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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Ultimate Father's Day Cookie (aka, Oatmeal)



I like oatmeal cookies but I typically leave out the raisins because some people are just not into raisins. Each time I do this, if I send some to my dad, he says, "They're good but where are the raisins?"....So, with Father's Day coming up, I decided to make him some and include the raisins since that's how he likes them. But then Victor and I were at Border's and they had special edition of Cook's Illustrated which had an article called The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie. Naturally, I had to buy it. There were 3 main points I took away from this article:
1. most folks ruin oatmeal cookies by putting in too many "add on" ingredients: chocolate chips, peanut butter, coconut, raisins, etc.
2. Raisins are too sweet to be put into a cookie which already has some chocolate chips added
3. Portion size is critical. Make the cookies fairly large to get a crisp out side/rim with a chewy center.

So, their recipe suggested using either dried sour cherries or cranberries as well as some nuts. They used peacans in their cookie, but I opted for hazelnuts (I had them leftover from the hazelnut biscotti...). They also recommended dividing the dough into 16 parts, each part being 1 cookie....I had doubled the recipe for myself and didn't feel like counting out 32 portions, so I just eyeballed it. My cookies were probably 2 inch balls before I flattened them. Luckily, we liked them since it ended up making a ton of cookies! Below is the recipe as I made it (but just the single recipe, not doubled...)

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Hazelnuts and Dried Cherries

1 1/4 unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup skinned and toasted hazelnuts, chopped (could use pecans or walnuts as well)
1 cup dried sour cherries, chopped (could use dried cranberries as well)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
12 tablespoon (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, preferably dark
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Adjust oven racks to user and lower-middle positions. Heat over to 350 degrees. LIne 2 large baking sheets (18x12 inch) with parchment paper.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder , baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, stir together oats, hazelnuts, cherries and chocolate.
3. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer since that is all I have), beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla, and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl; with mixer still running on low, gradually add oat/nut mixture, and mix until just incorporated. Give dough a final stir with spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingrediants are evenly distributed.
4. Divide dough evenly into 16 portions, each about 1/4 cup, then roll between palms of hands into balls about 2 inches in diameter; stagger 8 balls on each baking sheet, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using hands, gently press each dough ball into 1 inch thicknes. Bake both baking sheets 12 minutes, rotate them from front to back and top to bottom, and continue to bake until cookies are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will seem underdone adn will appear raw, wet, and shiney in cracks), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Do not overbake.
5. Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire rack for 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.