Happy birthday to the woman who has taught me everything I know, who continues to love and support me unconditionally, and who gives me the space to grow, and bake, and love — my mom.
Over the years, my mother has been trying to lure me into moving back home. She would never openly admit it; she knows me too well to try and say so outright. Instead, she nests. Like a little bowerbird, she’ll outfit her kitchen with all sorts of sleek, shiny scraps in the hopes of winning me over. A food processor here; a rubber spatula there. I’ve got to admit — the lady knows me well.
Home for the holidays, I arrived on my mom’s doorstep and hugged her tight before making a bee-line for the kitchen. There, in all its glory, was the last addition to her arsenal: a stand mixer, pristine, clean, and freshly freed from its cardboard prison. I couldn’t wait to take it to task. Over the next few days, I launched into a full-scale takeover of her kitchen. First order of the day: cookies for the hostess herself. I’m not a total brat, guys.
My mother is, incredibly, one of the few people who I love who doesn’t love chocolate. (I know. I’m not sure how we share blood lines when I’m almost certain that Hershey’s chocolate syrup flows through my veins.) However, because my ma gets what she wants, I found an excellent alternative: enormous oatmeal cookies, chewy and toothsome and studded with dried cherries. Chocoholic or not, this was one bliss-inducing baked good.
You’ll notice, however, that the picture above shows cookies clearly cut and rolled in chocolate. The recipe, true to its word, makes enormous, delicious cookies with crispy edges and chewy middles. What to do with such a surfeit of sweets, but to give them away? In order to stack them in mason jars as gifts, I trimmed the cookies and sealed their exposed sides with melted chocolate. Rest assured that my mother still got her simple cookies — and that I got to lick melted chocolate off my fingers — and all was well in our little home.
Big, chewy oatmeal cookies with dried cherries
Makes 16 to 20 large cookies
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened but still firm
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or a pinch of dried)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups dried cherries (optional)
- 16 oz dark chocolate (optional)
- Adjust oven racks to low and middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Don’t skimp on the creaming of the butter and sugar here — you want them as smooth and well-incorporated as can be!
- Beat in eggs one at a time.
- Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together, then stir them into butter-sugar mixture with wooden spoon or large rubber spatula.
- Stir in oats and optional raisins.
- Form dough into sixteen to twenty 2-inch balls, placing each dough round onto one of two parchment paper–covered, large cookie sheets.
- Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Halfway during baking, turn cookie sheets from front to back and switch them from top to bottom.
- Slide cookies on parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
Dark chocolate dip (optional)
- In a shallow pan, bring water to a boil and lower to a simmer. Break up chocolate in a small, heat-proof bowl and place the bowl in the pan of water. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until chocolate has melted.
- Cover working area with a nonstick surface, like parchment paper or Silpat mat. Take each cookie and dip the edges in the melted chocolate. I like to hold them by their middles and rotate them (like a wheel on a pizza cutter).
- Place the cookies on the nonstick surface and let cool completely. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt