There is a well-worn proverb — one that has been worn so well, in fact, that it has been ground into a fine pallid dust by the motivational / self-help industry: give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
It has never been a proverb for which I’ve much cared. In part because of its self-righteous qualities, and in part because it has an inbuilt logical fallacy. But used here, it fits beautifully as a justification for what I am about to tell you.
The fact is — and I am sorry to say it — that I have not made any Christmas cookies this year.
It had been my tradition, for several years running, to make box after box of sweet baked treats to send around the nation, cards attached, to wish friends and family a happy holiday season. But this last month has been busy, and I didn’t manage to get organized enough to get it done.
So to all of you out there who were in fact expecting to receive a package of cookies: I’m sorry about that.
But to the rest of you, I’m here to tell you — their loss will be your gain. Because this year, for the first and (maybe) only time, you can make real, authentic, 100% not-from-concentrate, genuine Twice Cooked Christmas cookies right in your own home. There’s no need to hem and haw, friends — no need to beg and borrow your way onto my personal gift list. All you need to do is fire up your oven, and plunge ahead.
And on top of that, these Christmas cookies — the ones that I’m offering up here today — are never-before-seen in any of my previous years’ boxes. They are a little too fragile for traveling long distances by post. And so the only way to get them is to read through these super-secret in-group blueprints, and make them yourself — pretending all the while, of course, that I’m looming over your shoulder with a spatula and a Santa hat.
This year’s flavor is Winter Spice Oatmeal — and though they don’t sound like much, you can rest assured: they are a worthy gift from me to you.
They are based, loosely, on a recipe from Paula Dean (of all people). But they have been modified with a touch of whole wheat flour, a scattering of cranberries and pecans, some new spices, and a working-over of their proportions (which would have yielded less than delicious cookies, I think, in their original form).
So here’s how to do it, friends. This year, I’m teaching you the fine art of Christmas-cookie fishing. So that never again will you have to go without.
Merry — well, you know.
1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Unbleached AP White Flour
1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cloves
1/4 tsp Cardamom
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Salt
Preheat your oven to 400F, and line two jellyroll pans with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the white and wheat flour, the rolled oats, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and salt.
In a separate bowl (or in a stand mixer), cream together the butter and brown sugar. When it is thoroughly integrated, add the egg and vanilla, and continue to mix until they have been integrated, too. A third at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until it comes together into a dough. Then add the dried cranberries and chopped pecans, and mix until they are dispersed evenly throughout.
Using two spoons, or a cookie scoop, apportion the dough out onto the two jellyroll pans, one dozen cookies on each. Bake them for about 14 minutes — until they have gone just past golden brown around the edges. Then remove the pans from the oven, and remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
I’d tell you to wait until they’ve cooled to eat them, but once you’ve smelled them, you’ll understand what an implausible suggestion that is.