Regular readers might notice that there isn't a whole lot of baking on this site. The reason for this is pretty simple. I don't think I'm very good at baking. Especially cake baking. It seems like any and every time I attempt baking a cake, they always and I mean always, wind up dry with a texture resembling styrofoam. On the somewhat rare occasion on which I make some sort of sweet to end a meal, I gravitate towards things like crisps, custards, puddings, bread puddings, ice cream, things like that. They're a little more fool proof. The closest I come to any kind of successful baking is when it comes to cookies. I feel pretty confident in my cookie prowess. Plus I just like the idea of a cookie. A slice of cake it too much of a commitment and I sort of feel super guilty eating more that two or three forkfuls, whereas a cookie satisfies my craving for something sugary in an efficient little package.
As far as my favorite kind of cookie goes, my taste is pretty basic. Give me an old fashioned oatmeal cookie and I'm happy. You can't go wrong with a classic oatmeal raisin cookie and I always love an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips. I did a variation of this recipe on my previous blog and the formatting of the post is sort of what inspired this blog, the photos of the mis en place, the various steps, etc. As I mentioned before, to celebrate the two year anniversary of the start of this blog, I wanted to recreate those cookies but with a little twist. Instead of raisins I chose to do something a little more unique. I did some research to see what other ingredients would be appropriate to add into oatmeal cookies and decided on these two variations - sweet sticky Medjool dates with walnuts and dark chocolate chips with petite chunks of crystallized ginger. Happy Anniversary, Well Fed! Have yourself a cookie.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped Medjool Dates, tossed with a spoonful of flour (this keeps them from sticking together when you fold them into the dough)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped crystallized ginger, tossed with a spoonful of flour (this keeps them from sticking together when you fold them into the dough)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
First cream the butter, shortening, the brown sugar and the regular sugar for about five minutes until the butter turns pale and fluffy.
In a medium bowl add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and whisk to combine.
Next add the eggs, honey, and vanilla and then gradually added the dry ingredients.
Fold in either the dates and walnuts or the chocolate chips and ginger.
Spoon nice big golf ball sized clumps onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper (although Silpats work better - they produce cookies with nice golden bottoms), and flatten slightly with your hand. The cookies don't spread out much while they bake so you needn't work about leaving lots of space around each clump of dough. I was able to get 12 cookies on each of my baking sheets.
Bake in the oven for about 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are a faint, golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes and then, using a spatula, transfer to wire racks to cool further while you proceed making the rest of the cookies.
I know that the consistency of a cookie is a very personal thing. Some people want soft and chewy, others prefer crispy. This recipe is a little of both, just the way I like it. The edges are crisp and the center is thick and chewy. The oatmeal adds a nice rugged texture and grainy flavor which works really well with the subtle molasses flavor from the brown sugar. It's like a hearty winter breakfast in cookie form. Then the two different variation of add-in, take the cookie in two very different directions.
The walnuts give the cookie additional texture and a nutty crunch, while the dates imbue them with a sort of caramel-like flavor that works well the the brown sugar and honey. Next time I think I'd not chop the dates so fine, so once they get folded in, there are little chewy specks studded throughout. Mine sort of got a little pulverized and blended in with the dough more than I wanted.
Then there is the chocolate chip and ginger version. Whereas the date and walnuts taste wholesome, almost healthy in a whole grain sort of way, these taste decadent. Well about as decadent as an oatmeal cookie is capable of being. I mean, how can you go wrong with melty, rich chocolate chips mingling with the grains of oatmeal. I almost like it better than a regular chocolate chip cookie. Again the texture is just more interesting. The addition of the crystallized ginger adds another layer of sweetness but also an surprising spicy sort of sharpness that offsets and plays against the chocolate. The combination of ginger and chocolate is something I've explored before, but if you've never tried it, do it now. It's unexpected but oh so right. You might not go back to regular old oatmeal raisin ever again.
Makes 3 dozen or so cookies