Dried oats are pretty amazing when you think about it. With little more than a dot of water and sprinkle of brown sugar, they’re an automatic breakfast. Roast them with dried fruit and maple syrup or honey, and your granola wishes are fulfilled. Add some butter, sugar, flour, eggs and raisins, and you’ve brought them to their finest form, the cookie. Yes, oats are awesome. T’oats awesome.
On another dive within the pages of the New York Times Essential Cookbook, I came across a recipe for oatmeal raisin crisps that first appeared in the newspaper’s pages in 1989. So it’s an 80s child just like me, which makes total sense, really, because I spent a good couple hours yesterday humming along to California Raisins jams (go ahead and watch the video; you know you want to) after first laying eyes on the plump and purple raisinicity of these guys:
According to the cookbook, the original recipe, written by Martha Adkins, was the first prize cookie at the Kentucky State Fair in 1966 (long before the California Raisins or I hit the dance scene). They’re lauded for their crispness and chewiness, which the cookbook’s author Amanda Hesser attributes to using shortening instead of butter.
Unfortunately, the pesky soy allergy (womp, womp, womp, womp) precludes me from adding vegetable shortening (most of which is largely soy-based) to my cookies. So butter it was for us! But here’s the magic of the cookies: Even without the shortening, they were still perfectly crisp on the outside and wonderfully chewy on the inside. So if they’re this good with butter, my conclusion is that with shortening they must be out-of-this-world amazing.
Aside from the butter-for-shortening substitute, I only made a few other changes to the recipe: I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla because I like the extra zing; swapped the recommended gold raisins for purple ones, for no reason other than that’s what I had on hand; didn’t add the pecans (allergies again. Argh!); and added a good-sized dose of cinnamon, an ingredient the recipe didn’t call for but I love, love, love in any form of oatmeal cookie.
And now on to the main event!
Ruth’s Oatmeal Crisps
Adapted from New York Times Essential Cookbook (Hesser, p. 692)
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 3 teaspoons cinnamon (this is an addition to the original recipe)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup butter (or shortening, as the original recommends)
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract (original calls for 1)
• 3 cups oats (not quick-cooking)
• 1 cup raisins (I actually used about 1 ¾ because I skipped the cup of pecans)
* 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and set aside.
Beat together butter (or shortening) and sugars until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add oats, and mix well again. Add flour mixture, and mix until combined. Stir in raisins and nuts, if using.
Drop into rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 ½ inches apart, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
I’ve already raved about the chewiness of this cookie, but the extra zing of salt is a nice touch, too. These guys pack quite a bit of sugar, and the salt does a nice job of relaying a bit of that sweetness. Cookies are supposed to be sweet; the salt is an unexpected twist that helps make them interesting (not to mention so, so delicious).
What’s baking in your neck of the woods this week? Are cookies on the horizon? Or maybe another baked good that warms you up when the weather outside is frightful?