A few months ago, when Amy of This HeArt of Mine put out word that she was looking for guest posts for her 25 Days of Cookies series, I was excited. I signed up right away. I really like her blog, and plus, I thought, “A guest post? That’ll make me feel so official.”
And then, about three weeks before I was supposed to send her the post, I got really insecure. What if my cookies aren’t festive enough? pretty enough? tasty enough? chewy enough? simple enough? Yeah, it was like 7th grade all over again…except this time, I was worried about cookies and not the zit-status of my face.
One night, I had three separate dreams about oatmeal cookies with craisins. Blame it on the intensive cookie research, or the fact that I was just beginning to have some pregnancy cravings (lemon pasta, anyone? guacamole?), but I woke up seriously jonesing for oatmeal craisin cookies.
All throughout the school day, I thought about the chewy goodness of oatmeal cookies, offset by the slight zing of craisins…I thought about how festive they would be with their red, shiny cranberriness. Perfect for a Christmas cookie series. I knew I’d stumbled upon cookie greatness.
A quick stop at the grocery store on the way home, and I was set for dream cookie time. I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for oatmeal cookies with raisins but swapped in craisins. I literally sat by the oven, waiting for the cookies to be done, and as soon as I was sure my mouth wouldn’t be burned too badly, popped like 4 in my mouth. All at once. Like the Cookie Monster. All my dream cravings and hours of waiting to make these cookies were over…and…well…they tasted GREAT, but they just weren’t that…pretty. I looked at them on the cooling rack, puzzled as to why they didn’t look as festive as they had in my dreams.
I mean…Christmas cookies are supposed to be bright, beautiful, and happy cookies full of yuletide cheer! These guys looked like wanna-bes from the Island of Misfit Cookies. But they tasted so wonderful…I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I promptly melted some white almond bark, half-dipped those babies in it, and sprinkled them with some dyed red granulated sugar, sure that would Christmasify them adequately….and…well, they still looked a little, plain
After looking at them intently and photographing them repeatedly, between the two of us, Eric and I decided that these cookies were not guest-post material. But they did taste fantastic. Eric called them the Philip Seymour Hoffman of Christmas Cookies…I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that….maybe it’s that they have lots of personality, but they’re not all that fun to look at.
Despite their frumpy looks, I think, with combined efforts, we ate almost the entire batch that night. They were chewy, slightly nutty, perfectly balanced by the sweet-tartness of the craisins. They felt wholesome with all the oats, like you could
almost eat them for breakfast. While I didn’t use them for the guest post, we have made them multiple times since. They’re the perfect on-the-go-resolution-busting breakfast, afternoon pick-me up, or sweet bite after dinner. We liked them both ways – with the almond bark and without…and we hope you like them too. I mean after all, this is the stuff of dreams.
(recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
(yields: 2 dozen cookies)
I adapted these cookies by swapping craisins (and slightly upping their amount) in for raisins and leaving out the walnuts. I then, in an effort to make them more festive, dipped half of them in melted almond bark and sprinkled them in dyed red sugar. I liked them both with and without the frosted halves. This recipe is super easy to double if you're feeding a crowd...or if you have late night cookie cravings like me.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt (I often use a half teaspoon, but I like more salt in my baked goods)
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
3/4-1 c. Craisins
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)
app. 1 c. melted white almond bark (optional)
4 tbsp. sugar, mixed with enough red food coloring drops to make it pretty (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.
Stir this dry mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Then, stir in the oats, craisins and walnuts, if using them.
At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slightly less thick. (I didn't chill mine and thought they were fine)
Place the cookie dough balls two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool. (Don't skip this last 5 minutes on the baking sheet!)
(If you're wanting to make these half-dipped:)
Once the cookies are completely cool, melt the almond bark in the microwave (about 90 seconds on high, stir halfway through the time). Stir the almond bark until smooth.
Dip half of each cookie in the almond bark and lay on wax paper.
Sprinkle immediately with dyed sugar.
Allow almond bark to harden.