July 1, 2011

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

To me, everyone could use not only a standby chocolate chip cookie recipe but an oatmeal one as well.  This is one of the first cookies I ever made that I thought was a success.  I've since discovered other great cookie recipes, oatmeal and otherwise, but it still has a special little place in my cookie repertoire for being a first - it made me think it was worthwhile to make cookies from scratch at home. 
This oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with toasted walnuts (you could use another type of nut or omit them altogether) is soft and chewy.  A bit of maple syrup in the cookie dough adds a different dimension of sweetness and extra moisture.  With a good 2-cups of oats, it's a great way to get a little extra fiber into your diet.  I like making these cookies for my son, who loves them but wouldn't eat oatmeal on its own.  Yes, I realize there's also butter, sugar, and chocolate chips being consumed here but we are talking about sweets and I'm a firm believer in balance.  Personally, I enjoy a bowl of creamy oatmeal with a little bit of honey and walnuts as breakfast or an evening snack (more so during the colder months) but a good oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is just the ticket on many other days.  Besides, you can't exactly pack a bowl of oatmeal and go on a picnic but these are just perfect for that summer picnic you might be planning.

I found this oatmeal cookie recipe from the Food Network's website.  Like many other people, I'll think of something I want to make and scour a few of my favorite websites looking for recipes that sound good and have good reviews.  It was the maple syrup in this recipe that caught my attention and I'm glad it did.  I've made these cookies many times, playing with the proportions of a few of the ingredients a bit to come up with what I like best. 

The photo below shows some of the essential dry ingredients for these cookies.  Be sure to use "old fashioned" rolled oats, not the quick cooking kind.  I'm using 3/4 cup of toasted walnuts (I started toasting the nuts I use in baking recently and can't go back now) and about 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I'm keeping it simple by using chocolate chips but you could also chop up some chocolate instead.  Chopped chocolate has the benefit of spreading the chocolate out throughout the dough and melts better than chocolate chips, which are designed to hold their shape. 
Combine all the dry ingredients into a bowl, along with 2 cups of oats and the toasted walnuts.  Two cups of oats sounds like a lot but these cookies can take it.  When I first made them, I started with a bit less but found that I liked it with plenty of the chewy oats in them.
Once the dry ingredients are taken care of, place a stick of room-temperature butter, along with 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.  I'm using a bit more brown sugar and less granulated sugar than the recipe calls for because I like that moistness and taste you get from brown sugar. 
The butter and sugars should be beaten together just long enough to combine.  Beating them too long may cause the cookies to spread too much during baking.  Once that's done, add an egg and combine.
Time for the secret ingredient, if you will.  One-fourth of a cup of maple syrup.  Make sure it's all-natural, real maple syrup. 
The maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla are added to the mix and combined on medium speed.
The dry ingredients we first mixed up can now be added.  Beat on low and just until the flour mixture is absorbed.  Add the chocolate chips and the cookie dough is finished.
I scoop up the dough into about heaping ice cream scoops.  Wet your fingers and press the dough down to flatten and round out the cookies slightly. 
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 9-10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  The cookies are done when they are lightly brown on top. 
I love the texture of these cookies.  They're soft and chewy, with the right amount of sweetness.  They make a great snack.  I omit the nuts and pack these for my son as a school snack during the school year.  I think they will be popular with kids and adults alike. 

The recipe:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts
From foodnetwork.com, slightly adapted

- Yields approximately 30 cookies -

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup walnuts (or other nut), toasted and chopped coarsely
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 - 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks set in the middle and upper third of the oven.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats and toasted walnuts.

Place butter, brown and granulated sugars into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until just combined, about 30 seconds.  Add egg and incorporate until mixture is smooth.  On medium speed, slowly pour in the maple syrup and vanilla extract, and combine.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until the flour is just absorbed.  Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips.

Scoop dough using a small ice cream scoop onto your baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart.  Wet fingers to flatten and round out the cookies slightly.  Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.  The cookies are done when they turn lightly brown on top.  Let cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets.  Then, remove them to cooling racks.

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