There’s one recipe that is passed down through the generations in my family: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

(See just the recipe here)

It’s such a simple recipe, and yet, it creates the most delicious cookies, but after years of baking them in a multitude of states, jobs, ovens and countries, I have found a few tips, tricks and tweaks to make them just a little bit better.

There is one caveat with my cookies. They’re not pretty or picture perfect. They are delicious.

I first started perfecting the recipe when I lived as an au pair in Dresden, Germany. While my German guest family had heard of cookies, nothing like the American confection existed.

The bakeries had dark breads, black breads, tart breads, thick breads, thicker breads and nut breads but no cookies. Nothing even came close.

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which I lovingly refer to as German slayers, took them by storm.

In addition to being an au pair, I was also going to a language class every day with students from around the globe, including Europe, Asia and the middle east. To most of them, the cookies were a novel experience.

Baking these cookies in Germany was a lot harder than should be expected. Brown sugar didn’t exist so I had to substitute molasses, since there were no chocolate chips I had to cut them off of large blocks of baker’s chocolate and imitation vanilla came in tiny vials.

White flour, too, was complicated. Germans have plenty of flour but plain white flour is not one of them. Eventually, I shifted my flour use to whole wheat, which is the first change I’ve kept.

Whole wheat flour gives the cookies a little more texture and a slight nutty flavor. Sometimes it’s desirable and sometimes it’s not.

Next, I experimented with spices to match the cookies to the hot mulled wine served in winter called Glühwein. That included ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and other spices. In this recipe, I’ve listed them as optional. After I came back stateside, I started to add shredded coconut.

Next on the big list of tips is to freeze the batter before baking it. This helps the cookies retain a rounder shape when baked. When taking them out of the oven, they may seem a little undercooked, but once they cook down, they will be nice and soft. I’m also a full convert to the use of parchment paper on baking pans. I don’t know what I would do without it.

Last, I stress that the flour and baking soda should be mixed together before being added to the rest of the batter. That makes mixing everything evenly that much easier.

Guten Apetit!

Wheeler Cowperthwaite/Nevada Appeal
Whole-wheat flour lends these German-slaying cookies a nuttier flavor and a false sense of being healthy to eat.

German-slaying oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies use a little less sugar, white or whole wheat flour and are delicious.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cookies
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Time in freezer/refrigerator 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 38 minutes
Servings 25 cookies
Cost $5

Equipment

  • baking sheet
  • large mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter 250 grams
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed 232 grams
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 112 grams
  • 1+ tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 220 grams
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3+ cups oatmeal 265 grams
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 200 grams

Optional ingredients (spices)

  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup shredded coconut add with oats

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix together.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, baking soda and optional spices until well mixed. Add to the bowl of creamed sugars and mix well.
  • Add the oats and, if using, shredded coconut to the bowl and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and stir in until combined.
  • Refrigerate or freeze for 1 to 8 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Using a spoon, or hands, make roundish balls of dough, about the size of a half-dollar, and put them on the baking sheet, spaced about an inch and a half apart.
  • Bake for eight to 10 minutes.

Notes

Use parchment paper instead of greasing the cookie sheet.
Spices will make the cookies taste . . . spicy.
Whole-wheat flour gives the cookies a slightly nutty flavor and more texture, but white flour can be used as well.
Refrigerating or freezing the dough keeps the cookies from flattening in the oven.
The more oats, the better!

It was not until I lived in Germany that I discovered roasting. It started out innocently enough, with the topic of this cooking column: cauliflower.

It quickly progressed to all sorts of root vegetables I didn’t even know existed or only had peripheral contact with: kohlrabi, rutabega, mangelwurzel, beets and all sorts of other in-ground vegetables. We even had purple carrots. They are a thing.

I was living and working as an au pair: a nanny with more responsibility and less pay who lives with the family. A good portion of my day was cooking dinner for the family which meant I was responsible for using the produce that came to us once a week in a green milk crate, filled with mostly-local vegetables. Since we were in Dresden, that meant bushels, or at least, parts of bushels, of root vegetables with a few delicious apples thrown in and a banana or two.

When the family told me the name of a white-fleshed vegetable with a waxy outer skin, I was incredulous. I went straight to my German-English dictionary and looked it up. Sure enough, there kohlrabi was, staring straight back at me. Same word, same vegetable. The problem was not with the name or with the word: it was with my own exposure to the wider world of white-fleshed edibles.

Photo by Wheeler Cowperthwaite for the Nevada Appeal. The key to roasted cauliflower is in some salt, some pepper, some olive oil and an uncrowded baking sheet.

Wheeler Cowperthwaite/Nevada Appeal.
The key to roasted cauliflower is in some salt, some pepper, some olive oil and an uncrowded baking sheet.

I started roasting with the cauliflower by cutting up the florets, tossing them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I would line the baking pan with parchment paper, one of my favorite things.

From cauliflower, I moved on to the other vegetables at our disposal. Instead of allowing them to sit for weeks on end, unused, I would , depending on the vegetable, skin them, cut them into equal-sized slices, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast. Those others were the aforementioned beets and rutabagas, mangelwurzel and kohlrabi.

One of the problems I had, and I’ve received emails from readers expressing the same after having tried the recipe, is the cauliflower is gone too quickly. I would start putting the meal on the table and by the time I had sat down, most if not all of the cauliflower would be gone.

There are a few considerations when roasting veggies like these. The first goes to the oven. Each oven is vastly different and there are no be-all end-all instructions for how one’s oven works. I know my (electric) oven needs to be cranked up much higher than my friend’s gas oven. In Germany, I always had a problem with getting hit by steam accumulating in the oven. With my own oven, I have no such issues, although that could partly be due to placement in relation to my own face.

Cauliflower and other vegetables should be turned, at least once, through the roasting process so they do not burn on one side. Other special attention should be paid to the thickness of root-vegetable slices: they should be uniform. If they are not, one should expect to pull some of the pieces out before others.

 

Ingredients

• 1 head cauliflower

• Olive oil, enough to lightly coat the florets

• Salt

• Pepper

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 (range: 400-450) degrees Fahrenheit

1. Strip the cauliflower of its remaining green leaves and then cut up the cauliflower, into florets of desired size.

2. Put florets into a large mixing bowl. Pour olive oil over. Toss to coast. Put salt, pepper on the florets. Toss.

3. Put the florets, in a single layer, on a parchment-paper covered baking sheet.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until cauliflower is of desired crispness and is browned. Consider turning the cauliflower mid-way to prevent burning. Time will increase, as will steam, if more than one baking sheet is being roasted at a time.

5. Serve and don’t, like me, grab the metal with bare hands. That’s just dumb.

This recipe, although not the column, was originally published in the Nevada Appeal on April 24, 2013.