Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Quest for the Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: Day 2

Left: Annie's Eats' Cookie
Right: Cuisine Magazine's Cookie
Previously on The Quest for the Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie:

     Judging cookies is really hard.  That is one thing I learned from testing these oatmeal raisin cookie recipes.  I don't like being so negative in my reviews, but I kind of have to here.  It's for the good of finding the perfect recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.

    So here we have Annie's Eats' "The Ultimate Oatmeal Raisin Cookie."  This recipe uses some pretty fancy ingredients like mixed raisins and real vanilla beans.  Though I did rather like the appearance of those little black speckles of vanilla bean seeds in my cookie, I decided that vanilla beans were not essential and vanilla extract would work just as well.  Normal raisins would be a good substitute for mixed raisins too, though the fancier raisins did have a lovely flavor similar to that of sunshine.
     Aside from using the mixed variety of raisins, this recipe does something unique with its dried grapes.  The recipe tells you to soak the raisins in hot water for half an hour to re-hydrate them.  This produced a lovely, moist cookie with nice plump raisins which actually somewhat burst when you bit into them.  Another technique in this recipe was refrigerating the dough before hand, which I believed made the cookie nice and thick.
Name of Recipe: Annie's Eats "The Ultimate Oatmeal Raisin Cookie"
Time: 30min + 30min chilling time and 10 minutes thawing
Yield: 2 dozen
Special Characteristics: has vanilla bean seeds, mixes raisins, and kosher salt; refrigerates dough; soaks raisins in hot water
Taste: Spicy (it reminds me a bit of pumpkin pie without the pumpkin); oat-y; nice hint of salt; flavorful, bright raisins
Texture: Soft and chewy; plump raisins
Appearance: Dark, circular, lumpy, thick but flat, little air holes
Effort: moderate: worth the effort but takes some time
Overall Grade: B+
Pros: bold flavor, chewy, good use of kosher salt, plump raisins
Deltas: uses ingredients that aren't always on hand; could use more texture; not the most attractive cookie

     Next I will be judging Cuisine Magazine's "The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookie." claims that "they're better than any you've tried before."  The recipe may seen ordinary at first, but at a closer glance you'll see it's much different than many other oatmeal raisin cookie recipes.  First of all, it uses dark brown sugar instead of the usual light brown sugar.  Dark brown sugar has a higher amount of molasses in it, thus giving the cookie an intense, deep flavor (and a beautiful tan color).  Unexpectedly, this cookie doesn't have any cinnamon or nutmeg in it, but the flavor of the dark brown sugar definitely compensates.  Also, the recipe calls for kosher salt, which gives the sweetness a nice balance, and equal amounts of baking soda and baking powder.  Most recipes call for just baking soda, but I believe that the inclusion of both leaveners is what contributes the cookie's attractive cracked surface.  Believe me, this cookie is attractive.  

Name of Recipe: Cuisine Magazine's "The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookie"
Time: 26 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen
Special Characteristics: has dark brown sugar, kosher salt, and a mix of baking soda and baking powder; doesn't have cinnamon
Taste: the deep flavor from the brown sugar is the star of this cookie, combined with the oats;  also has a hint of salt and a buttery flavor
Texture: crunchy outside, chewy inside; a bit floury
Appearance: crackly top, tan color, nice thickness, very round cookies
Effort: I really like how instead of creaming the butter and sugar separately, you just throw all the wet ingredients in a bowl and cream them together; this recipe is really easy to follow and quick to make
Overall Grade: B+
Pros: nice intense flavor, quick and easy to make, very attractive
Deltas: Could use some spice and less crumbliness 

     So there we go.  There wasn't a clear winner this round.  I enjoyed the bold flavor of the first cookie, but as I took a bite of the second cookie I just couldn't decide which was better.  Both recipes had their pluses and minuses.  Anyways, this isn't about comparing recipes, it's about finding certain ingredients/ techniques that work and then putting them together in one perfect oatmeal raisin cookie.


Annie's Eats' "The Ultimate Oatmeal Raisin Cookie"

Yield: 2 dozen
Recipe from Annie's Eats


1 cup plus 1 tsp (144 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tbs (7.7 grams) ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp (7.4 grams) baking soda
1-1/4 tsp (3.6 grams) kosher salt
11 tbs (5.5 oz or 155 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (140 grams) light brown sugar
5-1/2 tbs (69 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (62 grams) eggs (about 2 large eggs)
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 cups (155 grams) old-fashioned oats
1 cup (156 grams) mixed raisins, re-hydrated (soak in in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain and blot out excess moisture with towels)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour,  cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the sugars and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans into the bowl and mix to blend in.  With the mixer on medium-low speed, blend in the vanilla extracts and eggs just until incorporated.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed, stir in the oats and raisins, mixing just until evenly incorporated.  Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Use a large cookie dough scoop (about 3 tbs) to drop the dough in rounds on the baking sheets, about 2-3 inches apart.  Bake, rotating the pans once halfway through baking, until the cookies are just golden brown and nearly set, about 17 to 18 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Cuisine Magazine's Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Yield: 3 dozen
Recipe from


Whisk together and set aside:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Cream wet ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Then stir in:
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 cups raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients; set aside.
  3. Combine wet ingredients with a hand mixer on low.
  4. To cream, increase speed to high and beat until fluffy and the color lightens.
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until no flour is visible.
  6. Overmixing develops the gluten, making a tough cookie.  Now add the oats and raisins; stir to incorporate.
  7. Fill a #40 cookie scoop and press against side of bowl, pulling up to level dough (to measure 2 tbs of dough)
  8. Drop 2 inches apart on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
  9. Bake 11-13 minutes (on center rack), until golden brown, but still moist beneath cracks on top.
  10. Remove from oven; let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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