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Deviation, disaster and deliciousness

“So bethini, what have you been doing with oats lately?” I hear you ask.

“Well, voice in my head,” I reply, pouring another cup of mescaline tea, “I’m glad you asked. Things have been exciting on the oats front.”

I wanted oatmeal cookies. Something about them sounds infinitely comforting to me: they sound chewy and warm and soft and lovely. I like sultanas and oats and they sound delicious in cookies. These ones do not at all match the image in my head. But they rock all the same. Lesson one in cooking: sometimes surprises are wicked awesome.

Little did I know surprises were the plat du jour chez Spoonfully comme une chat de ma tante. I used Smitten Kitchen’s thick, chewy, oatmeal raisin cookies recipe, and by “used” I mean “deviated from in nearly every way”. She uses 3/4 cup brown sugar, I opted to use up the last of the honey in the bottom of the bottle, then topped it up with brown sugar to make up 3/4 cup.

Start here

(Wandering brain: since moving out of home, I have never owned a hand-held electric beater. I used them all the time when I was at home and considered them indispensable for (a) frothing egg whites; and (b) creaming butter and sugar. Turns out that’s a filthy lie. A furphy circulated by the monolithic evil electric beater industry. Down with Big Beaters! Turns out a whisk (for egg whites) or wooden spoon (for butter and sugar) is totally awesome. Which makes sense, because frankly people have been cooking way longer than they have been buying hand-held electric beaters.)

Hand-creamed goodness

Having creamed my butter, sugar and honey, I added the egg and vanilla and spices, as per Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, then deviated once again: instead of chopped raisins, I loaded mine up with chopped dates and dark chocolate.

Not raisins.

Why? Well, because they were there and I was there and it was Sunday and the sun was shining. Look, I don’t need to explain myself to you: we’re on the same vibe, right? You understand me.

Anyhoo, onto the tray! I thought, as I spooned out the dough, “my, this seems like an unbound, crumbly sort of dough. Splowell! I’m sure some sort of magic happens while baking.” I get so used to tuning out the random babble in my head that I don’t pay attention to it when it’s actually babbling about something useful. (It doesn’t babble like a brook, all sparkling sunlight and squirrels and moss, but it babbles the way a backed-up toilet babbles, all sucky-slurpy hiccupy wooshy babbles. You can see why I’d ignore it, can’t you?)

The drastic degree of my deviation from Smitten Kitchen’s fine recipe became apparent. Things got ugly in the oven.


I’m proud that I decided to stop after spooning out just one tray, to see if the dough needed fixing. Because boy howdypants did it ever. Turns out, in copying the recipe off Smitten Kitchen’s website and onto a scrap of paper (so I didn’t have to take my laptop into the kitchen) I neglected to note down an obscure secret ingredient.

In the red corner...

Flour. Lucky we had some (what are the odds?), so I scooped some into the mix, turning it into proper cookie dough, and tried again:

...and in the blue corner...

Amazing what a difference it makes. Magical stuff. You should try it sometime. Here’s the before and after (see if you can guess which is which):

Oats at war!

But when oat meets oat in battle, who really wins? The unfloured results were, I have to say, delicious — but then how could they not be? It’s oats! Oats with butter and sugar and honey and chocolate and dates! So I left them on the chopping board in the hopes they’d go cold and set into crunchy wafers, but…alas. No. Oats down. They would make an incredibly delicious crumbly topping for a slice or similar, but frankly, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think I just have to accept the painful loss of oats and try to move on with my life. (*choked sobbing*)

The field of battle

I will soothe my aching soul with tasty cookies. The triumphant flour-full ones are winners: oatmeal cookies are seriously good eats. I’m already thinking about how I’ll vary the next batch — maybe raisins and toasted almonds? Chopped figs and glacé ginger? Dried pineapple and citrus peel? And you know what might be very awesome? Soaking the oats and raisins in a little orange juice before using, to make them even moister. Yeeeeah! Oh, oats: is there any way you can’t be fantastic?

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