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01/24/2016

~ Old-Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookies ~

IMG_1316Oatmeal -- I've loved it since the first spoonful of Gerber's got fed to me (or so I am told).  I like my oatmeal creamy and smooth, I like it thick and lumpy, and, I especially like it crispy on the outside and chewy in the center of a cookie.  I prefer oatmeal cookies to chocolate chip cookies and I do not like chocolate chips in my oatmeal cookies.  If you are an oatmeal cookie lover, you already have a favorite recipe.  If you are in search of "the best" or "ultimate" oatmeal cookie recipe, you'll not find any claims of that here.  This is my grandmother's recipe.  There are no secret ingredients, just ordinary pantry staples.  These cookies stay on point:  oatmeal.

I am a sucker for a saucer-sized oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookie!

IMG_1323I haven't a clue where her recipe originated, but, I'd venture to guess it was printed on the box of a WWII-era (1930's, '40's-ish) box of Quaker oats.  As for the aromatic spices that typically go into oatmeal cookies, Baba was partial to premixed "apple pie spice" (a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice).  I'm thinking that "back in her day" is was a newly-marketed convenience product that she fell in love with (besides apple pie, she used it in several recipes including custard).  Being Eastern European, dried fruits (currants, dates, raisins, prunes, apricots) were pantry staples, and as for walnuts, she felt that "everything tasted better with walnuts added".

IMG_1176I didn't have to look far for a reason to heat my oven and bake a batch of my favorite cookies today.  It's a beautiful, sunny, peaceful day-after-THE-snowstorm here in Happy Valley.  After taking in the view from my kitchen window this morning, the next thing I saw was the Quaker Oats guy smiling at me when I toddled into the pantry to get the can of coffee -- the idea immediately planted itself in my head.  Watching movies and baking cookies in my warm kitchen today is a pleasant way to relax and enjoy a quiet afternoon.

IMG_11906  tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature

6  tablespoons butter-flavored shortening, at room temperature

8  ounces dark brown sugar (about 1 1/4 cups packed)

5  ounces sugar (about 3/4  cup) 

3  large eggs, at room temperature

1  tablespoon apple pie spice

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

10  ounces unbleached, all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)

3/4  teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

10  ounces old-fashioned, uncooked oats (about 3 1/4 cups)

8  ounces dark raisins (about 1 1/2 cups)

5  ounces chopped walnuts (a generous 1 cup)

IMG_1192 IMG_1198~ Step 1. Place the raisins in a bowl with enough hot water to cover them and set aside 15-20 minutes.  When she was baking with raisins, my grandmother always did this as it softens and plumps the them.  After 15-20 minutes, drain them into a small colander and set aside. While raisins are softening: weigh, measure and assemble all the other ingredients as directed.  In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

IMG_1201 IMG_1206 IMG_1209 IMG_1212~Step 2.  In a large bowl, on medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, combine the butter, shortening and eggs until creamy and uniform in color, 45-60 seconds.  Lower the mixer speed and blend in the apple pie spice and vanilla.  Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar.

IMG_1216 IMG_1219 IMG_1224 IMG_1228~Step 3.  Gradually increasing the mixer speed to high, beat in the sugars, scraping down sides of bowl with a large rubber spatula, until smooth, 45-60 seconds. Lower mixer speed to medium-low, and in three increments, incorporate the flour.  The mixture will be very thick and uniform in color.  Remove the mixer from the bowl -- you won't need it anymore.  Using the spatula, carefully scrape sides and bottom of bowl to be sure there are no small pockets of flour.  Using the spatula, thoroughly fold in the oats.  A thick, delicious cookie batter will have formed.

IMG_1244Note:  In the event you want plain, unadulterated oatmeal cookies, feel free to skip the next step and go straight to scooping and baking cookies as directed below.

IMG_1234~ Step 4. Using the spatula thoroughly fold the raisins and walnuts into the cookie dough.

IMG_1266 IMG_1260~ Step 5. Using a large 2 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place cookies, well apart, on each of two 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans lined with parchment. These are big cookies.  I place 12 on one pan and 6 on the other.

IMG_1273 IMG_1268~ Step 6. One-pan-at-a-time, bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 16-17 minutes.  They will be nicely, but lightly-golden on bottom, sides and top, and, to the touch, a bit soft in the centers. Remove from oven and cool in pans 5-6 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Cool completely, 1 hour, prior to storing in an airtight container:

IMG_1284Simple, straightforward & to the point:  My-Oh-My-Oatmeal!

IMG_1332Old-Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookies:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 dozen large bakery-style cookies.  If you bake smaller-sized cookies, remember to decrease the baking time.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; small colander; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 2  1/4" ice-cream scoop; cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b019afff10b49970cCook's Note:  For another oatmeal recipe from another grandmother ~ Nana's Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut-Cake ~, found in Categories 6 or 19, is one to check out.  This one's got a decadent broiled coconut topping!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

Comments

Teresa -- I hadn't made these cookies in a very long time (and they're my favorite cookie). It's my plan to toddle back into the pantry tomorrow morning and make another batch -- I wish you were here. Between you and I, without the apple-pie spice, they're just like any other oatmeal cookie!

I love this blog, Mel. I can see you as you "toddled into the pantry to get the can of coffee." It makes feel like I'm there with you in your quiet warm kitchen. I also love your Baba's simplicity, and her use of the apple pie spice. This so similar to our favorite oatmeal cookie. :)

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