Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies: Perfection, According to Science

I, like many other young females, spend entirely too much time browsing on Pinterest. Need a dinner idea? Pinterest. Need a lesson idea? Pinterest. Need to waste a few…hours…relaxing on a weekday evening when you should be sleeping? Pinterest. To be honest, I’m kind of in a love-hate relationship with the site. On one hand, I can imagine all of the other ways I could be using my time more productively. On the other hand, it gives me just so many ideas!

Another thing I have a love-hate relationship with, is Pinterest’s uncanny ability to remember exactly what you’ve been clicking on in your past visits. Just yesterday, I found myself saying, “Oh Pinterest, it’s just so convenient that there happens to be another pin available for clicking on that has to do with cute corgi butts…it’s not like I was researching those just yesterday or anything…”. Well, last week, I made the mistake of clicking on a pin having to do with cookie science. You know that pin that has the 3581 different pictures of cookies made with all sorts of combinations of ingredients? After innocently scrolling through that site once, I was bombarded with fifteen different posts on “the perfect cookie”. And…I was hooked after clicking on like, two of them.

Now, you know me. I’m one to reinvent the wheel, unnecessarily. I very easily could have clicked on a site, and believed that they truly did have the “perfect” cookie recipe. But, what fun would that be? I knew that the only way to ensure that my cookies were “perfect”, was to make the recipe myself. And, who can say that joe-schmo’s opinion of “perfect” is the same as mine anyways? For the record, the perfect (no quotation marks here) cookie is clearly:

  • chunky with lots of add-ins
  • chocolatey
  • fruity
  • nutty
  • chewier rather than crisper
  • denser rather than cakier
  • …big

And, so, I set out to do my own homework. I kind of did an embarrassing amount of it. Here’s what I found out:

  • Sugar:
    • Dark sugar has more molasses in it as opposed to light brown sugar. Therefore, it gives off a more intense toffee flavor.
    • Brown sugar also leads to a taller cookie, while white sugar leads to a thin cookie. (Apparently, brown sugar is slightly acidic and it reacts with the leavening agent to create a rise.)
  • Butter:
    • When you chill your dough after making it, the butter will remain solid. In the oven, it won’t spread as much, and will result in a puffier, taller cookie.
    • When you cream the butter instead of adding it when it’s melted, the mixing incorporates air into it. The air will give the cookies some lift as well.
  • Add-Ins:
    • The smaller the chunks of chocolate are in your cookie, the more likely they are to melt into the batter, giving your cookies a swirly effect.
    • When adding oats, one needs to think about the type they’re incorporating. Quick oats have been already broken down in the factory to make them cook faster, making them smaller. Old fashioned oats are larger, and can lead to a chunkier texture.
  • Leaveners
    • Baking soda is more acidic than baking powder. So, it’s more reactive with other ingredients and creates a puffier cookie.

All of that led to the recipe I created for this week: Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. They’re big, and most importantly, they’re super chunky. No plain old cookies here. Let’s get baking!

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For this cookie, we’re using the creaming method. That means the butter and sugars are becoming friends first.

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Then, the eggs are coming to the party. Make sure only one egg goes in at a time, just so that they each have their own time to introduce themselves properly. Finally, vanilla gets it’s turn to join in.

In a separate bowl, throw the oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt together. Since we’re not really going for a smooth texture here, sifting isn’t necessary. (You’re welcome.)

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Once you have your two bowls, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.

Now, for the good part: chunks. In the education part of my life, chunks are an awful thing…if you catch my drift. But, here, they’re the best part of the cookie. In fact, they’re really the only reason cookies exist. We’ve got chocolate chips. We’ve got dried cherries. We’ve got nuts. We’ve got it all. Put ‘em all in and mix ‘em up. …Just not too too much, or else you’ll have one tough cookie.

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This next part is a killer. You need to chill the dough. You just need to! Remember, the solid butter will result in a puffier cookie later. Refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight. Do it for the puff.

Later, after at least two whole hours, when scooping them out, you can choose how big you want your cookie. I, personally, like my cookies on the (really) large side. That way, when they bake, the inside stays pretty soft and gooey. I went with a ball that was about two inches in diameter. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can press some of the extra add-ins on top of each cookie so that their flavor profile is really apparent upon first glance.

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When baking them, I went with a lower temperature. This allows the cookies to cook through without browning too quickly. Keep them in there until the edges are slightly golden. The middles will still look a little undone, but you can take them out anyways, as they’ll keep cooking for a little while outside of the oven.

Another killer part…once they’re out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pan. That is if you want them to come off in once piece. If not, go for it!

And that, folks, is the perfect cookie. Perfect for me, and I’m sure, perfect for you.

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Next week, it’s finally time to embrace Fall in a warm hug. A cardigan, scarf wearing hug. And what better way to do that than with an apple pie baking contest? Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Yields 18
A fruity, nutty, chocolaty cookie with chunks galore!
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  3. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  4. 1 egg, room temperature
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  6. 1 2/3 cups old fashioned oats
  7. 1 cup all purpose flour
  8. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  9. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  10. ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  11. ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  12. ¼ teaspoon salt
  13. ½ cup dried cherries
  14. 2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
  15. ½ cup chopped pecans
  16. Optional: an additional tablespoon of each add in to decorate with
Instructions
  1. Cream butter, brown sugar, and white sugar on medium speed until smooth.
  2. Add egg, and mix until combined.
  3. Add vanilla, and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
  5. On medium speed, slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, ensuring they are well combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate, pecans and cherries until mixture is uniform.
  7. Chill dough for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  8. On a parchment lined pan, scoop balls of dough measuring 2 inches in diameter. If you are looking for a wide cookie, spread the dough out a bit.
  9. Optional: Press a few pieces of the add-ins onto the tops of each cookie.
  10. Bake cookies at 325 degrees for 12-13 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown.
  11. Let cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to wire racks.
The Bread and Breakfast http://thebreadandbreakfast.com/

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