Sunday, 25 November 2012

Oatmeal raisin cookies

Christmas is coming and I, for one, am excited.  I know it’s still November, but I've already succumbed to having Christmas songs on in the background whilst I get on with my day (yes, they’re playing right now), and I’m beginning to feel that magical glow slowly spreading through me that only comes this time of year.  You know what I'm talking about, that warm feeling associated with watching Christmas films you’ve already seen umpteen times (my personal favourites are Elf and Home Alone), eating clementines and chestnuts, and walking past all of the houses in the neighbourhood beautifully lit up with Christmas decorations.

What baffles me is why I feel like this, since I don’t actually celebrate Christmas and never have.  I’ve never had a Christmas tree in my house, never got to open an Advent calendar and never woken up on Christmas morning to an abundance of presents.  Whilst this used to sadden me as a child and I felt a grave injustice had been done to me, perhaps it’s because I’ve never celebrated Christmas that it feels so special to me?  What I mean is, perhaps it’s because Christmas is something almost elusive, something that I have always yearned to be part of but have never quite been privy to, that it holds a magical mystery for me.  Or perhaps it’s not actually the day itself, but the build up to it that I love: the Christmas cheer, the plethora of chocolates in the office, the fairy lights and tinsel brightening up the dark winter nights.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s it - the world seems a happier, merrier place, just for one month and that is why I think Christmas is, quite frankly, absolutely T for Tremendous!

Now, maybe I've been a tad disingenuous painting this sad picture of a little girl who never got to celebrate Christmas, because whilst it’s true that I’ve never had the tree and presents or written a letter to Santa, my family has always had a big get-together on Christmas Day, when we over-indulge as much as the next family in a juicy roast with all the trimmings, followed by a few desserts, followed by a few boxes of chocolates, followed by seconds...!  What can I say, when you come from a family that loves food as much as mine, we’ll look for any excuse for a feast and Christmas provides the perfect one!

So to kick off the Christmas indulgences, I made a batch of deliciously soft and chewy oatmeal raisin cookies.  Not perhaps traditional Christmas fare, but the cinnamon in them certainly evoked a warm Christmassy glow in me.  They’re easy to make, quick and a great alternative to giving someone a box of choccies.

  • 300g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 190g butter, melted and cooled
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 113g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5tsp vanilla paste or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, plus yolk from 1 large egg
  • 155g oats
  • 170g raisins
  • 35g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour and bicarb and set aside.

Beat the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar together until well blended (I used a handheld electric mixer), then add the cinnamon, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk, beating for another 2-3 minutes until light and creamy.

Add the sifted flour and bicarb, mixing until just blended, then, with a large spoon, fold in the the oats, raisins and coconut.

If you want extra soft, chewy cookies – and I think you’ll find you do :) – chill the dough in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, but ideally overnight.

Place balls of dough onto the lined baking sheets.  I used a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out the balls of dough and ensure they were all roughly the same size and gently rolled each ball into a nice round shape.  These cookies don't spread like other cookies might, so you can place them fairly close together without worrying they'll all merge into one giant cookie.  For flatter cookies, gently press down the top of each ball of dough.

Bake for 12 minutes for soft, chewy cookies, 15 minutes for a firmer cookie.  Resist the urge to overbake - the centres should still be soft when the cookies come out of the oven.  They will firm up as they cool.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for about five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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