oatmeal cookies

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies

Russell is very close with his grandmother. Their relationship couldn’t be more adorable.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

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.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

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.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

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.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I make cookies frequently enough (as evidenced herehere, 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.
Gratitude cookies.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

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 Originally made with oatmeal and several types of whole grain flour, her version called for a mix of AP and whole wheat flours.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.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

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.

Perfect.

bourbon glazed toasted oatmeal cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

Bourbon Glazed Toasted Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: about 20 to 30, depending on size
  • Print
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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

Icing:
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.

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cowboy cookies

You probably don’t know this, but there’s a big sports thing happening tomorrow. It’s called the Super Bowl.

cowboy cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m not at all a sports fan, especially when it comes to football, but I sure as hell am a food fan. The Super Bowl is an event that manages to combine food and sports in a big way. Actually, it’s the only sporting event I can think of that inspires people to go completely crazy when it comes to food. Some people put more effort into their Super Bowl spread than they do Thanksgiving dinner, and for the past week or more there have been recipes for chicken wings and dips and sandwiches and all kinds of indulgences coming at me from all angles. The 7 layer dip has turned into a 40 layer dip, and the cold cut tray has been replaced by the “snackadium.” If you’re not already in the know, a snackadium is a football-stadium-shaped buffet with sandwiches, chips, pretzels, chicken wings, et al as the stands, guacamole as the playing field, and other dips as the end zones. I mean, I love buffalo wings as much as the next guy, but the idea of spending that much time, money and effort on a sandwich platter is ludicrous to me. Especially since I don’t even care about watching the game. I’ll save that effort for Thanksgiving, thankyouverymuch.

cowboy cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

The one and only time I’ve tried to get involved in the chaos was when I was really young. So young in fact, that I can’t even remember who was playing that year. I think it must have been 1994, the second year in a row that the Buffalo Bills played, and lost, against the Dallas Cowboys. Since I grew up in upstate New York, the Bills playing in the Super Bowl was a big deal. I remember though, that that that year I was rooting for the Cowboys because they had prettier cheerleaders. That’s how my gay little head worked back then (and still does). The one thing I definitely can remember about that year is that all the men in my family were really excited and I wanted to participate in any way that I could. So, instead of learning more about football and getting excited about the actual game, I decided to make a cake with my grandmother. In the spirit of the snackadium that wouldn’t even be invented for at least another decade, I wanted my cake to look like a football field. We colored the icing green, used a squeeze tube of white icing gel to make lines on the field, and used appropriately colored m&ms as the players.

cowboy cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was beaming with pride when we piled into the truck, cake in hand, to go to dad’s friend’s house to watch the game. As you can probably imagine, my dad’s friends were not half as interested in my cake as they were the snoozefest happening on the TV. Try as I might, I couldn’t get into the game itself, and was bored to tears. There are too many weird rules in football for me to be able grasp what was supposed to be going on, and trying to make sense of this game made me sleepy. The evening wasn’t a total loss for me though, there was cake to eat after all.

cowboy cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

Fast forward twenty years, and all the hype is getting to me again. Every day on TV we’re inundated with game day recipes and snackadium how-to’s. Even the food section of Pinterest is getting in on the action. So, even though I have no intention of watching the game (There are SVU and Sex in the City marathons on), I decided to give in and make something salty, indulgent, and decidedly unhealthy. Russell is out of his mind and doesn’t like chicken wings, so I figured I’d go for something sweet. I found exactly what I was looking for in one of my favorite cookbooks, Baked Explorations, written by the owners of Baked in Red Hook.

Cowboy cookies!

