Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

The Quest for the Perfect Oatmeal Scotchie – An Experiment

One day, I baked cookies, and the love of my life chose them as his favorite.  Oatmeal Scotchies.  They were something different and delicious.  He married me.

I tried often to make these cookies again, but they never seemed to turn out “just right” like they had that first time.  When I was working, my baking attempts at these were few, and remembering changes from one baking day to the next was not something that was working for me.  Sometimes, the cookies seemed to come out just right on non-insulated baking sheets, while baking on my regular insulated sheets produced too-crunchy cookies with many voids in them (which made them very crumbly).

I’ve actually avoided making these cookies for quite some time (though they are my dear husband’s favorite and my freezer was well-stocked with butterscotch chips) because I didn’t want the disappointment of another I-followed-the-recipe-perfectly-but-still-failed experience.

I was brave today.

A couple of weeks ago, we visited my parents at the start of our vacation, and Mom had made these cookies.  She had used the recipe from Nestle (printed on the butterscotch chips package) which calls for butter.  The cookies were DELICIOUS, but they also had the small holes in them that I had observed in my baking.  She noted that she never had that trouble with Aunt Viola’s recipe, which uses shortening.  She uses insulated baking sheets, primarily but not exclusively, just like me.

That comment got me to thinking, so today, I combined the recipes.  They are very similar except for the shortening/butter difference – and the flour and oatmeal amounts.  I had previously had a hypothesis (essentially, a hunch, but I’m a scientist, remember) that the oatmeal may have something to do with the voids.  (With one previous batch, I tried mixing by hand instead of using my Kitchen Aid to disperse the oatmeal.  I thought this may minimize air pockets near the oatmeal.  I didn’t notice any change with the results that time.)  I wanted to know if it really was a butter issue or something else.

So, I combined the recipes.  I also baked the cookies on both insulated and non-insulated sheets.  For one sheet, I refrigerated the dough for about an hour before forming the cookies and baking them (on an insulated sheet) to test a suggestion from a friend that all dough that has flour and butter should be refrigerated first before baking to avoid spreading.

Here are my observations:

  1. There were still a few voids in the cookies on both the insulated and the non-insulated cookie sheets, but nothing like what I saw previously.  These were hardly noticeable.
  2. The batch that was in the refrigerator before baking did not spread as much as the others, but I didn’t like this.  The others seemed to look more like “normal” cookies to me, flat and round instead of mounds.
  3. The non-insulated cookie sheet produced crunchier cookies and took less time to bake.  Again, I didn’t observe any significant differences between these and the insulated ones in terms of spreading or voids.

The real results came with my husband’s taste test.  “They’re perfect,” he said.

So, here’s my new family recipe for Perfect Oatmeal Scotchies. (With credit to Aunt Viola for the base recipe.)

Perfect Oatmeal Scotchies

1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal
1 package (11 oz.) Nestle Butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Stir in oatmeal and butterscotch chips.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

If using insulated baking sheets, bake for 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies, or until edges begin to brown.  For crunchier cookies, bake for 1-2 minutes longer.  (If using non-insulated baking sheets, shorten baking times by approximately 2 minutes and watch closely to avoid over-baking.)  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes.  Remove to wire cooling racks to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

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