Cooking Chapbook

Notes from my kitchen in the D.C. area & beyond

Tag: cookies

Oatmeal butterscotch cookies

Brianne's oatmeal butterscotch cookies

1 bowl, 1 spoon, no mixer. My kind of recipe.

Okay. Here’s the deal about cookies in our house. My sweetheart is a cookie fiend. A certifiable cookie connoisseur. He could double as a very tidy Cookie Monster.

And chocolate chip cookies are the ruling monarchy in his kingdom. No nuts. No peanut butter. God forbid you want to toss in white chocolate. And don’t even think about adding coconut flakes.

So, I get this. And every so often, I’ll make a patch of chocolate chip cookies just for him. Because I love him, and because nothing else food-related (except for maybe brownies or champorado) makes his face light up so brightly.

But then I make a batch for me.

These are my cookies.

Brianne's oatmeal butterscotch cookies

The best bite of cookie I know.

They are a variation of Mark Bittman’s lacy oatmeal cookies, which have no flour. Mere butter, sugar, oatmeal, those bake meltingly into crisp discs of sugar. That’s a bit too saccharine for me. So I add back in a 1/2 cup to a cup of flour. And butterscotch chips.

Brianne's oatmeal butterscotch cookies

Add an egg to melted butter and oatmeal and stir …

Brianne's oatmeal butterscotch cookies

… don’t forget the butterscotch chips. They make all the difference.

Brianne’s oatmeal butterscotch cookies

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 1/2 light brown sugar
  • 2 cups oats (not instant)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 11-ounce bag of butterscotch chips (roughly 2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a cookie sheet.

Mix all ingredients. A spoon (plus maybe a fork to whisk up the eggs) is fine. No electric beater necessary, though if you need to justify a vehicle for extra licking, I understand. (If you do use a beater, I would still stir in the chips.)

Drop tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough on the greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

You will be as tempted as I to scoop them off the cookie sheet immediately, but let them rest for a minute. They need to crisp up, or they’ll fold up and collapse when you slide them onto a platter. (If one goes straight into your mouth, of course, collapsing is a bonus perk!)

Printen cookies from Aachen, Germany

 

Like beer, cookies in Germany are regional. Each state has its own specialty, a delicious discovery on the end of a long autobahn drive.

Generally, in Germany, what we would call cookies are denser, richer, and less sweet than the fluffy chocolate-chip concoctions in America. For those with a hefty sweet tooth (teeth?), they can take a little getting to use to.

Earlier this chilly month, we visited Aachen, where German kings were once coronated.  Aachen specializes in a specific type of cookie, which can only be made in its region: Printen.

Printen are dense gingerbread-type cookies, sometimes dotted with nuts or fruits or what reminded me of crystallized ginger. They are often cloaked in rich white chocolate or dark chocolate, or a lighter icing, or decorated with nuts. And they are divine.

Printen cookies from Aachen

Printen cookies from the Moss bakery in Aachen’s old city.

Shops with “Printen” printed in the window are all throughout the old city, where most tourists end up visiting the Dom. The Dom – cathedral – is spectacular, especially the sparkling mosaics on the ceiling.

Printen cookies from Aachen

Printen cookies from Aachen, covered in almonds and white chocolate.

Each bakery supposedly has its own secret recipe. Printens are sold in big rectangles, the size of a large greeting card, or in chunks, like you see here.

Bag of Nobis Printen from Aachen

Bag of Nobis Printen from Aachen, about 5€

They reportedly can last a long while (not that they have lasted long with us), and like many German cookies, grow hard over time. Sticking a piece of bread in the cookie tin adds moisture and softens them up in a day.

I read, only later, unfortunately, that Printen is also an ingredient in a local beef dish, Sauerbraten! The gravy is supposedly concocted out of raisins, Printen and sugar beet syrup. I am so intrigued.

Cappuccino and Printen at Nobis cafe in Aachen, Germany

Cappuccino and Printen at Nobis cafe in Aachen, Germany

We tried a few kinds of Printen from two different bakeries: glazed with nuts, chocolate covered, iced, and the white chocolate, which were my favorite. (Side tip: Great article on white chocolate from Saveur magazine.) The creamy white chocolate matches up so well with the thick gingerbread. I’m tempted to try this recipe

German springerle cookies

This may be a little late, but I’m taking solace in the handy fact that the Christmas season truly lasts until January 6, the Epiphany. 

At the Stuttgart Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market, I first spotted these intricate molds, arrayed on a stall’s walls, from stamp-sized rectangles to frisbee circles. Amazingly detailed nativity scenes.  Saints. Musical instruments. Animals. Hearts. I was immediately taken.

But what were they for? I couldn’t tell at first. Were they for wax creations? Paper prints?

Or cookies!

Springerle cookie mold

Springerle cookie mold

In a deliberation mode of locals, we bought a 2€ cookie to try. It was beautiful and elegant, but was it edible? Springerles, as these cookies are called, are hard and dry, completely unappealing solo. But dunked – rather, soaked for a good 4+ seconds – in a cup of hot tea or coffee, they give way to soft, delectable sweetness laced with anise.

So you can guess how this adventure turns out. My only hesitation was that I wanted to substitute the anise  for some other flavor. Maybe lemon or almond?

Pressing springerle cookie mold

Pressing springerle cookie mold

I went back to the market a few days later and bought a collection of springerle molds: little Biblical scenes, a hairy camel, a violin (or is it a cello?), a pretzel, a heart, and an enormous Saint Nicholas. In Germany, St. Nick is still a bishop with a croiser, rather than an elderly bearded man with a bulging sac of toys.

The prices were all over the place. A small mold might be 2€. A larger one made up of many little molds could run north of 50€. 

Springerle cookie

Springerle cookie with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and a donkey

We tried the Joy of Cooking instructions and ended up adding heaps of extra flour. As written, it was too sticky for me. The dough kept climbing into the molds’ crevices and refusing to leave. Only after two of us wrangled the dough into a floury submission did the imprints start to emerge. But goodness. They are so much more gorgeous than American cookie-cutter creations.

Assorted springerle cookies

Assorted springerle cookies, including a camel, a pretzel, and a violin

I did substitute almond extract for the anise, which blended into the recipe nicely. But the rest of the recipe was a mystery to me. Eggs, but no butter? Flour, but no oil? Also: You must rest the dough, once molded into cookies, for at least 10 to 12 hours. Not in the refrigerator – out on the counter.

Tray of springerle cookies

Tray of springerle cookies

I’ll post a recipe when we find one that works without so much haggling. After all, with heart-shaped molds, I imagine these could be pretty Valentine’s Day cookies, too …