It was all a little too easy. The recipe only called for 10 ingredients -- most of which I already had on hand in my cupboard, the batter came together with minimal effort, and I was actually pleased with the consistency and texture when I popped it into the refrigerator to chill overnight. The whole affair seemed destined for success, and I could scarcely wait to bake up the oatmeal raisin cookies the next afternoon.
I had the whole thing planned out in my head. I'd take the batter out of the fridge and preheat the oven while I fixed and ate my lunch, and then bake the cookies up for the perfect post-lunch treat! I'd save half the batch for myself and bring the other half over to my good friend, who actually deserves way more than just a few cookies for putting up with my neurosis and general nuttiness over the years. I felt just like Martha Stewart with all my grand baking and gifting intentions -- only a way chicer version without the ugly ponchos!
In the next couple hours that followed, however, any likeness that might have existed between Martha and I quickly faded away. I underbaked the cookies. Not once, but twice.
The facts are these. The recipe from the seriously fabulous Smitten Kitchen suggested chilling the dough prior to baking. I complied with this request by chilling the batter overnight -- just like when I made the fabulous NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies that pretty much rocked my socks right off my oversized feet (or at least they would have if I was wearing socks at the time of consumption). The recipe also suggested baking the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes with an aside that noted that baking time will vary depending on the oven and how cool the cookies are going in. Since my oven is notoriously hot to trot, I decided to bake my cookies for 11 minutes. It seemed to be the perfect timing. The cookies were golden brown, and had that slightly undercooked look on the top -- just like the recipe said it would.
As the cookies cooled, I distracted myself from the tantalizing scent of cinnamon and vanilla with some cleaning and general domestic activities (since I was channeling Ms. Martha and all). I made it an impressive 40 minutes before settling down at my dining room table with a cup of tea and one of the largest cookies in the batch. I was so the perfect picture of restraint and domesticality!
Or at least I was until I started eating the cookie. The first bite was grand -- stupendous even! But as I neared the interior, things started to get a little ooey. As I do in all situations of potential and actual kitchen disaster, I immediately picked up my pink Motorola Razr to call my mom.
"I underbaked the cookies!" I whined into the phone, my voice swelling with emotion. "What do I do?"
My mom, the source of solutions to my everyday problems both big and small, told me to just stick them back in the oven for a few minutes.
So I did.
But when I broke into the twice-baked cookies a few minutes after taking them back out of the oven, they still looked a little ooey.
"I can't give someone underbaked cookies!" I wailed into the phone a few moments later.
"So stick them back in again." My mom instructed.
I balked at her suggestion. I couldn't bake the cookies three times! Could I?
Apparently, I could. Despite my concern that they would come out dry and hard like flattened golf balls, when I tested another cookie a couple hours later, it tasted perfect. Chewy, moist and exactly how I expected it to be when I confidently plopped the batter in the refrigerator the previous day. My friend thought so too -- he ate three of them that very night.
Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
From Smitten Kitchen
Makes 16 cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour1
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
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 into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.
Chill the dough overnight. When ready to bake them, remove from fridge and let come to room temperature for 30 - 40 minutes unless you fancy underbaked cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 13-15 minutes depending on hot your oven is/how cool the cookies are. They are done (hopefully) when golden brown. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.