Russell is very close with his grandmother. Their relationship couldn’t be more adorable.
He’s much better at keeping in touch with his family than I am. I usually only call my grandparents on holidays and special occasions, but he calls his grandma almost every week. Even my mother and older sister don’t hear from me nearly as often as that.
I wish I were better at being on top of that kind of thing, but try as I might, I’m just not that kind of person.
In my teens and early twenties I think I spent half my life chatting on the telephone, but the older I get the less I feel like gabbing. Even when it comes to family, I’m pretty hard to get on the phone. These days last thing I want to do when I get home from work is chit chat.
Recently Russell was missing his grandmother and asked his cousin, who lives close to her and visits often, to pick up a bouquet of flowers to show that she was in his thoughts. It didn’t need to be anything fancy, just a simple bunch from Trader Joe’s. The gesture and the thought were all it took to brightens someone’s day.
His cousin, instead of accepting money for the flowers, requested a shipment of “Tux cookies” as a Thank You for a good deed well done.
I make cookies frequently enough (as evidenced here, here, and here) but for some reason it took me some weeks to fill her sweet request. I just really wanted them to be special.
Cookies that are shipping across the country have to be robust enough to arrive in tact. Beyond being sturdy, these would also need to be delicious enough to serve as a payment for such a kind gesture.
After thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I remembered a recipe I tried (and loved) a few years ago. The recipe first came from a multigrain cookbook, but I found it on Smitten Kitchen. Originally made with oatmeal and several types of whole grain flour, her version called for a mix of AP and whole wheat flours.
Because I don’t know how to leave well enough alone, I decided to make a few changes of my own as well.
Beyond using a touch more wheat flour and adjusting the icing a bit, the biggest change I made was to the cookie’s texture. Grinding the oatmeal into a coarse flour gives these distinctive cookies a fine lacey texture, and in the original recipe the cookies were encouraged to spread thin and crisp on buttered pans to emphasize this lacey-ness. I found though that my second batch, after sitting out while the first batch baked, was thicker and chewier while still retaining some of their delicate lace. I preferred the chewier version so I adjusted the recipe to intentionally let the dough rest a bit before baking.
Another slight change I made was to toast the oats before grinding them. Toasting the oatmeal adds a bit of nuttiness that makes these cookies seem even more warm and rich and homey. A healthy dose of cinnamon and nutmeg doesn’t hurt either.
My version produces large thick buttery cookies that are somehow chewy and lacey at the same time. The icing adds a playful sweetness to a cookie with an otherwise reserved sugariness. In the name of adding another layer of warmth, a touch of bourbon in the icing adds a caramely richness, without making the cookies taste at all “boozey”. If you’re not comfortable using the bourbon, or don’t have it, you could easily leave it out and replace it with an equal amount of milk.
In the end these cookies reached California in one piece, just to be devoured to crumbs once the lid came off the tin.
Bourbon Glazed Toasted Oatmeal Cookies
2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons good bourbon whiskey
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Spread oats in an even layer on a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden, about ten or twelve minutes. Let cool slightly. In a food processor, grind 3/4 cup of the oats to a fine powder, then add remaining oats and pulse them all together until it resembles coarse meal, with only a few large flakes remaining.
Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. You may need to break up the brown sugar with your fingers if it doesn’t incorporate easily. In a small bowl, whisk melted butter and eggs until combined. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Let dough rest for about 15 minutes before scooping.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop 2 to 3 tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto sheets about 3 inches apart. (I used a 3 tablespoon #24 cookie scoop giving me 20 cookies, but smaller scoops will yield more) Bake cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. When tops are evenly brown, take them out and transfer them to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Let cookies cool completely before icing.
In a bowl, whisk glaze ingredients together until smooth. It should have a honey-like consistency. Drizzle the icing over the cookies and let set for at least an hour or more before eating. Do not stack or store cookies until icing is completely set, which could take several hours. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.