Friday, April 11, 2014

Oatmeal Pecan Thins

I've been experimenting with oatmeal again in search of my idea of a great thin and crispy cookie.  I wanted the cookie to be full of toasty oat flavor along with a tinge of butterscotch; brittle but also a little chewy; buttery without being too greasy.  I also wanted to make a cookie without the use of flour or corn syrup.  This is the result of several iterations and tinkering.

I added nuts as a texture contrast to the chewiness.  There's honey and just a touch of molasses to lift the flavor and a hint of salt as a counterpoint to the sweet.

These are one of my favorite cookies.  Super easy to whip up a batch, they bake off very quickly in just 7 - 8 minutes and cool on the baking pan.  Savor them as an afternoon treat with a hot beverage or alongside a good bowl of ice cream.

A technical note: It appears I'm having problems with my email subscription service once again.  All of the fixes I've tried before don't seem to be working this time around.  Sincere apologies to all my subscribers.  I hope to get it resolved soon.

Bench notes:
- Toast pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
- Finely chop the pecans so they fit nicely in the flat cookie.
- I like the texture of old-fashioned oats rather than the quick-cooking variety.
- I used a #40 scoop (1 tablespoon) to portion the cookies.
- These cookies bake very fast, just 7 - 8 minutes.  They'll look a bit wet and pale when you remove them from the oven but they continue to dry and darken as they cool on the pan.  You may want to run a small test batch first to gauge the results in your oven.  Watch them closely.  With these types of thin cookies, it's easy to go from perfect to burnt in just an extra minute.
- The baked cookies store well in an airtight container in the freezer.  If you're storing at room temperature, stack them with wax paper or parchment to separate them.

Oatmeal Pecan Thins
Makes 30 cookies

2 1/4 cups (6 3/4 oz) old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 3/4 oz) pecans, toasted and finely chopped
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (2 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons (1 oz) honey
1/2 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg @ room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Place oats, baking powder, salt and chopped pecans in a bowl.  Toss together until thoroughly combined.

Cut the butter into 1/2" pieces and place in a saucepan with the granulated and brown sugars, honey and molasses.  Bring to a slow boil over medium low heat, whisking constantly.  When the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved and thoroughly incorporated, take off the heat.  When the mixture is cool, whisk in the egg and vanilla.  Switch to a rubber spatula or a spoon and combine with the oats, stirring until all the ingredients are blended and there are no dry patches.

Scoop 1 tablespoon for each cookie, placing 2" apart, 8 cookies per prepared cookie sheet.  Dampen your fingers slightly and press on the center of the cookies to flatten to 2" in diameter, tucking in any stray oats around the edges to form a uniform border so they don't burn.

Bake until a light golden color, just 7 - 8 minutes.  Cool completely on the pan.  Remove with a small spatula.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature separated with parchment or wax paper or in your freezer.


Kate said...

Great taste and love the texture detail. In reading, I imagined these as Pepperidge Farm "Brussels" cookies. They are sandwiched with deep, dark chocolate. Do you know them?
Thank you for another great post and recipe!

pastry studio said...

Oh my gosh, Kate, I've forgotten all about Brussels cookies. How is that even possible? Thanks for the reminder and the suggestion that these could be sandwiched with dark chocolate. You're ON IT!!

saturday mike said...

I made these earlier in the week, and they were quite easy to put together, and were very tasty.
However, I thought they were cool when I put them away, or perhaps the air was too humid, but I stacked them in a cookie jar and the next day, they had all slumped together into one giant oatmeal-honey mound!! hahaha. Maybe next time, I'll stack them in single layers with wax paper between them!
So, I've been scooping vanilla ice cream into bowls and sprinkling broken cookie pieces over it and it's REALLY GOOD!!

pastry studio said...

Helloooooo, sat mike! These are one of my favorite cookies and although this didn't happen for me, I can see where it would in even a slightly humid environment given the honey and brown sugar. Glad you were able to enjoy them with ice cream, which sounds PERFECT.

I'll add a note to the post to stack them with wax or parchment. As always, I really appreciate your feedback.


saturday mike said...

Helloooo back atcha!
While we're talking about these, I was wondering about adding flour. I like the lacey quality of these, but wondered about making them more substantial. If I added, say, 1/2 cup flour, or even 1/4 cup, would that make them a bit more firm? Would you add another egg for moisture??

pastry studio said...

Great question. I fiddled with this recipe so much I actually put together a spreadsheet!

Even for such a simple cookie, what I found difficult to do was to keep them from being too sticky (sugar) or too greasy (butter), too dry (flour) or too chewy (oats). I was looking for just the right balance between crunchy and chewy, buttery and brittle. One variation I tried was to reduce the oats to 1 1/2 cups, add just 1/4 cup of flour and omit the baking powder. I thought they were too greasy but my tasters loved them. If you add another egg (I didn't try this), they may get a bit cakey. Early on in my trials, I reduced the butter to 3 1/2 oz and cut back on the granulated sugar to 1/4 cup, used 1 3/4 cups of oats and omitted the egg, I thought they tasted too much of flour and were still too greasy. Sooooo many variables and lots of significantly different outcomes.

One thing I didn't try but may still do is to grind some of the oats to a flour. That might bulk them up without tasting of flour so much.

This is probably waaaaay more info than you were seeking but you might try making a half batch with some flour and see what you think. Please let me know if you try something that you think improves the flavor and texture for you!

saturday mike said...

Now, see. This is exactly why I hold your blog in such high esteem... you don't just make other people's recipes and take nice pictures of the outcome. You actually MAKE recipes, test and re-test, think about ways to alter the recipe to get different results. Then take pretty pictures.. hahaha.
I like the idea of grinding the some of the oats to make flour, though. If I do make them again and alter the recipe, I'll definitely share the results.
Now... how can I become one of your tasters?? lol

pastry studio said...

Thank you so much, that's such a kind thing to say. Like all pastry chefs, I think I'm a bit obsessive. OK, a LOT. And I do really wish I had more tasters nearby!