Loaded Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love oatmeal cookies. I love them with raisins and without. I love oatmeal lace cookies and oatmeal cookie bars and ones with nuts in them and… well, I think you get the point! They are without a doubt in my list of top three favorite cookies, perhaps even in the number one spot.

Recently I started to think about putting an idea together for an oatmeal cookie using brown butter. I love brown butter. It does amazing things to recipes, sweet and savory alike. In a sweet recipe such as the one I am sharing today, it plays off of and enhances the flavors of the cinnamon and vanilla as well as the flavor of the walnuts.

In a savory recipe it will also add an amazing extra depth and enhancement of flavors. One of of my favorite simple savory applications is to make brown butter with fresh sage served over pasta.

If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend it. While it is not particularly difficult to make, it does take a little extra time and patience, but I think you’ll be happy with the end result! Now, back to the topic at hand – the cookie recipe!

Loaded Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Start by making the brown butter. To do this, put the 2 sticks of butter in a medium sized sauce pan and place over a low heat. Allow the butter to fully melt slowly and then swirl it in the pan frequently – about once a minute – until it changes from a pale yellow to a deep golden brown. Don’t walk away from the pan – brown butter can turn quickly from brown to burnt! Immediately remove from heat and pour it into a glass or metal mixing bowl.

Place the bowl in the refrigerator to allow the butter to solidify to the consistency of softened butter – this could take up to an hour.

Prepared brown butter

Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and toast them in a 350 degree oven until they are a deep brown color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Rehydrate the cranberries by placing them in a bowl and covering them with boiling water. Allow them to soak for 15 minutes and then drain and set aside.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and oats. Stir together until well combined and set aside.

Once the brown butter has reached the proper softened consistency, add in the brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix together on low speed until combined. Once combined, switch to medium speed for 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the mixing paddle and then return to mixing at medium speed for another 3 to 5 minutes. The end result should be a very light and fluffy mixture that is even in color and the consistency of paste.

Scrape down the bowl and paddle again and then add in the vanilla and eggs. one at a time, on low until combined and then continue mixing for 1 minute on medium.

Pour all of the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix on the lowest speed until just combined and a soft dough forms, about 1 minute. Scrape down the paddle and remove bowl from the mixer. Add in the walnuts, white chocolate chips and cranberries and mix together by hand until well combined and evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Drop rounded tablespoons full of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes, until golden brown, and then transfer the baked cookies to a cooling rack.

Brown butter oatmeal cookies loaded with walnuts, cranberries and white chocolate chips

I know that with making brown butter, toasting the walnuts and rehydrating the cranberries I have given you a lot of extra steps, but I think the end result is worth it.

I was very happy with how this new recipe experiment turned out. The brown butter did an amazing job of enhancing all of the flavors of the cookie from the sweet bits of white chocolate, to the earthy and salty flavors of the toasted walnuts. We enjoyed a few of them and then I froze the rest. Cookies generally freeze well and it’s always nice to have a bag waiting for you in the freezer when you feel like grabbing one or two to enjoy later.

If you decide to give this recipe a try, please let me know what you think. Until next time, have a great weekend!

A Cookie Peppered with Controversy

Last weekend I decided to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and work outside in the garden. Tom did not decide to accompany me. He told me he had things he wanted to accomplish inside. That did not surprise me, and I didn’t really think much of it. After about an hour, our “cool” temperatures started feeling hot to me and I had had enough digging and weeding for one day. When I came into the house I was surprised to see Tom standing in the kitchen measuring flour. “What are you doing?” I said. “Nothing”, he replied. “Are you making bread? Can I help?” I asked. “No”, was his response. Then I saw him start to measure out sugar. Sugar? Tom was making something sweet. I was truly puzzled, but decided to respect his decision to exclude me from whatever he was doing.

So I washed up and went into the sun room where I could hear Tom working, but couldn’t see what he was up to. I did conspiratorially exchange a couple of texts with Ray.

