In 1976 I started baking cookies from scratch. I was in the third grade and fell in love with the smell of fresh baked goodies along with the rare satisfaction of a job completed and a nature’s first real drug, sugar. Since my Dorothy Hamel haircut was a tragic failure and made me look like a crooked figurehead on a ship run aground in a cesspool I chose to try and charm the boys with sugary treats impregnated with chocolate instead of blatant good looks.
Since the beginning, it has been the oatmeal chocolate chips cookie that melts my heart. The crunch of the oats, the kick of the nutmeg and the punch in the throat of the chocolate is a combination I cannot break up with. I did take a brief hiatus from my cookie when I got pregnant with Otto. I began bringing treats to every OB/Gyn appointment I had. If you have ever been pregnant you know that that particularly strange nine months of your life are spent waddling to and from your doctor’s office dressed like the sale table at Linens and Things. After arriving late and in tears, one of many uniformed ladies forces you to give them your blood, your urine and your last sad drops of self-esteem in some sort of plastic receptacle. If you need to go back to retrieve those drops later on, they can always be found on the base of the cold, professional scale on which your staggering weight is prominently displayed each time you visit.
Initially, my reason for baking for an entire office that I did not work in was to make sure the staff was well fed and happy when inserting numerous devices into a woman they barely knew. But as the months went on I felt that every cookie I baked represented a granule of good luck. The more I baked the healthier, happier and wiser my little man would be upon his arrival and that made my pregnancy blissful and perfect. They were such a wonderful group of people, always there with a hug and a laugh when I lobbed a dirty joke their way or fell apart after seeing myself naked. And at the end of the day, I just wanted to make sure they took as good a care of Otto as they did of me. He deserved it and so did they.
The first time I baked for them I brought in my standard oatmeal cookies but soon discovered that my doctor was a true blue chocolate chip man, no nuts and no annoying oats for this guy. So, I legally separated from the Quaker Oats guy and made simple, bare naked chocolate chip cookies. They were good, sometimes great, depending on the weather and the heat in my kitchen. But I always felt they did not represent my best side. I was never truly proud of my little brown discs even though the entire office claimed they were spectacular. I say that simply because any time I have worked in an office with taupe and mauve Ethan Allen knock off chairs and stale central air, any dessert item I ingested was like manna from heaven instead of the stale macaroon that it really was.
After Otto started school this fall I began bringing cookies to his teachers every week to thank them for taking such amazing care of our little, lovely monkey. Initially, I baked the plain chocolate chip ones but soon found out that his main teacher Leila, the fairy goddess of goodness, loves oatmeal cookies more than Friday afternoon happy hour. I pulled out my old recipe, made a few tweaks and have now created my favorite recipe of all time. Some people think I am crazy for baking so often but it is, without a doubt, one of the great pleasures in my life. Almost as great a pleasure as when I bake with Otto and he devours the finished product with the fervor and focus of a dog and his bone. His mini whisk and rolling pin are pretty cute too.
Otto’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg plus a dash
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
12 ounces or one bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.
- Either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and then add each egg, one at a time.
- Stir in dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture. Stir in oats, followed by chocolate chips.
- Drop batter by generous tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet with or without parchment paper lining. Place 1 inch apart. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until cookies turn golden brown around the edges, about 14 minutes total. Turn them at 7-8 minutes.
- Let cool for 15 minutes on cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.