It hasn't been so many weeks since I told you that I found the perfect oatmeal cookie. So when I found another recipe for oatmeal cookies in the box, I was hesitant to make them right now-- how could I improve upon perfection?
Well, the only thing I can figure is that these cookies taste nothing like oatmeal. They don't even have an oatmeal texture, and if they weren't such a royal pain to make, I would be sending each of you, dear readers, a tin full of them today. These cookies are basically just toffee-- there's just a tiny dusting of flour in the entire recipe, and the oatmeal is in there at a 1:1 ratio with the brown sugar, so as soon as they get warm, these basically become an oatmeal-studded caramel that expands all over the cookie sheet in the thinnest lattice, turning golden and toasty as it bubbles.
But, alas. In the words of Smitten Kitchen, I have to put a yellow light on these cookies. Had I tried to make them before starting this project, I would have failed miserably. I say this with some certainty, because three Thanksgivings ago, I tried to make these cookies, which failed miserably because I a) didn't follow the directions, b) didn't have the right equipment, and c) (I would argue) the recipe makes them sound infinitely easier than they are and doesn't mention any of the weird conundrums that I faced.
I feel pretty confident that Eleanor had no trouble with this recipe, though, because I think if she had, there would be amendment notes on it detailing the things she changed... and I know she must have made these, because damn, they're delicious.
However. I literally spent the whole time these were in the oven sitting in a chair in front of the oven watching them cook. The recipe itself even says that 'Mrs. Brown's advice is to never leave the stoce [sic], even if it means missing a phone call.' I don't know who Mrs. Brown is, but I agree with her. Shut off your phone, these cookies require full concentration.
But are they worth it? HECK YES. The first tray I made shattered upon being removed from the cookie sheet, but I swept the crumbs into an airtight container and we had them over ice cream the next night, and, if possible, they were even better than on the first day! The second and third trays came off in one piece, but in weird shapes because they go from WAY TOO SOFT OMG THIS COOKIE IS MELTING AND BURNING MY HAND to THIS COOKIE IS MADE OF CEMENT AND WILL NEVER COME OFF OF THE COOKIE SHEET in a window of less than a minute, so you have to work quickly, like a bomb defuser, or a brain surgeon. The good news is that once you've made them they actually stay crunchy for up to three days in an airtight container, provided you don't pack them up until they are really, really cool.
Make sure your cookie sheet is flat, as this batter will turn to liquid as soon as you place it in the oven, and if the cookie sheet is on an angle, the batter will run. This would seem obvious, but you'd be shocked at the angle at which I usually have to use my cookie sheets because I have the world's tiniest/most Scottish oven.
Keep a close eye on these at the end of their time in the oven and don't be afraid to leave them in for another minute or two. The middle should be soft, but not sticky or wet, and the rim should be just a shade more brown than the golden middle.
Upon getting them out of the oven, give them 30-60 seconds to cool without touching them-- then slide your thinnest spatula under one and lift it as quickly as you can. If you haven't let it cool enough, your cookie will squish into a weird oval as a result of the spatula pressing on it. If you have let the cookies cool too much, you won't be able to get your spatula more than a ½ inch under the cookie and you're going to have to chisel the whole thing off in tiny crumbs. The good news is that if you do either of those things, the cookies are still going to taste fantastic, even if they look a little worse for wear.
The recipe below is the original cut in half, because I was afraid 2 cups each of sugar and oatmeal was going to make a huge batch. Out of the quantity below, I got about 20 cookies, but then only about 15 came off the cookie sheet in a reasonable fashion, so the other 5 turned to crumbs. Plan accordingly.
It's hard not to give these toffee bites 5 spoons because they are just that good. But they are a huge pain to cook and get off of the cookie sheet (though the actual batter is a piece of cake-- pun not intended). If you're feeling ambitious, make these. I give them 5 spoons out of five for flavour, 2 spoons out of five for difficulty level.
Oatmeal Toffee Lace Cookies
Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, salt, and sugar.
Melt the butter and stir it into the mixture.
Add the beaten egg and the vanilla and stir together.
Place tablespoon-sized dollops of batter far apart on a cookie sheet (no more than 5 per normal-sized cookie sheet).
Bake for 7 minutes, watching carefully, probably from in front of the oven.
Wait 30-60 seconds before removing them from the cookie sheet, but absolutely no more or cookies will not come off the cookie sheet.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before storing in a very airtight container for up to three days.
¼ lb butter
1 1/8 c porridge or rolled oats
1 1/8 c light brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
½ egg, beaten slightly (I know, this is a huge pain if you don't have a scale. If you have a scale, use it for this. If you don't, use a small egg or just eyeball it. Nobody's gonna tell.)
½ tsp vanilla