Saturday, August 11, 2007

Oatmeal Spice Cookies

If there's anything a man loves to hear on a Saturday night, it must be, "I signed you up to bring cookies to the bake sale tomorrow." Especially when the words are coming from his ex-wife, but let's just not go there, okay?

L. is appearing as a fairy (and probably other things: she has three different costumes) in the local civic ballet company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream tomorrow, and one of the responsibilities of a ballet parent is to contribute to the bake sale. Many parents do this by purchasing rather than actually baking the baked goods, but the only time I ever did that was when I only had two hours of notice. Then I went to the supermarket and bought some chewy oatmeal cookies and some pre-packaged German chocolate cake frosting and made sandwiches. The kids loved them, but I felt unclean, somehow. After all, I like to bake, and I like to bake for bake sales. I'm not so thrilled with the requirement that the cookies have to be individually wrapped, but what are you going to do?

Anyway, I wanted to make something gingery. I adore the gingersnaps recipe in Joy of Cooking (I double the spices, though), but while they're delicious and the texture is just right for, say, shipping cross country, I thought something a bit larger and more delicate would be better for the bake sale. So I decided to cross the gingersnaps recipe with an oatmeal cookie recipe. Well, actually, I took an oatmeal cookie recipe and made some modifications and additions. Another time, I'd like to try starting with the gingersnap recipe and adding oatmeal, but I needed the cookies to be good on the first try, and the oatmeal cookie recipe was clearly the safer starting point. Mostly I just added spices and molasses and adjusted the other ingredients accordingly.

The cookies are very good. I wimped out a bit on the ginger, and I wish I hadn't. Usually when I make spice cookies, I take a no-prisoners sort of approach and end up with something very gingery. I was timid here, and why some people may like the result better, I'd like a bit more of a bite. Still, they're delicious. (Also, I forgot the vanilla extract, but don't tell anyone, okay?)

If you were making these for the cookie jar instead of a bake sale, you would just go with a smaller cookie scoop (or drop by teaspoons) and a shorter baking time. And, obviously, you'd get a larger number. Using the larger cookie scoop, you get about four dozen.

Ginger Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 T. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
3.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure out the dry ingredients (starting with the salt and going all the way through the cloves) and mix them together.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. With the mixer running, add the molasses and the sugar, and mix until well incorporated. With the mixer still running, add the eggs -- one at a time -- and the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer off and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure everything's well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix on slow until thoroughly mixed in. Do the same thing with the oats and then the currants.

Using a large cookie scoop, put mounds of the dough on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. The cookies will spread out quite a bit, so if you're using a half-sheet pan, you won't want to put more than a dozen mounds of dough on a sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees until done (the tops will no longer feel wet when you touch them lightly), which takes seventeen minutes in my oven.

Let sit for a few minutes on top of the oven, then remove the cookies to racks to cool thoroughly.

These cookies end up thin and crispy rather than thick and chewy. Perhaps another time I will add more rolled oats to keep them thicker if, say, I want to sandwich two of them with some lemon curd or raspberry buttercream. But they're awfully nice as they are.


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