A Cookie Epiphany
I love my Auntie Stella for many reasons.
For her love of life and contagious laughter.
For the way she can dissect the games of Nadal and Federer with gusto.
For her uncanny ability to spot and pick out every speck of dreaded green onion or cilantro in any dish she eats.
And for her cherished Christmas presents to me when I was a child.
You see, my Auntie Stella used to work for the company that distributed Snoopy and all the other Peanuts characters collectibles.
Every Christmas, I’d find under the tree, something bearing Snoopy’s likeness — sleep shirts, a coin bank, ornaments or a big plush dog, which I carried everywhere for the longest time.
Along with the Snoopy presents, there was also another regular treat from her under the tree.
It was a festive-wrapped cardboard box, which my aunt would dole out to each of her relatives. Inside were freshly baked Danish cookies from a local bakery that were lined up in rows like tiles. There were probably about five different kinds of cookies inside. But there was one that my oldest brother, Alan, and I always reached for first. They were rectangular ones with rounded edges, and a crisp, nubby texture.
I wasn’t even sure what was in them. I just ate them happily, adoring the way they crumbled in my mouth.
When my aunt retired from her company, which had a partnership with the bakery, the cookie box at Christmas time went by the wayside.
I never experienced those particular cookies again.
When I baked a batch of oatmeal cookies using a recipe from “The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion” (Countryman Press).
There are many variations of oatmeal cookies in this wonderful cookbook. In the past, I’d often used the one for “The Essential Chewy Oatmeal Cookie.” But this time for a change, I decided to see how “The Essential Crunchy Oatmeal Cookie” recipe compared.
For even more variation, instead of raisins, I substituted dried white mulberries, which I had toted home from Australia. But you also can find them at specialty stores in the Bay Area, including the Spanish Table in Berkeley. The tiny, dried berries have a wonderful, sweet, date-like flavor.
This dough uses both unsalted butter and vegetable shortening to give the cookies a light, airy crunchiness. Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, vanilla extract and chopped pecans or walnuts add a boost of flavor.
After the cookies emerged golden from the oven and had cooled on a rack, I carefully picked one up and took a bite.
It was Christmas and Snoopy all over again. It shattered in my mouth in the same way as those Danish cookies of yesteryear.
It may have taken decades for me to find this particular recipe. But it was worth the wait to find what is now my new — and old — favorite oatmeal cookie.
The Essential Crunchy Oatmeal Cookie with Dried Mulberries
(Makes 4 dozen cookies)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dried mulberries, packed; or raisins (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, baking powder, spices, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Beat in eggs. Stir in oats and flour, then the mulberries and nuts.
Drop dough by tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Using the flat bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten each ball of dough to about 1/4 inch.
Bake cookies for about 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown; these are supposed to be crunchy, so don’t underbake them. Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
Adapted from “The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion”
More: The King Arthur “Essential Chewy Oatmeal Cookie” Recipe Made with Espresso Chocolate Chunks
More: Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks from “Baked”
Wow, I’ve never heard of dried white mulberries but saw plenty of fresh ones when berry picking this year. I will have to look into drying them next summer. How wonderful to finally recreate such a special cookie!
Those cookies look wonderful! I wish I could find mulberries here… A beautiful sory too.
I was just thinking about the King Arthur books and wondering why I don’t own any them. I should change that! Your cookies look great, and the dried mulberries sound delicious.
I love your addition of dried white mulberries, very unique!
the combo of shortening & butter really does make a diff doesn’t it? never used mulberries in cookies, used them in a sauce though
What a lovely aunty :). I love food that brings back such happy memories. The cookies sound awesome, and I love your addition of mulberries.
What a cute story. It’s always gratifying and so exciting when you find a recipe that calls up wonderful childhood memories.
Delicious cookies, especially with the addition of mulberries. Food with a story always tastes better, doesn’t it? I LOVE recreating something I loved as a child — I’m glad you shared your favorite with us!
how interesting: the dried mulberries.
And certainly this must be your “madelaine” 🙂
Haha, I was wondering if those were white mulberries! I have a little package of those and I love their intriguing flavor. I wanted to make scones or something with them but will probably just end up eating them in oatmeal.
Hi Carolyn 🙂
Thanks for visiting my shrimp pasta spinach Hub.I’m very glad ,because this is how i found your wonderful site.I love oatmeal cookies and your twist with the white mulberries is cool.
I have a lot of white mulberries growing where live and it is always fun picking them.
You can’t imagine how many shirts i had to through when picking the red ones,by the way
Please contact me via mail if you can.
Mmm Carolyn from your description I’ve definitely got to try and make these! I do love a good oatmeal cookie. And oddly enough, I do have all of these memories of buttery shortbread when I was little. Cookies and Christmas are what children’s dreams are made of! 🙂
haha cute, I used to LOVE Snoopy. Dried mulberries?? I’ve never seen those before.
yum i love the look of these oatmeal cookies.
I have never had white mulberries and will probably be out of luck in this part of the country, but it is worth a look. I am a crispy/crunchy kind of cookie girl, so these are calling my name.
~loved reading about your Christmas memories; it was like I was right there with you waiting to see what was in the box.
I am so intrigued by this recipe, I cannot wait to try. Not sure I’ve ever had dried mulberries.
Your Auntie Stella sounds so fun to be with. Wish I knew her cos I love Snoopy! 😀 At least she can tell me about Snoopy story, characters and all 😛 Love your cookies too. Looks crunchy and delicious. Would be really lovely with a cup of milk in this cold weather.
You are really my all-round superstar. Cook, bake, review…you rock in all of them! The mulberries look like cordycerps (“worms”!) to me.
Tigerfish: Hah! The mulberries DO look a bit like worms. Good thing they taste much more candy-like than the actual crawly creatures.
Gorgeous photos! I’ve never even heard of mulberries before! They also look kinda like millet spray (a type of grainy thing). Do you reckon chopped dried apriots would be good in the cookie? 🙂
Nessie: Chopped apricots would be a fine addition. Dried cherries would be lovely, too.
interesting! never heard of dried mulberries. thanks for sharing!
mulberries! mulberries! this marks the first time i’ve ever seen mulberries in anything–awesome. 🙂
Pingback: Five Friday Favorites 1.16.15 | Pamela Salzman & Recipes