Oatmeal Cookies: Soft or Crunchy, Raisins, Nuts or Chocolate

National Oatmeal Cookie Day is April 30th

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By David Hammond

You can enjoy oatmeal cookies and still feel that you're eating healthy…because, you know, oats are good for you.

Last week, I searched for oatmeal cookies around Oak Park. Spilt Milk didn't have them and neither did Courageous Bakery. Buzz Café, however, seems to have oatmeal-raisin cookies every day.


Applause goes to Buzz Café for even carrying oatmeal cookies, though I prefer cookies to have some textural variation, specifically: harder and crunchier around the outer ridge, softer and chewier in the center.  Cookies that are soft throughout, I just don't understand: why not just get a slice of cake?


I posted a picture (above) of Buzz Café's oatmeal-raisin cookie on Facebook, wondering how people felt about softness vs. crunchiness, raisins, nuts and chocolate in oatmeal cookies. I got some interesting responses:


·         "Raisins, crunchy. Toasted pecans are a bonus, chips are blasphemy." Keith Huizinga, Kinslahger, Oak Park


·         "Soft middle with crunchy perimeter. Raisins are lame." Cheryl Knecht Munoz, Sugar Beet Schoolhouse, Oak Park


·         "Keep that chocolate out of an oatmeal cookie! No spices either. I want to taste the subtle flavor of oats. Coax out more oat flavor by roasting them. Raisins have to be golden. Pecans are a good addition." Sandra Schilling Holl, Floriole Bakery, Chicago


I used to like chocolate chips in my oatmeal cookies, and although I can't agree with comrade Huizinga somewhat extreme judgement that they're "blasphemy" (they offend the God of Cookies?), I do agree that the simple flavor of oats can be steamrolled by a more pronounced flavor like that of chocolate.


The question of which kind of raisin to use – "regular" or golden – presents a knottier conundrum. In the U.S., the grape used for both regular and golden raisins is most often Thompson Seedless. The difference between regular and golden raisins results from how they're processed: either laid in the sunlight to dry out, which yields regular raisins, or put through large dehydrators, which allows tight temperature and humidity controls and yields golden raisins, also called sultanas. According to the food magazine Epicurious, golden raisins are more subtle, fruitier and moister; Epicurious concludes, that the golden raisin, in almost every way, is better than the regular raisin. 


One failing of many store-bought oatmeal cookies is that they don't seem to taste much like oats. We (and by "we" I mean Carolyn) are going to follow baker Holl's advice and toast the oats first. We'll also avoid chocolate (usually a favorite of mine in all cookies) and use golden raisins and toasted pecans. Could this be the perfect oatmeal cookie recipe? Well, National Oatmeal Cookie Day is April 30th, so we'll have lots of time to research before the big day. 

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