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December 17, 2010

Default oatmeal cookies with nutmeg
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:54 PM * 103 comments

In the interests of never losing it again, allow me to post our standard oatmeal cookie recipe. It’s reasonably unremarkable apart from the nutmeg, but really, who needs to get fancy with oatmeal cookies? Life is too short.

250g (1 cup) butter
400g (2 packed cups) brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
300g (2 cups) white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
250 g (1 1/2 cups) rolled oats

(I know some people like raisins in these cookies. Some people juggle geese. If you’re of the former persuasion, put some in. If you’re of the latter, wash your hands afterward.)

Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F, GM 4).

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix. Spoon onto baking trays protected from stickiness using your preferred method. Bake until done (15 - 20 minutes).

Half a dozen of these cookies can bribe people to come to an important meeting. A single batch is a useful addition to a Thanksgiving party in a foreign land. A double recipe will be remembered by a class of eight year olds for a whole year. A triple recipe will feed the green room at a dance recital and make you The People Who Bring Cookies until the end of time.

Martin got the seed recipe somewhere on the internet, then tweaked and changed it around through gradual experimentation. I made about 100 of them yesterday, along with a batch of chocolate chip cookies with M&M’s swapped in. (They’re easier to buy here). So I had the time to get the weight/volume conversion data.

This post is brought to you by the number 7 and the Making Light recipe index. Void where no one likes cookies, but where would that be? Genuine vanilla extract is a joy to the spirit, but don’t worry about grinding your own nutmeg. Our oatmeal says it’s got small leaves. Preheat! Preheat! OK!

Comments on Default oatmeal cookies with nutmeg:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 04:45 PM:

Void where no one likes cookies, but where would that be?

"Let the cookie win."

#2 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Why would anyone juggle geese when kittens are so much easier?

#3 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 05:10 PM:

My own recipe is uncannily similar with the substitution of cinnamon for the nutmeg (I don't particularly like nutmeg) and the optional addition of minced walnuts, if you're into that sort of thing.

#4 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 05:14 PM:

mmm. Cookies.

Mom has a similar recipe for oatmeal (and we've been eating a lot of them since she bought 10lbs of oatmeal on sale), but my cookie of "my god, you have to bring that again!" are chewy ginger cookies. They taste like Christmas to me.

They've been on the brain this week, since Episcopal collect for the Third Sunday in Advent starts with "Stir up!" and is the traditional Christmas baking collect.

And I should probably go make up another batch to take to class tomorrow. Or something. Maybe some oatmeal.

#5 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 05:31 PM:


Ecclesiastically sanctioned baking happens rather earlier on this side of the Atlantic; no doubt because Christmas puddings keep for longer than cookies.

#6 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 05:42 PM:

Gingerbread and madeleines this last Monday; gingerbread, madeleines and tiramisu yesterday; [three parties, all told, today and tomorrow]; madeleines, tiramisu and apple chutney next Friday; cooking of Christmas dinner for five on Saturday.

I'm so stirred up I could just ...

I'm not entirely sure "excita" is the correct word here, she says, in an interval of husbanding her strength.

#7 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 06:35 PM:

When I was learning to cook, oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips were the "chocolate chip cookies" in our house. I was out of college before I realized that the Toll House recipe is what many people in the US think of as the traditional chocolate chip cookie.

Which is to say that these cookies sound wonderful and I wonder what they'd taste like with chocolate chips.

#8 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 06:44 PM:

Juggling geese: because bowling balls aren't hostile enough.

#9 ::: gun-control spam sees David Harmon @ #8 ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 06:52 PM:

And if geese aren't hostile enough for you, remember Archaos who used to juggle chainsaws.

(FX: changes name back and hides in the weeds by the information superhighway with the rest of the moose.)


#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 07:12 PM:

Hmm... I see baking soda (rather than baking powder), but no acids. How does the that get activated?

#11 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 07:19 PM:

re 5: Well the fruitcake got made on St. Andrew's Day, which is generally the date on which I begin to acknowledge the approach of Christmas anyway.

#12 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 07:46 PM:

David Harmon @10: Butter is more acidic than you'd probably credit (see for a useful reference), and there's quite a bit of it in this recipe.

#13 ::: Adelheid_p ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 08:41 PM:

I made oatmeal scotchies last night. My husband made chocolate chip cookies today.

#14 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 08:49 PM:

For me it is cookie night as well! I will shortly be making vinegar bars. Like lemon bars, but with sugar-and-vinegar custard instead. Don't wince -- it's (evolved from) an old Southern "vinegar pie" recipe.

Also on the list: checkerboard cookies, made by the millefiore method.

#15 ::: barry ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 09:06 PM:

#12 your reference has eggs as quite toward the base side of things - lemons at 2.2-2.4, eggs at 7.6-8.0. Maybe it's baking soda plus eggs that does the trick.

#16 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 09:07 PM:

Tonight, cranberry and pistachio biscotti, and that concludes the cookie baking potion of this program. Tomorrow is my holiday party, so the day will be spend on the more substantial foods, like arranging the salmon and cream cheese tray and making tabouli for my vegan guests. Oh, and cleaning all the things.

#17 ::: barry ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 09:13 PM:

Oops I got my terms mixed. The butter also not very acidic @ around 6.1-6.4 , maybe barely acidic. The flour is a better bet with a ph of about 5.5

#18 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 09:15 PM:

Andrew, 14: I would be Very Interested Indeed in your vinegar-bar recipe.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 09:41 PM:


Its French translation is 'vinaigre', which is the fusion of the words 'vin' and 'aigre'. In other words, it means 'sour wine'.

#20 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 10:02 PM:

Serge @ 19

I'm always a little surprised that more people don't use leftover wine in their recipes. Personally, I think it tastes better than the expensive store-bought vinegars.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 10:15 PM:

KaiTei @ 20... On the other hand, modern vinegar probably is probably less likely to have unfortunate variations in taste and effect than sour wine would.

