The Oatmeal Cookie Bake Off!!!

As seen on Photograzing and FoodPornDaily!
cranberry triple chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies
Misery really can be inspiration. Okay, okay, so that’s way too dramatic. My boyfriend, Stephen, moved to Kansas for med school. There are worse things in life. But his departure did make me change our baking plans into what I think should be a monthly tradition.

A few days before our normal baking night, I told Butchie I wanted to scrap our original pavlova plan. Why the change? With Stephen leaving I decided I’d be much happier surrounded by cookies and friends than I would muddling through a second attempt at a previously failed dessert. Less stress. More cookies. This might be my new life motto. [Seems solid to me. –B.]

I had each of us pick a different oatmeal cookie recipe and we had a little bit of a bake-off that gave us a chance to really look at the differences between the recipes and what we liked about each. I picked a tart cherry version, Butchie wanted to do salted white chocolate, and JP and Claire chose a triple chocolate chunk with cranberries. How could we go wrong?

My personal fave? The triple chunk cranberry! They baked up EXACTLY how I wish mine had: buttery and soft and yummy. The tart cherry, while it had a delicious combination of flavors, looked like a tuile cookie, with little holes throughout, and an intriguing chewiness that was delicious, but not what I was expecting. As a test, we added a little more flour and refrigerated the cookie dough. It came out significantly prettier, with a smooth, cookie-looking surface, but not as tasty. [I thought the second version was dry. Plus, they didn’t caramelize nearly as well as the first batch. –B.] Now I want to try a hybrid: JP and Claire’s dough with different additives: maybe the tart cherry and dark chocolate from my recipe.

Butchie’s cookies were easily my second fave, but by a very close margin. Let me tell ya, that’s one “sturdy” cookie. Very filling. [They have oats, what do you expect? –B.] Smitten Kitchen describes these as cookies that “shatter” rather than remaining soft, which is accurate. They’re much crispier than a lot of oatmeal cookies, with a beautiful sweet/salty thing going. [Normally I hate white chocolate, because what you buy at the store that’s called white chocolate actually has no chocolate components in it whatsoever. White chocolate is supposed to be melty and vanilla-like, made primarily of cocoa butter, sugar, and dried milk. I recommend Green & Black's organic White: it’s the only kind I’ve had that’s worth it. –B.]

All in all, the more than 11 dozen cookies that came out of the kitchen that night surely did take my mind off of Stephen moving to Kansas. It’s hard to think of anything else when cookies are that plentiful.

tart cherry and chocolate oatmeal cookies
Tart Cherry and Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Epicurious

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups dried tart cherries (6 ounces)
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Blend first 4 ingredients in a stand mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Continue to mix.

Add next 4 ingredients and continue to mix. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in cherries and chocolate chips. Chill covered in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Position 1 rack in bottom third and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Spoon batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart (cookies will spread). Bake until tops of cookies are golden brown, rotating baking sheets after 5 minutes, about 10 minutes total. Transfer cookies to rack; let cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
cranberry triple chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies
Cranberry Triple Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Epicurious

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

Flatten cookie dough into a one inch thick rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least two hours, or overnight.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Just before baking, cut dough into one in squares and place three inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

crispy salted oatmeal white chocolate cookies
Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate bar, chopped
1/2 teapoon kosher salt or fluer de sel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about 3/4-inch thickness.

Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookie

Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.