What do architects know about cookies?
A lot, I’m sure, since these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies won Best-Tasting Cookie at an architectural firm where my husband once worked. I had baked them early in the morning so they were still warm when he entered them into the contest, slightly crisp on the outside yet chewy inside. I suspect this structure may have swayed the judges as much as the flavor dimension added by an extra splash of bright vanilla and glug of bittersweet molasses.
It was decades ago, but the construction-paper blue ribbon still hangs as a reminder in our Hall of Achievement. The award proudly holds its own in the swarm of diplomas, certificates and licenses that fill the wall of the corridor, representing family milestones going back generations.
This recipephany grew out of a recipe for refrigerator cookies I found in a Maypo cook booklet. I used to love Maypo hot cereal and the mapleness of these cookies. But Maypo was a sugar splurge, so it eventually disappeared from our shelves and these cookies.
I substituted quick oats for the instant Maypo, fiddling around with proportions to get the right chew. As always, I replaced brown sugar with molasses and white sugar (that’s all brown sugar is, anyway), and doubled the vanilla. I also skipped the refrigerator steps and dropped the dough right onto the trays for instant gratification.
Bakers say the key to chewy cookies is underbaking. But how can you call it “underbaking” if the result is perfection? Yes, cookies should come out of the oven when they look a little underdone—golden around the edges and still a little puffy and moist in the center. But they will continue to cook on the rack, and when cooled there will be nothing underbaked about them.
These are gooiest and chewiest the day they’re made, and they crisp up as days pass. If you want to keep them fresh and chewy, freeze them, and then simply defrost and serve. They’ll still be award-winning delicious.
P.S. For a softer oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, you should try Jimmy Bruic’s Banana Vegan Cookies.
Hall-of-Achievement Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 36
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon soda
- 1 cup shortening
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups quick oats (or old-fashioned oats—they work well, too)
- ½ cup chopped nuts, optional
- 6-12 ounces chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat oven to 375°.
- Cream shortening, sugar and molasses together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
- Add flour, salt and soda and mix. Stir in oats. Add chips and nuts, if using.
- Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, drop onto parchment-lined trays. Flatten slightly.
- Bake about 10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and the center is still a bit puffy and moist. Slide parchment paper onto racks and let cool a few minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container for a few days or freeze to preserve chewiness.