There are few times in a person’s life when having an oatmeal cookie sounds like a bad idea. Perhaps when giving birth, or when running a six-minute mile; otherwise, it’s fair game as far as I’m concerned.
Oatmeal cookies say warmth, and fall, and comfort, and sweaters. And these do not suggest otherwise. A coworker named Anne first brought them into work, thick with white chocolate and dried cranberries. And while I don’t really love either adornment in other sweet things, I quickly decided they were some of the best cookies I’d ever known. Right up there with these guys, these guys, and grandma’s rum balls.
So I got the recipe. Swapped in butterscotch and apricot for the chocolate and cranberries. Then I baked and I tasted, hot out of the oven.
The cookie was okay. It was not one of the best I had ever known.
I ate three more, just to be sure. And then I put the rest in plastic bags, sealed them in, and went to bed feeling a little sick.
But a funny thing happened overnight. Those boring little cookies morphed into something else entirely. Something nutty and chewy, with a dose of oats thick enough to suggest they mean business. Plus a caramel undercarriage hitting from a few different places, and just enough salt to balance it all out.
I’m going to go ahead and say that browning the butter is a must, as is baking them the night before you need them. The walnuts are in there for a reason, so resist the urge to take them out if you can. You’ll need good quality oats too, along with a little patience. I suspect you can hang loose with the chocolate and dried fruit.
The rest pretty much takes care of itself. We’re not birthing a child here, mind you, but having a recipe like this still feels like a win.
Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies
½ cup walnuts
2 2/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chopped dried apricots
6 ounces of butterscotch chips
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Toast the walnuts until fragrant (either in the oven or in a pan; I used a cast-iron skillet); set aside. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, add the oats and sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt; add in the apricots and butterscotch. Finely chop the walnuts and stir in until everything is well combined.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat until it turns golden brown and fragrant (about four minutes); this happens very quickly so be sure to watch.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the browned butter and whisk in the sugar until well combined (a minute or two). Add in the eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Add in the dry mixture and stir until just combined. (The mixture will be thick.)
Chill the batter for 15 to 30 minutes; meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once chilled, scoop the batter using a tablespoon to gather up a heaping amount (about 2 to 3 tbsp) of dough and gently round it loosely into balls spaced 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.
Bake until lightly golden and just dry to the touch but still soft in the center (about 10 minutes). Slide the parchment onto wire racks to cool. Line the sheets with more parchment and repeat with remaining batches.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
-Let the walnuts cool slightly so they aren’t piping hot when you mix them in.
-My oven runs a little hot, so I ended up dropping the temperature slightly, but these cook pretty quickly so watch them.
-These freeze beautifully. And I confess I’ve even eaten them that way. They really do get better with age.
-If you don’t have muscovado, use dark or light brown sugar and don’t look back.