I’ll admit, oatmeal cookies aren’t my favorite, but I recently had a craving for them. I’ve never made an oatmeal cookie from a recipe other than my mother’s, which are cakey and sprinkled heavily with nostalgia. These cookies, as can be inferred from the name, are quite different, so much as to almost be a different cookie. I’m okay with that. New cookies can never replace the ones from our childhood, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their merit.
The concept here is #42: Two Leaveners Are Often Better than One. I visited this concept previously with the Best Buttermilk Pancakes. Here the two leaveners work to alter the texture of the cookie. Increased amounts of baking soda and baking powder create large bubbles of CO2 that cause the cookies to puff up, collapse, and then spread out for a thinner, crisper cookie.
Use rolled oats for the best texture here, not quick oats or, ugh, steel cut oats. This is a cookie, not an energy bar. (Though, honestly, some energy bars aren’t much healthier.) Let the butter soften until you can easily make an indentation with your finger, but not so much that your finger smooshes right through, nor should you, under any circumstance, stick it in the microwave to speed it up. Cookies and cakes are an endeavor in which a little forethought and patience will do you well. I halved the original recipe so I’d only have 12 and not 24 cookies sitting in my apartment, but this means you’ll only need half an egg. To do this, I crack an egg into a dish, beat it, and add roughly half to the batter. It’s not exact, which goes against the spirit of all things Cook’s Illustrated, but I’ve done it numerous times and never had it go wrong.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350°. Whisk together ½ cup all-purpose flour, ⅜ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 7 tablespoons softened unsalted butter with ½ cup granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar on medium-low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is fluffy, about 1 more minute. Add ½ an egg and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and beat on medium-low until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Gradually add 1¼ cups rolled oats and mix until just incorporated, making sure that there are no errant pockets of flour and the oats are evenly distributed throughout.
Measure out 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll them into balls, and place them 2½ inches apart on the baking sheets. I fit 6 cookies on each sheet and was glad to have been conservative in my estimate – these cookies spread and truly need space. Press each dough ball down with your fingers so that they’re about ¾-inch in thickness, then bake 13-16 minutes, or until the cookies are a deep golden brown, the edges are crisp, and the centers are still slightly soft. Don’t forget to rotate the baking sheet midway for even cooking. Place the baking sheets on a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely.
I surprised myself by taking a full week to eat these cookies. Cookies survived a week in my apartment! But don’t let that reflect on the quality of the cookie. The butter flavor comes through nicely and I loved the complementary textures of the crisp edges and the slightly chewy centers. They’re not the cookies of my childhood, but they’re certainly worthy of a place in my baking repertoire.