because there's anything wrong with it; quite the opposite, actually.  I wasn't sure about sharing this recipe because as much as I love sharing food and knowledge, I also like to keep some secrets.  This was one of them.

Since high school this was, and still is, my most popular recipe among my friends.  In fact, my best friend (and at one point boyfriend), Josh still raves about them.  It was my go-to gift for him: Valentine's day, Christmas, and random surprises.  The majority of the time when I made these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, at least some of the cookies were going to him.  In fact, I still associate this recipe with memories of him and thus these cookies always make me smile.

Last summer, Josh asked me to teach him the recipe because he wanted to use it to bake cookies for someone he was interested in, and then just a couple weeks ago, he asked once more for the recipe and instructions.  He isn't much of a cook or baker, so when I came home (to Maryland), we got together so that I could show him how to make these cookies.

It wasn't until I started showing him that I realized how much more goes into making food than just the ingredients.  There are very specific things that I do that I sometimes forget to write down because, having done them so many times, the steps seems so logical to me.  For example, not using cookie dough right away.  Even before the New York Times came out with its "research" on how to make the best chocolate chip cookie (which I still haven't tried, because I like my cookie too much), I was freezing or refrigerating my dough for at least a day.  At first it was for the convenience of time.  In high school I couldn't afford to make cookie dough and bake cookies in the same night; it was too much to do after coming home from track or cross-country practice with all my homework to do as well.  But then I noticed that my cookies had a better texture when the dough wasn't used right away.  They spread less; they were chewier and more moist; they caramelized better.  I've also learned how truly important it is to cream the butter and sugar for long period of time and to beat in the eggs, milk, and vanilla until the "batter" is essentially frosting.  The lightness of the cookie depends on this step.

What is posted below makes enough dough for two tall cylindrical plastic containers (the kind you get from take-out Chinese food) of cookie dough, and makes enough cookies for at least 4 or 5 trays of baking.  These don't spread a whole lot—that’s what the refrigeration step does for you—but I also shape my cookie dough “balls” into thick pancakes, and so I can fit a good number of fat cookies on each sheet, maybe 9.

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are light, moist, and relatively healthy.  They don't have an over abundance of butter or sugar, and I think their texture makes them more fun to eat than plain chocolate chip cookies.  They'll keep for about a week at room temperature, in an air tight container, but sometimes I will freeze them or refrigerate them after baking.  In the fridge they will keep for about two weeks; in the freezer, about a month.  I know that sounds strange, but I like the taste of cold cookies sometimes.  Because of their airiness, the cookies never actually freeze to an icy hardness, but instead get very cold, and the chocolate chips snap in your mouth in a very satisfying way.


Also, as a testament to how good these cookies are, I couldn't even snap a picture of all of them after baking, because they were gone so quickly.  I do like the close ups, though, and the very first picture on this post gives you an idea of what size my cookies are so you can have that reference for baking times.

Happy baking!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp salt (use slightly more if use sea salt)
2 large eggs, at room tempearture
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 ½ cups oats
semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I generally use about 3/4 of a bag)


Cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add the granulated sugar and salt and cream until mixture is light and fluffy.  This should take at least 3 minutes with a electric or strand mixer.
Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk. Beat until completely smooth. Should take about 2 minutes with a mixer.  The mixture should look airy, fluffy, and almost frosting-like at this point.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir with a fork to make sure the dry ingredients are evenly combined.
Add the flour to the “wet” ingredients slowly in 3 additions.  Stir slow after each addition and then beat briefly before adding the next addition.  After all the flour has been added, briefly beat till smooth (no more than 1 minute).

Stir/beat in the oats and chocolate chips until evenly combined.  Put the dough into a plastic container and refrigerate (or freeze) for AT LEAST 24 HOURS. This is the key to making good cookies (this also prevents the dough from spreading out unevenly in the oven). It’s even better if you can wait 48 HOURS.

If you'd like, you can also freeze the dough at this point and keep it frozen for up to one month before using.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Shape your cookie into balls.  Depending on the size of the cookie, your baking time will vary.  I shape my cookie dough balls about the size of a ping pong ball or golf ball and these bake for about 14-15 minutes on the middle rack.  I take them out and leave them on the rack to cool, as the hot pan will allow them to cook a bit more, and this slow, even type of "end baking" is what gives the cookies their deliciously chewy texture.

Do not bake on more than one rack at the same time. This will make the heating uneven and will change the way the cookies bake.  Also, do not place cold dough onto a hot cookie sheet.  Make sure your cookie sheets are cool.  I generally rotate between two or three different pans/cookie sheets. 

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