#22 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 10:28 PM:

We've had two full weekends of cookie baking here. Chocolate chip cookies (at least 3 recipes), butterscotch-peanutbutter haystacks (4 recipes), chocolate chip-peanutbutter chip cookies (at least three recipes), frosted gingerbread cookie cutouts (two recipes), frosted sugar cookie cutouts (four recipes)...

Fortunately, I have a wide range of friends, family and colleagues willing to throw themselves at the problem of disposing of said cookies.

I need to do at least one more set. I have these walnuts and these dark chocolate mint chips that I haven't had a chance to use up yet, which I'm thinking could go awesomely in a fudge-based cookie... maybe I'll batch up some cookies for Christmas and drop half of them off with various community organizations to appease my doctor...

#23 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 10:32 PM:

Serge @ 21

I couldn't say. I've never had a problem with it, in the ten or so years it's been my practice. But my recipes do tend to include a wide range of impromptu varations, so whether it would bother someone more accustomed to consistency...

#24 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 10:46 PM:

Kaytei @22: These dark chocolate mint chips you speak of, what kind are they and where did you get them? My mother has been mourning Nestle's chocolate mint chips since they were taken off the market (Nestle's current version, which just adds too-sweet chunks of minty stuff to a bag of regular chocolate chips, is not right).

#25 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 10:49 PM:

These oatmeal cookies sound excellent. For those who make their cookies from the recipe on the back of the Quaker box, please note: the recipe was changed in 1987, so if your current cookies do not resemble the ones from your youth, it is NOT your baking technique. I was in my freshman year at MIT when this change occurred, and NOTICED the difference between one box of oatmeal and the next I bought, and preserved the older recipe. Anyone with nostalgia for the older version may apply to me at the usual name at gmail dot com, but don't expect a response before Monday, as I'm headed out of town tomorrow.

I have discovered that it is possible to bribe young men to haul full-size refrigerators up several flights of stairs with these cookies, and they will also do well as an item of barter with SCA merchants and mercenary armies, although the armies were partial to cane-sugar Coca-Cola.

I need to compare proportions to see if my cookies are the same formula that works for caramelita bars and jam bars, which are both prized auction items in fundraising auctions, at least the ones my friends use to crowdsource the funding for the Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk.

They were juggled! My hand to God!

#26 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 10:55 PM:

I've made cookies from scratch, and they've generally come out pretty well, but I must shamefully report that of the four or five batches I make a year, virtually all are from mixes.

I've found two combinations that draw good comments from cow-orkers:

Oatmeal with peanut butter chips.

Peanut butter cookies with butterscotch chips.

#27 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Jules #12: Oh, that's a cool site, thanks!

I'm seeing a lot of things are more acid than I'd expect -- like almost everything! (Flour? Broccoli? Squash? And how does tea get to be basic?) Come to think of it, it looks like life in general has a pH around 6... and somehow that idea feels familiar.

#28 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 11:10 PM:

I guess this is cookie-baking week. I did 2 double batches of brownies yesterday, because there was one party today and there will be two tomorrow. And I baked a batch of oatmeal raisin bars, using oat flour and oatmeal, for my partner who can't do wheat. He likes raisins, but I love him anyway.

#29 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 11:29 PM:

Re: wine/vinegar in cooking:

I recently tried deglazing the pan from a couple of small steaks with bourbon... made a yummy sauce! I used Bulleit, because it was feeling neglected after I'd bought a bottle of Glenlivet.

#30 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 12:08 AM:

I wish there were recipes for oatmeal cookies that had less brown sugar so those of us that are diabetic could enjoy more than a cookie or two a day. Cooks Illustrated keeps harping on how Splenda sucks for baking so I haven't tried to see if that would work...

#31 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 12:15 AM:

Rikibeth@25: These oatmeal cookies sound excellent. For those who make their cookies from the recipe on the back of the Quaker box, please note: the recipe was changed in 1987, so if your current cookies do not resemble the ones from your youth, it is NOT your baking technique.

Aha! Finally, confirmation of something I suspected at the time (well, actually a couple of years later, since the change occurred during a cookie-baking hiatus in my life -- a tropical climate is not conducive to intensive cookie-making); I had to do some reverse engineering on the altered recipe as well.

#32 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:30 AM:

Vinegar bars, or pie, or something:

Put eight ounces of golden raisins in a bowl with a few tablespoons of cider vinegar. Let them soak overnight, with occasional stirring. They should absorb most of the liquid.

In a double boiler, heat four tablespoons of melted butter, a cup of sugar, and four beaten eggs. (I used eight tablespoons of butter, actually. I like butter.) Add a pinch of salt, a dash of vanilla, and two tablespoons of cider vinegar. Taste and adjust the sweet-tart balance as you like it.

This is a custard procedure, so stir continuously until it thickens. Then remove it from the heat.

Now comes the part I'm still working on. You want a crust, then the raisins, with the custard on top. Bake until the custard is set.

The first time I tried this, I made a pie crust, aiming for a pecan-pie form. The result was too much custard per slice. (Mind you, I used *two* cups of sugar in that go, which made for really *really* sweet pecan-pie filling.)

This evening I made a shortbread crust, as for lemon bars. But I think I blind-baked it too long, because the crust came out crunchy. *Tasty*, but a real nuisance to cut into bars. The custard didn't adhere well either; the bars are raggedy around the edges.

I'll try again for New Year's.

#33 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:30 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 30

When the cookie jones becomes irresistable, I just take more insulin.

#34 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:34 AM:

FWIW, I like to put dried cranberries in my oatmeal cookies. But, then, I put dried cranberries in lots of things, so this should surprise nobody.

Oddly, it never occurred to me that one could make oatmeal cookies without raisins or cranberries or chocolate chips (which I don't actually like in oatmeal cookies) or some similar sort of inclusion.

