Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Adventures in Baking

Okay, so I normally blog about writing and writers, but since I actually had a very successful baking experience (which isn't super rare, but is still notable for me), I thought I would share, especially since I was using a modified recipe of my own design.

I love oatmeal butterscotch cookies (sometimes called oatmeal scotchies), but have never made them before. Since I needed to bake something for my family's Christmas get-together (okay, I could have gone with a store-bought pie, but I'm better than that), I thought I would give them a try. It was easy to find a recipe online, but fortunately before I grabbed the first one and started baking, I read the comments. There were three main complaints: the cookies came out too thin and hard; they crumbled/fell apart; and they were too sweet. So, with base recipes in hand and comments in mind, I set out to develop my own formula for perfection.

(Note: the base recipe is the one provided on some packages of Nestle butterscotch morsels, which I found online with comments here.)

My recipe:
1 cup butter, softened (original is 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup white sugar (original is 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup flour (original is 1 1/4 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (original is 3 cups)
1 2/3 cups (1 11-oz package) butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.
Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl, then add to butter mixture until thoroughly mixed.
Stir in oats and butterscotch chips.
Roll dough into 1" balls and place on ungreased non-stick cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.

There are two deviations in the cooking directions. First, the original recipe calls for dropping dough in spoonfuls on the cookie sheets. I saw a suggestion in one of the comments that rolling it into 1" balls (about the size of a donut hole) worked better, and after trying both, I have to agree. The spoonful method produced cookies that were too thin around the edges, and which got very dark by the time the centers were fully baked. The ball method produced better looking and more consistent cookies with good, thick edges. I think rolling the dough also helps push the chips inside the cookie, so they do not melt and burn onto the cookie sheets.

The second difference was a very minor one, but is the sort of think that I appreciate when people tell me. The recipe calls for baking the cookies until they are golden brown around the edges. Well, considering the dough and the finished cookies are almost identical in color, that did not work too well for me. What I figured out was they were done when the tops of the cookies were no longer shiny.

Here is a picture of the finished results. The two cookies on the left were rolled, the two on the right were dropped.

I may make some additional changes to the recipe next time (I think taking out 1/4 cup of flour and adding 1/4 cup of oats back in might be good), but for now I am very happy with the results.

Now back to writing. Have a happy and safe holiday season.