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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

An oatmeal cookie for raisin haters



Maple blueberry oatmeal cookies on a cooling rack, in New York, Jan. 4, 2024. A puddle of blueberry maple jam is stuffed inside these tender, gently spiced treats. (Ryan Liebe/The New York Times)

By Melissa Clark


It may come as a shock to legions of chocolate chip devotees, but there’s a small but passionate faction of cookie lovers who prefer oatmeal raisin.


It’s not that we just tolerate oatmeal raisin cookies, nor that we think of them as a dignified second best. It’s that we would, in fact, brush past a teetering stack of fancy chocolate chunk mega-cookies to get just one nubby, chewy, dried-fruit-speckled disk of oatmeal raisin, especially if it is still soft and warm from the oven, fragrantly spiced.


Sadly, far from the myriad chocolate chip cookie recipes to be found in print and online, oatmeal raisin fans have only a handful to choose from and even fewer variations. This recipe is my humble but considered contribution to the cause.


Its basic dough is close to my favorite oatmeal raisin iteration, full of dark brown sugar for butterscotch notes and crisp, caramelized edges.


But here’s where the variety comes in. Instead of raisins, I use a homemade blueberry-maple compote brightened with lemon juice and grated zest for those pops of fruit.


Homemade compote is fresher tasting than store-bought preserves, while also allowing you to control the sweetness level, adding less or more maple syrup (though you can use a jar of jam in a pinch; stir in the lemon juice and zest). And it’s easy to make: Simply simmer the ingredients until they turn syrupy, then turn off the heat. The compote thickens as it cools, turning jammy and satiny. The most intense flavor is to be had from frozen wild blueberries if you can find them, but any kind of blueberries work nicely, fresh or frozen.


To form the cookies, start out as if they were thumbprints. Place the balls of dough on the pan, create a divot in the center, then spoon in some compote. This is where the similarity ends. Instead of leaving the compote visible, I hide it with more dough. Because who doesn’t love a sweet surprise?


From the outside, the cookies look plain, disappointing even (what, no chocolate and no raisins?). But bite in and a sticky puddle of blueberry goodness is instantly revealed, followed closely by spices and a nutty crunch.


Be sure to save a few to share with chocolate chip cookie fans. You just may bring them, at least temporarily, over to the oatmeal side.


Maple blueberry oatmeal cookies


These soft, lightly spiced oatmeal cookies have a sweet surprise in the middle: a pocket of syrupy blueberry-maple jam. The jam helps keep the cookies soft and tender for days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature, so you can bake a batch over the weekend and snack on them all week long. If you can find frozen wild blueberries to make the compote, these will have an even more intense berry flavor, but any blueberries will work in these homey treats.



Yield: 30 cookies

Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes, plus cooling



Ingredients:


For the blueberry-maple jam:

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)

3 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (see tip)

Pinch of fine sea or table salt


For the cookies:

1 cup/227 grams unsalted butter, softened, more for pans

1 1/2 cups/315 grams dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups/187 grams all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups/260 grams rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup/100 grams chopped pecans or walnuts



Preparation:


1. In a small saucepan, combine berries, maple syrup, lemon juice, zest and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer vigorously for 12 to 22 minutes, or until the jam has thickened; most of the liquid should have evaporated and what’s there should look syrupy rather than runny. Transfer jam to a bowl. Refrigerate or freeze until cool, about 20 to 30 minutes. (Jam can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or reusable silicone liners.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg until fully incorporated. Then beat in vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and baking soda. Set mixer on low speed and beat flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir in oats and nuts. (Dough can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)

5. Spoon or scoop out large tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie. Use your thumb or a spoon to make a thumbprint. Spoon a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each thumbprint. Top jam with an additional 1 tablespoon of dough and press around the edges to lightly seal the cookie. A little of the jam will seep out, which is good; it will give the baked cookies a nice rippled look.

6. Bake for 15 to 23 minutes, or until the edges turn deep golden brown and the centers are firm. Transfer baking sheets to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


TIP: It’s easier to zest the whole lemon before halving it to squeeze the juice.


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