#35 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:38 AM:

Also, I'm looking forward to trying nutmeg in my next batch of oatmeal cookies, as I am very fond of it.

Though it does tend to remind me of the story of an old acquaintance -- mutual friends told me that she once tried using nutmeg as a hallucinogen (which it is, in sufficiently large doses), and apparently it worked but gave her a rather bad trip and she could never deal with the taste at all after that.

#36 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:44 AM:

I haven't done a lot of cookies in the last few weeks - I made a couple batches earlier this fall for various other grad students who covered sections for me.

Those were a basic sugar cookie with chocolate, vanilla and almonds. Went over very well.

I've baked two flourless chocolate tortes in the last two weeks - one with almonds and orange zest (did that last night, the lab nommed it today) and one with lots of eggs and butter, which is really rich.

#37 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 02:36 AM:

Benjamin, #36: I'd be very interested in the recipes for those flourless tortes!

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 02:55 AM:

I looked into the chemistry of various ingredients a year or so ago, when I was making my usual chocolate cake late at night and realized we didn't have any eggs.

So it turns out that in that recipe—and probably in this one—the eggs are the source of acidity as well as being a binding agent. It also turns out that you can replace an egg with about half a teaspoon of vinegar and still have the chemistry work out. The sponge is a little weak, but my test group (colleagues at my former place) pronounced it acceptable.

(I'm not sure I'd recommend that approach for these cookies, though.)

#39 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 03:59 AM:

This post is brought to you by the number 7 and the Making Light recipe index.

I'm ever so slightly disappointed that it's not brought by the numbers 22/7 and 3.1415926535. But I guess that's irrational.

#40 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 07:21 AM:

When I lived in the States, everyone made oatmeal cookies so I never did. Now I miss them - but I'm not sure what makes oats "rolled" or whether anything special is needed.

Seeing this recipe, I decided to try it with Dorset Cereals muesli instead (Ingredients: oats, barley flakes, wheat flakes, toasted and malted wheat flakes (wheat, barley malt extract), Chilean flame raisins (11%), dates (9%), pumpkin seeds (7%), sunflower seeds (5%), toasted and malted oat flakes (oats, barley malt extract)). I wouldn't have dared but having weights meant I didn't have to worry about the consistency of the seeds and fruit in ratio to the cookie dough.

I didn't have any brown sugar in (I have to go to the English shop in the next village for that) so I used white which probably ruins any chance I had for declaring them healthy. But they certainly are delicious!

Thank you for posting the base recipe.


#41 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 07:35 AM:

Anzac Biscuits


1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
½ to 1 cup dessicated coconut
113g to 125g butter
1 to 2 tbsp treacle or golden syrup
1 to 2 tbsp water
½ to 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven at 180°C.

Where a variable quantity is indicated, this depends on the type of consistency required.

Combine the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Combine the butter, treacle or golden syrup and water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the soda and mix with the dry ingredients.

Drop teaspoons of the mixture on a greased oven tray or tray lined with oven paper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool.

Clearly a close cousin. Appropriately.

#42 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 07:40 AM:

Sylvia #40: "Rolled" oats means the grains ("oat berries") have been crushed flat beneath a heavy roller. "Steel-cut" is just another way of making them flat. Either way, the point is they cook into a mush, rather than a side-dish of cooked grain. Your basic boxed oatmeal will be one or the other, and should do fine.

#43 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 07:52 AM:

PS to Sylvia: Making the cookies with muesli sounds yummy! (Notice that all your grains were in fact flaked.) Don't worry about the sugar -- modern brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses. The molasses do add a few minerals, but using the multi-grain mix probably improved the nutrition plenty. And hey, you're making cookies, you want them to be healthy too? ;-)

#44 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 08:19 AM:

David @43 I don't think I can get boxed oatmeal locally but if rolled just means flat then at least I know what I'm looking for! The muesli was certainly more oats than anything else and there were some other brands of "grain cereal" one of which might have been plain oats. I'll walk into the village to check if it ever stops raining.

Molasses ... is called black treacle in Europe, I think? I know I tried to make gingerbread with a can of what claimed to be molasses and they were not edible. I'll have to look it up again and make sure I get the right thing this time.

#45 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 08:41 AM:

Sylvia: Poking around, I found a page discussing the differences. Apparently, black treacle is molasses plus something called "refiner's syrup".

#46 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 08:53 AM:

David Harmon wrote @ #10:

Hmm... I see baking soda (rather than baking powder), but no acids. How does the that get activated?

If it's bicarbonate of soda, then I'd assume by the heat of baking:

2NaHCO3 -> Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2

(How does a moose do subscripts on ML, anyway?)

#47 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 09:29 AM:

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

2 eggs
1 T oil
6 T sugar
1 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 C dried cranberries, snipped
1/4 C raw pistachios, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 and spread a piece of parchment paper on your baking sheet. This is a very stiff and sticky dough, so you want your strongest mixer for it. First, cream together the eggs, oil, and sugar. Then gradually add the salt, baking soda, and flour. Finally mix in the cranberries and pistachios. With the help of a spatula, pour it out into an oval about 10"x5" on the parchment paper. Bake 30 minutes. Remove and let cool 10 minutes. Cut into slices (a serrated bread knife works best). Bake these 10 minutes directly on the cookie sheet so they will brown nicely, then turn over and bake 10 more. Cool on racks.

This is from a great site called Closet Cooking. He suggests dipping them in white chocolate after they're cool. This is a good basic recipe for fooling around with -- try chopped dates and hazelnuts and a bit of mace or nutmeg, for example, or raisins and almonds and cinnamon.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 10:06 AM:

the tags are [sub] [/sub] (with the usual substitution of angle brackets)

Thus H[sub]2[/sub]O becomes H2O

#49 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 10:09 AM:

Let's see if this works.

