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A&E >  Food

Thick and chewy oatmeal raisin cookies are a classic dessert for a reason

UPDATED: Tue., March 16, 2021

Soaking the raisins gives them a better texture in these oatmeal cookies.  (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
Soaking the raisins gives them a better texture in these oatmeal cookies. (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
By Aaron Hutcherson Washington Post

Oatmeal raisin cookies are a classic in the pantheon of desserts, so I was stunned to discover that the Washington Post didn’t have a recipe in our database for this delicious but divisive dessert.

There are recipes for “outrageous” oatmeal cookies with raisins and cranberries, cherry pistachio oatmeal cookies, thin and crispy oatmeal cookies with shredded coconut and salted oatmeal cookies without any mix-ins, but none that focused just on the marriage of oats and raisins.

I gladly took it as my mission to fix this oversight. After multiple tests, I landed on a recipe for thick and chewy oatmeal cookies featuring hearty oats, plump raisins, warm cinnamon and fragrant allspice for extra complexity – that any fan of the confection will love.

I have been a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies for as long as I can remember, but it seems my admiration is not shared by all thanks to a polarizing key ingredient – raisins.

“Mealy,” “cloying sweetness” and “they are eww” are responses I received to an informal Twitter poll asking why people dislike them. Setting “ew” aside, this recipe does address raisins’ texture and sweetness.

Writer and cookbook author Charlotte Druckman suggested soaking the raisins to tackle the texture problem, and I enjoyed the plump, softened fruit suspended among the oats.

This recipe calls for a quick plump on the stove with just water, but whiskey, spiced rum and/or the addition of cinnamon sticks, star anise or cloves to the pot would be nice flavor enhancers.

And for those who think raisins have a cloying sweetness, the cookie batter itself is not very sweet, so the sugar from the fruit is needed to balance it.

When it comes to the cookie’s other integral ingredient, old-fashioned rolled oats are optimal for their chew. I experimented with toasting them for a nuttier, more robust oat flavor, which I enjoyed, but doing so led to a thinner cookie than desired, as the toasted oats absorbed less of the moisture in the cookie batter.

A number of recipes also call for grinding the oats in a food processor to make oat flour, but as someone who prefers more streamlined recipes, I decided that would be a step too far for these cookies.

As for the size and shape of these cookies, the temperature of the cookie dough is key. Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight before baking to reduce spread and get the thick oatmeal cookies intended with this recipe.

Longer aging produces a more concentrated flavor, which I enjoyed, but isn’t necessary if you desire freshly baked cookies imminently. And be sure to press the balls of cookie dough into pucks so that they bake up correctly.

I accidentally deleted that step when I sent the recipe to my colleague Becky Krystal for her to bake them to be photographed and ruined a batch of dough. Sorry!

If you’re on the fence about raisins in your cookies, I urge you to give this recipe a try and report back. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1½ cups dark raisins

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

⅓ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ cupsall-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground allspice (optional)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

In a small saucepan, add the raisins and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from the heat and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes; drain and let cool for at least 10 minutes while you start making the cookie dough.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl and a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon), beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs and vanilla until homogeneous.

Reduce the speed to low, add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and fragrant allspice, if using, and mix until evenly combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl if using a stand mixer.

Mix in the oats and raisins until evenly distributed; do not overmix. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop heaping 3-tablespoon balls (a large cookie scoop) of dough onto the prepared baking sheets at least 11/2 inches apart, and flatten into pucks roughly ¾-inch thick.

Bake the cookies for about 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway, until golden around the edges. Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 20 cookies

Make ahead: The plumped raisins can be prepared up to 1 week in advance and refrigerated. The dough can be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 day before baking.

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