One of my all time favorite questions to ask people is “what is your favorite dessert?” I’m the life of parties. I inevitably end up cornering some poor soul and extolling my preference for beet sugar over cane sugar while they anxiously eye an escape route. I really can’t help myself. I keep a note in my phone, as well as a running mental one, of my friends and families likes and dislikes in regards to each personal sweet tooth. To me, taste is as much a part of one’s identity as hair color or height. It becomes part of your profile: Alex, male, 6’3”, favorite cake is Tiramisu, likes maple syrup and “creamy cream” (I never said I wrote these notes sober).
The ironic part of all of this is that I would be wholly unprepared to answer this question myself. How could I choose a favorite dessert? That would be like choosing a favorite child (though I lack personal experience I hear it’s a hard thing to do). That would be like choosing a favorite dog (to this I can relate). The truth is that I have at least five desserts that, under the correct circumstances, could be my favorites. My favorite dessert when I’m feeling fancy is an éclair because I think the combination of pastry cream, choux pastry, and dark chocolate makes me believe that there is a higher power and that he or she is most definitely French. In the depths of my summer despair the one shining light is a scoop of good vanilla ice cream melting into a puddle atop a slice of peach and blueberry pie. When I’m feeling downcast and moody, a piece of dense, dark chocolate cake is as curative as any medicine I could get from a pharmacy. And I would give away all of my possessions for just one more spoonful of my grandmother’s inimitable Banana Pudding.
But when I’m having a crazy day that just won’t seem to end, my first line of defense is always a homemade cookie. It doesn’t really matter what kind, as long as it’s homemade it’s synonymous with home, wherever I am. There’s something so satisfyingly simple about a warm cookie and a glass of cold milk that I couldn’t believe the combination would not, at least marginally, improve anyone’s spirits.
This particular recipe comes from a newspaper clipping from a vintage recipe box I found at a flea market. I love to imagine the original owner and curator of the box making these for her family and friends, maybe they were someone’s favorite.
I made only a few adaptations to this recipe. I substituted the butter for browned butter because I love the nutty flavor it imparts but you could surely use regular unsalted butter and they would still be delicious. I also scaled the recipe in half (why are cookie recipes so big? Do the want me to eat 36 cookies because that is what will happen!). Double it if you are making them for a party. I also added a little whiskey glaze which, in my humble opinion, takes this cookie to next level cozy.
Now go make them!
For the Cookies:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup browned butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 3/4 old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan on stove, melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is caramel colored and smells nutty (about 5-8 minutes). Strain butter through fine sieve to remove larger bits of milk solids (a few leftover flecks is ok). Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. When butter is cool, mix together butter and brown sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat on high for 2 minutes until fluffy and lighter in color. Lower speed and add 2 tablespoons hot water (the mixture may curdle slightly, turn the speed on the mixer up and it should help it come back together). Slowly add dry ingredients until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl so that mixture is uniform. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°. Portion out cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet using a medium ice cream scoop or large spoon. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are just starting to brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
For the Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or half-and-half or milk
Sift powdered sugar into bowl and whisk in whiskey and cream with a fork until the glaze is smooth. Set cooling rack over the baking sheet with parchment paper you used to bake the cookies. (Any excess glaze will fall onto parchment and then you won’t get hardened glaze all over the pan or counter). When cookies are cool to the touch, hold cookie over glaze bowl and rapidly move fork back and forth to create a drizzle pattern on the cookies. Then place back on wire rack/baking sheet and let glaze harden.