Here’s my beef with oatmeal cookies: They’re always too chewy, and way too sweet. I feel like an oatmeal cookie should really be something that’s between breakfast and dessert. It should be sweet, but in the same way that a bowl of oatmeal is sweet–not overwhelmingly so. A sprinkle of brown sugar, some cinnamon, and maybe some dried fruit. Last complaint: I don’t like hot raisins. I know, it’s weird that I like hot cherries but not raisins, but it’s true.
These particular cookies are soft and tender, not too sweet, and totally acceptable for breakfast or dessert. The cherries rather than raisins really cut down on the sweetness. Is it just me or are most raisins really sugary-sweet? These dried cherries are sweet, but not sugary. They’re just the right amount of tart. When I was a kid, my grandmother would visit Michigan every summer, and she would bring me two things: petoskey stones and a big box of dried cherries. (The dried cherries were probably not just for me, but I liked to think they were.) I’m sure my mom used the cherries for lots of things, but I just ate them by the handful. Here’s the kicker: I ate them frozen. I don’t know if my mom intended for me to eat them straight from the freezer (she didn’t) or if she even knew that I was eating them straight from the freezer (she definitely didn’t) but frozen is the way to go. Believe me.
Here’s the recipe: (adapted from the Quaker Oaks box)
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg
dash ground cloves
dash ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned oats (not quick or steel cut)
1 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. In a second bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) beat the sugars and softened butter until combined. It’ll be grainy. Then, add the eggs and the vanilla and beat until smooth. Try not to dip your fingers in it and eat it like that. Raw eggs are bad for you or something…
Now, gently mix all of the dry ingredients into the wet ones, and stir until just combined. Then, stir in the oatmeal and the cherries. It will seem like way too much oatmeal, but go with it. It’ll happen.
Drop the batter in tablespoon sized balls onto a greased or foil/wax paper lined cookie sheet. Sort of flatten them out a little. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are golden brown. The cookies will keep at room temperature for a week or so.