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These cookies have it all! Chocolate, sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy. They’re pretty darned amazing. These are basically gussied up oatmeal cookies, but they’re crazy good and chock full of all kinds of fun stuff. I understand that there are a lot of different versions of this cookie, some with peanut butter, some with coconut, some with pecans or walnuts. To be honest though, I’ve never had any of those versions. This is my first crack at a cowboy cookie, but I think this recipe is perfect without being over the top. These cookies have chocolate chunks, salty pretzels, crunchy roasted peanuts, and even coffee!!!  I added the peanuts to the recipe myself because I recently had some “cowboy bark” that encased chocolate cookies, peanuts and pretzels together in chocolate. Wowzah. So I thought they’d be welcome addition to this crazy mix.

cowboy cookies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was kind of wondering exactly why they were called “cowboy cookies” and I tried to find the origins of this cookie, but wasn’t really able to find any history. The one thing I was able to turn up is the idea that they’re basically a cookie version of trail mix. Whatever the origins are, I’m glad that someone thought this cookie up.

If you’re making these cookies for a crowd, you can make them ahead, but be careful. You’re going to want to eat them all before anyone shows up. I’ve said this before, but using a cookie scoops makes baking cookies so much easier. It makes your cookies look more professional because they’ll be perfectly round and will all be the same size, and they’ll also bake more evenly. I used a #24 scoop for this recipe, which works out to be about 3 tablespoons of dough per cookie.

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Cowboy Cookies

  • Servings: makes about 32 cookies
  • Print
Adapted from Baked Explorations

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups rolled oats
14 tbsp (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant Espresso powder
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 cup salted pretzel sticks, broken into tiny pieces but not crushed into dust.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the oats and stir to combine.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment , beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat for 5 seconds. Dissolve the espresso powder  in 1/4 cup hot water and add it to the bowl, mixing until combined.
Add half of the dry ingredients and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the chocolate chips, peanuts and pretzel pieces. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a cookie scoop to get 3 tablespoon-size balls (I used a #24 portion scoop) and place the dough balls onto the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down lightly; don’t smash the cookie-you just want to slightly flatten the ball.
Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown or just start to darken.
Set the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies on the rack to cool completely. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries, Cocoa Nibs & Chocolate

If you know me then you already know this, but if not, as you read this blog you’re going to learn my dark secret.
I like chocolate. Like, a lot. Most candy I can take or leave. Caramels are cool, especially the salty ones. Gummies aren’t really for me. I don’t want anything to do with nougat. Sugar for the sake of sugar isn’t where my heart is. Chocolate however, is a  different story.

Oatmeal cookies with cherries, cocoa nibs & chocolate | by Brooklyn Homemaker

I hate the word chocoholic. It’s not a real word, and I’m pretty sure it’s a gateway word that, years later, made people think it was okay to say things like “staycation” or “chillax”. I also don’t like this word because it makes it sound like people who love chocolate have a real problem on their hands. I disagree. As far as I know, no one ever had to go to rehab for a chocolate addiction. Not even people with eating disorders can blame all their problems on this one single (delicious) food. Some studies even say that dark chocolate in moderation is good for your heart. I’m sure that this study was funded by the Hershey corporation, but I choose to believe that it’s proven scientific fact and that I’m doing my body a real favor.

Oatmeal cookies with cherries, cocoa nibs & chocolate | by Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was younger, my mom used to keep a chocolate bar in the middle drawer of her vanity, and every so often would sneak a little piece. I was always aware of that chocolate bar, and felt both taunted by the fact that it wasn’t for me, as well as totally bewildered that my mother would just keep it there, eating one small piece at a time, instead of just eating the whole thing over the course of an evening.

Oatmeal cookies with cherries, cocoa nibs & chocolate | by Brooklyn Homemaker

Now that I’m older, it all makes sense. I keep a bar of dark chocolate in my nightstand now, and as a non-smoker, sometimes you just need it in case of emergencies. My husband feels much the same way as I did when I was living with mom, but he stays away because he’s a milk chocolate fan, not because I’m selfish. I switched from milk to dark chocolate long ago, and prefer to spend a little extra on the real thing, rather than grabbing the Hershey’s dark. I think a lot of American’s don’t like the bitterness in dark chocolate, so Hershey’s makes dark chocolate SUPER sweet to mask that bitterness. I don’t know if it’s an acquired taste, or comes with a mature palette, but I love that bitterness.