Shortly thereafter I told Tom that Ray and I both thought he should guest blog, not guess blog (damned auto correct). It was then that he invited me into the kitchen and asked me to guess what he was making. I took one look and figured out it was either a cookie or a truffle. Who are we kidding? Tom is never going to make a truffle and we’d already established he was using flour. “A cookie!” I proudly guessed. “What kind of cookie?” he asked. “A chocolate cookie!” See how sharp I am? His expression was patient, but challenging. I had noticed the smell of cinnamon earlier and thought I could smell some other spices associated with autumn… perhaps nutmeg? I wasn’t sure, but then it dawned on me. The Black Pepper cookie. The source of family discord for decades.

I’d heard about this cookie for years. It was a staple at holiday gatherings for my Italian American husband and his family throughout his childhood. He’d told me that there was this cookie that nobody liked except him. He said this as if he had a secret that nobody else was in on. He described it to me and I thought it sounded interesting at the very least. His siblings however, could not have disagreed more. So, who was right? I was about to find out. The recipe Tom used was Italian Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies by Apartment Eats. Meanwhile the texting continued.

At approximately the same time, Tom texted both his siblings. This was Marie’s response.

By this time, the cookies were baked and Tom and I had tasted them. They were delicious! As much as we tried, we couldn’t convince Marie or Ray that these cookies were good. I even asked if they had considered that as adults with much more sophisticated palates, they might actually like them? The answer was a resounding no. These two were immovable objects.

As the week wore on, I looked forward to a cup of tea or coffee with these new cookies every day. As I ate them, I savored the complex and rich flavors and still couldn’t fathom how absolutely polarizing these cookies were. As the week wore on, I also realized that I wouldn’t have a guest blogger this week. Tom had passed, but I could still blog on the subject.

During the rapid fire exchange of opinions about the cookies, Ray had produced (with astonishing speed) the original family recipe, which did differ a bit from the recipe Tom had made. So naturally, if I was going to be the blogger, I should make the original recipe myself as a sort of compare and contrast, right? That’s exactly what I did.

How did the original recipe turn out? Well, I’ll tell you. They were terrible! They looked very similar to the cookies Tom made, but other than that, they bore no resemblance to Tom’s morsels. There was something familiar about the taste, and after a minute or two, I identified what it was. When I was a kid, I had an Easy Bake Oven. When I ran out of the cake mixes that came with the oven, I attempted to mix up some flour and sugar and bake it in my oven. I never really thought I’d taste that again, but voila! Tom tasted them also. His verdict? “These taste bad, babe.”

In this case, can both Tom and his siblings be right? What do you think? By the way, Not Guest Blogger Tom does have one last message for his siblings. “Bread soup?”

From Angie’s Kitchen – Butterscotch Cookies Revisted

After last week’s cookie round, I felt like there was lots of opportunity to turn this recipe which we already liked into something truly wonderful. As I sat taste testing and discussing the pros and cons of the cookie with Tom, a whirlwind of ideas quickly took shape.

The flour I’d used was a winner that needed to remain in the recipe. It was Janie’s Mill Frederick, which is a stoned milled soft white wheat. Besides a nice flavor, there was a texture it gave that we both agreed we really enjoyed.

There was a hint of butterscotch flavor that we both tasted in the cookie, but that we felt needed to come forward. Tom suggested a better butter would help so instead of an unsalted rather anemic and generic butter, he thought a better quality Kerrygold with salt would act to enhance the butterscotch flavor. I couldn’t argue with that. I felt he was right on the money. Next, he suggested that instead of light brown sugar, I should use half light brown and half dark brown sugar. This sounded plausible, so I googled it. Many cooks prefer using dark brown sugar to get more of a butterscotch flavor into their sauces, custards and such so that sounded like a good idea to me. I thought about switching entirely to dark brown sugar, but knowing I was already going to make several changes to the original recipe, I felt like the half measure was a good idea, because if I made too many drastic changes, I’d never figure out the impact each change made.

