Monday, March 25, 2013

The Quest for the Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: Day 1

Left: Quakers' Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Right: Brown Eyed Baker's Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Can you spot the difference?
Left: Quaker's Cookie Dough  Right: Brown Eyed Baker's Cookie Dough
Previously on The Quest for the Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie:    Introduction

      Here we have two very different specimens of oatmeal raisin cookie (recipes are at the end of the post).
      To the left is the classic "Quaker's Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies," which you can find the recipe for on a typical box of Quaker's oatmeal.  This is the recipe my mom always used, except I think she added a lot more flour.  It's a classic recipe with no real surprises, and the instructions are very easy to follow. Here are the scores:

Name of Recipe: Quaker's Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Time:  28min  Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Special Characteristics: uses quick-cooking oats 
Taste: nice sweetness and vanilla flavor; could use more salt to balance sweetness
Texture: Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside; needs to be chewier
Appearance: lumpy from quick-cooking oatmeal, flat and circular
Effort:  Quick, easy, worth the effort (my little 4yr-old brother even helped me to make these :) )
Overall Grade: A-
Pros: quick and easy, uses ingredients on hand, good vanilla flavor and sweetness, nice crunchy exterior
Deltas*: not very attractive, not chewy enough, not enough balance in flavors

(* Apparently, deltas are just a nicer way of saying "cons")

      So next we have Brown Eyed Baker's "Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies".  Brown Eyed Baker is another food blog which has a lot of great recipes.  She says that these cookies are "thick and chewy" and "absolutely incredible".  I agree that the cookies are great, but they did have some issues.  Next time I would probably make the cookies bigger and decrease the baking time.  

Name of Recipe: Brown Eyed Baker's Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie
Time: 45 min to 1hr (cookies taste best once completely cool)
Special Characteristics: uses old-fashioned oats, has nutmeg instead of cinnamon, doesn't have vanilla, more butter and sugar, has baking powder instead of baking soda
Taste: Very interesting but gentle nutmeg flavor, but kind of monotone; flavor improves the next day; raisins were kind of sour; could use more sweetness despite the relatively high sugar content
Texture: Kind of hard despite name of recipe; raisins were dry; too many oats (a lot were left over because they couldn't fit into the cookies)
Appearance: Looks soft and fluffy; nice golden color; oats more pronounced; looks cake-like
Effort: You have to shape the cookies by hand versus just dropping spoons of dough onto the sheet; takes longer to bake and needs to cool before you eat them
Overall Grade: B-
Pros: good appearance; very good nutmeg flavor
Deltas: too many oats; not really worth the effort; hard to shape dough into balls; needs cooling time

     The verdict:  Both cookies were delicious and had certain characteristics which made them special.  However, my judging panel and I would have to say that out of the two, Quaker's cookies are better.  The ease of the recipe and vanilla-ly flavor of the cookie just turned out to be victorious over the also pretty good Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. 

Quaker's Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

recipe from here
Yields 3 dozen cookies


1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tbs butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt 
3 cups quick-cooking oats (the recipe says you can also use old-fashioned oats)
1 cup raisins


  1. Heat oven to 350*F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.
  4. Add oars and raisins; Mix well.
  5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (or a small cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes, until light golden brown. Let cool 1 minute on cookie sheets, then cool on wire rack.  Store tightly covered.

Brown Eyed Baker's Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

recipe from here
Yields 18 large cookies


1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I used pre-grated nutmeg)
1/2 tsp salt
16 tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup (7 oz) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1-1/2 cups raisins


  1. Adjust the oven racks to the low and middle positions and heat the oven to 350*F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy.  Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or large rubber spatula.  Stir in the oats and raisins.
  5. Working with a generous 2 tbs of dough at a time, roll the dough into 2-inch balls.  Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. 
  6. Bake until the cookie edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes.  Transfer the cookie with a wide metal spatula to a wire rack.  Let cool at least 30 minutes. 

*Note:  Sources of error in this test were avoided as much as possible.  The directions of each recipe were followed exactly and measurements were made by weight when possible. 

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