Oatmeal is a lot like Uncle Fergus – you either love him or run for your life when he shows up at the door.
I grew up hating all things oatmeal. When I was forced to eat the stuff, it was like chewing the inside of the sofa stuffing (don’t ask how I know that). Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the same Quaker Oats container sitting on the pantry shelf had celebrated more birthdays than I had.
I met my first commercially made oatmeal cookie when I bought school-lunch the day the new cafeteria opened. I loved cookies, but this thing was dreadful. Soft, squishy and stale, it was the color of tired beige with tiny dark specks. Oats and I were finished.
That is, until I grew up and found out that oats were actually tasty. My mother-in-law, the original granola queen, used oats as much as she used lemons or mayonnaise (which in her house is a food group). She taught me the rules of food-cooperatives and how to chase the good stuff – think organic mills before organic was a type of certified product.
My mother-in-law made oatmeal from fresh steel-cut oats loaded with fun stuff like dates and nuts and lightly sweetened with honey or maple syrup. Her granola was legendary before the stuff was a pop-icon. She made fabulous oatmeal cookies with neither mayo nor lemon in them (a miracle, I tell you). Her cookies were crunchy on the edge and a little soft in the middle, toasty and full of nutty flavors and plump raisins.
I was hooked. I practiced making oat cookies and eventually got the hang of it. And while our kids were small, I made them often so their teachers would think we ate healthy stuff. Oats never bested chocolate in our house, but at least they were respected.
But we missed oats terribly during the initial years of eating gluten free. We tried some oats that were supposed to be gluten free just by nature of where they were harvested, but it was clear that was a hit or miss. And then years later, came our oat hero, Bob. Bob’s Red Mill was our first genuine journey back to oats – eating their gluten free steel oats and then using the rolled oats, and oat flour for baking.
We rapidly went through entire bags of steel-cut oats, making up for lost time. Not only were the oats nutty and tasty, but we never ever had a problem with them. Ever. We make our oatmeal in the rice maker, letting them soak overnight and pressing the porridge button when we awake. 45 minutes later, we have wonderful, creamy oatmeal for breakfast. I use the leftovers to make Lulu and Phoebe little oat dog cookies.
But fairly often I make gluten free oatmeal coconut, pecan raisin cookies that are so good they rarely last two days. That would be two of us eating well over a dozen cookies in two days. I freeze the remaining dough in portions so I can make fresh cookies at a moment’s notice.
These take a little prep work, but the effort is worth it – not to mention that the recipe makes almost 5 dozen cookies – which is a giant cookie jar full for your effort. You can certainly do the prep work in advance and just store the toasted ingredients and flour mixture together for when you get around to making the cookies.
Here’s to Bob with a big thank you. My favorite oat cookie recipe erases every single bad oat memory from my childhood and that is a good thing.
If you try the recipe, let me know how it works for you. And be sure to leave your stories about Oats in the comments below. Every oat has a tale.
Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut, Pecans and Raisins
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 215 grams gluten free rolled oats, lightly toasted (about 2.5 cups)
- 135 grams gluten free flour mix (about 1 heaping cup) (46 grams GF oat flour plus 62 grams superfine brown rice flour plus 27 grams superfine white rice flour)
- 83 grams unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
- 140 grams brown sugar (about 3/4 cup)
- 112 grams sugar (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- zest from one orange
- 140 grams pecans, rough chopped and lightly toasted (about 1 cup)
- 142 grams dark raisins (about 1 cup) and optional
- 200 grams Hershey’s* butterscotch chips (about 1 cup) (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly toast the oats, coconut and nuts on a baking sheet. The oats and nuts take about 10 minutes – the coconut just a few minutes.
Meantime, weigh out the remaining ingredients or drink a nice cup of coffee. Keep an eye on the coconut, although if it gets really toasty it just adds deeper flavor so don’t worry if it is brown.
Once you can touch the pan and scoop up the oats, chop most of the oats in a food processor along with the coconut – with one or two pulses – just a rough chop. Mix with the remaining oats. Set aside.
Taste the butterscotch chips to see if they are worthy. Taste again to be sure.
Cream butter and both sugars until incorporated and slightly fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla, juice and zest. The mixture might look a little coddled. Sometimes mine looks elegantly fluffy and other times it looks like it needs some medical attention. Keep going – it will be fine either way.
In a separate bowl combine the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and whisk to slightly lighten or in this case, to make sure all the various GF flours become a melting pot. Add to the creamed (or coddled) stuff in the mixer on low just until combined with wet ingredients.
Add the oat/coconut mixture and incorporate just until combined. By now the mixer should be sounding like it might walk off the counter. Add the raisins, nuts and butterscotch chips and mix just until incorporated or just until the mixer starts to actually move to the counter’s edge.
Give the motor a break and with a wooden spoon make sure everything is well mixed. The dough will be slightly wet. It will eventually get much drier – even before you bake it.
Scoop onto silpat or parchment lined baking sheets, about 9-12 cookies per pan. Use a small scoop (heaping tablespoon variety).
Flatten slightly with a fork.
Let rest before baking for about 20 minutes. Alice Medrich gave me this advice and it always works. Thank you, Alice.
Bake about 11 minutes, rotating halfway. They should be lightly browned, slightly past golden. Cool a little. Eat a warm cookie.
Notes: *Hershey’s is supposed to be gluten free – the other brand is not. The dough freezes well – scoop dough onto a baking sheet and pop into the freezer – then package in two layers of Ziplock bags for baking later when the cookie urge strikes. Feel free to play with the recipe. Use your favorite nut. Change out the raisins for another dried fruit. Use chocolate chips instead of butterscotch. Or none at all. Use your favorite mixture of GF flours. Leave out the orange – add in a lemon, or none. Eat with a glass of milk, or wine.
Eat. And tell.