Oatmeal cookies with cherries, cocoa nibs & chocolate | by Brooklyn Homemaker

These cookies are a chocolate lover’s dream. The original recipe I based these on was for oatmeal raisin cookies. I’ve never been a big fan of raisins so I always swapped the raisins for dried cranberries. Eventually I decided it might be fun to throw some chocolate chips in the mix, but the cranberries were a bit too tart to really go well with the chips. That didn’t discourage me from trying to add chocolate to these cookies though, so the next time I tried swapping dried cherries for the cranberries. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty sure I’m a genius, and I should probably be awarded with a medal of some kind. Chocolate and dried cherries in thick, chewy, buttery, just-sweet-enough, just-a-little-saltier-than-most cookies… Is it hot in here?

Oatmeal cookies with cherries, cocoa nibs & chocolate | by Brooklyn Homemaker

Since I’m not one to stop at perfection, the next time I made these (I’ve been toying with this recipe for years) I used bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet chips, and because I had them around anyway, I tossed in some cocoa nibs. I also reduced the cinnamon, but kept some of it for a slightly spicy mexican chocolate effect. Whoa. You guys. These cookies could not get any better. Even I have to stop somewhere. The dark sweet tart cherries go so well with dark chocolate, and the cocoa nibs add an amazing bitter crunchy fruity cocoa nuttiness. There aren’t words.

If you’re not as big a fan of dark chocolate as I am, you could definitely swap the bittersweet chocolate chips for semi-sweet or milk chocolate.   If you don’t like cocoa nibs, or if you can’t find them, you can skip them. If you swapped them with a cup of toasted pecans I bet you’d be really glad you did. If you’re not familiar with cocoa nibs, never tasted them, or never heard of them, I beg you to try to find them. If you like dark chocolate, you’ll love them. They’re basically cocoa beans that have been hulled and roasted and chopped into small pieces. They’re one step removed from chocolate. The flavor is mostly dark and bitter, not sweet at all, and is a bit similar to a coffee bean. On their own, they’re too much, like eating a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder.  In cookies, or oatmeal, or whatever you can think of, especially paired with real chocolate, they’re unbelievable. They’re crunchy and nutty and bring out the dark chocolate bitterness of any other chocolate they’re paired with.

Oatmeal cookies with cherries, cocoa nibs & chocolate | by Brooklyn Homemaker

So, these cookies. You should totally make them.
Before you do though, I’d like to talk to you about cookie scoops. If you don’t have a proper cookie scoop, you should think about getting one. If you make cookies regularly, you NEED one, or probably two or three. They make scooping and portioning your cookies really easy. They also come in really handy for portioning out cupcakes and muffins. If you fill the scoop completely and scrape off any excess all your cookies will be exactly the same size. They’ll bake more evenly since you won’t have any that are thicker or wider than the others, and bonus, they’ll look more professional because of the uniform size. They’re sometimes called portion scoops or portioners, and unlike ice cream scoops, they have numbers stamped on them. The numbers are usually on the scraping arm inside the scoop, but sometimes on the trigger, and they correspond to the number of scoops you can get out of a quart. So, the smaller the number on the scoop, the bigger the cookies will be. I think it makes sense to have a few different sizes if you’re a regular baker. For small cookies, I recommend something in the #60 range, medium #40, and large #20.
For these cookies I used a #24 scoop, which I’d describe as a medium-large size, and works out to be 1.5 oz, or 3 tablespoons.

Okay, so back to the cookies. They’ve got it all. Chocolate. More Chocolate. Tart, Sweet & Fruity Dried Cherries. Butter. Salt. Chewy Oaty Goodness. Come on guys, go preheat your oven, and behold their chewy chocolatey goodness:

Oatmeal cookies with cherries, cocoa nibs & chocolate | by Brooklyn Homemaker

Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries, Cocoa Nibs & Chocolate Chips

  • Servings: About 2 dozen, depending on size
  • Print
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed (you can use light, but dark adds something)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried cherries (chopped if large)
1/2 cup cocoa nibs (optional)
1 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and remaining ingredients.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slightly less thick. Either way, heat oven to 350°F before you scoop the cookies, so that it’s fully heated when you’re ready to put them in.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time can vary), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.