December 14, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies & TLC's

We are continuing with cookies this week. Our group of bakers took on Thomas Keller's Oatmeal Cookies and TLCs. TLC doesn't stand for "Tender Loving Care" as I had thought. "The Laura Cunningham" is named after Chef Keller's partner and created as a twist on the Oatmeal Cookie. Pecans are used in place of the raisins because Laura does not like dried fruit. After testing, we also wanted to incorporate our own add-ins based on personal taste which you can read more about in the individual comments.

Overall our cookies look very similar: thin, flat and golden brown. Several of us had difficulty measuring out small quantities of leavener and spice so hopefully we'll be able to identify a scale that can pick up amounts down to the gram. Also the recommended cookie size is rather large and we prefer to portion the dough smaller. Using the stated 145 grams, Aaron's cookies came out to 7" in diameter. Jenn's were 5". As far as taste, all rave reviews from this group!

Earl's Oatmeal Cookies 
24 cookies (#2 scoop), metric measure, standard bake, 20 minutes

Weighing ingredients I have always done but never eggs. That was interesting. Also, whisking the sugars together was something I have not done before. I do think this made a difference when creaming the butter/sugar. Perhaps my scale was off, but the recipe calls for 7g of baking soda as well as cinnamon. I went with the old fashioned measuring spoon for those two.

The recipe called for bringing back up to room temp before baking. One tray was on top of the oven so it was more room temp than the other tray. The room temp cookies really spread thin, whereas the other tray spread almost perfectly. I have a standard oven so not sure if that impacted results. If I were to do it again, after taking dough out of fridge and scooping, I would go right into oven.

Using wheat flour:
I made the Oatmeal Raisin once more. I used 1/2 whole wheat flour. I actually like this version. Has a bit more earthy flavor to it. It's a keeper recipe.

Aaron's Oatmeal Cookies 
6 cookies (2.5" scoop), metric measure, standard bake, 20 minutes

I used a scale for metric weight, I now know that I need a more sensitive scale for weighing things like 7 grams of ground cinnamon. I sifted the ingredients and also strained the eggs. I found great mixed jumbo raisins from Sun-Maid that are sold in a resealable pack and were delicious and moist!  

I made 6 humungous cookies (7" diameter), like the recipe stated. In the future I will make them smaller so there will be more to share with family and friends. This is a great cookie, I continue to use high quality butter and the difference in is quite noticeable!  I love me an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, they top my list of favorites and this recipe is a keeper.  I may use some dried cranberries next time, I think I will call those TAJCs for The Aaron J Clarke!  I love dried fruit in my cookies and will never willing put nuts in my cookies but the batch could be split to make everyone happy!

Jonathan's Oatmeal Cookies
72 gram-size cookies, metric measure, standard bake

The recipe says to soak the raisins in hot water for 30 minutes. I think this might have contributed a bit to the spread of these cookies. I also refrigerated the cookie dough 30 minutes; though I think getting it a little colder would have reduced the spread. The flavor is amazing and soaking the raisins made them softer.

Guest Baker: Rob Setzer
6 cookies, 145 grams, metric measure, convection bake

Notes on weighing:
For the smaller measurements, I use a Palmscale 8 that measures to the nearest 0.1g.  For everything else, I use a Caso scale that measures in 0.5g increments. Both items are recommended in the book and I will be happy to discuss my opinions on these scales with anyone who is interested.

Notes on ingredients:
If you can find Korintje cinnamon locally, try it!  It is spectacular in this recipe.  Other ingredients I used in this recipe are; Plugra "European-style" unsalted butter, King Arthur Unbleached All-purpose flour, Diamond kosher salt, Sun-maid raisins (1/2 golden and 1/2 dark).

If you soak your raisins, be sure they are VERY dry.  After I drain them with a strainer, I toss them in a bowl lined with paper towels and press them dry, being careful not to crush them.  If they are not thoroughly dry, I find the batter is a little too thin and spreads more in the oven and the finished cookies are very delicate and tend to fall apart.

Notes on baking:
I have made this recipe about 8 times using several different baking methods.  The best results I have seen are from weighing the dough (72g or 145g), rolling the dough into a ball (level scooping spreads a bit more), and using a convection oven.  As noted in the book, cookies baked in a convection oven rise more and are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I have made them before without using the convection feature on my oven and they spread very thin but were equally delicious.

