dark chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies
The first thing I ever learned to make was chocolate chip cookies. I know this to be true, because upon enrolling in the first grade at Havelock Elementary, every time a classmate would ask me why I had not been with them in kindergarten, I would confidently answer, “I preferred staying home with my mother and baking cookies.”
It was a simple answer, met with puzzled expressions. I suppose they were picturing me exhausted, covered in flour, whipping together batch after batch of cookies with an aching arm all year. In reality, “baking cookies” was my summation of one last year of freedom. I did of course bake cookies, but I also ran through the corn fields, hosted tea parties for my most distinguished stuffed animals, chatted with my dad while he was checking the feed bins, explored the woods for treasures, and climbed the biggest hill to sing at the top of my lungs.
I asked them what they did in kindergarten. “I don’t know. Crafts and stuff.” Well then.
Learning to bake cookies is such a vital part of culinary education for kids. Why? Because it’s fun! And the process is so simple and easy to remember, like a nursery rhyme.
You mix your wet,
you mix your dry,
you mix it all together.
You bake them hot,
you serve with milk,
it’s good in any weather!
OK so maybe I just made that up. But I’m sticking to my guns on this: There is something so comforting about baking cookies.
Feeling as passionately as I do about the importance of cookie making, I was shocked when my husbands’ two little nieces, who had come to visit us in Canada with their parents for the first time, asked in their sweet, innocent voices, “Qu’est ce que c’est ‘couquillse’?” Mat had just told them that tante Kaleigh was going to teach them how to make cookies.”Did they just ask me what cookies are?”, I asked my husband in disbelief.
It’s true. My adorable French nieces knew all about les biscuits français, but nothing of our soft, chewy, plop it with a spoon onto a pan, chocolate chip cookies. It fascinated them. It fascinated the whole family, including my Mat!
I’ll never forget my beautiful Liz et Lorna, eyes wide as they took it all in. Cheeks dotted with pink when I snatched some cookie dough into my mouth and gave them the go-ahead to do likewise. Warm faces pressed against the oven window. And finally when the cookies were out and slightly cooled, giggles galore as they dunked them into their glasses of milk.
We did a lot with them on that trip, including exploring Northern Quebec and even seeing Niagara Falls, but my highlight was unquestionably, staying home to bake cookies with my nieces.
makes 48 cookies (plus a little extra cookie dough for munching)
1 cup margarine
1 packed cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
a few pinches of salt
3 cups rolled oats
150g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
So you know how it goes!
You mix your wet,
you mix your—
Yeah, you know.
Why margarine rather than butter? Because it’s cheaper, and that’s how I grew up making it. So go ahead and cream your margarine (or if you prefer, butter) and sugar. Cream until completely blended and smooth. (Well, you know, as smooth as grains of sugar can be…)
Add eggs and vanilla and beat into the mixture.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
With the oats, the key to a super chewy cookie (which I love) is pulsing the oats in a food processor for a few spins.
Here’s what I am excited to introduce into the basic cookie recipe: the chocolate! I used a blend of two Ecuadorian chocolates, one from Manabi, and one from Esmeraldas, both 77% dark chocolate, both delicious.
Before opening the wrapper, break it up with your hands. Open up the wrapper and slide onto a cutting board. (I use a flexible board.) If you want smaller chunks, chop the rest up with a large knife, but do it quickly, as the chocolate will start to melt on the blade. If you do this step at the beginning, place all the dark chocolate chunks into a bowl and refrigerate until ready for use.
Once ready, add oats and chocolate to other dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, slowly incorporating until blended.
Using a small spoon, shape into a ball and drop onto a baking tray lined with parchment or wax paper.
Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 10-12 minutes. The trick is, take them out before they look done, when they are still a little wet and glistening on top. Perfectly soft cookies, every time.
Might I suggest a cookies and milk picnic?
I could have made crafts and stuff. But I’m happy I baked cookies.