Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Quest for the Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: Introduction

     The question I most like to ask people is simply "What's your favorite type of cookie?"  I guess to me, it just tells me a lot about their personalities.  For instance, there are the daring double-chocolate chip fans, mellow white chocolate chip macadamia nut lovers, and traditional chocolate chip advocates.  Personally, I have a soft spot for a good oatmeal raisin cookie.
      Why oatmeal raisin?  While I was growing up as a younger kid, oatmeal raisin cookies were the treat my mom baked for me most often.  They have always been something to indulge in on Sunday nights, right before I had to face another week of having to wake up early and cramming for tests.  Now, I'm addicted to the nutty flavor of the oats combined with the soft, chewy raisins in oatmeal raisin cookies.
       Recently, though, I have been searching for the perfect oatmeal raisin cookies.  There are so many variations on a classic cookie that I don't know which recipe to bake.  There are recipes for crisp cookies and chewy cookies, recipes that soak the raisins in water and recipes that don't, and recipes for cookies with chocolate chips, nutmeg, chopped apples, pecans, quick oats, old-fashioned oats, and even vanilla beans.  See how daunting this quest I have set upon is?
        This quest thing is probably going to be just like cookie quest in 6th grade and my science project in 7th/8th grade.  I remember in 6th grade I had to bake six dozen chocolate chip cookies for my classmates to sample during cookie quest (some competition thing where different classes try to have the best cookie stand, which was actually pretty fun).  In 7th and 8th grade, I did a science project on how pH level of cupcake batter affects the height of the cupcake, and I had to spend an entire weekend baking 10 dozen cupcakes.  I'm so glad that's over.
        So throughout the next week or two, I will be testing various oatmeal cookie recipes from numerous sources.  I will probably bake a half-batch of two different recipes at a time and compare them, then make special notes of their ups and downs.  When I have acquired enough knowledge on the characteristics of a good oatmeal raisin cookie, I will try to make my own recipe, combining what I like from different recipes.  Then we will have the perfect oatmeal raisin cookie.
         Before I start with the recipes,  I should say what in my opinion is a perfect oatmeal raisin cookie.  Though I am very open-minded, I do have some specific standards for a good oatmeal raisin cookie, such as:

  • They can't be too sweet.  Not like those store-bought ones that just taste like sugar cookies with raisins thrown in.
  • They have to have some chewiness.  They can't just be clumps of flour and oats that crumble when you bite into them.
  • They have to have some crispiness.  They need texture, and some flimsy cookie won't cut it.
  • They can't rely on chocolate.  These are oatmeal raisin cookies, not chocolate chip cookies.  If you really want to, you can add chocolate chips to the recipes yourself.
        So, let the quest begin!  

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