I have never particularly loved oatmeal cookies. They are generally too cakey or too raisiny or too something. It’s not that I wouldn’t eat them — but they just don’t come to mind as something I’d set out to bake. Unless of course, I loaded them with chocolate chunks.
Yesterday, amidst an impromptu playdate that erupted in our backyard (btw, how can I nicely tell the entire neighborhood that our backyard is not the park?), I decided to take a few recipes for crispier oatmeal cookies and meld them into something more delicious, yet whole grain with less sugar. So many recipes call for at least 1 cup of sugar, and I am attempting to cut our sugar intake considerably. The more I read about how much sugar we consume (about one half pound a DAY per person … when 100 years ago we ate about one pound per YEAR per person) and it’s negative health effects, the more I have attempted to retool recipes with less.
And while I was on an Agave Nectar kick for a while, I have come to feel as though it may be as processed and refined as many other “bad” sweeteners — as well as being entirely fructose (a la high fructose corn syrup). So my goal has been to cut back on all sugars and use primarily honey in smaller doses. Honey is a pure, natural sweetener that is not processed and refined. And research has also shown that it is helpful for environmental allergies when you consume local honey from your area (it sort of acts like a mini-allergy shot exposing you to local pollens).
Tomorrow I may find out that my approach on honey is entirely wrong, but for now this is the direction I am going in. And lest you think that I am June Cleaver… when the cookies were done, I didn’t take them out on a plate for all the kids. I told them playtime was over and called my kids inside to have one. OK, so maybe two. These were oatmeal cookies I could get behind.
Crispy Oatmeal Cookies
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
1 cup butter, softened (two sticks)
1/2 cup honey (preferably from a local source)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg (set out at room temperature for a bit to warm up)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cooking)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of add-ins if you like (ideas: dried blueberries/cranberries/raisins, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside.
Cream softened butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in honey and brown sugar and turn mixer up to at least medium speed and cream for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary. Add in egg and incorporate completely (if the egg is too cold, it might all look like lumpy because the butter has chilled too much, but it should work it’s way back to being emulsified if you keep mixing it). Add in vanilla extract and mix until everything is incorporated.
Slowly mix in flour mixture a little at a time so you don’t get a face full. When the flour looks almost incorporated, turn off mixer and use a wooden spoon to finish mixing by hand (so the cookie dough doesn’t get tough). Stir in oats and any add-ins you might like. We did some with dried blueberries and dry roasted pumpkin seeds which were great, but the plain old cookies were delicious.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a spoonful of the cookie dough and form into ball. (Between one and two tablespoons, depending on how big you want the cookies). Place the ball onto parchment and flatten to about 1/2 inch high so they spread evenly. I was able to fit a dozen on a sheet without them running together, but they spread considerably so you might want to err on the conservative side for the first batch — especially if you are making bigger cookies. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly on sheet and then cool completely on wire racks. And then send your backyard friends home so you can enjoy them all for yourself!
Makes 2-3 dozen