Eat your heart out, monster: Orange Oatmeal Chocolate Chip CookiesOctober 5, 2006
Ah, the wonders of a fresh, warm cookie straight from the oven. Cookie Monster knew it. (Though now I hear he’s on a carrot diet.) I know it. My husband practically worships it. There’s something comforting about even the smell of cookies in the oven.
So, I can’t complain when my husband decides to run some cookie experiments in our kitchen. This particular one involved oatmeal cookies — one of my favorites. Fortunately, all phases of the cookie trials were edible, though they were vastly improved in their final iteration.
Among the many cookie offerings out there, the oatmeal cookie is unique. Humble in its ingredients, modest in its flavors, the oatmeal cookie is hearty and delicious, not cloying and syrupy. Now, my husband (and Gourmet magazine) have pushed the envelope by adding things like orange zest and chocolate chips to the simple oatmeal cookie. And I’m pleased to announce that it totally works. These oatmeal cookies preserve the hearty, chewy texture of the unalloyed oatmeal cookie, while adding the aroma of cinnamon, the melty goodness of chocolate chips and the surprising hint of citrus and orange in the zest.
Well played, my husband. And I think Cookie Monster would agree.
As if it’s not bad enough that I read so many blogs now, surf food sites and watch food television, I also get most of the big food magazines. I defend this expense as “research” for the blog. *wink wink* Indeed, after several years I have so many magazines, it’s likely that the save-the-trees lobby and the national magazine federation will use my magazine-strewn living room as the staging ground for their grand battle of commerce vs. greenness. I’m rooting for the capitalists and will plant a tree to keep the green guys at bay.
Besides using them for coasters and doorstops, I actually read this mail-order food pornography. And one of the things I have learned over the years is that while many of the recipes the magazines do are inspiring, often they are not quite right. After making one, I sometimes think, “This is good, but could be better.”
Take, for example, a recipe I found in Gourmet’s October issue. On page 173, above a gorgeous pile of penne, was a chocolate-chip orange oatmeal cookie recipe. My wife has a fondness for oatmeal cookies, so I dog-earred it for later.
I believe the cookie is one of the most underappreciated foods. Sure, the cookie is common. For many of us, it’s the first thing we learn to make. Our childhoods are spent trying to pry cookies from some authority figure who has control of the cookie jar. And when we finally get the cookies, we discover that they aren’t so good; they’re just cookies. Then again, a good cookie — one that has that combination of softness, aroma, crispness and warmth — that is happiness itself, and it just makes you glow. Finding a recipe for a good cookie yields a nirvana-like state in the home kitchen.
Too many “just cookies” can make you underappreciate the “good cookie.” I aim to change that.
With this philosophy in hand, I turned to the Gourmet recipe. If you’ve been reading the blog, you may have deduced that I’m not much of a follow-someone-else’s-cooking sort of person. But when I cook something I don’t know well, I tend to let someone else’s expertise guide me. So, seeking to satisfy my wife’s oatmeal cookie cravings and find that higher plane of kitchen existence, I followed Gourmet’s recipe…
… The result was not as good as I hoped.
It didn’t have enough flavor, it tasted slightly overcooked, and the orange and chocolate at the heart of the cookie didn’t seem to be turned up enough. But it had great potential.
I modified the recipe in a few ways. I toned down the oats and upped the amount of flour. I added more butter and introduced white sugar in addition to the recipe’s brown sugar. Finally, I added cinnamon to give the cookie a nice warm bite. It was met with enthusiastic approval by my tester — and her co-workers — and we thought we’d pass it along.
Orange Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 12 – 14 cookies
Time: 15 min prep, 13 min bake
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir. Once the ingredients begin to come together, fold in the chocolate chips.
4. Using a tablespoon or medium cookie scoop, place the dough on a non-stick, parchment-covered or Silpat-covered cookie sheet. You can get six to eight cookies on one tray.
5. Bake for 13 minutes. The cookies should be firm and light brown on the bottom and sides.
6. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve. Enjoy!