High Altitude Baking: Chewy chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies (recipe)
Editor’s note: High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Forget Trump and Hillary, here’s something that always ranks high in the polls: Chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies — everybody loves them. This chewy, multi-grain, high-altitude version is popular with nibblers of all ages and both political parties.
Feel free to replace the dried cranberries with another dried fruit, but be sure to use the old-fashioned rolled oats (yup, they have to be the old-fashioned kind), the grape nuts and the coconut. All are critical for the cookie’s structure and chewiness.
Refrigerate the dough until it’s chilled and firm to assure a moist texture and prevent spreading on the pan. Bake these gems only until they’re set; the centers should remain soft and won’t color. Any more time in the oven will make the cookies hard and dry.
Chewy chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies
(Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above. Yields 28, 2½-inch cookies.)
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick), room temperature, cut up
½ cup minus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon packed dark-brown sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup Grape Nuts cereal
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup dried cranberries or cherries
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl, and whisk to combine well. Set aside.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and two sugars in a large bowl until light. Add the vanilla and egg, and beat until well blended.
Add the flour mixture, ¼ at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Add the rolled oats, Grape Nuts, chocolate chips, coconut and dried fruit. Use a spoon or knead gently with your hands to combine and distribute the add-ins throughout the dough; it’s too difficult to use a mixer for this step.
Cover and refrigerate the dough until it is very cold and firm, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil (do this rather than greasing the pan, which will promote the cookies’ spreading). If you’re using only a single cookie sheet, place rack in center position, cool cookie sheet completely before second usage, and keep the dough refrigerated.
Break off pieces of the very cold dough, roll them into balls 1 ¼ inches in diameter (the size that will sit in a tablespoon), and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet(s). If the dough balls aren’t very cold and firm, stick them in the freezer, on the baking sheets, until they are (this is critical to prevent the cookies from spreading).
Place in the oven, immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until the cookies spread and flatten a little and the edges start to color (the tops will be set but still be soft and won’t brown — don’t over-bake). Start checking after 10 minutes; time will vary due to temperature and size of dough balls and oven. Halfway through baking, switch pans from top to bottom and front to back of oven.
Remove to a rack, and as soon as cookies firm up a little, remove from pans to cool completely on rack. Store airtight for several days at room temperature, or freeze for a month.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards), is a chef instructor with Colorado Mountain College’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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