Friday, May 15, 2009

national chocolate chip day

You didn't think I'd really let such a momentous occasion pass without mention, did you? To be truthful, I never heard of National Chocolate Chip Day before this afternoon, but it seems as good a reason as any to make oatmeal-peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies. Mary's post - featuring the third picture of homemade ice cream sandwiches I've seen this week! - was my inspiration. Not totally traditional, but still an homage to the humble chocolate chip. In honor of the holiday, I even used actual chocolate chips, rather than chopped chocolate bits.

They come together quickly, like most drop cookie recipes. The recipe notes suggested that chilled cookie dough yields more evenly shaped cookies, but who can wait that long? I just baked a few, and threw the rest of the dough in the fridge, so maybe tomorrow I can experience that. Although the dough is really soft, I was able to use a cookie scoop, which started them off nice and round, and they held their shape just fine during baking. I made the recipe as directed but omitted the nutmeg; it's not my favorite flavor, and I felt like it was getting too far afield into oatmeal cookie territory. There's surprisingly little flour in the recipe (3 cups of oatmeal to 1 cup of flour, with relatively standard chocolate chip cookie proportions otherwise). The recipe notes also said you can use chunky or smooth peanut butter but recommended against natural peanut butter (probably for reasons of consistency). I used Jif. And finally, you're welcome to add chopped peanuts, add raisins, or substitute raisins for the chocolate chips, all of which I skipped.

I just tasted them, and they're very good, but nothing like what I expected! They are much more like an oatmeal raisin cookie than a chocolate chip cookie in consistency and taste. This is one reason the cinnamon works so nicely. My cookies were thin, crunchy on the outside, and a little chewy on the inside. I hesitate to say it, but raisins would not be out of place here. Also, and it could be because I used Jif rather than a stronger-flavored (and/or chunky peanut butter), the peanut butter taste nearly gets lost. Surprising! But not unpleasant. I'll be interested to see how the remaining cookies bake up after chilling. One last note: I accidentally underbaked these. Mine were only in about 10 1/2 or 11 minutes. They were still pretty blond when I removed them from the oven, but I cooled them on the baking sheet and they held up just fine. If they baked too much longer, I think you'd end up with a darker, much crunchier cookie.

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth (but not natural)
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 cup, packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Using a mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Mix in the chips. If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours or for up to one day.

Scoop dough into rounded tablespoonfuls and place, 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheets. If the dough is chilled, press the balls down gently until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. (The original recipe says to rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes, but I think I had stopped reading by then.) The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula - they'll firm as they cool. Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

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