Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cake of the Week: Salty Oatmeal Cookies

The salty sweetness of these cookies has earned them a cultish following. 

When those in the know hear that I bake and live in Dupont Circle they get this crazy glint in their eyes and ask in hushed tones, Oooohhh, have you tried the salty oatmeal cookies at Teaism??? like they are God’s gift to humanity. And maybe they are (who am I to say?).

I have tried them, and I though I wouldn’t consider myself a salty oatmeal cult-member, I do think they are pretty uniquely delicious. This isn’t your standard oatmeal cookie sprinkled in rock salt. No no. The Teasim cookies are bigger, simultaneously dense and flaky, kinda dry but also chewy…difficult to describe but definitely an experience worth having!

The problem is, Teasim keeps their cookie recipe top secret. “Ok, so there's this snooty little high-priced Asian-esque eatery in Washington, DC, where they serve a lot of tea. Some folks love it. I hate it,” says Melissa Gray (author of All Cakes Considered). But luckily she loves the Salty Oatmeal Cookies, and put her baking expertise to work to develop an almost perfect imitation recipe.

[Sidenote: Dear NPR, I love you for three reasons: 1) the Moth, 2) Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, 3) the All Cakes Considered cookbook. Love, Mollie]

Don’t expect traditional oatmeal cookies out of this recipe. They actually use butter flavored shortening instead of butter – this creates the light and slightly crumbly texture. And you will need rice flour (I found it at Harris Teeter), which is used in the Teasim cookies (it says so on the wrapper’s ingredient list).

Boss #3 is the Teasim devotee who first introduced me to the Salty Oatmeal Cookies, and she says that mine are better. Wow. I attribute that to my addition of allspice – it wasn’t in the recipe, but I feel that this spice is an absolute must in all oatmeal cookies.

Salty Oatmeal Cookies

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT quick-cooking)
3/4 cup butter flavored Crisco shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 3/4 cup rice flour
1 cup raisins
Kosher or Sea Salt for sprinkling
1/2 cup water

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in oats. Set aside.
2. With a mixer, beat shortening on medium or high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugars gradually, beating until mixed.
3. Add in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice and beat until incorporated.
4. Add the eggs, vanilla, coconut, beating until blended.
5. Add in the oatmeal and rice flour (you may need to hand-stir at this point) and beat until just incorporated. Add the raisins. My dough was really dry, so I added water as needed (about 1/2 cup). Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. 
6. Preheat your oven to 375* and spray your cookie sheets (or cover them in parchment paper).
7. Form dough into balls the size of golf balls and place on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Flatten the balls slightly and sprinkle generously with Kosher or Sea Salt. 
8. Bake one sheet of cookie at a time for 15 minutes, or until they are puffed and starting to brown.
9. With a spatula carefully remove cookies (mine were a little crumbly) and transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

These cookies are so oaty and actually not too sweet. In my mind this fully justifies them as a “healthy breakfast cookie” (for self-delusion purposes we’re disregarding the shortening here…).

Make them. Enjoy them. Bring them to work. Photograph them on your roof. It’s what all the cool kids do with plates of cookies.