This recipe is adapted from several sources: Betty Crocker Ultimate Cookie Book, additional methodology from Alton Brown’s Good Eats Volume 2, and my own preference for easy to find ingredients, and techniques that are worth the effort in the final result.
Modifications to Classic Oatmeal Cookies
The recipe base from Betty Crocker is my preferred because it is equal parts oats to flour. A lot of recipes it’s half the oats to flour, which to me is a butter cookie with some oats, not an oatmeal cookie. I want that taste of oats and enough chew for my lizard brain to think “this is healthy” while it overlooks the butter and sugar.
Oats are in fact good for us. Quick oats have had some of the vitality washed out of them, but I amp up their flavor by using Alton Brown’s trick of toasting them in the oven first. Also, sometimes I have to cheat with the dried cherry. It’s hard to find dried cherries that aren’t massively loaded with sugar, so I’ve used cherry-juice infused cranberries, which are easy to find and more tart.
The base cookie is so good, right on the edge of butterscotch – so chewy and rich – you could also use any favorite dried fruit that had some tartness to it – like plain cranberry (Craisins) or orange-infused plums. Candied ginger and golden raisins would play really well together in this cookie.
Recipe – Cheery Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Line cookie sheet(s) with foil for easy clean up later. Get out eggs to come to room temperature. Ditto the butter. No waste trick: Unwrap the cold sticks and drop them into your mixing bowl, then wipe the inside of the butter wrappers on the foil. Or mist the foil very lightly with cooking spray.
- 2 cups brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla *See below about “artificial” vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant!), toasted
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt – increase to 1 teaspoon if the butter was unsalted
- 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips, lightly chopped
- 1 cup dried cherries (not glace or maraschino), or cherry infused cranberries, or dried cranberries if you want a decidedly Holiday flavor, chopped
Makes 70-80 cookies if using a teaspoon, 60 if a tablespoon
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the oats by spreading on an ungreased cookie sheet (foil not needed) and popping into the oven for 8-10 minutes while the oven is preheating. Set a timer or they’ll go over to the dark side. They can cool until you’re ready for them.
Chop the chocolate chips lightly to create some shavings and smaller pieces while leaving some intact. Chop the cherries so they are at least halved. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Combine in a mixing bowl the brown sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. Cream together.
Add the salt and baking powder to the flour (you can sift together, but I’m lazy and use a fork to disperse them a little bit into the flour).
With the mixer on medium, slowly add half the oats, then half the flour, then the remaining oats and the remaining flour. Mix until everything is well blended. The dough will hold its shape. Finally, with the mixer on low or by hand, add the cherries and chocolate and thoroughly incorporate but don’t overmix.
You can either form 1-1/2 inch balls by rolling lightly in your hands, or use soup sized spoons to employ a quenelle technique and drop them onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. (In my pictures I got them a bit too close together.) Gently flattening the cookie will make them less rustic in appearance. This is totally me, but the second time I made them I also lightly salted the cookies before they went into the oven, but then I like a little salt hit with chocolate.
Bake 10-14 minutes, looking for the edge against the sheet to be a deep golden brown, and a uniform golden brown across the top of the cookie. When you touch it very lightly in the center the cookie won’t give way very much. Since these are oatmeal, crunchy cookies will soften in storage, so I err on the side of overdone. But underdone is still delicious – your preference!
If you’ve used foil, lift the whole batch off the hot cookie sheet for cooling. If not, let the cookies cool to the point that they’ll release easily from the cookie sheet. You might find it necessary to sample a cookie to assess their doneness and coolness and overall tastiness, you know, before you risk sharing with others. Quality control. Just sayin’. Know what else will make your quality control self happy? These chocolate nut candies – simple to make and decadent.
FYI, Cookie sheets should be cool before you use them for another batch.
These cookies also freeze beautifully.
Swaps for Fat and Sugar
When I make a recipe for the first time, I usually stick with the full fat, full sugar options. But second time around I’ll start looking for ways to reduce the impact.
- For these cookies I have swapped 1/2 cup nonfat liquid egg (e.g. Reddiegg) for 2 eggs. I can’t tell the difference, and it cuts the fat a little bit.
- Sugar swaps for this recipe haven’t worked out well for me.
- Many cake-like baking projects (brownies, coffee cake) work well with a swap of applesauce for oil or butter. But not these cookies, so I don’t recommend it.
Nutrition Info Per Cookie
Using an online calculator, I got these numbers for the recipe using full fat eggs:
74 calories, 3g fat, 3mg sodium, 11g carb, 1g fiber, 7g sugar, 1g protein.
* A Short Treatise About Vanillin
For cookies I use “artificial” vanilla. Why? Because it’s not “artificial.” Vanilla comes from two sources: expensive orchids and inexpensive woods. Both botanical sources produce vanillin. Only the vanillin from orchids can be called “real” vanilla. Everything else has to be called “artificial” by law in the US.
- Orchid vanilla tastes stronger, has a richer aroma, and is sensitive to heat and age. It’s preserved usually in an alcohol solution. Ideal for projects where vanilla is the star of the party. For example, sauces, creams, and most “white” or “yellow” sponge cakes.
- Wood vanilla is durable, and keeps the flavor it has to very high temperatures. It’s usually preserved without alcohol. Ideal for boiled candies and caramels, high heat custards, griddle cakes, and cookies. And hot coffee.
Wood vanilla is about one-sixth the cost of orchid vanilla. So it’s also a sensible wallet choice whenever it’s a background ingredient and the not star. Like chocolate cake or iced coffee.
When buying “artificial” vanilla, check the ingredients to be sure it’s 100% vanillin. There are actually truly artificial vanillins out there.