I love me an oatmeal cookie. Sure, sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies are divine, I’ll grant you that. But throw in that extra texture and crunch from a couple of cups of rolled oats and I’m a happy man.
Like just about everyone else, my wife and I spent much of our early quarantine months baking our butts off. One of our go-to recipes was (and remains) one from our good friend and former neighbor Jillian, a skilled baker in her own right who decided to replicate her favorite cookies, the much-sought-after Salty Oat Cookies from D.C.’s Teaism chain of teahouses. She shared the recipe with me, and my cookie-baking prowess has leveled up tenfold in the process.
Now, you could put chocolate chips or (ugh) raisins in your oatmeal cookie. But why set your sights so low? It’s my deeply considered opinion that the oatmeal butterscotch cookie—or, as it’s known in the recipe books and convenience stores of my youth, the oatmeal scotchie—is the truest, finest way to honor all that oats bring to baked goods.
There’s just something about the combination of the nutty, crunchy chew of oatmeal, paired with the creamy, caramel hum of butterscotch that keeps my hand reaching oh-so-greedily for the cookie jar. Both in color and in flavor, butterscotch feels like a… lighter alternative to chocolate chips, if that makes sense? (This is a filthy lie, of course, but my stomach decrees it, and my brain can’t refute it. In 2020, neither logic nor calories matter very much.)
Armed with an incredible oatmeal cookie recipe and my own carnal/caramel desires, I set about making some small modifications to build the ultimate oatmeal butterscotch cookie. The results are sweet but not too sweet, crunchy but gooey, with just a little bit of salt on top to bring out the richness of the butterscotch.
For a good time, make these cookies posthaste; stir up a second batch and freeze them for easy baking later. You’ll go through the first round before you know it.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla (extract or paste)
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups old fashioned or rolled oats
- Coarse kosher salt or sea salt
- ½ cup butterscotch chips
- 1 Tbsp. orange zest
In a stand mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar and mix with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed (setting 6-8 for you KitchenAid owners out there) until it’s light, fluffy, and fully aerated. Add the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt, and keep creaming the mixture until it’s thoroughly combined and there’s plenty of air in there.
Add the eggs one at a time (waiting until each is incorporated) and the vanilla, and keep beating on medium-high. Once incorporated, turn your mixer down to low and add in your flour a little bit at a time. Let the mixer run until all of the flour is just barely incorporated and there are no dry pockets left, pausing the mixer and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.
Once the flour disappears into the dough, turn the stand mixer; scrape any remnants from the paddle attachment into the bowl, then hand off the paddle to any nearby partner or pet for further cleaning and taste-testing. From here, add the oats and then the butterscotch chips, manually folding them into the dough with a spatula or wooden spoon. (You could just throw them into the mixer at the end, but I like to take matters into my own hands so the dough doesn’t end up overworked.)
From here, grab a disher or tablespoon and portion out tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto a single baking tray or cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Don’t worry about spacing them out; crowd them all onto this one pan, cover them with plastic wrap, and keep them in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours.
When it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a second baking tray with parchment or a silicone mat and transfer half of the cookies to that sheet. Make sure each cookie has about 2" of space around it. Generously sprinkle your preferred coarse salt over the cookies, then gently flatten the tops of the cookies using the back of a tablespoon. (This has the added benefit of sticking the salt to the top of each cookie.)
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and just starting to turn golden on top; this will ensure a cookie that is still a tiny bit gooey in the middle. For an overall crispier cookie, wait for the top and sides to get consistently golden. Transfer to a cooling rack, and just try not to sneak more than five before sharing.