Cadbury, the Subscript tag is <sub>.

And this is an example of a superscript. C3I, which uses the <sup> tag. A tag which the ML software doesn't recognise will vanish from the input window at Preview time.

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 10:11 AM:

Shortbread Candy

1 stick butter (do not use margarine!)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup white flour

Preheat oven to 250°. Cream together all ingredients until you have a sticky dough. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and spread the dough evenly into it. Bake for 10-15 minutes until dough is light golden-brown -- keep a close eye on it! Remove from oven and let cool until the semi-molten mass is set enough to score into domino-sized pieces, then let cool completely. (If you omit the scoring step, you end up with shortbread brittle and have to hammer it.)

This recipe was adapted from a kitchen disaster at an SCA event. It was supposed to be shortbread, but the person making it got the proportions wrong. I liked the result enough to reverse-engineer the recipe.

No-Bake Fudge

1 package cheap chocolate cookies (I like Chocolate Teddy Grahams for this if you can find them)
1 package semi-sweet chips*
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Put the cookies in a food processor and process the hell out of them -- you want something fine-grained and flourlike. Melt the chips in a largish bowl in the microwave. Stir in the condensed milk and then the chocolate flour. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and spread the dough evenly into it. At this point you can decorate the top with candies, sprinkles, or whatever else you choose; I generally don't bother. Let cool until set, then slice into 1" squares.

* I haven't made this in a while, and I've heard that the Nestle's semi-sweet chips aren't what they used to be. Use your own judgment.

#51 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 10:15 AM:

Lee, 50: Is there a best size of casserole dish?

#52 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 10:21 AM:

After looking up subscripts for Cadbury, I recalled that there are a lot of potentially useful HTML entities, which let various symbols be place in a web page. For example, &amp; will produce &, which is the first character of all these codes.

&frac12; produces ½, similarly for &frac14; and &frac34;.

Anyway, there's a list here

#53 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 10:51 AM:

Here you go:

Chocolate Torte with Almonds and Orange Zest

6oz Chocolate (dark, please)
Zest of 2 Oranges (original recipe asks for rough-textured navals, but I've never found it to matter too much)
1.5 sticks of butter
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs
6.66oz of almond meal (or, you can make your own with a food processor)

[canonical procedure]

Preheat your oven to 300F; butter and line a 8" cake pan with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate, and take off the heat. Wash the oranges and zest into the mixing bowl; add the butter and sugar and process until light in color and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time; mix until incorporated. Add the chocolate. Mix until even in color. Fold in the almond flour. Dump into pan. Bake for 40-45min; the top should look dry and a tester should come out with a few crumbs.

[procedure for impatient cranky graduate students]

Preheat your oven to 300F; butter and line a 8" cake pan with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate, and take off the heat. Toss the almonds into the cuisinart and process until right. Zest the oranges into the work bowl; add the butter and sugar. Process. Add the eggs. Process. Add the chocolate. Process. Dump into pan. Bake for 40-45min; the top should look dry and a tester should come out with a few crumbs. Feed to lab and watch colleagues make happy noises. Tease them about the happy noises when they eat the torte for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Boca Negra [adapted from Baking with Julia]

12 oz bittersweet chocolate
1.33c sugar
0.5c bourbon*
2 sticks unsalted butter
5 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350F; butter and line an 8" cake pan with parchment, butter the parchment. Combine sugar and bourbon over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Place your roughly chopped chocolate in the work bowl of your cuisinart, dump the bourbon syrup atop it and process until melted (a towel over the throat of the processor is not a bad idea, as that stuff is hot). Add the butter in pieces and mix until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and process. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in a water bath (roasting pan or something) for 30-35 min at 350F. It is done when the top has a thin, dry crust.

[warning: this one has a therapeutic dose of 1-2" of circumference. Unless one's sugar tolerance is truly astronomical, more than that is a Bad Idea]

*Julia Child calls for Bourbon in this - I lost my taste for the stuff a while back (and it was never something I had as a standard liquor cabinet item). I've made it with low-peat scotch, which is OK... Irish whiskey could also be good, but my favorite is to sub the half cup of booze for half a cup of freshly made, shockingly strong espresso. Whatever you use, it should be flavorful and ideally alcoholic.

#54 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 11:12 AM:

It's cookie day here too, and so far, of a selection of more or less exotic recipes I've tried, the oatmeal ones (from a very similar recipe) have proved the most popular.

My favourite so far has been the Chilli Almond Thins (slightly modified from a recipe in the Guardian);

175g unsalted butter, softened
175g grated strong cheddar
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
¾ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika (sweet smoked is perfect)
1 small clove garlic, crushed to a paste (optional)
175g plain flour
2 tablespoons ice-cold water or milk
150g whole almonds

Mash together the butter, cheese, chilli, salt, paprika and garlic. Add the flour and water or milk, work everything together to a smooth, soft dough, then stir in the almonds.
Spoon the mixture on to a sheet of nonstick baking paper, roll it into a cylinder about 4cm thick and 30cm long, then chill or freeze it.
To bake, cut the dough cylinder into 1cm thick slices and place them a few centimetres apart on a lined baking tray. Heat the oven to 180C (fan-assisted 160C)/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for 25 minutes, until golden.

#55 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 11:15 AM:

Later today I'm baking a pan of pecan pie bars to take to a party tonight. I am a native Texan and don't think it's the holidays without pecan pie, but nobody else in my household cares for it (Philistines) and eating an entire pie myself always seems excessive. So this is my compromise this year.

Probably won't do much other holiday baking, as there are no big get-togethers in store.

#56 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 12:35 PM:

The flourless torte that I know how to make is really a custard with some backbone. I shall have to try Benjamin Wolfe's recipe @53, too! While his requires a food processor, mine requires a stand mixer. I've always covered it with ganache before serving. This recipe comes from a class.

