Thursday, May 16, 2024

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Every time I write about a new book from Nancy Silverton, I go on and on about what a huge fan I am. And, I still am. I still make her recipe for sourdough bagels and sourdough baguettes after learning from her how to make my own sourdough starter in the first place. I always enjoy reading a new book from her as I did with The Cookie That Changed my Life of which I received a review copy. This new book was intended as a collection of revisited, well-known baking recipes presented in the best possible versions of themselves. It was inspired by some tinkering with a peanut butter cookie that Silverton felt achieved perfection. But, the interesting thing that recurs throughout the book is that for many of these familiar favorites, she mentions not really liking them. Rather than creating a "perfected" version of some of these recipes, she was instead coming up with a new version that she actually liked. With the angel food cake, she added a chocolate swirl; a classic pecan pie became a tart; and simple snickerdoodles became a much more involved and expensive cookie with browned butter and demerara sugar. I found that the snickerdoodle recipe was flawed. Way too much sugar was called for, and the result was a disappointment. Despite these critiques, I still loved this book. The ginger stout cake, which was only slightly adapted from Claudia Fleming’s original recipe, was delicious as our Christmas dessert with whipped creme fraiche. And, I will forever be following the instructions for twice-baked croissants that I filled with smoked salmon and cheese rather than ham and cheese along with a flavorful bechamel that coats the interior of cut-open croissants. And, yes one more and, the oatmeal raisin cookies recipe that came from Marge Manzke of Republique was positively divine. I didn’t realize until reading it here that Republique in Los Angeles took over the space that was formerly Silverton’s La Brea Bakery. What a great history for this piece of real estate. 

The oatmeal raisin cookies are gluten-free and made with unblanched almond meal. They’re also made with browned butter. In the past, I might have questioned if browning butter and then chilling it was really worth it for cookies. These cookies taught me that yes, it is very worth it. It’s also worth it to use big, plump raisins, and Sunview Organics are my favorites. So, unlike a traditional, simple oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, this one is a bit more involved. The dough was chilled before portioning, and then each ball was placed in a ring for baking. I used English muffin rings, and they prevented the dough from spreading too much. The buttery, nutty flavor was indeed reward enough for the added bother. 

There are raspberry crumble bars and a coffee cake I want to try, and I’m curious about the very particular approach to focaccia shown in the book. For me, it was the oatmeal raisin rather than peanut butter cookie that might have changed my life. Seriously, brown some butter and make these cookies.

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