One of the positive things that came out of my last trip to La Grande Epicerie was that I found a box of Quaker Oats. This may not sound very exotic or exciting, but trust me, they aren’t easy to find around here. Plus, it meant I could finally whip up a batch of oatmeal cookies, which are a perennial favorite of mine. I generally refer to them as “Heart-Healthy Oatmeal Cookies,” but I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. (My imaginary lawyers are telling me to say that I am not a medical professional and nobody should take diet or health advice from me.) I call them that because they contain oats, a heart-healthy (or at least they are currently believed to be so) ingredient. I figure that at least counteracts some of the butter and sugar. Well, I like to tell myself that in order to justify eating about 5 cookies a day until the batch is exhausted.
I am an oatmeal cookie purist: no nuts, no chocolate, no cinnamon, and absolutely no raisins, under any circumstances. I know of an awesome variation from the perfectionists over at Cook’s Illustrated with dried cherries, pecans, and dark chocolate which is decadently delicious, but I can eat mine for breakfast without feeling guilty. As for the specific recipe, I use the same one I’ve made with my Mom dozens, if not hundreds, of times. It’s from the Quaker Oats box, but I make a couple of changes/clarifications to their recipe:
1. The salt is NOT optional. (This could, in fact, be the single most important cooking rule there is. Apologies to those on low-sodium diets, but it’s true. The right amount of salt makes everything taste better.)
2. Use butter, not margarine. Preferably unsalted, so you can add the salt yourself. I like to use larger-grained salt for these cookies so that every now and then you get an almost savory bite, enhancing the butterscotch-y sweetness of the brown sugar.
3. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through the baking time. This ensures even browning. By rotate I mean, “using oven mitts pick up the pan and turn it on the horizontal plane 180 degrees.” (Not, as a friend of mine misinterpreted once, “using a spatula, flip each cookie over.”)
That’s about it. I use parchment paper to line my sheet pan. You can keep reusing it until all the cookies are baked, and it makes the cleanup a lot easier. If you don’t have parchment, don’t sweat it. An ungreased cookie sheet works just as well.
While they may not qualify as heart-healthy, they are still a much better-for-you snack than a lot of other things you could be eating. So go on, have two!