Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day Cookies

I'm not going to point out that I'm still behind here.

I'm just going to say that, if you are currently snowed in, as much of the East Coast is, there are much worse things for you to do than to make these cookies.

I can take no credit for these cookies. The original recipe is from Silver Palate, and the tweaks are courtesy of my friend (and fabulous baker), Lisa, over at Mappa Mundi. She made them years ago, the first time I met her, I think, and she posted the recipe up in the food thread at Readerville. I copied it down and have been holding on to it ever since, but I didn't actually make the cookies until a couple of weeks ago.

A series of things happened. First, someone at my office lost a (grown) son to cancer, and we put together a basket to send to her family. I decided to make cookies and consulted with colleagues who know her better and was told that plain oatmeal raisin would be a good choice. So, I made a batch of plain oatmeal raisin cookies for inclusion in the basket. The cookies were good (and my colleague appreciated them, which is what counts), but I was left hankering for slightly jazzier oatmeal cookies.

The second thing that happened was that Monday Feb. 16 turned out to be a very bad day for Toyota Camrys. (That doesn't look right, but I have no idea what the plural of Camry should be.) Alex found out that morning that his car (with its partially rebuilt engine) was toast, and then, our hastily arranged plan, in which he borrowed my car and I borrowed Andy's while Andy was in California, was temporarily derailed because my clutch went that afternoon. For a 24 hour period, we were each marooned at our houses without cars. So what's a person to do but bake cookies? (I also figured that Andy might appreciate some for his plane ride, since I knew he wouldn't get fed nearly as much as we'd been fed on our way to and from India.)

I thought about making the other fabulous variation on the Silver Palate cookies, the ones with peanut butter and Mexican chocolate that I wrote about last summer, but I had a hankering for plainer oatmeal cookies, just not quite so plain as the first ones I'd made. I consulted various food blogs and cookbooks and couldn't find what I wanted. And then I remembered Lisa's variation, tucked away on my computer for these last 3 or 4 years. I had everything I needed, including an orange for the orange zest and a bag of dried cranberries.

I made the cookies, and they were excellent. Crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle, slightly sophisticated because of the orange zest and cranberries. They encapsulated all that was already good about oatmeal cookies but were even better. Andy got a small bag to take on the plane. My colleagues got a bigger bag (which we dubbed "car crisis cookies"). I kept a few that I parceled out sparingly over that week. And Alex, the worst sufferer in the car crisis, only ended up with what my colleagues had left, which came to all of 2 cookies.

So, for the past few weeks, I've been saying I'd make him his very own batch. The measure of how tasty these cookies are is that Deb at Smitten Kitchen had just written a post on thick, chewy oatmeal cookies, but it didn't really sway me away from the orange cranberry ones. Everything I've made from Smitten Kitchen has been delicious, and usually if Deb recommends something, I make it immediately. (Okay, maybe not when she's writing about steak or meatball sliders, as she has this week, but I've made many of her non-meaty recipes and have been very happy with them.) And under other circumstances, I would have gone ahead and made her cookies.

But the siren song of the cranberry orange ones was too strong. (That, and Alex kept saying, "Where are my cookies?") So, yesterday, pre-snowstorm, I indulged. Partly because it was a good cookie-baking kind of day and partly because I hoped that the second batch could signify (and celebrate) the end of the car crisis. (My car drives quite beautifully with the new clutch, and while Alex's new (used) car is not yet in his possession, he has at least identified it and should have it soon. )

I didn't take any photos, which I know is bad, but, well, the cookies look like oatmeal cookies. If you've ever made oatmeal cookies, you know what these look like. They're not glamorous, but they're definitely delicious. And you definitely don't have to wait til you have a car crisis (or a snow day) to make them.

Oatmeal Cranberry Orange Cookies
Basic recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook;
tweaks from Lisa Peet
(Additional commentary from me)

12 tbsps. (1-1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (I've used both light and dark--both good, though slightly different)
1 egg
2 tbsps. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
grated zest of one orange
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour and couldn't tell the difference.)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/2 cups dried cranberries (I used 1 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup raisins, just for variety's sake.)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add egg and beat thoroughly. Mix in water, vanilla, and orange zest.

3. Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Add oats and cranberries or raisins, and mix.

4. Use either greased cookie sheets or ungreased cookie sheets lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. (I only have 1 Silpat, so I do one that way and one with parchment.) Form cookies on cookie sheets. I made small-ish cookies, but you can also do giant cookies with an ice cream scoop. The recipe makes between 3 and 3 1/2 dozen small to regular cookies. Bake 12-14 minutes for smaller cookies, 14-17 minutes for giant ones. (The original recipe says 10-12 minutes for the smaller ones, but they weren't done yet at 12 minutes.)

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Those cookies! They were fabulous, weren't they? And the other part of the batch that I brought the first time I met you went by mail to J, back when we were first corresponding... and now we live together, so I guess they really are great. I need to make another batch soon.