Monday, November 29, 2010

Oatmeal Everything Cookies

In college, we had some amazing oatmeal cookies one day. I asked the girl who made them what she had done, and she said that she had just kept throwing in all sorts of cookie fillings. What had made them so special was that every bite was a little different.

I've never been able to recreate the cookie exactly, but I have come up with a formula that is close. You start with a basic oatmeal cookie recipe. Then, pick one flavor to dominate (I usually go for chocolate chips) and three or four accent flavors. It's a total of 2-1/2 or 3 cups of stuff in the dough, instead of the usual 2 cups in your standard batch of cookies. The fun part is mixing it up.

I divide the fillings into three main categories, and try to use no more than two from each one.

Chips: Semi-sweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter
Fruit: Craisins, raisins, candied fruits (like for fruitcake), banana chips (cracked and briefly soaked in rum or brandy)
Nuts: cashews, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, coconut flakes, instant coffee (only use 2 Tb)

Spices do not add to this cookie's complexity because there are so many contrasting flavors. I tried cinnamon once, and it distracted you from the other flavors. A little vanilla is all this really needs.

3/4 C shortening
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 C water
1 tsp vanilla
3 C quick oats, uncooked
1 C flour
1 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C primary flavoring
1/2 C each of up to 4 secondary flavorings

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease or line cookie sheets.

2. Beat together shortening, sugars, egg, water, and vanilla until creamy.

3. Combine oats, flour, salt, and soda and add to creamed ingredients. Mix well. Stir in flavorings until evenly distributed.

4. Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets at least 2" apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned (for softer cookies, pull when browning begins). Cool slightly, then remove to racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen

Ideas for flavor combinations
semisweet chips, coconut, walnuts, craisins, butterscotch chips (my favorite)
white chocolate, candied pineapple, coconut, macadamia nuts (Hawaiian)
Peanuts, butterscotch chips, banana chips, almonds

Difficulty rating  π

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