At this point, my quest to find the perfect oatmeal cookie has spanned several years. I've tried crisp, lacy varieties, which I find too unsubstantial. I've made those big, hunky ones -- the kind where two sticks of butter get you a mere six uber-bad-for-you cookies -- but they're so big, they're practically the blondies of oatmeal cookies: not what I'm looking for. I've tried raisins and chocolate chips, dried cranberries and dried cherries, even added pumpkin for a seasonal take on the classic. None has hit the spot.
My perfect oatmeal cookies are full of oats and studded with raisins. They're mighty crisp on the edges, but the middles have some height and a lot of chew. The batter has plenty of vanilla and a whiff of cinnamon. When you bite in, there's plenty of cookie to sink those teeth into.
I'll spoil the end of the story now, and say unabashedly that the search continues. What I'm posting here is not the ideal oatmeal cookie. But you know what? It's okay. As oatmeal cookies they may score average, but as cookies, they're just wonderful. They achieve that perfect balance of softness and chew, the sugars practically caramelized from an unusually long mixing period and an extended stay in the oven. The oats -- more sparse than in traditional oatmeal cookies, but in just the right proportion here -- add heft and home-iness. The tart cranberries and sweet, bitter chocolate cut through the rich butter and caramelized sugar, both of which are present in great proportions. I'll say it: these cookies are kinda awesome.
In making these cookies, I used the now-famous recipe for "Compost Cookies" from Christina Tosi, baker-savant at David Chang's Momofuku empire. The recipe provides a backbone upon which any number of delicious combinations can be based. Tosi recommends quirky additions like crushed potato chips and salted pretzels. I confess that I made a round of this dough with those items, and that the cookies came out pretty damn good. That said, I favor these, with more wholesome ingredients. For the adventurous, I've included Tosi's recs below.
Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from Christina Tosi of Momofuku
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup light brown sugar 1 tablespoon corn syrup, optional 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 large eggs 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour 2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 cup chocolate chips 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1 cup oats OR: instead of the oats, include 1.5 cups of crushed pretzels, potato chips, crackers, you name it instead of the pecans/chips/cranberries, use 1.5 cups rolos, snickers, reeses, m&ms, etc
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
On medium-low speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar will dissolve, and the mixture will turn pale yellow and double in size.
When 10 minutes are up, turn mixer to low and add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix 45 - 60 seconds, until dough just comes together and dry ingredients disappear. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Still on low, add in oats and mix for 30 seconds, just to incorporate. Add in pecans, cranberries, and chips, mixing again on low speed until they are evenly distributed.
Using a 6 oz. ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Set cookies about 2.5 inches apart.
Set a layer of plastic wrap over the cookie-filled sheet and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour or up to 1 week. Don't skip this step or your cookies will be runny!
7. Heat the oven to 400. Take the plastic off cookies and bake 9 to 11 minutes.
At 9 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if cookies still seem pale.
8. Cool cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container At room temperature, cookies will keep five days.