Without doubt, this is the best oatmeal raisin cookie I have ever had.

Guest Baker: Jo Wong
24 cookies

My son Josh decided to get in on the baking after seeing Rob's big cookie. Definitely yummy! We let the cookie dough rest over night in the frig before baking. They were soft and chewy in the center and crispy in the edges. 
We just reheated  some of the cookies in the oven for breakfast this morning and my son said, it was just like when they were first baked a couple days ago. :)  So it's a good cookie recipe.  

Tania's TLCs
16 cookies (2" scoop), standard measure, standard bake, 21 minutes

Measured eggs, but didn't strain out the weird bit. Used one egg, but had about 1.5 tsp left over. Beat the butter but didn't warm the bowl. Made sure butter was very soft before beating. Used quick cooking oats and light brown sugar.

Chilled dough for a few hours, then let it come to room temp before scooping. Results: crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. great cookies. The cinnamon and pecans really went well together. Might add chocolate chips next time!

Jenn's TLCs
11 smaller, 1 TK size cookie (2" scoop), metric measure, standard bake, 20 minutes

On weighing...
I too was not able to measure the smaller dry ingredients with my scale so opted for spoons. I also couldn't strain the full egg through the sieve. Other than that, I used Challenge unsalted butter and Old Fashioned Rolled Oats.

On baking...
I tested a batch baked right after coming out of the fridge and another after sitting at room temperature for 30 minutes. I didn't notice too much difference in the spread, so I probably need to let it sit out longer for a bigger difference. My cookies appear the most mounded out of all the testers.

Great flavor in the cookie and it has a gorgeous golden color. After tasting Aaron's batch of oatmeal cookies I actually prefer the juicy raisins over the pecans which got a little lost.


  1. where did you find "vanilla paste"?

  2. You can find vanilla paste at most kitchen supply stores, such as Williams-Sonoma. It's thicker than vanilla extract, and you can see the specks of vanilla beans in it. It's a more intense vanilla flavor.

  3. Hi. Great post!

    My BBC oatmeal raisin cookies spread a lot and became thin (conventional oven); they had great flavor though.

    Is there a trick to keep the cookies from spreading too thin?

    1. When it spreads too thin, that usually is a case of how long the batter has chilled in the refrigerator. I would chill it longer. The other thing is, the recipe states to bring the batter to room temperature before baking. Perhaps it got too warm?

  4. Does anyone know why the oatmeal raisin and TLCs are two separate recipes? Why not just substitute pecans in the first one?

  5. Carolynne, if you look in the book, the recipes do have other differences. The ratio of butter, oats, etc are not identical. Although in a pinch I'm sure you could probably just make the substitution, but we are trying to make each recipe as written in the book.

  6. I baked the oatmeal raisin recipe and with my size cookie scoop, the recipe yielded 11 cookies. They were VERY delicious, but too much spread. The cookies were thin and easily breakable. I used weighed measurements except for the small weights such as salt, soda and cinnamon. I used the Sunkist Baking raisins that are already very moist so I didn't pre-soak them. I had trouble weighing the 62 grams of egg: one large egg was too small (52g) and 2 eggs were over 100g. I ended up stirring the eggs together and measuring out 62g. I was also puzzled about the rolled oats measurement. If you look at any conversion baking chart, two cups of rolled oats should be considerably higher than 155 grams. When I sampled using my cups, the recommended weighed amount was only about 1 1/2 c. of rolled oats. But I stuck with the recipe recommended metric weight. I refrigerated the dough for 30 minutes for the first batch of 3. As I saw the cookies had a lot of spread,I refrigerated the dough an hour longer for the remaining cookies, refrigerating the remaining dough in between batches. There was no difference in the spread. Lastly, I have a conventional relatively new oven. Can you think of anything that may have led to the tremendous spread? I loved the taste and would like to make this my go-to oatmeal raisin cookie recipe.

  7. Using a convection oven will prevent the spread, but if that's not an option, keeping the cookie dough well chilled is your only option. Chill it before you portion it out, and after as well, on the cookie sheets. You can freeze it for a few minutes if you like. Some spreading is expected, these are thinner cookies, but try those tricks. Hope that helps!