oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

The weather has become just about perfect here in north Florida. The mornings are still cool, but the afternoon temperatures have been getting up into the 70s and low 80s. The days are getting longer, and our azaleas and dogwoods and redbud trees are in full bloom. When I get home from work, neighborhood kids are outside playing and people are walking their dogs or jogging. In fact, swing by my house around 6:30 in the evening and you’re likely to find me in one of our white Cracker Barrel rocking chairs, with the latest edition of a food magazine in one hand, a glass of wine or iced tea in the other, while Maddie and Oliver play in the front yard.

Of course, if you look a little closer, you’ll notice that my white rocking chair is covered in a yellowish-green film of pollen from the oak trees. So don’t look that close, please.

I’ve started running due to some much needed peer pressure from a friend at work. I wake at 5am three days a week, somehow find the energy to extract myself from the bed, and after some blurry moments in the bathroom, I head out the door wearing my headphones and carrying a small flashlight. The early mornings are dark, dimly lit by the moon’s light, and the sky is filled with stars. The neighborhood is quiet, and there are only a handful of other walkers and runners out.  After four weeks of this routine, it’s a morning ritual I’ve come to depend on. (I was going to say cherish, but I’m not at that point yet.)

Perhaps I can blame the extra endorphins generated from that runner’s high, or maybe it’s just because I really like to bake, but I decided to bake up a batch of cookies for my colleagues at work last week. My goal was to incorporate oatmeal and peanut butter into a chocolate chip cookie. I made some modifications to this recipe from Gourmet magazine and ended up with a pretty darn amazing cookie.

When baked just for 15 minutes and cooled completely on a rack, these cookies are firm on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. If you just can’t wait for the cookies to cool, you’ll be rewarded with melted chocolate on your fingers as you break off a warm chunk to put in your mouth.

Yield: approx 60 cookies

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe calls for grating chocolate. If you’ve never done this by hand before, you’re in for quite an arm workout. I found that grating the chocolate using my mini food processor worked as well as grating by hand, and it saved me from getting hand cramps. If you don’t have a food processor, grate the chocolate by hand. Just have some ibuprofen ready when you’re done.
Note: You can make the dough ahead of time, form into balls, and freeze on a wax-paper lined sheet pan. Once the balls are frozen, bag them up in a large freezer storage bag.

Ingredients:

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup natural peanut butter, stirred very well
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated

Directions:

In a food processor, process 1 cup oats until ground fine. In a large bowl, stir together ground oats, remaining 1 cup whole oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl with an electric mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and peanut butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and gradually beat in flour mixture. Add chocolate chips and grated chocolate, beating until just combined. Chill cookie dough, covered, at least 2 hours or overnight (and up to one week).

Preheat oven to 325°F. Form rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven for 15 minutes, or until just pale golden. Cooking any longer than this will result in crispier cookies. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to baking rack to cool completely.

Adapted from this recipe in Gourmet, 1996.

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