I do a few things well: I run, I write and I bake. I'm a fanatic about all three, but I don't write much about baking, because either you already know everything, or you're not going to bother with it. I also don't like having to explain that I eat a truly spartan diet 85-90% of the time and that I don't live on baked goods (especially this one!) This is my most requested recipe; it's very forgiving - I've made every conceivable mistake and they still come out - but I'm listing each persnickety detail, so you can recreate the perfect cookie. I'm not posting a photo of the finished product - you know what they should look like.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bring two large eggs and 1 cup of vegetable shortening to room temperature. (This is the only cookie where I don't use butter. Butter's overwhelming here, but it works.) Mix the shortening with 3/4 cup granulated white sugar and 3/4 cup firmly-packed light bown sugar until creamed. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract (artificial works, but is too obvious), 1 tsp. table salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups oatmeal (quick oats are best; instant is a bit gummy, rolled and steel-cut are a bit chewy), 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (can be left out for those allergic to nuts; the cookies are still good, just not as interesting) and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. (Semi-sweet morsels are best, but milk chocolate works. Cheap brands like Nestle's are preferable to those with higher cocoa content.) Mix just until all ingredients are incorporated.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies. Place dollops on metal baking sheets. (I do it by eye, but the ideal size and shape is a 1 1/2 inch diameter ball rolled between the palms, pressed onto the sheet until it loses 1/3 of its height. I use dark cookie sheets, which give the bottom of the cookies a slightly better mouthfeel, but aren't necessary. 12 cookies per sheet is best, due to spreading.)
Bake 12 minutes on center rack. (Ovens are notorious for not being accurate and having hotspots, so rotate the sheets after 6 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges just start to tan; if the tops are at all brown, they're overcooked - but will still be good.) Remove trays from oven and let rest 2 minutes before removing the cookies by spatula to cooling racks (racks not necessary; I use the lids of the metal containers in which I store cookies instead).
Note added: a brilliant baker's suggested that they might be better if the dough is frozen for three days before baking. Worth a try.
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