Hybrids seem to be all the rage in the car world but who knew they worked with cookies, too?
Simpler is usually better but sometimes a baked good comes along that combines the best of various worlds and you can’t help but find a place in an already crowded recipe file.
Take this cookie for example. I have been using this recipe forever; on Epicurious it is billed as Jose’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, and the recipe is almost thirty years old. I have made this recipe perhaps fifty times, often times tweaking it with different chips, additions, and it is always good.
And when I say good, what I really mean to say it is I-don’t-care-how-it-looks-to-outsiders, I’m-having-another kind of good. The breaks-up-an-otherwise-congenial-family-gathering kind of good.
I couldn’t do my Meals on Wheels route last week because I had the flu, and I had some making up to do this week. I really wanted something of heft. Something laugh out delicious.
Here’s why this recipe deserves a spot in your recipe rotation. It effortlessly combines the best quality of so many interesting cookies: the chew of a good oatmeal, the roundness of peanut butter, the buttery and salty goodness duking it out with the sweet pull of chocolate in a straight up chocolate chip.
It’s not too sweet, too chocolatey, or too peanut buttery and so much more interesting than an oatmeal cookie (which, let’s face it, is a bit like Cinderella’s homely sister, even when tarted up with raisins and chocolate).
This time it I made it with milk, semi-sweet, and bittersweet chocolate chips and a handful of butterscotch chips (the latter of which because I had a half bag left in my pantry and I thought it wiser to add it all to batter now than to eat it all singlehandedly).
I made a triple batch of dough and baked them up. Because I didn’t have time to also make a soup (or anything else gluten-free), I grabbed a couple pounds of tangerines and I brought some of those along. Sadly, a steady supply of fresh ripe fruit is a luxury for many.
R., my widower, talked to me about his scoliosis, and how he’s hoping his primary doctor can help him figure out why his feet hurt so much because he needs to walk, but pain is a constant. God he looked lonely.
Two of my oldest clients, C. and D., were sleeping but grateful caregivers promised to pass along my cookies and regards. (It’s amazing how much really old people sleep).
E, my Cuban woman who believes I understand more Spanish that I actually do, talked my ear off. There is always so much pent up conversation in her I try to be patient and give her my full attention (sometimes I feel like a face at her door is like a Mento dropped into a Coke bottle).
She kept mentioning “Izzy es (something I didn’t catch), cuidado, es muy peligroso” and I had trouble tracking what was being said. What should I be careful of and what was dangerous? Izzy, as in the carbonated drink in the pretty bottle?
It wasn’t until I understood that she was pantomiming a beheading and she spelled out the letters that she was warning me to watch out for I-S-I-S.
Don’t get me wrong, it makes me sick that people are idolizing such brutality but as a natural worrier, I have to pick my worry battles carefully — and if I fall down that rabbit hole there may be no coming back. Instead, I choose to worry about that which is front of me — my kids, my aging dog, the affect of rising pork prices on summer BBQ’s.
Consequently, knife-wielding zealots aren’t finding a lot of room in my crowded worry parking garage.
Her concern was sweet though and she said she’d pray for me. Hey, I will take it gratefully.
Most poignant moment of the day was when I met a new client at the door of her tiny apartment and she introduced me to her little chihuahua. I pet him and asked him how long she had had him and she said it was ironic, he was a hospice dog whom she’d adopted a couple months ago — three days before she found out she had pancreatic cancer.
I was so stunned that I stood there a minute and took in her stubble of hair growth, the clothes hanging off her, the little sad sack dog with all the white hair around his muzzle.
All I could think of was to say that maybe the dog’s adoption was an omen — that somebody knew she’d need a special friend for a little while but it meant she was going to beat her cancer. Because both of of them deserved a second chance.
I know it was a platitude, and I sensed she did, too, but it was the best I could think of on the fly. After all, how often does a complete stranger reveal to you not only their impending mortality but also that their greatest worry is leaving a helpless one behind?
Even as sick as she was, she was so gracious about the Meals on Wheels meal, and grateful for her one little cookie, and happy for a glimmer of hope. How can some people be so awful and rude and have so much and yet people like this, so uncomplaining and gracious, have so little?
But for now, there were cookies. Lots of them.
My garbage man got one, and afterwards I kicked myself that in 10 years of living in this house I have never taken the time to meet him until now.
My kids got cookies. The teachers got cookies. My son’s friends working on the yearbook got cookies. A neighbor bringing out recycling got one, too.
Last ones went to my pal’s dear husband. He’s got months of chemo ahead but living — and giving — each day while he waits. And tackles his cancer head-on like the ex-professional football player he was.
I gave him his box while he was giving pointers to his eleven year old on the high school track. I watched them for a minute just before I surprised them, and I was touched by their easy laughter and obvious friendship.
We’re all with you, Eric.
So it was a big cookie week, because people fighting the good fight, whatever it is — all the while living life, coaching kids, adopting dogs, and befriending others– are my heroes.
- 1½ C. old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 C. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 sticks (1 C.) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 C. granulated sugar
- 1 C. firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 Tbs. vanilla
- ¾ C. peanut butter
- 2 large eggs
- a 12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
- 8 oz. semisweet chocolate, grated
- In a food processor, pulse 1 cup oats until ground fine. In a large bowl, stir together ground oats, remaining ½ C. whole oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In another large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy and beat in vanilla and peanut butter. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and gradually beat in flour mixture. Add chocolate chips and grated chocolate, beating until just until combined.
- Chill cookie dough, covered, at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Form rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and arrange about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten balls slightly.
- Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven 15 minutes, or until just pale golden. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes and transfer to racks to cool completely.