Sunday, April 25, 2010
Mom's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (a saga)
When I was in seventh grade, my mom stayed home with my little brother and sister. Every afternoon I'd arrive home from school, usually with my BFF in tow, to find the counters covered with miniature oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (okay, it probably wasn't really every day, but this is the way I remember it). My mom knew our family well; she knew that my stepdad and my big brother would walk by and take a handful of cookies every time they walked into the kitchen. If she made normal-sized cookies, and thus only a couple of dozen, they would be gone after each of us had walked through the kitchen twice. So instead, she made mini-cookies and, even after grabbing a handful, they'd last for at least five or six trips past the kitchen!
I've carried on the tradition; these cookies are just not right unless they are bite-sized.
When I was student teaching, one of my close friends (who was student teaching with me) and I would bake these about once a week. And actually, for the first few years of our teaching careers, before marriage and kids, we'd meet every other Thursday night to watch Friends, eat pizza, and make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. My coworkers loved Fridays and the containers of mini-cookies that would show up for lunch (and my close friends at work expected their own private bags full of them!).
Fast-forward to present day. Andrea, over at Family & Food, recently posted about baking Irish Lace Cookies. I commented that these sounded very similar to my all-time favorite cookie recipe, she asked for the recipe, and . . . . . everything came to a screeching halt.
The problem was that the recipe itself is unreliable. I finally asked my mom about the origins of this recipe; it turns out it was my step-grandmother's, and it's always been unreliable. Make the recipe as printed and the cookies spread out, flat and crispy. Add just a touch of flour - oops, too much - and the cookies are hard and dense. I've really always made these cookies by feel.
Recently, I was craving oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, only my ingredient list wasn't quite what it needed to be: I was running low on butter, running low on oats, compensated with a little extra flour . . . and they were perfect! The perfectest perfect they've ever been! So I quickly wrote down my adjustments . . . which I now can't find it anywhere.
Several experiments later, here's what I've come up with. Don't forget to make them bite-sized!
Mom's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
10 tbsp butter, softened (I've always used salted butter, but only because I started baking these cookies before I knew unsalted butter existed!)
a little less than 1 c light brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c water
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c rolled oats
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Either grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.
2. Beat butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and water until creamy.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 12 minutes.
7. Cool for a couple of minutes on the pan.
8. Attempt to move them to a cooling rack and not straight into your mouth (mine never make it this far).