Several weeks ago, I posted some photos of oatmeal cookies I'd made for an Ostara celebration I was going to. Between the other attendee's responses, the fact that my dad kept eating them, and that a friend half-way round the world though they looked delicious in an Instagram post, I'd say they turned out rather well. The following recipe is adapted from one found in my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook and can be made with either regular or gluten-free flour, eggs or egg-replacer, and butter or margarine. For the purposes of the original recipe, I used gluten-free flour, eggs, and margarine. Any nuts or any other component are fairly interchangeable too. After dealing with severe food allergies my entire life, I have come to understand that as long as you have the base stable (so they actually hold their shape and don't crumble to bits in this case), you can add or subtract basically anything else from the equation.
Oats, as I've said in previous posts, are a hearty foodstuff that is often eaten as part of muesli, granola, or as hot cereal. This switches things up a bit, combining the nutrient-dense properties inherent in oats with the oils and energy in peanuts (especially as in this example, we're using crunchy peanut butter, allowing whole nut pieces to be present), dense nutrients of flax, and the brain-boosting, nutrient-rich properties of dark chocolate. And the whole thing can easily be made vegan and gluten-free. Not your average cookie then, eh? Let's crack out the bowls then, shall we?
***I have included both the original and the substitutions because people are allergic to/choose to avoid different things. You can make it as vegan/gf or not as you'd like, but I can only speak to how mine turned out (other than eggs, they were vegan/gf).
***There are essentially three different sub-sections to this recipe.
***Fair warning: This recipe is intended to make 5 dozen cookies. If you want more or less than 5 dozen cookies, you will need to do some calculations and multiply or divide accordingly. The ratios should stay the same, just not sure on the vinegar ratio if you're making your "buttermilk" and change the batch size (Experiments. For Science.)
***I'd recommend using a mixer to cream the sugar, butter and eggs and a regular mixing spoon for the rest. If you don't have a mixer or don't want to bother with cleaning the blades, a good mixing spoon is just fine. You'll also need at least one measuring cup, a regular table spoon, and several mixing bowls.
***Depending on your oven's settings, you may need to turn it on earlier or later, so that when it's ready to go, you can just put your trays in. It will need to be set to 400* F, or 204* C. Full disclosure, I put 400*F into a converter and it gave me 204.444*C. Make of that what you will.
Part 1: the wet things... most of them (Contents, minus buttermilk will be creamed together. Recommended: Use a hand/standing mixer and have this in the largest bowl as everything else will be added to it as you go. I had my dry ingredients in the larger bowl and it worked, it was just annoying.)
1 Cup Shortening (margarine/butter/etc. I used Nucoa)
1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar (ProTip: pack it into the measuring cup with the back of a spoon)
2 Eggs (or substitute)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Cup Buttermilk/sour milk (If making it non-dairy: I used 1/2 Cup vanilla, unsweetened almond milk, added 2 teaspoons of vinegar to curdle it, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Voila, vegan buttermilk.)
* * * * *
Part 2: the dry things (Recommended: stir together so everything's about even before mixing it into the wet ingredients. It might well not actually impact anything, but it helps my sanity a touch when I do it.)
1 3/4 Cup flour (The original calls for sifted, all-purpose flour. Gluten-free flour doesn't like sifting. Just don't pack it into the measuring cup and you should be fine. I'd also recommend getting or making a combination that has a 1:1 ratio, meaning 1 cup of regular flour is equivalent to 1 cup of gf flour. Some require more or less added to recipes.)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder (2 if using GF flour. This is what allows your cookies to have body and not be flat piles of weirdness. Unless it's already in a mix, it needs to be added. If you're converting, as we are here, you need to double it usually.)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
* * * * *
Part 3: All the other random things you're going to mix by hand into the rest of the batter. You don't want to try taking mixer blades to large chocolate chips. I think I did that once. You end up with dust and chocolate shrapnel. Bit not good.
3 Cups Quick-cooking rolled oats (I used Quaker's 5-minute oats)
1/8-1/4 Cup crunchy peanut butter (I spooned in about 1/4 and took some out till it was about an 1/8 ish. At 1/8, the peanut flavor still comes through and I wanted to be able to still taste the oaty earthiness without the peanut butter being overpowering.)
1 bag large dark chocolate chips (I used the Enjoy Life Morsels)
1/8 Cup ground flax seed
+ Anything else edible you feel like sticking in there (Just be sure there's enough moisture and depending on what else is added, you might need some more oil/butter/etc. If following what I've done, you're fine with what is listed above.)
- Cream shortening, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs together till light and fluffy.
- Stir in buttermilk.
- Stir together dry ingredients, making sure everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture. Incrementally. (Pour in some, stir it in, and repeat. Otherwise, you'll have more difficulty getting everything evenly combined.)
- Stir in oats, chocolate chips, peanut butter, flax seed, and whatever else you wanted to add. (I'd do the proscribed recipe and then tweak it in a following batch.) Batter should be fairly solid, but still malleable. Kind of like a thick peanut butter, actually.
- Grease your cookie sheet(s). I either use generic cooking spray or save the wrappers from the butter (when using sticks) and just smear the buttery side onto the sheet. Saves having to spray the sheets and use a paper towel to move it around and wastes fewer materials.
- Set up your cooling racks. Really, you can do this whenever, but I'd recommend before they're ready to come out of the oven. Otherwise, they get stuck to the sheets. Not fun for anyone. I put waxed paper or parchment/baking paper over the racks so the cookies have a relatively flat surface to cool on... fewer crumbs on the table too.
- Take 2 spoons (I use regular teaspoons), and use one to scoop up some batter, scraping it against the side of the bowl to remove excess. You only really want a domed teaspoon amount. Using the other spoon, scrape the batter off, and onto your cookie sheet.
- Repeat, placing the pre-cookie blobs about 2 inches apart, so they have space to expand in the oven.
- Bake in a hot oven (400*F/204*C) for about 8 minutes. (I've found that they brown better if you leave the oven light on as they're baking. 8-9 minutes worked pretty well but test it out with your machine. Especially if you're making a larger batch, watch how they turn out and adapt accordingly.)
- When they've baked, use a spatula or some other flat-ish implement and remove them from the sheet, depositing them onto the cooling racks.
- Repeat as necessary for the rest of your batter.
- Let cool a bit.
- Enjoy. :)
I'd love to see how you take this and make it your own. Tag me on Instagram or Twitter (@ethnobotanicam) or use the #ethnobotanicam tag so I can see your fab creations. As always, feel free to comment any suggestions or queries below. I'm always looking for new ideas.