Not your average oatmeal cookie!

The back story:

Many years ago, I was in a car accident when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. For the next three years, we were in therapy- first me getting my back fixed, then after the first year, my daughter. After a year or so, when I was getting back on my feet and my daughter was still in therapy, I took a job at night baking cookies by hand for a local cookie company. If ever there was a job that was a perfect match for me, this was it! Always an enthusiastic and dedicated cookie baker, this job allowed both my love of baking and my need for perfect cookies to shine! All too soon, I was to go down a different path, but for two years, this was both a revenue generater for the family and an outlet for my baking soul.

Because of this stint as a baker, I gained a greater understanding of how ingredients work. This has made me fearless about changing things up until I get a cookie the way I like it. The following recipe evolved from this recipe posted last year on The Pioneer Woman Cooks. It started off as a great recipe, but I wanted the cookies to retain their form more while in the oven; I wanted them to stay soft after cooking and I wanted the dough to be soft, not crumbly. Here's what I did:

Original recipe:

1 cup shortening, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 eggs, 1.5 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp soda, 3 cups quick oats, aprox 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

My version:

1 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, one good squeeze of honey, then cream together. I don't really care for shortening except when I'm making pie crust. I wanted to decrease the sugar a little bit and I planned to balance that with the honey, which does three things; provides moisture, provides sweetness, is a natural preservative... keeps cookies moist longer. I use it in all my cookies except the holiday cookies which are never around long enough to need it!

Step_one

Step_2

Add two eggs and about 3 teaspoons vanilla (I don't measure). The vanilla adds additional moisture, but more importantly allows you to reduce the sugar without significantly impacting the flavor.

Step_3

I also add salt and soda at this time before adding flour! I reduced the salt to 1/2 tsp because I used salted butter. Soda is two to three teaspoons depending on the rise you desire. I usually go about 2.5 tsp.

The flour must increase. Because you've added honey and increased the vanilla, you'll need at least 1 and 3/4 cups of flour. You can use a little more, but I would definitely stop before 2 cups. If you didn't increase the flour, you'd have the additional rise from the extra soda, but the cookies would 'fall' after you took them out of the oven because the dough lacked body. You have to support the rise by increasing the flour.

Step_4

The oats remain the same at 3 cups. You can either mix in the oats or wait for the pecans. Use quick oats. If you do accidently buy regular oats, mince them up with a knife before adding to the dough...

Step_5

I don't really measure the pecans either. I just grab a handful and start chopping...

Step_7

Step_8

Then I dump the whole thing in. I've not yet added too many pecans. If you aren't sure, measure the half cup, it'll be fine!

Step_9

Now for the tricky part. Once it's mixed up, leave it alone for at least a couple hours. If you rush this, they're too moist; they'll barely lift, they will spread and your oats will be a little hard. The rest period allows the oats to soak up some of the natural moisture in the dough. You'll end up with moist and tender yet chewy oatmeal cookies! I usually mix these up during dinner and then wait until later to do this:

Step_10

Time to divide the dough. I do it in thirds. Pioneer woman does in halves. Whatever works for you! I form some cookies on the parchment on the left, then divide the remaining dough on the two wax paper sheets on the right. Thusly:

Step_11

I then begin to roll the dough on the wax paper by folding it over and rolling it back and forth until it's more cylindrical. I fold in the edges and then put both rolls in a zip lock... cookies for the next two nights! You just slice them with a knife!

Step_12

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Yum!

Special thanks to The Pioneer Woman for graciously allowing me to post the variation. It was a great recipe to start with!

FYI- Left overs go great with a cup of coffee in the morning! Not that I'd know, but that's what I've heard!