Tartine's Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I'm back! And I brought cookies! See?

Oh, so...you want an explanantion? Okay, so I guess there's a few things we should talk about. I realize, dear readers, that I haven't posted in two months, but I really can't believe it--the time seems to have flown by. And it's funny, because the individual days seem oh-so-long as the husband and I count down the days to our first baby's Birth Day. That's right, people, Piece of Cake has a Bun in the Oven. And I have for quite a while now, more than six months to be honest. So you can look back at the break I took at the beginning of the year and sort of attribute that to not wanting to eat or really do much at all, let alone bake something. And then the resurgence of my appetite, sweet tooth and creativity with my last barrage of posts before I disappeared for a while again. Sigh. I'm afraid life is not going to get any more predictable than that anytime soon. Like for the next 18 years at least. But we are excited and happier than ever around here. I am feeling great and hopeful and full of wonder and worried and all the things I hear a first time mother-to-be should be feeling.

I've found the most common question from people who find out we're expecting is "What have you been craving?". Well, it's more like what haven't I been craving. It changes everyday, really. I hear of women having to have a certain thing at a certain time everyday just to be able to function, but I haven't found that to be the case. It's totally unpredictable--some days I can't get enough milk or fruit (virtuous!) and other days I will plow through half a dozen cookies and wonder where they all went. Then I look down at the crumbs that have fallen all over my growing belly and know the answer. There was the evening early on in my pregnancy where I shoved an entire can of black olives into my face at an alarming rate (upon telling a nurse at my doctor's office this story, she asked all cute-like if I'd put them all on my fingers before eating them and I responded, "Lady, I didn't have that kind if time!"). I try to not give in to every whim, though. I still haven't had any Little Debbie Star Crunches or Zebra Cakes--huminuh, huminuh. I do feel a twinge of guilt at eating such processed and plasticky (though delicious) items when I'm reminded with nudges, kicks, rubs and rolls that there is a little person inside me who is trying to grow on whatever I put into my mouth.

So I've been trying to be a good mommy to this baby whom I already love so much I am certain my heart will explode when we finally meet face to face. I am still exercising regularly and drinking loads of water, getting my fruits and vegetables in everyday and have cut my caffeine down so much I am sure I deserve a major award. And of course, no more Moonshine for me. Plus, when I do all those things, I feel a lot less guilty about indulging in made-from-scratch desserts (or store-bought ice cream, whatever). Often. It is a miracle I passed my recent glucose tolerance test with flying colors. For those of you who don't know, this is something every pregnant lady has to do to check for gestational diabetes. It involves slamming a sugary beverage that tastes like orange soda that's been sitting out on the curb for about a week and then sitting in starving anticipation for an hour before having one's blood drawn. Worst!

Anyway, I am relieved I passed the test because if I failed that would mean going on a no-sugar diet and that would just be bonkers. Because like I said, I haven't suddenly lost my sweet tooth the way I've inexplicably lost my ability to eat chicken (ugh, gag, shudder). Although I haven't been saying so, I have indeed been baking during this last blogging hiatus. It's just that none of it has been terribly interesting. I've been revisiting many of my old, comfortable favorites from this blog, in addition to recipes that everyone knows and loves from the side panels of various baking ingredients. And there were a few failures that my weepy days just couldn't handle--Tartine's Almond Rochers, for one (though I found out I wasn't the only one that had sucky results with this recipe) and a banana tea cake that was delicious and cooked through but had a bizarre tunnel running through the center of it (I will be retooling this recipe and trying again in the near future as the bold banana flavor and chewy crumb was just too fabulous to abandon it on account of aesthetics).

But I thought today's baking adventure was successful and blog-worthy, and so here I am to share another recipe from the Tartine cookbook. I feel like I've worked my way through enough recipes in this book to give my honest final opinion of it, and to be perfectly honest, it is far from foolproof. The recipes are just not forgiving or sometimes, it seems, terribly accurate. I'm not sure why--perhaps many of the recipes are scaled-down versions of the bakery's recipes that just didn't translate well to smaller batches or maybe there just wasn't enough recipe testing going on by people who hadn't worked with the recipes hundreds of times before. But I've heard I'm not alone in having a few unexplained, really disappointing results from recipes in this book. It seems like most problems are related to the baking times and/or the baking temperatures of the recipes or how many portions you can expect out of a batter or dough. Our oven is barely seven months old and I always double-check the temperature with an oven thermometer when baking, so I know that's not the problem, and I follow the portioning instructions to the letter, even using my digital scale for accuracy. So I just scratch my head and pout a little and am thankful that the husband will eat nearly everything sweet and baked, even if it looks nothing like it's supposed to.

The Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal-Walnut Cookies from the Tartine cookbook, however, worked out beautifully. Again, I take issue with the suggested baking time because these cookies go from nowhere near done to a smidge too browned in a nanosecond, but the extra browning didn't result in a dry, overbaked or disappointing final product. I opted to leave the walnuts out of this recipe, and it worked out just fine--the lacy, delicate landscape of these cookies is just texturized enough with oats and chocolate and the crisp edges offer plenty of crunch, making the nuts truly optional. And beware--although you have to pat these monster cookies into shape a bit, they spread even further while baking, so don't attempt more than, say, six per baking sheet. You could always portion them much smaller and trim the baking time in half, which I think I'll do next time. I halved the original recipe with fine results, making one dozen with-child-sized cookies.

Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Tartine

Makes 1 dozen monster-sized cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons molasses
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.

Stir together the flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is soft and creamy. Slowly rain in the sugar and beat until the mixture is lighter in color and fluffy and then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the molasses until well-combined. Add the egg and beat until everything is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl once more, and then beat in the vanilla, milk and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until well-mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets (about 75 grams per cookie if you are a sucker for uniform cookies) using two spoons, leaving plenty of space between each cookie, six per sheet. Moisten your fingertips slightly with water and flatten each cookie evenly, to a diameter of about three inches. Bake for 10-12 minutes, one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through baking, until the cookies have spread considerably and the edges are well-browned and paler towards the centers. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets to allow the cookies to set up a bit before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

CookiesShauna Sever