October 13, 2009

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

As of now the recipe is lost. I can't help but think that somewhere out in the nether there is a Christmas tin slightly rusted around the rim, perhaps a small dent in the lid, a scratch or two. Opened, it smells of Christmas past. Sweet and sticky, brown sugar...oatmeal. The paper towel lining the bottom yellowed from the butter. Shards of the crisp brittle texture cookie lay amongst the ones that managed somehow to stay intact.

My phone ran out of its charge, so I missed my mothers message. 'Grandmom doesn't have the recipe. She said to check with aunt Susan. Susan said she doesn't have it. Check the Quaker box. I checked the box, it wasn't there. So, she said to check their website. Love you. Bye.'

'To save this message, press seven.'

I checked online. Quaker doesn't have the recipe listed, at least not that I could find. So, I googled, and with little effort found a recipe that sounded almost too good to be true.

The recipe was simple...oatmeal, vanilla, butter, brown sugar, salt. 'Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.' I took the added step of rolling the sweet sticky mess between my hands to form tiny balls about an inch in diameter. The grains of the brown sugar, the butter, and oatmeal felt so raw and delicate.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and waited patiently. I placed the first sheet pan of six onto the rack, set the timer for 8 minutes and then turned my back. Turning my back didn't last long. I spun right around, turned on the oven light and proceeded to stare down the balls of oatmeal. It felt like a staring contest, one that I would lose. I flicked the light off and walked away. A minute later I was back. Light goes on, staring contest, frustration, light flicks back off, walk away. This happened just about every minute during those first painful 7 minutes. Then, as the timer reached 7 1/2 minutes the cookies took a dramatic turn for the better, they started to spread completely and bubble. By the time the timer went off, it was time to pull the pan from the oven.

I remember visiting that tin periodically during the holidays. Frequenting it. I loved the crisp and sweet, the comforting scent of oatmeal. The melt in your mouth, stick to your teeth of it all. There's something about brown sugar and vanilla that is mesmerizing and addictive.

I surveyed the cookies cooling on the sheet pan. They looked the part. They certainly smelled the part. I took a metal spatula and proceeded to transfer from sheet pan to cooling rack. They felt the part. I was anxious, but fearful. 'Don't let me down' I thought.

When we finally tasted, it was very familiar. I have to say that I was quite pleased with the outcome. The crazy part, the one thing that might be different is the butter. I don't remember ever seeing unsalted butter in our house growing up. Not that I paid too much attention, mind you, but maybe that's the difference. Perhaps the element that separates present from past is as simple as a grain of salt. I'm half tempted to buy salted butter and bake a second batch, but I won't.

Slowly and steadily I'd like to compile the recipes that are scattered amongst my mother and her 4 siblings. I think everything needs a home, one place. After that, it can be redistributed once again. Being the oldest cousin, I feel a sense of responsibility, a need to keep the needled threaded.

Perhaps this cookie will set things in motion.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

You'll need:

Stand mixer with paddle attachment
Rubber spatula
Sheet pan

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups oatmeal
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, beat until combined. Add oatmeal and salt, beat until combined.

Measure mixture out by the teaspoon and roll between palms of hands. Balls should be about 1" in diameter. Place on baking sheet, leaving 3" between each ball.

Bake for approximately 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Leave cookies on sheet for a few minutes before you attempt to remove. The butter and sugar that binds the oatmeal together needs time to cool and set.

Transfer cookies to cooling rack. They are ever so bendy, but brittle, so easy does it.

Eat within a day or two. Create napoleon's, use as garnish, or eat as is...that's what I'd do.


  1. oh those look amazing! perfect for the holidays

  2. They will most certainly be making their way into Christmas tins this year.

  3. Beauteous. I need no other reason to try these than the fact that they look incredible.

  4. One question though, what kind of oats did you use - old fashioned (rolled) or quick cooking?

  5. Wendi, I used the old fashioned rolled oats that come in the cylindrical container.

  6. Excellent, my pantry has all the ingredients. There will be cookies this weekend!

  7. That's what I love about these cookies. You never have to make a special trip to the store.

  8. They look divine! Using a silpat would make these easier to remove and keep the temp even. I make some similar ones without oatmeal that I roll up into cylenders and pipe chocolate mousse into. YUMM

  9. Your pictures are amazing! Keep it up, see you soon.

  10. I would too - eat as is that is.
    As pretty as the story you tell with them.
    These look like biscuits even I could make.
    No drumming around here but much pasta.

  11. K, I haven't graduated to silpat status as of yet. I'm sure one day I'll have to break down and make the purchase...chocolate mouse...chocolate...I'm getting sidetracked...

    R, thanks! I need to get on the ball and find a soup recipe for next months dinner...

  12. Rachel, they couldn't be easier to make. "Much pasta"...those words just bring a smile to my face. Does patting ones belly count as drumming?


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