I know I should probably be posting some sort of fancy cocktail after reading Rum Luck, but I've been too busy preparing for this conference to do much mixing. I decided instead to share a recipe that my students and co-workers love, from Joanne Fluke's Wedding Cake Murder.
I have a weird relationship with the Hannah Swensen series. I started off reading it with my mom so we'd have something to chat about, and I actually liked them in the beginning. But over time, I stopped enjoying them, but kept reading them. The weirdest thing about it is that I always buy the books when I spot one at Half Price Books (I refuse to pay full price for them), but really, what I want are the recipes.
The recipes provided usually aren't great on their own; they need some tinkering to get it up to its full potential, otherwise, it's Bland City. But they are great templates and I love that they make huge batches. Since I bake every week for my students and co-workers, a dozen cookies doesn't cut it. I tend to bake a MINIMUM of 3 dozen cookies at a time, or a large sheet cake/bar cookie if I'm feeling lazy and don't want to deal with scooping out so many cookies.
I'll provide the recipe as it's written in the book, with my improvisations noted at the end.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, rack in the middle position
1 and 1/4 cups white (granulated) sugar
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1/2 cup golden raisins
4 cups quick cooking oats
3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Place the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. (You can also mix these by hand, but it's easier and quicker with a mixer)
Pour the softened butter on top of the sugar.
Mix the sugar and the butter until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Mix in the eggs and beat until it is well incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.
Sprinkle in he baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix them in until they're incorporated.
Add the cinnamon cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and coffee. Mix well.
Add the golden raisins. mix them in thoroughly.
Mix in the molasses and the light Karo syrup. Beat until everything is combined.
Add the oats. Mix thoroughly.
Add the flour in half-cup increments, mixing after each addition.
Take the bowl out of the mixer, give it a final stir by hand, scrape down the sides to make sure that none of the yummy cookie batter sticks to the sides, and stir in the milk chocolate chips by hand.
Set the bowl aside on the counter while you prepare your cookie sheets.
Spray your cookie sheets with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray, or line them with parchment paper.
Drop your cookies by heaping large spoonful onto your prepared cookie sheets, no more than 9 large cookies to a standard-size sheet.
Bake your cookies at 350 degrees F, for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they are springy on top when touched lightly and quickly with a fingertip.
Let your cookies sit on the cookie sheets for at least 2 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the cookie sheets with a metal spatula (if you used parchment paper, just pull the whole sheet off) to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Yield: 2 to 3 dozen large soft cookies that everyone will enjoy.
(Mia's note: I actually have a beef with just about all of the yield sizes in the Hannah Swensen recipes. The recipe will say something outrageous like yields 7 dozen and it'll barely yield 4 or 5 dozen. How small are they making their cookies?)
Mia's changes: If I don't have molasses, I replace the white sugar with brown sugar, well-packed in the measuring cup. If you have a sweet tooth (despite all these ingredients, these cookies are only lightly sweetened), add an extra quarter cup of sugar.
I usually don't have cardamom, so I just up the quantities of cinnamon. I also rarely carry golden raisins, but regular raisins work just fine. If you or whoever your baking for doesn't care for raisins, just replace it with another cup of chocolate chips. Extra chocolate is always better, in my book.
Speaking of chocolate, I always use semi-sweet chips instead of milk chocolate, but that's just a personal preference. And finally, if you want to make these cookies extra special, use golden syrup instead of the Karo syrup. It's much harder to find, but places like Mariano's and World Market (or Amazon!) tend to carry it. It has so much more flavor than plain corn syrup.