A few weeks ago I was in the mood to bake cookies. I went rummaging in the cupboards and ran across the container of oatmeal. Perfect! I love having freshly baked cookies around the home and when I make them I usually double the batch. I bake as many as I want and then roll the remaining dough into a log, wrap it in parchment and plastic and freeze it. Then you can have your own homemade slice-and-bake cookies anytime you want!
Oatmeal cookies have always been one of my favorites and given the ingredients, one of the healthiest. Full of oats, raisins and nuts they are neatly packaged granola. You can stick with the traditional cinnamon only flavoring or venture out into the lesser-known world of spices and try the combination I came up with. I shared them with some of my girlfriends and they all gave them a thumbs up. I use cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and mace. Not the norm, but totally delicious!
Mace is the red, waxy, web-like covering that covers the nutmeg seeds. As it dries it turns more orange and the ground color can be anywhere from tan to deep orange. Mace used to be called for more often in older recipes, but is starting to show up again thanks to a rediscovery by young chefs. Although the flavor is described as having a hint of pepper, I always smell a citrus undertone in it. If you like the flavor of nutmeg, make sure you get some mace (not the pepper spray variety!) and try it in both sweet and savory recipes.
Like nearly every home cook out there, I usually buy my spices pre-ground. One of my favorite places to buy them in Penzeys.com, an online source where you get excellent quality for a reasonable price. But if you want a real special indulgence, buy whole nutmeg seeds and grate them fresh yourself. They are amazing! One smell and taste and you will throw out your old, musty spices for good.
One of the surprising aspects of these cookies is the amount of vanilla I used in them, but I don’t think it is overwhelming. Try it as written and if you don’t like that much vanilla, cut it back the next time you make them. While I call for both vanilla extract and paste, if you don’t have the paste, don’t worry about it. The paste includes the tiny vanilla seeds which burst in your mouth as you are chewing, distributing even more flavor.
If you are looking for a recipe to make with your kids, this is it. They love the cookies and it couldn’t be easier to make. There are no complicated steps, everything can be handled by a child, and if you don’t want them using a sharp knife, either chop the nuts yourself, buy them already chopped or just leave them out. If your kids want to get fancy, you can use dark raisins to make eyes and a mouth for a fun Halloween treat!
Another thing that little ones love to help with is the ice cream scoop I used to portion out the dough. I can pan a baking sheet in nothing flat when I use one. They love scooping out the dough and squeezing the handle to release it. The scoops make perfectly formed rounds with one flat edge that sits perfectly flat on the baking sheet. If you want your cookies to look professionally made, use a scoop.
So gather up your ingredients, get a friend or your children and pop into the kitchen to start creating traditions, one recipe at a time!!!
- 1 cup butter, at room temp
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 1 tbsp vanilla (this is not a typo!)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp mace
- 3 cups quick cooking or old-fashioned oatmeal (Not instant)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cream butter and sugars with your standing mixer using the paddle attachment. In a separate small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanillas together.
- In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Stir the dry ingredients until well blended. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well. When thoroughly blended the mixture will clean the sides of the bowl.
- Now add in the egg mixture and mix until it loosens back to a batter consistency. Then add the raisins, oatmeal and nuts (if using) and combine well. Form into balls on cookie sheet, leaving room between each for spreading.
- Bake 8 minutes and spin the tray so that cookies in the front are now facing the back of the oven. Bake an additional 2 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 to 5 minutes or until firm enough to transfer to wire rack. Cool completely on wire racks and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Yield: 2-1/2 to 4 dozen cookies (depending on size)