I haven't been consistently happy with my oatmeal cookie recipe for a while. Sometimes they turn out perfectly — fairly flat, chewy and moist in the middle, with crinkly, caramelized edges (not cakey or rounded) and a butterscotch-esque flavor. Other times, they don't follow orders, staying too puffed, or becoming a little dry and less damply dense than I crave.
So I took the recipe, reduced the amount of flour and oats slightly, upped the butter considerably (even in an oatmeal cookie, I am not looking for healthy; it's still a cookie), took out one egg, increased the salt and the vanilla, changed the sugar ratio a bit to favor the brown variety, and tried it again.
I also baked bigger cookies. Only when your cookies are at least 3 inches wide can you approach the nirvana that comes with a cookie that has different textures throughout: a ring of crispness around the edge, firm but with some give as you head in for the next bite, and, finally, soft but chewy in the middle.
I also took a page from my favorite chocolate chip (or chunk) cookie recipe, and let the dough rest for two days. You could skip this step, or you could leave the dough for as long as four days before baking. The resting time allows the dough to absorb all extra liquid and develop a deeper, richer, more caramel-y flavor. That's the difference between a merely great cookie and a truly memorable one (she said opinionatedly).
I am happier now.
Big butterscotchy oatmeal cookies
Makes: 16 to 18 cookies
Start to finish: 40 minutes, not including optional refrigeration time
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (postpone this step if you are planning to refrigerate your dough for a couple of days).
Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium-size bowl.
Blend the butter and both sugars together in a large bowl with a hand mixer (or standing mixer), until well blended. Beat in the egg, and then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture gradually, mixing on low speed until each batch is incorporated. Mix in the oats and raisins.
Use a ¼-cup measuring cup (or ice cream scoop) to measure out balls of the dough, which should be placed on an ungreased cookie sheet with at least 3 inches between each ball (bake only six cookies per classic-size cookie sheet). Use your hand to flatten each ball. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two days, or longer if you like. (You can layer the flattened disks of dough two deep in a container, with parchment or wax paper in between the layers, to save fridge space).
Bake the cookies for about 11 to 15 minutes (see important Note below!), until they are golden brown but still have nice give in the middle. Let them sit on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Note: If your cookie dough is at room temperature, start checking the cookies at 11 minutes. They tend to go from almost done to definitely done very quickly. The longer baking time is for dough that's straight from the fridge. I'm still playing around with this, but baking them from room temperature does seem the most successful in terms of texture and consistency. Having said that, the few that got a bit crispier were UN-believable crumbled over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Nutrition information per serving: 253 calories; 99 calories from fat; 11 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 39 mg cholesterol; 188 mg sodium; 36 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 22 g sugar; 3 g protein.