Chocolate Dream Torte

12 oz bittersweet chocolate
5 oz water
1 Tb rum
6 oz sugar
9 oz soft butter, cut into chunks

6 eggs
3 oz sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Prepare one 3" deep, 9" cake pan with a parchment paper. No, a 2" pan isn't tall enough. Don't use a springform pan, as you'll be baking this in a water bath.
2. Chop the chocolate, and put it in a really large metal bowl. You're going to be whisking a large volume of liquid.
3. Bring water and 6 oz sugar to a boil. Pour it over the chocolate, and stir with a whisk until melted.
4. Stir in the butter and rum.
5. Whip the whole eggs with 3 oz of sugar to the ribbon stage. If you lift the beater and drop a ribbon across the top of the beaten eggs, it should stay there for awhile. This is going to take awhile. It completely fills the bowl of a KitchenAid Artisan mixer.
6. Fold egg mixture into the chocolate with a whisk. You can't be completely gentle. Use a rubber scraper, too, to get all the chocolate up from the bowl.
7. Pour into cake pan, and bake in a water bath at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes to an hour. The water bath can start at the temperature of hot tap water. Torte should reach an internal temperature of 160. The middle should still have some jiggle, but not too much.

Cool to room temperature, then put in the freezer.

Freeze for at least 2 hours. Run the pan over a stove burner very briefly to soften the bottom, run a knife around the sides, then knock it out of the pan. This is a much more violent process than turning a regular cake out of a pan. Put it on a 9" cardboard cake round. Put the cake on a wire rack with something under it to catch the ganache overflow.

Ganache Glaze

12 oz cream
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz soft butter, in chunks

Put chocolate in a metal bowl. Bring cream to a boil, pour over the chocolate and stir until melted. Mix in the butter. You'll need to whisk somewhat violently to get the butter smoothly incorporated.

Cool to about 90 degrees before pouring over the still frozen cake. Don't let the ganache cool too much, or it won't be shiny. Be sure to whisk again before using -- while it's still warm, the butter wants to separate.

This recipe makes more ganache than is needed to cover one 9" cake. The extra makes great truffles, or frosting for something else.

Let the ganache set up for several minutes, then slice. Use a hot knife, and wipe after each slice. I put a tall pitcher in the sink, and run hot water into it. I also invested in a long, thin, cake-slicing knife.

Store the cake in the refrigerator, but remove somewhat in advance of serving.

I usually make the cake at least a week in advance, and leave in the freezer. I add the ganache the night before when I'm going to serve it. I've been assured that it's OK to freeze it after coating with ganache, but I haven't tried that.

I shudder at the idea of chopping this much chocolate starting with any kind of bar or block, even with a food processor. Pastilles, or wafers, pour into the food processor with no pre-chopping. I use Guittard bittersweet 72% couverture chocolate wafers, because they're easy to fine here and I don't have to remember to order online in advance.

For extra credit, add a pattern in melted white chocolate immediately after coating with ganache. If you goof up with the white chocolate, it's a good thing that there's extra ganache, as I know from experience.

#57 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 12:50 PM:

I thought I had the recipe for the best molasses-gingerbread cookies in the universe typed up on this computer, but I appear to have misplaced it.

I do, however, have approx 7 dozen of the aforementioned cookies downstairs in my kitchen.

(I really need to type up that recipe again. It used to be in my sent-mail file from when somebody had wanted it, but I've had two major crashes in the last twelve months, and apparently I don't have an e-copy of that recipe at the moment. So I can't paste it into this comment, which is what I'd started out wanting to do...)

#58 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:02 PM:

All hail the power of hard drive search! Note to self, filenames like Untitled 7.rtf are not really useful....

- - - -

Preheat oven: 350 F
Bake time: 7-8 minutes per tray
(7 minutes for thin cookies, 8 minutes for thick ones)

1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 lb. butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa (unsweetened/baking cocoa)
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cloves

Sift dry ingredients together into second-largest bowl and blend well. (Sift as follows: 1.25 cup flour + salt and soda; 1.25 cup flour + cocoa; 1.25 cup flour + spices. Then fold powder gently until it's all the same color. Do it this way, it works.)

Cream butter and sugar into largest bowl, then beat in egg, molasses and vanilla.

Slowly blend flour mixture into wet mixture until it forms a stiff dough.

Wrap well and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

(Dough keeps in the fridge a week or two and can be frozen at this point.)

Bring dough to cool room temperature. (If dough gets sticky due to heat, just chill in fridge.) Preheat oven to 350 F and roll or cut dough (approx. 3/16 to 1/4 inch for soft cookies, as thin as 1/8 inch for crispier cookies.)

Bake 8 minutes for thick cookies; check thin cookies at 7 minutes to avoid browning the edges. Makes about 5 dozen 3-4 inch cut cookies; closer to 7 dozen 2-inch cookies, about 3.5 dozen 6 inch cut cookies, etc.

Cool completely before decorating if desired.

#59 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:46 PM:

Conclusion: for the checkerboard cookies, I'm going back to cream cheese dough. Standard cookie dough with extra chocolate is just barely workable, but standard cookie dough with tahini is way too much oil. Cream cheese is sticky, but at least it's -- well, sticky. It holds together when you roll it.

#60 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 01:51 PM:

I'm about to embark on my annual day of chocolate chip pumpkin bread baking, wherein I turn all of that pumpkin I cooked down and froze after Halloween into delicious holiday treats. My partner and I have a tradition of spending the Sunday before Christmas/nearest the solstice driving around delivering pumpkin breads to all our local friends. That's tomorrow, so I'd better get started...

All the cookies were baked (and consumed) last week, though I'll probably bake more before my parents show up next weekend. They're bringing the traditional fudge.