I always knew I’d up the amount of vanilla in the recipe. That was a given.

Next came the question of add-ins. I had already thought about butterscotch chips, but also knew that the brand of chip I wanted wasn’t going to show up on my doorstep in time for this week’s post, so I needed to think about it a bit longer. Tom was pretty eager to opine about the nuts. He didn’t dislike the walnuts we’d used in the first round, but wasn’t shy to put forth macadamia as his candidate and why not white chocolate chips for that matter? I was open to the idea of macadamia, but not the white chocolate chips. There was something else I’d seen and after straining my brain for a little while I remembered having watched a YouTube episode of Cupcake Jemma about making caramelized white chocolate. It was my eureka moment. It wouldn’t be butterscotch “on the nose”, but it would enhance the flavor of the cookie overall (at least it would in my mind). So, I set about looking for a good quality white chocolate to make the caramelized white chocolate and came across Dulcey by Valrhona. With the Dulcey chocolate, Valrhona had already done the process of caramelizing the white chocolate for me. I’d been curious to try Valrhona for a while, so I put together an order large enough to get free and fast shipping and began to get a little too excited over the prospect of special chocolate arriving quickly. Once I received the shipment of chocolate and taste tested it, I knew I was onto something. I had also added some white chocolate to the order and while taste testing noticed that the two together tasted even better.

Lastly there was the question of baking soda vs. baking powder and the amount. I felt certain that the original tablespoon of baking powder in round one was the reason for the brittleness of the cookie, but even after doing some research felt unsure about which way to go. I finally decided to stick with baking powder because of the overnight rest in the refrigerator. My instincts told me to use 1 teaspoon, but I hesitated and used 1.5 teaspoons instead.

Karen’s Butterscotch Cookies 2.0

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 TBSP Kerrygold butter melted and cooled
  • 1 3/4 cups Janie’s Mill Frederick flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped dry roasted and salted macadamia nuts
  • 3/4 cup Valrhona Dulcey feves cut in half (or other caramelized white chocolate discs)
  • 1/4 cup Valrhona white chocolate feves cut in half

Beat egg until light in color. Add brown sugar, vanilla, melted butter and beat well. Sift flour and whisk with salt and baking powder. Mix flour blend into first mixture one half at a time. Mix in nuts and chocolate. Shape dough into a 24 cm long log and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Slice log into 1 cm rounds, place on parchment or silicon lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.

Notes: This cookie is really delicious. The butterscotch flavor was much more evident. The choice to use salted butter as well as salted roasted macadamia nuts really counterbalances the sweetness beautifully. The choice of chocolate really was a splurge, but it was also an investment worth making as it added a real decadence to the cookie. I baked the cookies in two batches. The first batch was perfect and although the second batch was baked for the same amount of time, that dough had been out of the refrigerator for about 5 minutes longer and the cookies came out slightly overdone, but still delicious. The next time I bake this cookie, I will probably just put the whole stick of butter in the dough instead of 6 TBSP and I will use 1 tsp of baking soda instead of the baking powder as I think it will improve the texture of the cookie which is acceptable as is, but is something I would like to describe as exceptional in the future.

This was my most successful Angie’s Kitchen part 1 and part 2. Let’s see how Ray fared on round 2.

I also enjoyed the original version of this cookie which I will again say was more like a nice biscotti to be enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Despite enjoying it, I was a little disappointed by the lack of butterscotch flavor that the title promised.

As I said at the end of the last round, the name “butterscotch cookies” did make sense to me when I looked up the ingredients in butterscotch and found that they were very similar to the ones in the cookie recipe. It’s also understandable that a recipe from the 1920s, a time when all of the amazing ingredients we have today were not available, might not taste like butterscotch as we know it today. Nevertheless, for round two I really wanted to turn this recipe into one that gave me a real burst of butterscotch flavor.

