Baking is a fairly new experience for me. I’ve always been intimidated by it. I’m more at ease with cooking, since being able to taste as I go means I can nudge and cajole and prod a dish towards the desired finished product. But baking? Even if the batter tastes good, there’s no guarantee that what comes out of the oven is what you envisioned as you carefully sifted and measured and creamed and folded. To be frank, the suspense and uncertainty scared me.
Then I tried Hyacinth’s Everything Cookies, and for once—for the first time in my life—I baked something that was more than just edible or pleasantly nondescript. It was chewy, crunchy, nutty, and before I knew it, I could actually start to imagine baking in my future. And as I baked my second (or was it third?) batch of her cookies and grew more nonchalant about measuring, I was happy to discover that baking actually does have a forgiving side.
And thus began my foray into the wonderful world of home-baked goods. First cookies, then cakes, and, most recently, artisanal bread. I’ve even ventured into flan territory without requiring adult supervision.
I’m writing this long introduction to this Leftover Cookie recipe to assure you that, as far as the add-ins are concerned, you really can’t go wrong. If I can do it, then anyone can. Seriously. The base recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Chewy Oatmeal and Raisin Cookie, which in itself is a wonderful cookie. But at some point last week, I decided to re-organize part of my kitchen and discovered all these half-empty (or half-full) bags of various baking chips and ingredients. Shredded coconut, dried cranberries, golden raisins, my last cup or so of oats … and since I had just started compiling a bunch of “leftover” recipes to help me use up items in my refrigerator and freezer instead of simply tossing them (waste not, want not), I figured, why not a leftover recipe for baked goods?
These cookies were moist, chewy, with crisp edges. The original recipe called for larger cookies, but I had grand illusions of making small, almost bite-sized cookies to help appease that stubborn kill-joy, ol’ Portion Control. Of course, Portion Control is only happy when you stop after the first one. Care to guess how that turned out?
(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 sticks butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir with a whisk.
- In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. When you add the second egg, add in the grated ginger and vanilla along with it.
- Gently stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. When just combined, fold in the remaining ingredients. (Aside from the oats, you can vary all the remaining ingredients according to what your leftovers are. Chocolate chips or any other baking chips would work, too.)
- On a silpat-lined cookie sheet, drop tablespoonfuls of dough, about 12 to a sheet. Bake for about 9-11 minutes, until edges are light brown. Leave cookies on the sheet for a few minutes to set, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
These were absolute delights. They were so good that I locked Portion Control away in the basement and made it stay there until it promised to make itself scarce any time there was some kind of baking going on in the kitchen. It’s stubborn, that Portion Control. It’s still down there, fuming in the laundry room, and I’m quickly running out of clean clothes to wear.