Back in my early baking days, before Pinterest and food blogs and reasonably fast Internet and a computer that didn’t have a gigantic egg-shaped bulge in the back, I used actual cookbooks. Cookbooks, handwritten recipes scribbled on notecards, and the recipes printed on the back of ingredient bags/boxes were the most common sources of all my recipes. When I had the urge to bake chocolate chip cookies, I simply flipped over the bag of chocolate chips and followed the traditional Tollhouse recipe. The recipe for my favorite soft gingersnaps was found in a homemade, spiral-bound cookbook given to my dad from a past student, and the recipe for my grandma’s famous Crown Jewel Cake (aka Lady Finger Cake) was handed down to me, handwritten of course, from her mother-in-law.
I had it in my head that there was one, maybe two, tried-and-true recipes for whatever I wanted to bake. My little baking world offered fewer choices, fewer variations, and less of an urge to produce the perfect this-or-that. Which was both good and bad, I suppose. Sometimes I think I get a bit carried away with all the spunked-up versions of traditional baked goods that float around the Internet, searching tirelessly for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, the perfect blackberry pie. However, sometimes all that searching, that endless supply of online recipes lying at my beck and call, leads me to a jackpot.
Oatmeal-raisin cookies have been one of my favorite stand-by cookies since the beginning of my baking career. For years I used the recipe for Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies conveniently located on the underside of a Quaker Oat canister lid. As my baking skills grew, my cookies changed from dry, slightly-burnt lumps or flat, greasy circles to perfectly tasty, chewy, cookies. I had nothing to complain about, so I never used any other recipe. Until now, that is.
Sadly it seems as though oatmeal-raisin cookies are hardly a favorite of the cookie family. So often they get passed up for chocolate chip, peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia, or other more “exciting” cookies. After coming across a recipe on Annie’s Eats for “The ultimate” oatmeal-raisin cookies, I knew I had to try it. This was definitely a recipe that had been tested over and over, especially since it called for weighted ingredients. I’ve simply listed the measured amounts below, since I don’t happen to be the lucky owner of a food scale, but you can view the original recipe from the link at the bottom if you’d prefer to weigh your ingredients.
These really may be The Ultimate Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies. With an entire tablespoon of cinnamon, a vanilla bean (which is worth the splurge!) plus a tablespoon of vanilla extract, rehydrated raisins (just soak ’em in some hot water to get them plump and juicy) and carefully proportioned ingredients, this recipe is above and beyond that of the oat box’s. Sorry, Quaker Oat Man.
Though I’m admittedly a lover of thick & chewy cookies, these fall more into the thin & chewy camp. Just as long as you’re careful not to over-bake them they won’t be crunchy, just crisp around the edges and wonderfully chewy in the center. The flavors of cinnamon and vanilla come through, but not too strongly, and the cookies are just a bit saltier than most cookies–a feature that I happen to love, since a hint of saltiness pairs so well with the nutty oats. While I was still scooping the dough balls my dad sniffed the air and asked what I was baking–they’re that aromatic! When they actually were baking, my house smelled heavenly. Like cinnamon-raisin-vanilla-buttery goodness.
Bring oatmeal-raisin cookies out of the sidelines by baking these ULTIMATE oatmeal-raisin cookies! I still love my trusty old Quaker Oats recipe, but I have to admit that after trying these beauties it will be hard to go back.
The Ultimate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen large cookies
1 cup + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
5 & 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean pod
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup eggs, lightly beaten (about 2 medium eggs)
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup dark raisins (or a mixture of dark and golden raisins)
Place the raisins into a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them soak for 20-30 minutes so that they can rehydrate and plump up. Then drain the raisins and spread them onto a clean hand towel, blotting gently to soak up any extra water.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugars and beat for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Split the vanilla bean pod down the middle and, using a butter knife or a spoon, scrape the seeds into the bowl. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs; mix until smooth.
Add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the oats and raisins. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners. Scoop the cookie dough into balls about 3-tablespoons large and drop onto prepared cookie sheets 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 17-18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, or until edges are set but tops are still puffy. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring to a cooling rack.
(Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats)