Oatmeal-raisin cookies are my favorite; they always have been. I like them better than chocolate chip, better than peanut butter, better than ginger snaps, better than macaroons, better than any other cookie. But, perhaps surprisingly, we generally don’t make them, simply because I’m happy to have a single cookie and let it go at that. And, what do you do with all those other cookies? Freeze them, perhaps? Maybe, but that’s still a lot of cookies.
Soon we’ll be putting together a small snack for children going to Vacation Bible School. Nothing elaborate, a sandwich or two, some carrot sticks and hummus dip, some sort of fruit, lemonade, and cookies to finish up. We decided on Oatmeal-Raisin (plus a couple other kinds), and went with the best recipe we know for Oatmeal-Raisin cookies.
It’s the one right under the lid of a box of Quaker Oatmeal, with one change. I don’t like cinnamon in Oatmeal-Raisin cookies. If it’s there, the cookies taste, well, off, somehow. So, no cinnamon, and no salt, either, for that matter, but we consider that optional. Salt: optional, cinnamon: none. That’s it.
Use only real butter. Oatmeal cookies made with margarine or shortening pale by comparison. Go with the real deal for the best cookies. And, use only the old-fashioned rolled oats. Those 1-minute quick-cooking oats are not good (as an aside, we make oatmeal nearly every morning and it takes 2 minutes, 45 seconds to cook up a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave; how much time could you possibly save with the glommy, 1-minute, oats? And what would you do with that extra 105 seconds?). And, of course, 100% real vanilla extract. It’s the best.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. If you have them, this recipe is the perfect place to use silicone baking mats. We like the fact that they slightly insulate the bottom of the cookies from the heat of the pan, resulting in a chewier cookie. Otherwise, use baking parchment as a second best choice. For third best (and still good), you can use an ungreased baking sheet.
Cream butter and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars. Start with the mixer on low, and, as the sugars start to get incorporated, gradually increase the speed to medium. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. During this time, stop and scrape down the bowl periodically using a spatula.
Add eggs. Add one egg and beat in on medium-low speed. At first, the batter will look as if it separated, but it’ll come right back together as the egg is worked in. Repeat with the second egg.
Mix in flour and baking soda. Add the flour and baking soda (and optional salt), and start mixing. We either like to disconnect the paddle and use that to start incorporating the flour, or use a spatula to start it out. That way, when you turn on the mixer, you don’t get a big cloud of flour poofing out the top.
Mix in oats and raisins. As with the flour addition, start working in the oats and raisins by hand, then mix until well-incorporated and raisins are well-distributed, but not so long that all the oats are broken apart. The oats form the texture for these cookies (which is the reason we avoid the quick-cooking version of oats).
Portion out dough. The secret to making nicely-shaped and -sized cookies is portion control. We have a 1 1/2 tablespoon ice cream scoop that’s perfect. Simply fill with dough, squeeze the handle, and a nice dome of cookie dough plops out. Since they’re the same size, they’ll all bake at the same rate, and, more importantly, you won’t hear, “Billy’s cookie is bigger than mine!” Well, you still might hear that, but you can ignore it more easily.
Bake. For our oven and our size cookies, we found 18 minutes of baking is perfect, delivering an excellent cookie. Watch yours as they bake, and take your cue from the edges of the cookies. They’ll be starting to brown, and, if you press the edges, they’ll be slightly firm, with the center still soft. Once baked, let cool on the sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Perfect. Not too sweet, crispy edges with a chewy center. Not too large, and not too small. Plenty of raisins, and nice oat flavor. These are the Oatmeal-Raisin cookies that put all other ones to shame, and will keep kids (and adults) clamoring for more. Plus, cookies are so easy to make, how can they not be worth five stars? (They only thing we might try sometime in the future is to toast the oats lightly — 5 minutes in a 350°F oven — before use.