Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oatmeal raisin cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies, let me count the ways I love thee. I can say with unshakable certainty that this is my absolute favorite cookie ever. Ever! (Note: I just got up to get one to eat because that introduction made me hungry. I am my own worst enemy.) Oatmeal raisin cookies are about as classic as a cookie can get, aside from the chocolate chip cookie. And, yet, this is the cookie I'm asked to make most often. I chalk this up to the hard work I've put into my obsessive mission over the past 5+ years to find an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that can only be called superior to its peers. [insert fanfare and battle cry here]

As with any recipe deemed a "classic", there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of variations. Everyone has an idea as to how oatmeal raisin cookie should look, smell, feel, and taste.  So, what is Katy's ideal oatmeal raisin cookie like?

1. Incredibly chewy but cohesive enough that, when dipped into milk, doesn't fall apart, leaving soggy chunks in the bottom of your glass.

2. Not "kicked up" with chocolate or nuts of any kind. The cookie has enough elements of distinct flavor to give it depth.  Adding chocolate to this is like that Britney Spears guest spot on How I Met Your Mother last season: totally distracting from the quality of the original product and annoyingly pandering for new fans.

3. Lots of raisins. I've had versions that put maybe two raisins in my cookie. No freakin' way, unacceptable.

4. Big. This is not a dainty cookie to eat with your pinky finger extended or at a tea party. No, this is a cookie that should be big enough to satisfy with just one (but, by all means, don't stop at one)... that's what she said.

I have tried between 10 and 15 oatmeal raisin cookie recipes. No joke. Ask my college roommates. They suffered quietly (sometimes not) through less than great cookies. Famed food TV chefs, acclaimed cookie cookbooks, recommended recipes from family and friends. Nothing was cutting it. I was going with the theory of makeup for this cookie: The [makeup/ingredients] should enhance a [woman's face/cookie] without making [itself/themselves] obvious. 

The coconut gives moisture and cohesion to the cookies without tasting like coconut.  In fact, I'd estimate at least half of the fans of these cookies claim they hate coconut and wouldn't touch it.  But when I tell them it's in the cookies, they shrug and proclaim they like them just the same.  Trickery... ha ha!  The maple syrup gives these cookies a deeper flavor and chewy note, often a mental "Hmm" while eating without dominating.

Give these cookies a whirl!  They scream "Enjoy me slowly with a glass of milk while curled up on a couch, watching Twilight a cheesy movie."  Hey, while you're at it, these would be welcome favorite (trust me, people will be thanking you) for a holiday party... among the mystery Crisco-laiden cookies, a shining gem -- royalty among oatmeal raisin cookies!  [final fanfare]

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

(from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
Makes about 2 dozen super large all-for-me cookies, or 3 dozen office/school-friendly cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use closer to 1 1/2 tsp)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (break up any large clumps)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B (I use Grade A... absolutely do NOT use the fake Aunt Jemima/Log Cabin stuff here, it will not yield the same results)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (quick or instant will work in a pinch, but the cookie will fall apart more easily)
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Have two cookie sheets ready, (for faster baking... one to be in the oven while the other is cooling and getting loaded up to go in next).  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the coconut and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mix to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. 
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches; mix until just combined. Add oats and raisins and mix until combined.

Using a 2" ice cream scoop or 3 tablespoons, drop dough 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  Do not overbake even if the center looks a bit soft, they will set while cooling.  Let cookies cool on the baking sheet until firm enough to remove to wire racks, about 2 minutes.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. (MS says 4 days but I've kept them up to two weeks without any quality issues.)


  1. Can I eat the cookies with my pinky finger extended anyway?

  2. I would definitely have to agree about the greatness of oatmeal raisin cookies. They are the very first cookie I ever made Joe (to make it obvious that I liked him and to point out that I could bake) and just look at what happened!

  3. Me too! Seriously! Though I didn't make them for Joe... ha. I made them when we were in the old building and it was the first time we talked. Go us :)

  4. As a former college roommate, I do not recall countless batches of oatmeal raisin cookies. As I have enjoyed many other baked good, however, and will continue to do so in the future, I will not be complaining. Maybe I'll even bake my own? Meh.