Karen and I didn’t talk much in between rounds this time, but it appears that we both traveled down many of the same roads before making our final recipe choices. We both considered the idea of a blend of light and dark brown sugar and the idea of using butterscotch chips. We both considered increasing the butter from 6 to 8 tablespoons and we both also revisited the baking soda vs. baking power debate.

Interestingly enough, with all of the similar contemplation, we both ended up going in total opposite directions! I decided I would shift from slice and bake to drop cookies and I wanted a slightly softer dough for that purpose, so where Karen decided to stay with the 6 tablespoons of butter, I went with 8. She moved away from the butterscotch chips in favor of the blended brown sugar idea and I left that idea behind in favor of the chips.

I also wanted my end result to be a softer and chewier cookie instead of a crunchier one like the original recipe produced. I felt that the increase in butter would help that along and once again, I decided to go down the opposite road as Karen and I switched to baking soda. Baking soda gives that nice chewy quality to chocolate chip cookies and I hoped it would work the same way for mine.

My other changes included reducing the amount of brown sugar by 1/4 of a cup to help compensate for the extra sweetness that the butterscotch chips would provide and switching from walnuts to cashews. I thought the bit of salt in the cashews would help balance the sweetness of the chips even further as well as giving this cookie an updated and more modern elevated feel.

Ray’s Round 2 Butterscotch Cookies

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter – softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted cashews

In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and then mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, one half at a time, until well combined and the dough forms.

Mix in the butterscotch chips and cashews by hand until well combined and chill the dough for at least an hour before baking. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons (or use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop) onto a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes approximately 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

In the end, the changes I made worked really well for this cookie. It had the softer texture I was looking for, the butterscotch chips gave me the flavor I was hoping to experience from the moment I first saw the title of the original recipe and the bit of saltiness and richness that the cashews added created a very nice contrast to the sweetness of the cookie.

I have to echo Karen’s thoughts and agree that this was also my most successful journey into Angie’s kitchen to date. Not only did I walk away with one recipe I would enjoying making again, I’m walking away with two which is indeed a rare outcome!

I’d like to end this post by saying I’m off to enjoy another cookie right now, but unless I make another batch that isn’t possible – the cookies in the picture above are long gone! Until next week, I hope you all have a great weekend!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Butterscotch Cookies

Welcome back to Angie’s kitchen – our last visit was back in May, but in between visits grandma’s cookbook is always waiting to take us on a new adventure! For those of you who are new to our blog, welcome! If you’d like to learn more about what our Angie’s kitchen posts are all about, please click here.

It was my turn to select a recipe to try and it didn’t take me long to choose the butterscotch cookies. Since we started this adventure, the recipe always seemed to catch my eye. I shared my choice with Karen and then got to work. Round one was under way with our usual rule in place – no discussing how to interpret the recipe!

After a quick read, like so many other recipes in the book, it seemed like this would be a simple one to pull off. Those of you that are familiar with Angie’s kitchen know that that is seldom the case and it wasn’t long before I was presented with a mystery. Things started out ok… Beat together eggs, light brown sugar and melted butter. Nothing strange there.

Next, add 3 1/2 cups of soft wheat flour – I’ve seen that term in other recipes in her book as well. Is that sifted wheat flour? White flour? Something else? Remember that this book was handwritten by my grandma when she was a teenager in the 1920’s and some of the terms included are not ones we commonly use today. Google has been very helpful in unraveling the old terminology and a quick search let me know that soft wheat flour is generally known as cake flour or pastry flour today.

With the mystery solved, I moved on and immediately ran into a second one. After I added my “soft wheat flour,” I was instructed to add 2 tablespoons baking. Baking? Baking what?? Powder? Soda? You seem to have left out a word grandma! Clearly this was something that Google could not resolve and since my grandma is no longer around at 109 years old to ask, the mystery needed to be resolved with a leap of faith.

