These cookies are adapted from a recipe in Shirley O. Corriher’s BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. Ms. Corriher went to college at Vanderbilt for chemistry but rather than going into academic research, she set herself to understanding and elucidating the hows and whys of cooking and baking. She wrote a James Beard Award winning cookbook (CookWise, her first book) and has problem solved for the likes of Julia Child and Pillsbury. BakeWise is a really cool book; it explains why you should to beat your sugar and butter FOREVER before adding eggs, why one might use a combination of butter and shortening in pastry, and why one may want to use bleached flour in certain scenarios (loads of reasons, actually: cakes will set slightly sooner, it produces baked goods with a finer texture, potentially a better taste than non-bleached cake flour… she explains why bleached flour produces these results, which I will not do right now, but it is an interesting read). She’s answered darn near every baking question I can come up with, and her explanations I think are satisfying to readers with or without a science background.
Anyway, these cookies are from BakeWise. They were in the book to illustrate a point she was trying to make: that using shortening limits the cookie’s spread. The above time lapse video of their baking was done by Talley who took a picture of them in the oven every 5 seconds, no joke – open door, click, close door, wait 4 seconds, repeat approximately 300 times. Worked better than we’d anticipated, actually, and the cookies aren’t bad either… when I gave them to my dad for his birthday he remarked that, hey, they may be ugly, but they’re really good! I maintain that they are not really that ugly…
Bourbon Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups (7 oz) pecans
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp (5 oz) unsalted butter, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
1 cup (3 oz) old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
¼ cup (1.6 oz) butter-flavored shortening
1 cup (7.7 oz) light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp bourbon
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 large egg
1¼ cups (5.5 oz) spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Arrange a shelf in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚C.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes – keep a careful eye on them. Remove from oven and while they are hot, stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Allow to cool and then coarsely chop and set aside.
Process the oats in a food processor for about 10 seconds.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the remaining ½ cup butter, the shortening and the sugar until light and fluffy – don’t cheat on this step, “light and fluffy” takes a while… I usually set up the standing mixer and walk away for 6 or 7 minutes. Once it is light and fluffy, beat in the vanilla, bourbon, and cream. Add the egg and beat just to blend.
In a another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. On the lowest speed, add flour mixture into butter mixture in several portions. Carefully, stir in the oats and pecans by hand. Do this either by hand or with the mixer on lowest speed, and don’t over mix.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Drop big heaping tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned on the edges. Allow to cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.