By Geekmom

So there is a very famous Good Eats episode where Alton Brown talks about the different ingredients that go into cookies and how they affect the end result.  It is an amazing episode and well worth finding and watching.  Why do I bring this up?  Southern California Girl wants to bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for Mr. Bacon Taco.  On top of that she trusts me to give her my recipe because it is bound to be… the best.  Ack!  Such mindless devotion!  Truth to be told, I don’t make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies because Eldest Ninja Monkey Helper hates, hates, hates raisins.  She hates them so much that I couldn’t keep them down the entire pregnancy.  Truth!  So I am going to post a recipe that I think has merit and then discuss a few hints to improve cookies in general.


This one comes from Betty Crocker’s Picture Book.  As I have always said, it is a go to cookbook for just about anything.  Normally brown sugar and white sugar are used as sweeteners in cookies.  This one uses molasses which will definitely give it a bit of a different taste.

Oatmeal Drop Cookies

Mix together thoroughly:

1/2 c soft shortening

1 1/4 c sugar

2 eggs

6 T molasses

Sift together and stir in:

1 3/4 c flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Stir in:

2 c rolled oats (old-fashioned)

1/2 c chopped nuts

1 c raisins

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2″ apart on lightly greased baking sheet or parchment paper (my preference).  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.


First, I find that mixing cookies by hand is a very important step.  I honestly believe that cookie batter can be over-mixed.  Admittedly, stiffer batters take some muscle, but in the end just say it is part of your new health regime.


Second is the issue of shortening.  Nothing takes the place of butter, but it results in a flatter cookie.  Crisco makes them puffy, but lacks flavor.  Butter Crisco is my go to in the summer because of the heat.  It makes a good cookie but it isn’t butter.  Many people mess with part Crisco and part butter homemade shortening mixes.  As long as you have 1/2 c at the end it does not matter how you build it.  I always mean to do this, but usually I am in a big hurry.  One of these days.  In winter though, I always use all butter because mother nature helps combat the flatness of the batter.  Here is the big secret folks – I cover the bowl and chill the dough (some days it even freezes) in a special safe spot in the garage.  When the dough is very cold, it takes a longer time to spread and you get thicker cookies made with butter. Because of this I have been contemplating making cookie dough, scooping it, and freezing it so it is ready to bake when I don’t have much time.  I am sure that I can make this work, right?


Third is my constant harping on the fact that good ingredients make good food.  It seems so simple, but some people don’t think about it.  Consider the following: you have a container of  dry, nasty raisins in the fridge that have been open and have been drying out over time.  When you put them in the cookies, they will still be nasty, dry raisins.  No cookie batter in the world will soften those suckers.  Save them for oatmeal.  Throw them in your boiling water before putting in the oatmeal and they suddenly become edible.


And lastly, don’t be afraid to play with a recipe.  Don’t like nuts?  Imagine the nummyness if you put coconut in the batter instead.  Don’t like that idea, leave’em out and add a little bit of extra flour (probably not the whole amount though as you don’t want to dry out the cookies).  Want a little vanilla goodness?  Add a teaspoon with the eggs and such.  Want to make a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie?  Replace the raisins with an equal amount of chips.  But folks, leave the basic recipe as is unless you really have a good grasp of the science behind baking.  Replacing soda with powder will make an absolute mess of your cookies.  Think about what you are doing.  Not all ingredients are interchangeable.


So there!  California Girl has her recipe and I only have a billion other “Do you have a recipe for….” requests waiting in the queue because I have been vacationing or dealing with a mountain of laundry.  I never realized that you all expected me to – you know – work at this!


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