There’s one recipe that is passed down through the generations in my family: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
It’s such a simple recipe, and yet, it creates the most delicious cookies, but after years of baking them in a multitude of states, jobs, ovens and countries, I have found a few tips, tricks and tweaks to make them just a little bit better.
There is one caveat with my cookies. They’re not pretty or picture perfect. They are delicious.
I first started perfecting the recipe when I lived as an au pair in Dresden, Germany. While my German guest family had heard of cookies, nothing like the American confection existed.
The bakeries had dark breads, black breads, tart breads, thick breads, thicker breads and nut breads but no cookies. Nothing even came close.
These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which I lovingly refer to as German slayers, took them by storm.
In addition to being an au pair, I was also going to a language class every day with students from around the globe, including Europe, Asia and the middle east. To most of them, the cookies were a novel experience.
Baking these cookies in Germany was a lot harder than should be expected. Brown sugar didn’t exist so I had to substitute molasses, since there were no chocolate chips I had to cut them off of large blocks of baker’s chocolate and imitation vanilla came in tiny vials.
White flour, too, was complicated. Germans have plenty of flour but plain white flour is not one of them. Eventually, I shifted my flour use to whole wheat, which is the first change I’ve kept.
Whole wheat flour gives the cookies a little more texture and a slight nutty flavor. Sometimes it’s desirable and sometimes it’s not.
Next, I experimented with spices to match the cookies to the hot mulled wine served in winter called Glühwein. That included ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and other spices. In this recipe, I’ve listed them as optional. After I came back stateside, I started to add shredded coconut.
Next on the big list of tips is to freeze the batter before baking it. This helps the cookies retain a rounder shape when baked. When taking them out of the oven, they may seem a little undercooked, but once they cook down, they will be nice and soft. I’m also a full convert to the use of parchment paper on baking pans. I don’t know what I would do without it.
Last, I stress that the flour and baking soda should be mixed together before being added to the rest of the batter. That makes mixing everything evenly that much easier.
German-slaying oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- Half cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or more
- 1½ cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups oatmeal or more as desired
- 1 cup chocolate chips
• Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, other spices, to be mixed in with the flour and baking soda.
• Shredded coconut, to be added in with the oats.
- If baking immediately, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix together.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, baking soda and optional spices until well mixed. Add to the bowl of creamed sugars and mix well.
- Add the oats and, if using, shredded coconut to the bowl and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and stir in until combined. If not baking immediately, put the dough into the freezer for at least an hour, if not two. Before you’re ready to take it out, preheat the oven.
- Put parchment paper down on a baking sheet.
- Using a spoon, or hands, make roundish balls of dough, about the size of a half-dollar, and put them on the baking sheet, spaced about an inch and a half apart. Bake for eight to 10 minutes per cookie sheet.
- Allow to cool and set. Then, essen!