Our current Cook the Books Club selection is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I had fun reading again Alice's adventures. For example, I paid more attention to the way she talks to herself and about herself. Truly one of those books that tell us something more or a bit different each time we read them.
Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words “EAT ME” were beautifully marked in currants.
I knew immediately I'd make cookies for Alice: when I like a cookie, it's like it has EAT ME written on it. Also, in my opinion, the best foods with tea are cookies and scones, and Alice really goes with cookies. After deciding to bake cookies, the question was: which kind?
Some time ago, I developed my version of chocolate chunk cookies, so I turned my attention to another traditional sweet morsel of goodness: oatmeal raisin cookies. They are made with ingredients I like, but not necessarily in a way that appeals to me.
Guided on one hand by my Brown butter chocolate chunk cookies1 and on the other by the recipe for Oatmeal raisin cookies in Stacy Adimando's The Cookiepedia2, I experimented with various versions until I settled on the recipe below, which includes a few steps to execute ahead of preparing the cookie dough: browning the butter, re-hydrating the raisins, and toasting rolled oats and sliced almonds. Additional personal touches include the use of coconut sugar, rye and whole-wheat flour (farina integrale), and okara flour3, a protein-rich, gluten-free flour derived from the soybean pulp (okara) generated during soymilk (latte di soia) production.
Ingredients for 11 cookies:
- 1/4 cup / 2 ounces / 56 grams unsalted butter (to make brown butter, recipe below)
- 1 1/2 ounces / 42 grams raisins
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml warm apple juice OR tea OR water
- 3 ounces / 85 grams rolled oats
- 1 ounce / 28 grams sliced almonds
- Avocado OR other mild-flavored vegetable oil to add to the brown butter to obtain 2 ounces
- 1 3/4 ounces / 50 grams sugar: 1/2 coconut sugar and 1/2 light brown sugar
- 1 egg about 2.1 ounces / 60 grams, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml vanilla extract
- 2 ounces / 56 grams total of a combination of flours:
- 1/2 ounce / 14 grams okara flour
- 1/2 ounce / 14 grams whole rye flour
- 1/2 ounce / 14 grams whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 ounce / 14 grams sprouted whole-wheat pastry flour OR whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cannella)
Prepare the following four ingredients ahead of making the cookies: brown butter, plumped raisins, toasted rolled oats, toasted almond slices.
1) Cut the butter into small pieces and put them into a small saucepan. Melt the butter while stirring then keep the melted butter on the heat, stirring. The butter will foam as water evaporates then the solids will caramelize. Remove the saucepan from the heat, pour the brown butter into a ramekin and let cool. The process is fast and requires full attention as the solids go from brown to burned in a few seconds4.
2) With your fingers, separate the raisins that are clumped. Place the raisins in a ramekin. Pour the warm liquid over them and stir well. Stir again a few more times.
3) Heat the oven to 350 F / 170 C. Spread the rolled oats on an unlined baking sheet. Toast rolled oats in the oven for 4-5 minutes, shaking the sheet half-way through.
4) Toast the sliced almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Shake the skillet to ensure even toasting and prevent burning. Transfer the almonds onto a plate.
Finally, make the cookies. Let the brown butter soften in a mixing bowl. Weigh the butter and add enough vegetable oil to get to 2 ounces / 56 grams. Add both sugars to the mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugars. I do all the mixing with a spatula or wooden spoon, but you can use an electric mixer until otherwise noted. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and stir until combined.
Sift the flours into a small mixing bowl. Sift in the baking soda, then add salt and cinnamon. Add about half of the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir briefly. Add the rest and mix just until the flour is incorporated. Add the toasted oats and incorporate them `using a spatula. Finally, add the raisins and incorporate them using a spatula.
Cover the mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so to firm up the dough (it will be easier to handle and the cookies will remain chubby), but not too firm, since there is one last ingredient to incorporate.
Heat the oven to 350 F/177 C.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Take the cookie dough out of the refrigerator. Add the toasted almonds to the dough and stir to incorporate. Weigh approximately 1.2 ounces / 34 grams of dough for each cookie. Shape each piece of dough into a half dome, tap the top to flatten it slightly and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1 1/2-2 inches / 4-5 cm of distance between them.
Bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the backing sheet. Bake for another 6 minutes. The cookies will still be soft. The edges should be golden brown.
Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Store the cookies in a sealed container.
I imagine Alice's EAT ME cake was prettier than my cookies, but they make up in flavor what they lack in good looks. I enjoy one in the afternoon with roiboos tea—and so far there has been no change in my height.
1 From briciole's archive: Brown butter chocolate-chunk bookies and review of The Cookiepedia
2 Recipe for Oatmeal raisin cookies from The Cookiepedia by Stacy Adimando
3 The Okara flour I use
4 A more detailed post on how to brown butter
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