Friends! I’m so sorry I haven’t sent out a newsletter for over a month! I did not mean to disappear for so long, but pandemic brain fog means I consistently forget the days of the week, and I’ve been working hard on a few new projects, which has both added to my distraction and has made it hard for me to do anything on my laptop other than them. But today I am here with many recommendations, an excellent cookie recipe, AND a giveaway for one of the very few advance copies of While We Were Dating, my sixth book (out July 13th in paperback, hardcover, ebook and audio, preorder options all linked here!). Isn’t it beautiful?
To enter: comment on this newsletter (to do that, click the little comment shaped bubble down at the bottom of the newsletter next to the heart symbol) and tell me a book you’ve read in the last year that’s broken through your own pandemic brain fog! Comment there, don’t hit reply to email me, it’s just easier for me to keep track of entries this way, thank you! Open only to newsletter subscribers! I’ll close entries on Monday, May 10, at noon Pacific time, and I’ll reach out to get your address to send it to you. Good luck!
And the book that’s most recently broken through my pandemic brain fog is The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, by Deesha Philyaw. I’d heard a ton of buzz about this book — if you click through that link, you’ll see all the awards it’s won and been up for — and so I bought it, even though I’m more of a novel person than a short story person. But oh wow did I love these short stories SO much. Every single one of them grabbed me from the first paragraph, I had to stop and close the book and sit in silence for a while after finishing each one, I’m still thinking about them weeks after reading it. Such an excellent read, all of the awards are so well deserved.
Okay and to the cookies: now, those of you who have been subscribed to this newsletter for a while, or who follow me on Instagram, will know that I’ve been obsessed with the pan banging chocolate chip cookies recipe from Sarah Kieffer’s book 100 Cookies for over a year now. I’ve told many friends to make these cookies and buy this cookbook, and they’ve all been very grateful. And then recently, my friend Joy said that she made the pan banging oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from 100 Cookies, and she loved these even more than the regular pan banging chocolate chip cookies. (For those uninitiated into these recipes, they’re so called because a few times throughout the baking, you pick up the pan that the cookies are baking in and you bang it down; it gives the cookies those beautiful ripples, and does something incredible to the texture of them, they manage to be soft and chewy and also crispy at the edges. It is also fun to do). Well, I trust Joy in all things culinary, so I had to make the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies — even though (this is a controversial opinion, I know) I generally prefer oatmeal raisin cookies to oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Well, these were incredible; definitely the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had — they’re actually oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies, because you chop up a chocolate bar to use in them, instead of using chocolate chips. Note: I have used chocolate chips in pinch in the regular pan banging cookies and they work, but it’s definitely better to use the chocolate chunks; the texture works a lot better and there are great pools of chocolate in them because of the way the chocolate melts differently. I’m not sure if I prefer these to the originals, but they’re definitely equivalent to them, and one of them made a perfect breakfast cookie to have along with coffee this morning. I hope you love them like I do!
Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies
2 cups (160g) rolled oats
1 cup (142 g) all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks or 170g) butter at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ounces (113 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bite sized chunks (don’t worry about getting them all the same size, you want the size variation here)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line your sheet pans with aluminum foil, dull side up (I’ve also used parchment paper; foil works a little better though). In a small bowl, mix together the oats, flour, baking soda and salt (the original recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon salt; I like my cookies saltier so I increased it, do what works for you!). In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy — about a minute with the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, a little more than that if you’re using a hand mixer or doing it by hand. Add both sugars and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy, then take it down to low speed, and add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. If you’re using a mixer, stop and scoop from the bottom to make sure everything is incorporated throughout the dough. Then, on low speed, add the oats and flour mixture, mix to combine, and add the chocolate.
Form the dough into 3 ounce (85g) balls. The recipe says to bake them right away, but my kitchen is always warm and my butter was extra soft, so I refrigerated them at this point for about thirty minutes, do what works for you. Once you’re ready to bake, put three or four cookies at equal distances on the sheet pans. Bake for 9 minutes, untouched, and then open the oven, pick up the cookie sheet, and drop it down, so the little puff in the middle of the cookies deflates some. After 2 more minutes, bang the pan again, and keep doing that at 2 minute intervals until the cookies have baked for 15-16 minutes total.
Take the cookies out and let them cool for ten minutes on the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool all the way. I’ve baked the regular pan banging chocolate chip cookies from frozen to great success — my only difference in the baking is I add two minutes to the initial bake time before the first pan banging, and then I proceed as normal (and add that two minutes to the total bake time). Oh also: this recipe says it makes 14 cookies (they’re very large cookies), but my only criticism of this cookbook is every recipe I’ve used has been incorrect for me about how many cookies it’s made — I measured exactly to the gram and this recipe made eleven cookies for me.
Have a good weekend, everyone!
(PS: Remember! To enter the giveaway for the advance copy of While We Were Dating, click the little comment bubble below to comment on the newsletter!)