I have seen cookies made with baking powder and cookies made with baking soda, but most that I have made seem to use powder. For that reason, and that reason alone, I decided to go with baking powder. So how did they turn out?

The slice and bake method produced a series of uniformly shaped cookies. My wife said the flavor kind of reminded her of the slice and bake sugar cookies you can buy in the store. I could definitely taste hints of that as well. They also reminded me of a softer, but still somewhat crunchy, version of biscotti.

They were similar in texture to some of the other “old world” style cookies I remember my grandma making and that made me feel like I had made the right choice with the baking powder. If I close my eyes, I can picture her and her sister breaking them out after dinner and dunking them in their coffee as they liked to do.

That leaves one question left to answer – did they taste like butterscotch? For my family and me, the answer was no. I wondered for a moment how they got their name and then I stopped and looked up the ingredients in butterscotch. The primary ingredients are butter and brown sugar which happen to be two of the primary ingredients in this cookie recipe – I guess I got my answer!

Despite the cookies not tasting like butterscotch, I found them to be quite good and even something that I would make again in the future. On that note, I’ll turn it over to Karen to see how her experience went.

Angie’s Original Recipe

Both Tom and myself were very pleased with Ray’s selection of Butterscotch Cookies for this round. As I am sure I’ve already mentioned, Tom is not into sweets, but there are a few things he makes exceptions for, and one of them is butterscotch.

I would agree with Ray that this recipe did give a bit more information than the others, but a quick glance did present the question of baking powder vs. baking soda and like Ray, I went baking powder. I also questioned the amount. I know from watching countless episodes of The Great British Baking Show that too much baking powder can result in a bitter taste, but in the spirit of round one, I decided to stick to the instructions given by Grandma Angie.

So, that brings me to the point where I was gathering the other ingredients and read “soft wheat flour”, which is where I believe Ray committed a rules infraction. You see, we are supposed to make the Angie’s Kitchen recipes round one based purely on what is written on the page and what knowledge we already possess. No research (Googling) until round 2. Since it has been a few months, I’ll let this one slide with a simple reminder. I knew enough from my bread baking that there is “hard wheat” and “soft wheat” and that the hard wheat is higher in protein which is better for bread making and soft wheat is lower in protein which seemed more logical for a cookie. So, I thought about my current flour collection and what I had on hand that I thought would best represent a “soft wheat flour”. I know what you are thinking. “She has a flour collection?” Yes, I do. Don’t judge. Anyway, the flour that came to mind is one I purchased from Janie’s Mill called Frederick. I’ve used it in the past to make some beautifully soft dinner rolls. I pulled it out of the pantry and noted the label had a picture of a cookie on it so I decided it was meant to be.

The instructions for this recipe were straight forward and easy to follow, but at a glance, it is easy to see that this is quite a large recipe, so I only made a half recipe. Grandma’s parents owned a boarding house, so as written the recipe would feed an army. I liked the technique of rolling the dough into a log and slicing, and it did remind me of the tubes of cookie dough from the grocery store. I baked 2/3rds of the log and decided to freeze the rest. That amount made 24 cookies which are quickly dwindling even though only 2 people have been eating them.

So, how did we think they tasted? Both Tom and myself really liked them. They are not as sweet as a lot of cookies, but in my opinion that works in their favor. Using the Frederick flour which I now see Janie’s lists as cake flour was an excellent choice and I would not change that. Texturally, they are quite crunchy on day two so I get Ray’s comments on biscotti, which might be a really nice direction in which to take this recipe. As for the butterscotch flavor? Both Tom and I get a hint of butterscotch especially from the cookies that had the brownest bottoms, but we already have some ideas on how to try to bring that flavor forward for round 2.

See you next week for round 2!

Dear friends, please forgive my Google indiscretion. The next time I find myself wondering what the rules are, I promise to stop and ask myself WWKD – What would Karen do?