It’s been a spell since I last posted, folks. School became pretty intense for a while there: I was blessed with the challenge of creating and carrying out a lesson plan to teach 7th and 8th graders about the connections between sugar consumption, obesity, and diabetes. At first blush this seemed like a straightforward task, but the lines between these three “epidemics” of our nation are more blurred that you might think. Perhaps there will be more on that in another post, this one's about cookies. Then last week I had my wisdom teeth taken out, an experience from which I gleaned a deep-seated gratitude for the ability to eat solid food. Even just 6 days of milkshakes, mashed potatoes, and pureed soups left me fantasizing about biting into a juicy cheeseburger or a fish taco or anything with more than a singular taste and texture. I haven’t graduated to caramel apples or chips and salsa yet, but I’m glad to report we made perfectly medium-rare grassfed burgers on the grill last night and I was able to satisfy my craving quite successfully.
And here I am now, on a gray Sunday morning taking in the sounds of robins welcoming spring: cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up and a pot of oatmeal amiably bubbling away on the stove (make that burning away on the stove, oops.)
Today’s recipe is for cookies I shared at dietetic student “eat and greet” (we organized as the dietetics club board a couple weeks ago). Sharing an hour of conversation with smart and dynamic women was a welcome respite from the harried school week. But I think maybe it was the promise of these cookies that auspiciously brought us all together. ;-)
I found the recipe in a cookbook I borrowed from the library: The Kinfolk Table. It calls for vegetable shortening rather than the more commonplace butter. The payoff is a denser, more robust chew that preserves the luscious, fat-coated crumb of classic oatmeal cookies.
The oatmeal to flour ratio in these bad boys is 3:1, perfect for cookies that are both acceptable breakfast fare and nearly-guiltless nighttime snack. I switched out the AP flour for whole wheat pastry, my MO for most all baked goods. The vegetable shortening I use is a non-hydrogenated, organic palm oil made by Spectrum, who quells my fears of being an accomplice to orangutan murder with this pleasant blurb: “we craft our shortening from sustainably harvested organic palm oil sourced from dozens of small family farmers in Colombia.” (Palm oil has a rather complex reputation which you can read about here.) That said, if you’re leery of the ingredient you can certainly use butter, the texture will just be slightly different, as noted by the original recipe's author.
The recipe note also recommends combining all ingredients by hand, stating that using an electric mixer will alter the intended texture. (I gather the texture is paramount to the success of these cookies.) I must disclose I still used my Kitchen Aid to cream the butter and sugars, but the rest of the ingredients I mixed in manually.
The dough should be refrigerated for at least one hour before baking to ensure, you guessed it, optimal texture. For a fascinating NYT read on how cookie outcomes improve as dough is allowed longer fridge time, click here. Well, this post has taken me almost two hours to write, so I’m just going to get down to the recipe now, which is what you came here for anyway, right?
Oat-tastic Cookies with Semisweet Chocolate Chips
adapted from Julie Pointer’s recipe in The Kinfolk Table Makes about 3 dozen cookies
1 cup packed dark brown sugar 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup organic vegetable shortening, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 large eggs, beaten 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour 3 cups whole rolled oats (not quick cooking) 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine the sugars and shortening and mix until creamy. Add in the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and eggs, and stir until just combined.
Combine the flour, oats, and chocolate chips. Incorporate these into the wet ingredients in three or four additions, stirring until mixture is more or less uniform. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until the dough is chilled and firm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a spoon, or in my case a melon-baller, scoop the dough into approximately 2 tablespoon spheres and place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Press the dough down gently with your fingertips.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookie edges just begin to brown, rotating the sheets halfway through if your oven bakes unevenly.
Transfer the baking sheets to a rack and cool for 5 minutes then transfer the cookies directly to the rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes (eat at least three before they cool).
Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.