This is a family recipe from my dad’s mother, Irene Shaughnessy (we called her “Maman”) I remember making these cookies as an 8-year old, on Saturday mornings after I had finished my chores. I specifically remember having to defend the cookies from my brothers as they came out of the oven. Mark and Peter would — if I had let them — run off with tall stacks of cookies, then come back for more. Somehow I felt it was my job to make sure there was a huge pile of cookies when I was finished baking. Maybe it felt like a ton of work for not much to show. There were at least six kids lurking scavenger-like, around the kitchen when cookies were baking. Oh well. We all survived.
I truly believe Maman’s recipe makes the best ever oatmeal cookies. Of course, the recipe used to call for shortening or margarine. When we all figured out how bad hydrogenated fats are for you, my mom re-wrote it to include butter instead. Never mind all the sugar in the cookies … I suppose I should figure out how to make them without gluten, sugar or fat of any kind, but then … they simply would NOT be the best ever oatmeal cookies. So Maman’s recipe stands basically the way our family has made these for over 50 years.
I add double the vanilla (I’m addicted to real vanilla) and cut down on sugar — slightly. I use more brown sugar than white … half as much salt (or no salt at all), lots more fruit and nuts: dried cranberries and apricots, golden raisins, brown raisins, pecans and walnuts. Sometimes flax or sesame seed. I also play around with the spices, depending on my mood.
SIDETRACK: my trick for making drop cookies “chewy:” halfway through baking, take out the cookie sheet and bang it heartily on a hard surface to make the cookie dough fall flat. It looks to others like you are abusing the cookies. But not to worry — this is one of the secrets to the best cookies ever.
Maman’s Best Ever Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp (or less) salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
- 1 level tsp cloves
- 1 heaping tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 or 3 cups dried fruit (raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, apricots, mango, etc)
- 1 or 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
- Get all of your ingredients ready: chop the nuts and fruits, measure out the dry ingredients in a bowl, and measure the oats into another bowl.
- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix.
- Add the eggs and beat for a couple of minutes
- Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Add the nuts, oats and fruits and mix.
- Drop in spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.
- Bake at 350F for about 12 minutes. At about 8 minutes, bang the cookie sheets with cookies, to flatten the cookies a bit. (makes them chewy)
- Cookies are done with they are slightly browned.
- Cool on cookie racks.
My cookie philosophy is that even though Tim and I are officially not eating sugar, oils/butter, or white flour, you SO need to use these ingredients to make a cookie that, well … that tastes like my Maman’s cookie. What you do is, you make it with all the best ingredients you can. Then you only eat one. Or two. Or three. But not a huge stack of 10 in a swoop. [grinning at Mark and Peter]
… and you give the rest away.