Sunday, April 15, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies: Then and Now

Recipe #1: Date-Filled Oatmeal Cookie -- Submitted by Mrs. Henry Tunberg

Today was good!! I feel good about accepting Mrs. Tunberg's challenge and succeeding. I did indeed fill in the blanks of her cryptic cookie recipe and had a nice result. Here's what happened:

12:00 p.m. -- Make cookie dough. Following the ingredient list, no surprises here. Oatmeal cookies today are just about the same as back then, according to a quick Google search. Butter, leavening, a little dairy, egg, flour, oatmeal. Now the only slight change in Mrs. Tunberg's recipe by today's standard -- no white sugar. She calls for one cup of brown sugar only. No problem. Even though she lacked steps to mix the dough, I relied on my 30 years of home-cooking experience -- combine and sift dry ingredients, set aside, mix butter, sugar, egg, sour cream in mixer, slowly add dry ingredients and stir in instant oats = dough. Chill until ready to bake. Eat lunch.

1:00 p.m. -- Make date filling -- chopped dates, sugar, water, cook until thick. Easy. Result is kind of like a thick jam or what reminds me of a "confit". I let it cool on the back of the stove. It's yummy just like this.

3:30 p.m. -- I have things to do, cookies must bake. No time to chill overnight. My first crossroads -- to drop or roll? Another Google search tells me that oatmeal cookies are technically and historically drop cookies but alas, Mrs. Tunberg tells me to add more flour and roll them thin. I ignore her. I drop 12 on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet (sorry, I don't grease cookie sheets, no matter the era) and bake at 375. Well, I achieve oatmeal dumplings. Tasty, but not fillable with date filling. I grab the flour and start rolling. Not too much flour or rolling, mind you, I despise the thought of tough cookies and the tut-tut-ing of Mrs. Tunberg.

I cut the cookies with a 2.5 inch circle cutter, the smallest I have, but what I am noticing already is that the cookies are most likely larger than they would have been in the 1950s...not at all dainty but more buttermilk-biscuit-like. Oh well, I proceed. I get 2 1/2 more dozen out of the dough and scraps. Bake, cool and I spread with the thick date filling. Tasting time!!!

The cookies are very good -- and not all that sweet. It's noticeable that the usual cookie sweetness of my mind's eye is not there. But in a good way. With the date filling to compensate it was the right ratio of sugar to grain. It's interesting to note that according to the USDA the consumption of caloric sweeteners hit an all time high in 1999 for all types of sweeteners -- cane sugar included. The low? 1950. I don't have more data than that at the moment but it seems to suggest our sweet tooth has increased in the country since then (though my theory may be blown with the next blog post so please reserve judgement).

It also strikes me that this cookie sandwich tastes like what the Quaker Oats Company might call a breakfast bar...hmmm....but this one is much better, with no chemical taste. This cookie might go into the permanent file...with chocolate chips ;)

Soup Can Rating: Four out of Five cans


  1. This is an interesting corollary with a conversation a friend of mine and I had last December. He made some of his mother and grandmother's cookie recipes for Christmas exchanges. They, too are MUCH less sweet. And, the white sugar thing too - we are eating WAY more sugar - and more processed sugar than even our grandparents ate. The discussion with him was interesting and even more interesting today to me is that you encountered the same thing. It will be interesting to see if other cookie recipes hold to the same phenomenon. The cookies sound yummy, nonetheless. I love the idea of the brown sugar, actually, especially for an oatmeal cookie. Can't wait for the next installment!

  2. Yes indeed -- my tasters agree they like the brown sugar taste (and concept) to their oatmeal cookie. I would like to experiment more with the recipe and expand upon that theme. I plan to hnut down more cookie recipes in the notebook. Thanks for reading!!