There are as many oatmeal secrets in America as there are splattered recipe cards. Everyone seems to have a grandmother’s trick or a magazine shortcut to oatmeal bliss. Me? Forget fancy training and hand-kissed organics, because I’d never abandon this pleasure: pulling back the Quaker Oats tab with a satisfying “whh-ch,” getting a nice wholesome whiff, and then turning over the recipe to make Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies.
Oh, there are more glamorous recipes, more wholesome recipes, certainly more interesting recipes. But when it comes to oatmeal cookies, I don’t mess with the oven gods. Simple is best, and tradition rules.
Still, one gets creative, and as often as not I will sorely tempt Quaker man’s patience by mixing a handful of white chocolate chips into the dough. He looks at me sternly as they go into the bowl.
I always say keep the base traditional – it can hardly be improved. And when the white-haired guy’s not looking, throw something delicious in for fun. Here are 25 ways to trick out your oatmeal cookies – not necessarily groundbreaking, but all tasty and all in one place. I guarantee the cookies will vanish.
1. Add extra cinnamon and chocolate chunks.
2. Add dried cherries, crystallized ginger and a dash of powdered ginger.
3. Add chopped dried pineapple and toasted coconut.
4. Add a finely chopped Granny Smith apple.
5. Add dried currants plumped in orange juice, and the zest of one orange.
6. Add chopped toffee bits and toasted almond slices.
7. Add dried wild blueberries and nutmeg.
8. Add chocolate chips and pecan halves.
9. Add white chocolate chips and toasted walnuts.
10. Add a few handfuls of any Trader Joe’s trail mix.
11. Add a tablespoon of powdered espresso and cocoa nibs.
12. Add chopped dried pears and white chocolate chunks.
13. Add chopped candied orange peel.
14. Add dried cranberries and pumpkin pie spice.
15. Add chocolate chunks and salted peanuts.
16. Add grated raw carrot and toasted walnuts.
17. Add chopped dates and toasted coconut.
18. Add chocolate chips, chopped walnuts and mini-marshmallows.
19. Add about a cup of Rice Krispies cereal.
20. Chocolate-dipped: Bake jumbo cookies and allow to cool. Cut cookies into quarters and dip each pointed end in melted semi-sweet chocolate. Allow chocolate to set, and serve.
21. Oatmeal Black and Whites: Bake large oatmeal cookies and cool. Make chocolate icing and white icing. Frost one half of each cookie with dark icing, and the other half with white.
22. Oatmeal Faux Macarons: Make small, puffy oatmeal cookies and sandwich two with chocolate ganache. Allow ganache to set, and serve.
23. Orange-Glazed Oatmeal Cookies: Make a light glaze by mixing 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice and pinch of grated orange zest. Drizzle over cookies and allow to dry.
24. Oatmeal Cookie Dip: Bake mini oatmeal cookies, and make chocolate yogurt dip. Whisk one cup vanilla yogurt with one tablespoon of cocoa powder and one tablespoon brown sugar. Chill for an hour, then serve with cookies and fresh strawberries.
25. Brandied Cherry Oatmeal Ice Cream Sandwiches: Soak dried cherries in brandy and drain. Add to oatmeal dough; bake jumbo cookies and cool. Sandwich with good-quality cherry ice cream and freeze.
Marilyn Naron is a chef who blogs at Simmer Till Done (http://simmertilldone.com/). One for the Table is Amy Ephron’s online magazine that specializes in food, politics, and love. (oneforthetable.com/.)
© 2012, One for the Table. Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.