#61 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 03:19 PM:

TexAnne, #51: I use whatever comes to hand. I think most of my casserole dishes are in the neighborhood of 8x12" or 9x12". Don't use a loaf pan. Thickness is going to matter more with the shortbread candy than with the fudge, so you may have to cook it a bit longer if you're using a smaller dish.

Also, there's a color range that's okay -- I like it at the light-golden-brown stage, but if it gets to medium-golden-brown or even medium-dark it's still good. You just don't want it really dark, because that starts to taste burnt. (OTOH, people who like single malts might not object to that either! :-p )

#62 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 03:55 PM:

In regard to dealing with large quantities of chocolate, investing in a chocolate spike (the thing that looks like a fork designed by the Inquisition) is worthwhile.

That said, a junk knife to fracture a block + a decent knife to chop works pretty well to.

#63 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Does everyone know the trick for working with cookie cutters? The dough gets warm as it's rolled out, and the cut cookie shapes can be too soft to work with easily. To prevent this, put a cookie sheet in the freezer, and roll the dough out on a silicon mat. When the dough gets soft, slide the freezing cold metal sheet underneath the silicon mat. Leave it there a few minutes, and the dough will firm up nicely. I think I learned that on Alton Brown's Good Eats.

Lee @ 50: ...I've heard that the Nestle's semi-sweet chips aren't what they used to be.

I think that the best semisweet chocolate chips these days are Guittard. In my part of the world, Safeway stocks them.

Benjamin Wolfe @ 62: I do have one of those heavy chocolate breaking forks, though I usually forget about it. I have too many gadgets, jammed into too few drawers. The trouble with chopping chocolate (aside from me being lazy) is the way the small pieces float into everything. When my dog smells white chocolate, she rushes over to stand at my feet and cleans up anything that drift down.

#64 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 12:13 AM:

Bruce H.: I'm on oral medications: taking additional insulin isn't really an option for me and I'm sick enough this week I can't get outside and excercize like a madman to compensate.

#65 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 01:53 AM:

As evidenced by my comment @ 63, today I got the urge to roll out cookie dough, cut it into cunning shapes, and decorate them. Hours later, I have a container full of cute, crispy little cookies that really aren't very interesting to eat. I could have spent less time, and ended up with something scrumptious. This is why I go at least 6 years between pulling out the cookie cutters. I guess it's the human condition to do the same thing and expect a different result. I really should just throw out the cookie cutters. I don't think the burst of enthusiasm would last through actually buying more of them.

#66 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 06:32 AM:

JM @ 24
Sadly, mine are also Nestle. I picked them up on a whim, but it's just dark chocolate chips with some toothpaste-colored green chips mixed in, so if you dislike the green minty stuff, I doubt it's much better than their presumably similar semi-sweet chips. Ah well. I have plenty of young nieces and nephews I can feed them to, if they're truly appalling...

On a quick net search, prepared pantry shows some "gourmet" mint-chocolate chips... couldn't speak to quality, but it might be worth checking out.

#67 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 07:48 AM:

Sisuile @ 4

Do you have a recipe for the chewy ginger cookies? They sound yummy.

#68 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 08:28 AM:

And, in my own lesser cookery, I just started another batch of stock. This one ought to come out especially nice, but I'm still accumulating more stock than I'm using. (I'd rather have bags of stock cubes in the freezer than bags of chicken bones and veggie scraps.) Time to make (and distribute) more soup....

#69 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 10:01 AM:

Juli Thompson (67): I'm not Sisuile, but here's my mother's recipe for Ginger Crinkles:

Sift together:
2 cups flour (we always used whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

Mix together:
2/3 cup of oil (corn or soy, but *not* olive)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons molasses

Add sifted mixture to liquid mixture and stir well
Roll mixture into balls and drop into 1/4 cup sugar for coating.
Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

These always came out flat and crispy, but a vendor at the local farmers market makes some that are thick and chewy but otherwise identical, right down to the cracks in the top after they bake.

#70 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 03:01 PM:

Uh-oh. What a chocolate fork looks like is distressingly similar to what I've been using to break up bagged ice from the local convenience store when our power's gone out.

"Proper use of tools" is apparently not as ingrained in me as I thought.

#71 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 03:18 PM:

Linkmeister, I'd describe it as 'using the right wrong tool'. It looks really handy for breaking up bagged ice.

#72 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 03:31 PM:

P J, oh, it serves the purpose admirably.

Now I'm puzzled, though, because nobody in this house has baked with slab chocolate in about ten thousand years. I can't recall a need for a chocolate fork. Maybe we bought it for the ice-breaking functionality, not realizing it was meant to do something else.

#73 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 04:16 PM:

I have an office party tuesday, so in addition to the leftover gingerbread cookies mentioned in #58 I now also have butter sugar cookies. The easiest recipe ever. Alas, I no longer have the metric translation of this that I worked out when I was in Germany.

Preheat oven to 375F
Bake time: Approx 6-7 minutes per tray

1 cup = 2 sticks = 1/2 lb butter
1 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour


Cream the butter, which should start at cool room temp. Sift in the confectioner's sugar; cream that together. Add egg and vanilla; beat that until uniform in texture. Sift in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, blending thoroughly.

At this point, people with warm houses will want to chill the dough until it's stiff enough to roll out.

Do not use straight flour to dust the work surface and tools; use a mix of 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar to 1 tbsp + 2 tsp flour (notice this is the same sugar-flour ratio as in the original recipe).

Keep track of the scraps and avoid overworking the dough. Or just eat them. This is the quintessential cookie dough for cookie dough ice cream, only better, because you know what's in it.

Roll approx 1/4 inch thick, bake about 6-7 minutes until the center top is dry and the edges are just barely beginning to brown.

Decorate if you feel the need. Makes approx 2.5 dozen 3-4" cut cookies, closer to 3.5 dozen 2" cookies, etc.


