Monday, December 13, 2004

Chewy Double Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Walnut Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

(More than a mouthful)

I hate bribery, but I have learned that it is generally a fact of life in the world we live in. I probably would have gone a lot farther in business if I had succumbed to employing a little “grease on the skids” of life.

There was this salesman, Gene Lorenz, who used to come by the office I worked in 20 years ago to drop off information on the steel fabrication company he represented. He never sold anything to my boss, but he would always leave a package containing a half dozen large cookies. The best darn cookies I ever had—you had to fight the secretary for a bite of one.

Years later, after I had started my own company and began a business relationship with Gene, he told me where he got the cookies. Harry’s Farmers Market in Atlanta was the place. I could eat a half dozen of those cookies in a single sitting.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a Harry’s market here on St. Simons, but when I wanted to bake some cookies for the holiday season, I did some research hoping to make my own version of my favorite cookies.

Here is what I came up with for ingredients:

2 sticks butter + 1/4 stick

2 eggs
1 cup white crystal sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Quaker oats

1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnut pieces

1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3 squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate

According to my Betty Crocker Cookbook, there are a couple of details that ensure good cookies. I followed Mrs. Crocker’s instructions and my cookies came out perfect.

Betty Crocker Tip: First, let your butter soften at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before you use it. Second, if you don’t have flat cookie sheets (I didn’t,) turn your sheets upside down and cook your cookies on the back of the sheet.

Now, as to making great cookies. In a double boiler, combine ¼ stick of butter and three squares of unsweetened baking chocolate and heat over medium heat to melt, stirring occasionally.

While your chocolate is melting, in a large mixing bowl, combine the white crystal sugar, the brown sugar, the oats, and the cinnamon. Stir everything together to combine. Slice the butter into pieces and add it to the mixture and beat with an electric mixer on low speed. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix some more. Now add your chocolate chips and nuts and mix some more.

Once the chocolate and butter mixture has melted, add it to the sugar/oats mixture and beat lightly with the electric mixer.

In a separate medium mixing bowl, sift and measure the cake flour, the whole wheat flour, the salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix everything together with a spoon.

Now it is time to think again—you might not need all of your flour mixture so pay attention. Add half of your flour mix to the wet mix and beat it all together with the mixer. Take a spatula and scrape the sides of the bowl to get the dry stuff off of the edges. Keep adding the flour mixture a little at a time and beating it with the mixer until you have a very stiff dough. As I said, you might not need all of the flour, depending on room temperature and your accuracy of measuring the ingredients. I said VERY stiff's important.

When you are satisfied with your dough, cover the bowl with Saran Wrap and sit it in the refrigerator for ten minutes to chill. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Open a beer or mix yourself a drink while you wait.

Redneck Tip: My Betty Crocker Cookbook had another idea I liked. Instead of cooking a whole batch of bad cookies, spoon out a little of your dough on to a cookie sheet and test-cook one cookie to see what you’ve got. If your cookie spreads out too much and is flat, add a little flour to your mix. If it is too dry and cooks like a golf ball, add a little more butter, a dash of milk, or another egg and try again. Mine worked great the first try. Also, allow your cookie sheets to cool off between batches so that your cookies don’t spread too much while cooking—remember, that’s why we chilled the dough in the first place…

Spoon out even globs of your cookie dough onto your cookie sheets. I wanted real thick, 2-1/2” cookies, so I used big portions. Cook for nine to twelve minutes, until you see the sides of the bottoms starting to get real dark.

Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then slide them off onto a cooling rack. Repeat until you run out of dough, or make some more dough and keep going. Makes about two dozen fat cookies.

Enjoy Ya’ll,

The Redneck Gourmet

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