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Thursday, November 06, 2003

OTT "Over The Top" Oatmeal Cookies:Recipe

Who doesn't like cookies? It's hard to imagine growing up without them. They were a staple in my lunch bag year in, year out. But in Italy cookies are less of an everyday thing and more of a fancy treat to be served to guests with dessert wine after dinner. Elegant cookies are found at all good Italian bakeries and are made in the home during holidays. But the cookie jar filled with homemade cookies for the whole family to snack on is not an Italian tradition. When I lived there, American style chocolate chip cookies were unheard of. I made them for the family I was living with and they were horrified to hear that Americans would eat them with milk. Of course they also had a hard time understanding why we would eat french fries with Coke either.

You hear a lot about how simple food is often the best, but the opposite is true when it comes to cookies. Dare I say it? Lately I am actually bored by plain old chocolate chip cookies. Even with chocolate chips AND nuts, there just isn't enough going on for me. Give me some biscotti with nuts and a kick of crystalized ginger or a ranger cookie with coconut, nuts, oats and cereal. Even shortbread cookies need some extra punch of spice or citrus rind, something to excite the senses.

A few nights ago the house was so cold that I needed to find a recipe that would allow me to use the oven. I love peanut butter cookies, but it's the one kind of cookie that Lee won't eat, so I made oatmeal cookies instead. I found a wonderful recipe that uses a combination of brown sugar, white sugar and maple syrup to make a chewy and crisp cookie. While the recipe calls for nuts and chocolate chips I also added dried cranberries because as they say, sometimes too much of a good thing can be wonderful. Feel free to leave out the chocolate chips, nuts or cranberries if this recipe makes your head spin.

OTT (over the top) Oatmeal Cookies


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup halved walnuts
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries


Preheat to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, oats, and walnuts together.
In a food processor with a plastic blade, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together scraping the sides, until blended. Add the egg and continue to process until smooth and barely fluffy. With processor running drizzle in the maple syrup, and vanilla. Dump the mixture into the flour-oatmeal mixture. Blend just to combine, then mix in the chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
Using a tablespoon, drop balls of dough onto a nonstick or parchment-lined cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. With moist fingers, flatten the cookies a little. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies are done when they are slightly brown on top. Cool on a rack.