* The basic recipe is delicious, but you can mix it up a bit with other flavorings and spices - a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon or ginger is good; substitute almond extract or lemon flavoring if you like that; food-color the heck out of it if you like (I produced some magnificent tie-dyed hippie flowers once by squishing together all the assorted scraps from a divided and colored batch.)

#74 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 04:22 PM:

abi @38, if while baking you need an egg substitute for binding, and pH is not a concern, you can use 1 tablespoon of corn starch per egg.

#75 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 10:16 PM:

KayTei @66: Thanks for the tip! I actually don't mind the Nestle ones, but my mother's standards are higher than mine. I hope you like them!

#76 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2010, 11:45 PM:

Re oatmeal cookies: it's a good idea to specify whether the rolled oats should be "traditional" or quick-cooking. If the recipe requires one and you use the other, baked goods may not turn out right.

#77 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 12:40 AM:

Linkmeister @ 72: When I bought my chocolate breaking fork, the catalog said that they were originally meant for breaking up ice, but were found to work well for chocolate, too.

JM @ 75: A possible alternative to mint chocolate chips is flavored bar chocolate. Lindt Excellence has 3.5 oz dark chocolate bars infused with different flavors, one of which is mint. I love the chili ones for making fudge. In the PNW, I find them at Fred Meyer's.

#78 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 01:03 AM:

For breaking up chocoblocks, how about liquid nitrogen and a crab mallet?

#79 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 01:11 AM:

Earl: Freezing chocolate is BAD. Maybe not if you do it fast and briefly, but it's not good in general.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 01:49 AM:

janetl @ #77, Thanks! I feel much less puzzled than I did.

Now if I could find my grandmother's old cast-iron hand-cranking food grinder which clamped onto the counter . . . (in those pre-Metamucil days she used to grind up "stuff" [can't remember what materials that included] to add fiber to her diet).

#81 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 03:53 AM:

i wonder if you could break up chocolate by using the shredder attachment to a food processor? provided the slab of chocolate is already small enough to fit down the chute in the lid, that is.

and combining 38 and 74, theoretically you could get a ph-accurate binding egg-replacer by combining 1 T cornstarch and 1/2 t vinegar.

#82 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 06:31 AM:


I've seen those in the Cabela's catalog. They're used for making sausage.

(And tourtiere pie, up here, but I can't post a recipe for that because I'm From Away and would be Doin It Wrong.)

#83 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 10:51 AM:

Linkmeister @80 and Thena @82, I found one at a yard sale years ago and I use it for grinding cranberries and oranges for cranberry salad (just like the great-aunt I got the recipe from). This year I found it works quite well to make finely ground nuts for baklava. Dunno about chocolate, but might be worth a try -- I did get a little nut-butter-consistency residue between the washer and the grinding plate by the end of the process, and this might be worse with chocolate.

#84 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 11:36 AM:

janetl@77: Back in the 1960s, Lindt made one of the best mint-and-chocolate candy bars around; but lately all the ones of theirs I've found have had inadequate mint. I was particularly disappointed in the "intense mint" bar in their Excellence line (which may be the same one you're commenting favorably on), because the naming had lead me to expect rather more than I got.

Not that I have an alternative to suggest; there really isn't anything mainstream that's better than okay, that I've found.

#85 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2010, 02:19 PM:

Juli @ 67

Chewy Ginger Cookies (From Jaycee Wives Desserts)
3/4 c shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1/4-1/3c molasses
2c all purpose flour
2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 to 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and nolasses. Add flour, soda, salt, and spices which have been sifted together. Mix well. Form into small balls. Roll in additional sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 325-350 8-10 minutes. 1/2 to 1 tsp cloves may be substituted for nutmeg

I use butter or margarine instead of shortening. I tend to be on the heavy side of the scale on the ginger, short the nutmeg a touch and add just a pinch of clove.

These are what those hard gingerbread cookies, those overbaked, dried-out cousins, wish they could be. Average shelf time: About 2 days.

#86 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2010, 08:56 AM:

I wish I'd seen this thread earlier; I have been baking since Thursday afternoon and ended on Sunday. We give baskets of homemade baked goods as gifts, so I needed a lot of cookies. I made

Kitchen sink cookies (cherries, chocolate chips, oatmeal and nuts in a chocolate cookie)
White chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate biscotti with cranberries (two batches)
Snowball cookies
Lemon drop cookies
Thin mint cookies (two batches)
Chocolate bark with dried cherries
Dark chocolate truffles
Dark chocolate chip cookies
Honey spice cookies
Creamcheese cookies

After all that I had enough cookies to give baskets to two restaurant staffs and five indivduals and families, with some left over!

#87 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2010, 06:38 PM:

Somewhere out there is... a BAD cookie.

#88 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Having just undertaken Abi's original recipe, I note a couple of points which could be added for the benefit of us less experienced cookie-bakers:

1a) How much dough to use per cookie,
1b) How far apart to space them,
1c) How many cookies to expect given (a) and (b).

I put tablespoonfuls 2-3 inches apart, and got a general merger. Not too hard to handle with a spatula, but it would have been nice to know that my two larger cookie pans (covering the width of the oven) were insufficient to handle them in a single batch. (Assuming I get more, would it be a problem to have pans on multiple oven shelves?)

2) "Bake until done"? Well, mine were darkened and flat, but mostly soft, except around the edges were some were crisp but clearly burned. I've piled them on plates and hope they won't stick together too badly. Some recognition signals might be helpful....

Despite these mild complaints, the results are yummy! So far, I've only eaten one of the scorched ones, since I haven't had dinner yet! I will certainly have to distribute them among neighbors and family -- will these keep on the counter, or should I toss them in the fridge overnight?

#89 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2010, 08:37 PM:

Having considered my results, and reread the OP, I'm following up on myself: If Abi got 100 cookies from one recipe, she must have been dropping by teaspoonfuls or thereabouts. I suspect the 2-3 inch spacing would work better for that.

