Sunday, February 21, 2010

- Channeling Mom: The best oatmeal cookies ever

I was slowly sinking into the sofa, getting more horizontal and closer to sleep by the minute … a common enough occurrence after a long day of work and a good dinner.  But something kept tugging at the edges of my consciousness, much as I tried to ignore it.  It became an irresistible impulse, and I found myself heading into the kitchen to make cookies.

Although the truth is, cookie making has been something of a disappointment since we came out to Texas.  I miss my convection oven, and the chocolate chip cookies that were my pride and joy in Virginia just don’t come out the same since we moved.  Still, I love chocolate and what I craved was my Mom’s oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips.  Just one problem:  I have yet to succeed at making them.

Mom’s cookie recipe came from a 1959 cookbook created by the gentle women of the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church.  The brown-edged pages betray its age, and page 70 in particular is covered with spatters of butter, eggs, and vanilla from years gone by.  

The red penciled notes still visible in Aunt Libby’s recipe for Oatmeal Coconut Wafers leave one to wonder if Mom’s “excellent” refers to the original recipe or her variation on it.  She never went back to insert a note about adding chocolate chips, but one thing’s for sure: her substitution of wheat germ for coconut was inspired.  Mom’s oatmeal cookies were always lacy thin, with a crisp finish that eluded me every time I tried to duplicate them. 

“Just bang the pan halfway through baking them,” she would say when I called to bewail my latest failure.  And so I’d try again, slamming the pans against the oven door to no avail.

“Maybe it’s the weather,” she said on yet another attempt. “You really should only make them when the weather is dry and it’s awfully humid down your way.”

Well, with the recent Texas hydrology report of rainfall at 150-450% above normal, I figured I was doomed to failure yet again.  Flipping open the cookbook, I pondered how to adjust the recipe and tossed ingredients into the bowl.  Tasting the end result, I decided that it wouldn’t much matter if the cookies didn’t come out … the dough was delicious.  I wrote down the recipe, just in case it was worth keeping.

It was, and it is.

Garrison Trail Granola Cookies 
(makes 3 dozen)

1/3 cup Land O Lakes Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil
1/3 cup white sugar (scant)
1/3 cup brown sugar (generous)
½ tsp vanilla (more or less)
Revised 8/28: 1/6 cup beaten egg (half of a 1/3 cup measure)
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup Kretschmer Original Toasted Wheat Germ
1/3 cup chopped Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup Garrison Trail Granola (see recipe index to the right)

Cream butter and sugars.  Beat in vanilla and egg.  Fold in dry ingredients.  Batter will be quite moist.  Scoop ½ tsp. portions onto parchment paper (trust me, you don’t want to bake these directly on the cookie sheet, no matter how well you butter it).

Bake 6 minutes at 350:
When cookies have puffed up, slam the pan on the oven door to flatten them:
Bake 2-3 minutes longer until dark golden brown:
Slide the cookies, parchment paper and all, onto a wire rack to cool.  BTW, these are insanely good broken up and sprinkled over Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream.

Bigger Batch

1 cup Land O Lakes Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil
1 cup white sugar (scant)
1 cup brown sugar (generous)
1 tsp vanilla (more or less)
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup Kretschmer Original Toasted Wheat Germ
1 cup chopped Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3 cups Garrison Trail Granola (see recipe index to the right)