Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Even though I my elementary school days ended a long time ago, I still remember the distinct sort of melancholy that accompanied the end of Summer and the start of a new school year. September was hands down my least favorite month of the year, a time when days at the beach, barbecues, and sunshine, were replaced early mornings on the school bus, cool weather, and – worst of all – Math homework. Indeed, September for a ten year old kid is far from fun, but there were always a few bright spots, like seeing my friends again, Spanish class (my favorite subject!) and lunchtime, which made the beginning of the academic year a bit easier. My lunches were never completely ordinary, you see – though my mom packed me the standard items, like peanut butter and jelly or turkey sandwiches, and carrot sticks or apples, there was almost always a home-baked brownie, blondie, or cookie for dessert. My lunchbox desserts were famous among my classmates, who would try (in vain) to swap their Goldfish/Rice Krispy Treats/Oreos for whatever I had brought that day. If I was feeling generous, I would at most split my dessert with my best friend, but I can probably count on one hand the number of times that happened. My mom’s baking made the whole day better, and after all, the end of Summer is not quite so bad when you have home baked cookies in your lunchbox -- especially if they are these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

For me, these cookies are synonymous with Fall. If I didn’t find them tucked in to my lunchbox at school, they could be found cooling on the kitchen counter when I got home from school, a welcome treat to ease us in to starting homework. To this day, this recipe is among my very favorites, one that I continue to make now well in to my twenties in my apartment here in Rome, that makes me feel a little closer to home  -- the smell of them baking in the oven without fail transports me right back to my elementary school days in Rhode Island (scent and memory are a very funny and powerful thing). These cookies are soft and spicy (the cinnamon makes them especially perfect for Fall,) substantial and chewy thanks to the oatmeal, dotted generously with chunks of chocolate (always a good thing). They are versatile, as at home with a cup of tea as they are in a lunchbox or on a dessert plate. I might argue as well that like these Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles, these cookies contain a breakfast ingredient -- oatmeal!! -- which makes them a completely acceptable option for the first meal of the day, at least in my book.

I happen to like milk chocolate here, but if you want a less sweet cookie, semi-sweet chocolate would also be good. If you’re not a fan of chocolate you can easily substitute raisins or dried cranberries. I have also made these with white chocolate chunks and cranberries, and they were fantastic. Enjoy everyone!


OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats
1 ½ cups chocolate chips* (milk chocolate or semi sweet)

Directions:
In large bowl, using electric beaters, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt (feel free to add a little more cinnamon if you'd like). Stir in to the butter and sugar mixture, and then use the beaters to combine the ingredients fully. Stir in the oats and chocolate, mixing well. Refrigerate the cookie dough until cold (this helps the cookies hold their shape and not spread too much while baking).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoon-fuls (or a bit larger, if you want to make bigger cookies) onto greased cookie sheets, making sure to leave some space between each cookie. Bake each batch of cookies 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets, then remove to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Makes about 25-30 cookies, depending on how large you make them. 

*If you like me are in Italy where milk chocolate chips are hard to come by, just buy a few bars of milk chocolate (I usually use 3 bars that weight 100 grams each) and chop them in to pieces.








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