#90 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2010, 08:56 PM:

Teaspoonfuls are the default size. Of course, they're probably heaping teaspoons.

I've heard the scoops sold by restaurant-supply places are good for this kind of thing.

#91 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2010, 02:36 AM:

David Harmon @88 - 89:

I should clarify. I did not get 100 cookies out of one recipe. I doubled it; you should get 30 - 50 balls of dough about the size of a walnut from the recipe as stated.

If yours flowed together across a distance of 2-3 inches, then maybe your next batch needs a bit more flour. I'm not an expert on different kinds of flour, but perhaps mine is different than yours somehow?

"Bake until done" means, for me, that when you touch the top of one it doesn't feel like a pile of cookie dough any more. It's a distinctive sensation.

#92 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2010, 07:43 AM:

abi #91: My flour is cheapo supermarket flour... hmm, I may have been using mostly whole wheat, by reflex. I got somewhere around 50 "balls" (forgot to count, but estimating from grid), but I'd say they were rather bigger than the walnuts I usually see.⌀ Next time, I'll stick to white flour, teaspoons instead of tablespoons, and an even split between two rounds of baking. Maybe for my sister's brunch tomorrow -- her family was off on a trip last weekend.

when you touch the top of one it doesn't feel like a pile of cookie dough any more. It's a distinctive sensation.

Kinda like burning your fingertip on hot cookies? ;-) I did see a strong "crackly" texture on the cookies.

In any case, they did get rave reviews from the major recipients (my development's office manager and the folks at the bookshop). Not to mention, I thought they were pretty yummy.

⌀: Walnuts do vary in size, over at least a 2:1 ratio. Remember all those medieval recipe similes we've previously snickered about?

#93 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2010, 10:21 AM:

Splotting dough onto cooking sheets is my least favorite part of cookie-making.

I often end up using my fingers to de-spoon the wads of dough, and/or reform them once they're on the sheet. And then move the balls around to fit more balls, so I don't have to start a new sheet.

I've grown to like "disposable" aluminum cookie sheets. They're actually easy to wash, baked cookies slide right off, and I've used my current pair for going on three years.

#94 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2010, 10:43 AM:

A much-improved in my opinion way to put cookie dough on sheets is to put it in a ziploc bag, cut off the corner, and squeeze it out.

(I hate trying to get cookies of even size, which is why I usually make bars. The improvised pastry bag method works better for me than anything else I've tried, which is a distinct concept from works well.)

Also note that oatmeal cookies, and cookies leavened with soda, will spread less in the oven if you let the dough rest for a while.

#95 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2010, 11:18 AM:


That's variable degrees of effective if you've got a soft enough dough; my favorite recipes are all of the 'stiff enough to roll flat and make cut-outs' consistency, which doesn't do well using that method.

That having been said, there's the time-honored technique of "Roll dough into log of desired diameter and cut into slices of desired thickness" which produces serviceable approximately-round cookies. (All of the flavor, none of the decorative foo-foo.)

#96 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2011, 05:31 PM:

I made a batch of these last night. The first ovenfull got semi-burned, since I hadn't accounted for the extra speed of cooking in a convection oven. The second half got cooked at a lower temperature, for not as long, and came out perfectly. Yum.

Raisins are de rigueur in oatmeal cookies*, but I also added walnuts and pecans, and the second half-batch got some chocolate chips as well.

*And Abi, I've lived next door to geese - if you do juggle them, you only need to wash your hands afterward if you still have them, or if you can find sufficiently large pieces that the surgeons think it's worth trying to reattach them.

#97 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2011, 10:06 PM:

My second batch was a hit at my sister's New Year's Day brunch. (My 8 year old nephew pronounced his "the best oatmeal cookie he ever tasted"! ;-) ) This time I got much less merging, to the point where I was able to break them apart on the "scores" (after a bit of cooling on the pan).

I also used a different spoon for balling -- a plastic, nearly hemispherical measuring spoon, but still needed a second teaspoon for getting most of the "balls" out, and at least half of them still deserved those scare-quotes, even before I finished the dough by topping off the smaller ones. (The balling got worse as the spoon got stickier.) Of course, upon baking, most of the irregularities melted away. I don't think this dough would have cooperated with either ziplock-squeezing (too heterogeneous with the oats) or log-slicing (too soft).

I happen not to like raisins in cookies, but after cooling they were too crispy to really "go" with raisins anyhow. I did replace some of the nutmeg with ground cardamom, which worked out very nicely.

#98 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2011, 12:08 PM:

Today's cookie endeavor: ANZAC biscuits, from the linked recipe. (Sorry, Dave Luckett [#41], but five degrees of freedom for a first try would make me crazy. ;-) )

Yummy! They're going with me to Mom's for a lobster dinner with her and Ray.

#99 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2011, 01:16 PM:

Bah -- I recently (but before getting an iPhone) heard of an iPhone app for baking cookies, which, instead of being a collection of recipes, actually has sliders for desired characteristics and computes a recipe from those. Unfortunately, my Google-fu seems weak today, and I can't seem to locate the article. Can anyone find me a pointer?

#100 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2011, 08:33 AM:

The ANZAC biscuits were deemed decent while inferior to the cardamom oatmeal cookies, they seemed oddly addictive, and did get snapped up. It was my stepfather who asked to keep the leftovers, which is a tad unusual for him.

#101 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2011, 02:17 PM:

New baking discovery, courtesy of my sister! The difference between runny flow-together cookies and nice self-contained domes is to start with cold butter!

#102 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 07:49 PM:

Which reminds me: I'd meant to bookmark this recipe and forgot. So first we banish ghosties; then we bake, Berlin!

#103 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 11:14 AM:

Searches I never thought I'd make: "making light oatmeal recipe"

But to be fair, it got me straight here. :)

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