Sunday, April 23, 2017

Old Fashioned Soft Oatmeal~Raisin~Pecan Cookies

I love crunchy chocolate chip cookies, but my oatmeal cookies need to be soft and chewy. Yes, I'm quirky, but if you have the same taste characteristic, then these cookies are for you.  In honor of Earth Day and the amazing Science March yesterday in Washington, D.C., I thought a "Cookie Chemistry" lesson was in order.

There are a few things to know if you want to make a cookie soft: substitute half of the unsalted butter with shortening, increase brown sugar to granulated sugar, almost 2:1, add some light Karo syrup,  and if you're making a cookie with dried fruit (i.e., raisins), soak them for at least 30 minutes in hot water.  

First, the butter v. shortening lesson--shortening is 100% fat, but butter and margarine are composed of about 80-85% fat and 20-15% water.  Butter definitely has a superior flavor than shortening, but when you use all butter, it gives off steam and will cause a bit more gluten formation, so you'd get a crisper cookie with all butter.  Also, butter melts at a lower temperature than shortening and therefore, it melts faster.  Shortening will hold its shape, but with a little leavening, as in this case I used baking soda, then this cookie will rise and expand some. 

Secondly, the ratio of brown sugar to white, granulated sugar is another factor.  I used double the amount of brown sugar to white sugar in this recipe because it has a higher moisture content and since it also contains molasses, yields a softer cookie.  Brown sugar isn't as sweet so I also added light Karo Syrup to give a chewy, almost gooey factor to these cookies.  Corn syrup is an invert sugar, which means that it prevents sugar crystals from forming.  This is very important when making candy or caramel, but since I wanted that texture, I added some. Please note, it's not like Corn syrup is the same thing as the much maligned high fructose corn syrups.  While both are made from corn starch, corn syrup is 100% glucose while high fructose corn syrup has been processed to convert some of that glucose into fructose and consuming large amounts of fructose has a negative effect.

Finally, soaking dried fruit is very important to create a soft cookie.  I typically cover dried fruit with boiling water and wait at least 30 minutes and even up to an hour before using them in any recipe.  Moistened dried fruit has two effects: first, dried fruit will normally draw out moisture from the dough and make a crisper cookie, but if there isn't enough moisture to begin with, you'll also get crispy fruit pieces...ugh!  Of course, plump fruit adds back some moisture to the dough and creates a soft cookie!

Old Fashioned Soft Oatmeal~Raisin~Pecan Cookies
1 cup Raisins, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room tempeature
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 T Light Karo Syrup
1 large egg
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Almond extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon*
2T milk
3 cups Old Fashioned Oatmeal
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped Pecans (or walnuts)--optional

*I found a new spice mixture at Penzey's Spice called Cake Spice:  it contains Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, star anise, and ginger and I used that instead of just cinnamon!
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 

In a stand mixture, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and sugars together thoroughly.  Add the Karo syrup, egg and extracts and cream once more, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the milk and beat once more, then the dry ingredients. Beat just until the ingredients are combined.  Stir in drained raisins and the pecans, if using.

I used a #20 scoop to portion out the cookies, making sure I left space for the cookies to expand.
Bake in the preheated oven for 11 minutes.  Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool for 5-7 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Perfect treat after a day in the garden.  I've been planting a new flower bed I'm calling, Kelly's Garden, in honor of our daughter who passed away seven years ago from breast cancer.  Since she carried hydrangeas in her wedding, I've planted mostly varieties of them, but added in some other plants I knew she loved.  It's a loving work in progress and makes me happy.  I hope you have a wonderful day as well.




18 comments:

  1. Beautiful Kelly's Garden, Susan. These chewy oatmeal cookies are definitely a right treat after a hard day working in the garden.

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    1. Thanks Angie. I'm sure you could do these with some unique flours and make them even better!

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  2. Chewy oatmeal cookies were my Daddy's favorite, Susan. I love the science behind this baking lesson. How wonderful you are planting Kelly's Garden full of hydrangeas! I love planting flowers in memory of my loved ones. Take care, dear one. xoxo ♥

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    1. Thanks Martha Ellen...your Daddy had very good taste! The garden is a work in progress; this time of year is always hard and even after 7 years, I miss her more. Her garden reminds me of our times together putting her gardens in at her first home.

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  3. Oatmeal Raisin cookies are my all time favorite cookie, Susan! I wish I could sit and share one with you and admire your beautiful hydrangeas in honor of your dear Kelly.

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  4. I probably have never met a cookie that I didn't love. =D It is very interesting to read the science behind the baking. You surely have those righteous bakers who arrive discussing why they couldn't possibly put shortening into their bodies. Ha! They do make me laugh.

    Kelly's Garden is beautiful and it will just keep getting more and more lovely with each passing year. What special memories and special love to create such a spot.

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    1. I spent hours with Kelly putting in gardens in her first home in Kentucky; she wanted an English Garden-look. She passed away at home with her beautiful flowers in bloom:-D

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  5. I am partial to using Bear grease instead of lard. Yum! You need to use a bit less.

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    1. Now, that's a new one on me! I bet they're good.

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  6. Interesting! I love Oatmeal raisin cookies. Yours looks YUM!

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    1. Just like I like them--soft and chewy!

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  7. What a precious garden in memory of your daughter!
    The cookies look delicious. Loved the information on the different ingredients and what they do. Yesterday I took that info and changed up my chocolate cookie recipe a little and got the most wonderful soft chewy cookies. My recipe is forever changed finally have the soft cookies I like!!!
    Hugs Cheryl xoxo

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    1. I'm so happy that Science helped you change your recipe! I have a nursing background, besides baking, and love all sciences. I really try to excite my grands (and anyone else who will listen) to the benefits of learning what ingredients do, XOXO

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  8. I adore the cookies you made and will making them soon..The rain we have had since Oct 1 2016 has made the flowers go kinda crazy..Seattle beat a 144 year rain/snow record it is miserable up there so it affects tourism greatly, who wants to wait in Rain and or Snow to get on boats to Alaska and other cruises it is ridiculous..Our tulips lasted one week an d the daffys were okay but our hyacinths are thriving..In honor of your daughter Kelly I am buying a Hydrangea flower set for a lady who will adore them..I use the apron I won from your site daily everyone loves those boats and the way you made them..Thanks for a wonderful blog and God's Blessings always mary from Vancouver Washington with love!X()

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    1. Hi Mary, I lived in Redmond for 12 1/2 years and I know the weeks of rain. We had almost 7 inches in 2 1/2 days this past week and it drove me crazy that I couldn't get in the garden. I'm so happy you're wearing the apron you won...maybe you'll win a new one!

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  9. How did you guess this was my all time favorite cookie! I had a dear cousin who could make similar cookies and what a wonderful memory that is! I must look for this spice! Thank you love!

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  10. those cookies sound and look scrumptious! and the flowers are beautiful! thanks for sharing
    stamping sue
    http://stampingsueinconnecticut.blogspot.com/

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