"Baking is a science." I've read that before, an authoritative declaration that implies recipes are exact formulas not to be messed with. Maybe so, but I like to tinker with recipes. It's fun and occasionally necessary to match what's available in the pantry. Sometimes a big "Aha!" moment results, and occasionally we deal with disappointment or even a kitchen disaster. This week's oatmeal cookies were a good example of a happy, tasty and unplanned accident as I really messed around with the original recipe.
I didn't want to deal with dividing up a soft, squishy cube of butter so I tossed the whole stick into the mixing bowl. Right, more fat called for more flour and why not toss in some whole wheat flour and a smidge of ground flax just 'cuz it might be healthier. Done; so far, so good I thought. Then the "accident" part came along. Cheers from the TV football game diverted my attention, ending any hope of thoughtful recipe tinkering. While watching the playoff action on TV I grabbed dark brown sugar instead of light and forgot to adjust the quantities of sugar, added baking powder instead of baking soda, increased the quantity of rolled oats and coconut, substituted dried prune bits for chocolate chips that I couldn't find, added almond extract and vanilla extract... and hoped for the best.
The result to radically changing the ingredients and ratios? Beautifully soft, moist oatmeal cookie puffs, an amazing contrast to the usual flat and crisp cookies of the original recipe. Something(s) in all of this recipe tinkering impacted the appearance and texture of these cookies. I've considered the question of flat vs. puffy cookies before (link), but have not explored it systematically. I still don't know how to account for the change, don't really care. I do know I will make these puffy oatmeal cookies again; they disappear so quickly from the cookie jar.
Puffy Oatmeal Cookies
Yields 30 cookies
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup white AP flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 cup ground flax (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats (not instant or stone ground)
1⁄2 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)
1⁄2 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced prunes
1⁄2 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract; beat until fluffy.
- Sift and mix the flours, flax, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and mix until just incorporated.
- Use a large, heavy spoon and mix in by hand the oats, chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit and coconut.
- Drop rounded tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto silpat-covered cookie sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges brown slightly. Rotate the baking sheets after the first 8 minutes.
- Remove to a baking rack to cool. Store in a covered container.