2. a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence
(definition courtesy of Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.)
I’m not one to quote the dictionary or even one who’s looking to increase your (or her) vocab but…this word is stand-alone wonderful and really does apply to the foodie in everyone. Seriously, I’m willing to bet all my oatmeal cookies that we’ve all had a culinary epiphany or three during our food travels. You know, kinda like Oprah’s Ah-Ha moment when a recipe rocked our world and changed the way we thought about a dessert. Are you with me on this Oprah train? You’ve got a story.. I just know you do. Here, I’ll go first. My story..
In my early travels down foodie lane, many recipes came and went – all delicious and memorable but not “Ah-Ha” worthy. Sure, I baked a zillion brownies, tested more chocolate cake recipes than I can remember and there was that Floating Island with Crème Anglaise recipe that Mom torn out of a woman’s magazine. Now that was a stellar culinary moment for this 12 yr old cook (true story but we’ll discuss another day) but still not an “Ah-Ha”. Until…. I tasted my first homemade oatmeal cookie. Now THAT was Oprah-esque. Something about that tender chewy texture and the heady buttery-vanilla taste sent me straight to cookie heaven. And then.. the epiphany. I realized that this cookie could be even better by adding some extras into the batter and I could really make it my own cookie. Not bog it down, just play with the flavors a bit. I was a sassy kid so the first move I made was to swap out the raisins and add chocolate chips and nuts. Bold move, I know but, heck, I was only 12. This recipe has morphed into what I think of as the best of the best in oatmeal cookie land. Nowadays, I augment the flavors with a hint of almond extract, toasted slivered almonds, shredded coconut and a handful of chopped chocolate (white or bittersweet) but I’ve given you many “switch-in” options so you can make this cookie your very own and, maybe, have your own Ah-Ha moment.
I think it was the first recipe I ever adapted and then totally re-invented in my own style. Which means I have oatmeal cookies to thank for leading me down the culinary road and helping to landing me right here smack-dab in the land of cookbook writing & recipe development. So go ahead…make Oprah proud.
Packing them up for tonight’s beach dinner..
Giant Epiphany Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 15, 4-inch cookies
* “Switch-Ins” are, once again, listed for this recipe. Like in Desserts 4 Today, this section offers variations for the add-ins as well as different flavoring options. So.. if you’re not wild for nuts, if white chocolate isn’t your thang, or you simply must have dried fruit in your oatmeal cookies, I’m giving you permission to switch –in some ingredients and flavors that you might like better.
* These oatmeal cookies have a “Change It Up” section just in case you want yours to be smaller than my giants.
Tips 4 Success:
* Mixer? I use my KitchenAid mixer with the BeaterBlade but, if you don’t have this attachment yet, use the paddle and scrap the sides of the bowl a few times during mixing.
* Cookie Scoops: These look like mini ice cream scoops and come in different sizes. Mine are made by Kuhn-Rikon (same as my pressure cooker) and I have 3 sizes: 1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoon & 3 tablespoon. They make quick work of scooping cookie dough and because they are uniform in size, they bake evenly and look very professional. If you don’t already have these in your arsenal, it’s worth stocking all three sizes.
*Cookie Sheets: I use large, heavy-duty, light colored (no black or non-stick please) cookie sheets with only one raised edge. The edge allows for easy handling and the remaining rimless edges allow for even cooking. I deliberately test with several different types so I can be sure that baking times and results are similar. Remember.. it’s the doneness test that’s more important than the time.
*Non-stick liners: there are two non-stick varieties that I recommend and many brands of each available. All share common goals: keep the baked goods from sticking and make clean up easy-breezy and, unless otherwise noted, they are interchangeable. Silicone-coated, fiberglass baking mats come in many sizes and they are sturdy, washable and reusable. Parchment (or baking paper) is silicone-coated paper that can withstand oven temps up to 450F. Available in many forms, I find the flat sheets the easiest to work with and they can be cut to fit any pan. ps: waxed paper is NOT a substitute!
Giant Epiphany Oatmeal Cookies
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cup) all purpose flour
2 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) old fashioned rolled oats (I use Quaker)
1 ounce (1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
1 large egg
5 ounces (1 cup) bitter or semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional but delicious)
To make the cookies:
1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2- 3 large cookie sheets with non-stick liners.
2. Put the flour, oatmeal, coconut, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Put the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until just blended. Add the chips and nuts and mix until they are just incorporated.
3. Using a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the batter and arrange on the prepared cookie sheets about 2 1/2-inches apart. Lightly dampen your fingers and press down on each dough mound to flatten to 1/2-inch thickness.
4. Bake the sheets, one at a time, until the cookies are golden browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Set on a rack and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to another rack to cool completely. The cookies can be served warm or room temp or covered in plastic and stowed for up to 3 days at room temperature or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
* In place of the chocolate chips, switch in one or more of the following to equal 1 cup:
White chocolate chips
Peanut butter chips
Dried cherries, chopped
Dried apricots, chopped
* In place of the almond extract, switch in one of the following:
Lemon zest, finely grated 1- 2 teaspoons
Orange zest, finely grated 2 to 3 teaspoons
* In place of the slivered almonds, switch in one of the following:
Pecans, toasted and chopped 1/2 cup
Walnuts, toasted and chopped 1/2 cup
Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped 1/2 cup
Change it up:
If you’d like to make ‘normal’ size cookies, scoop batter using a 1 tablespoon size scooper. Arrange the dough about 1 inch apart and flatten as directed. Bake at 350 until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (You’ll have about 45 cookies instead of 15.)