09 November 2011

Light(ish) Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other night I was bored. Shawn had gone off to write (his usual post-dinner routine), and although I had just made a delicious chili dinner, I still had some kitchen time left in me. When I get this baking kick on a random night, I normally don't have all the ingredients I need to make anything. I'm either missing chocolate chips, or oatmeal, or whatever...but this time I checked and had just enough to make oatmeal cookies from the Best Light Recipe cookbook from America's Test Kitchen. So I thought. 

I got started with the process of mixing my dry ingredients, creamed my sugars and was getting ready to add the next ingredient, vanilla, when it struck me. I used all my vanilla for the Cookie Monster cupcakes and hadn't bought anymore. Here I am with almost all of my ingredients ready to go, without one pretty major ingredient. I scour my cabinets for something similar to vanilla, but come up empty-handed. With a bit of a wince and my fingers crossed, I add about a tablespoon of cognac I have left from another recipe and a touch of almond extract. I was using almonds and nuts in the cookies already--it could only help, right? 

I left the sugar mixture sitting for a few minutes while figuring out my flavoring problem and inadvertently used a technique from the Test Kitchen's perfect chocolate chip cookies (the recipe I used for Cookie Monster's favorite treat). I let the sugar mixture sit, letting it dissolve more, then whipped it again. The result? A more caramelized and richer cookie. 

I finished chopping up my ingredients, threw it all together, and baked as directed, crossing my fingers the whole time the almond extract wouldn't overwhelm everything and the cognac would hold up against all the other flavors.

The results were spectacular. I didn't overbake them and ended up with a chewy cookie with a nice crunch along the edge and perfect caramelized flavor. I love happy accidents.

Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack (or eat them while still warm and gooey)

All the extra goodies I added ended up making a few more than 24 cookies, as written
Lighter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
by America's Test Kitchen
[substitutions noted in brackets]

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour [I used 2 oz all-purpose & 1 3/4 oz whole wheat flour]
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 large egg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract [1 Tbsp cognac, dash of almond extract]
1 cup packed (7 oz) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins [1 packet of raw TJ's trail mix chopped, 1/4 c chopped white chocolate, 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips]

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the butter, egg, and vanilla together. Stir in the brown sugar until smooth, smearing any remaining clumps of sugar against the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. [Let sit for a few minutes, whisk again, let sit again, then whisk again.] Stir in the oat mixture and raisins until thoroughly combined.

3. Working with a level tablespoon of dough each time, roll the dough into 1-inch balls. (If the dough is too soft to roll, refrigerate until firm.) Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart (you will fit 12 on each baking sheet). [My recipe produced a bit more dough due to the extra goodies I added, so it's more like 28 cookies on mine.]

4. Bake the cookies, one tray at a time, until the edges are light golden and the centers are just set, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking (do not overbake). Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Bake the second tray while the first tray cools.

Per cookie: Cal 90; Fat 2.5 g; Sat fat 1.5 g; Chol 15 mg; Carb 16 g; Protein 1 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 30 mg.


  1. Oooh, these look good. Sometimes "Aunt Flo" demands oatmeal cookies and a glass of red wine. Now I can indulge and not feel as guilty!

  2. I adore the flavor of almond but had never though of it in an oatmeal raisin cookie. Glad to see that the experimentation worked!