Ina Garten’s (Sort-of) Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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One of my library finds was Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead. I am not ashamed to say that Ina was one of the first Food Network chefs to suck me into the world of cooking and baking. I’m not sure what I pictured a cooking show being like before watching hers, but to me, her entire lifestyle and approach to entertaining made me want to do a happy dance. As someone who cringes a little when I see the price for even slightly nice chocolate, some of her recipes come off as too extravagant for my bank account, but I pride myself on adapting a lot of her recipes to cost less and take fewer pans/bowls/utensils (*some* of us do not have an entire staff to clean up after us, Ina – but #cookinggoals).

I especially love her attitude about dessert. She can definitely whip up a cake or pie or other sweet thing with the best of them, but she often says “just put out some cheese and fruit” or “cookies and coffee.” I, too, rarely go “all out” to make a special dessert if I’ve been slaving away at a nice dinner. I either buy a pie/cake/tart or I make cookies. And often my grandmother’s ginger-molasses cookies (the recipe for which I swear is coming soon) because they take so few ingredients, I can make them from start to finish in an hour, and everyone just LOVES them. So I was pleased beyond measure to see a new cookie recipe in Ina’s cookbook and one that speaks to my desire for salty-sweet treats: Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies. These delectable little ladies have everything I love in them – the bitter-sweet chocolate, the light kiss of salt, the tart tang of dried cranberries, and the coziness of oats – is there anything better than oats in a cookie? We might be in the minority here, but oatmeal cookies are Mr.Foodie and I’s favorite kind.

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The only problem, as you can probably tell from the photos, is I did not wait to soften the butter before mixing it in. Thus the characteristic “melted edges” you see there. Honestly I rarely use butter in cookies because I prefer the more cake-like texture that shortening gives a cookie (and I don’t have to wait for shortening to soften!), but I wanted to replicate Ina’s cookies exactly. And she is definitely on to something – the buttery, oaty flavor of the cookie dough is extremely tasty, if a little rich. Despite my blunder, they are very delicious. Because I have ample amounts of all the ingredients left over, I’m planning to make them again – this time either softening the butter ahead of time or trying out shortening in its place to see how that fares. I’ll give you an update later in the week. Until then, enjoy the recipe Ina’s Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups old-fashioned oats, such as Quaker
¾ pound bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt, chopped in chunks
¾ cup dried cranberries
Fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix in the oats. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Don’t overbeat it! With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and cranberries until the dough is well mixed. With a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop round balls of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you prefer cookies thin and crisp, bake them straight from the mixing bowl. If you prefer them chewy in the middle and crisp outside, chill the balls of dough.

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