The month of February was a very busy month for me - close friend got married and another celebrated her son's first birthday - both friends asked me to prepare some cookies for their celebrations. This is a stressful thing for me - baking for people's celebrations - the wedding required me to bake 250 cookies, two types, package them, and allow them to be scrutinized by other people. The night before the wedding, as I rapidly baked, I went into panic mode as one of the cookie batches seemingly came out "puffier" than normal. I frantically called another friend (not the bride - that would just be too cruel) and she talked me down off the edge of cookie oblivion...calmed me down and told me it would be okay. I presented them at the wedding, they were warmly received and all in all, it was a success. The baby birthday was a lot less stressful as the volume was much smaller (around 100) and the company was a lot less formal and I was able to crank out three types of cookies.
But though the stress of preparing for these special occasions - another emotion, probably more powerful filled me and that was the sense of honor. It is always an honor and privilege to prepare food for those whom you love. To be asked to prepare something, is even a greater honor - for someone to feel that close to you that they can ask, and in conjunction with asking, trusts you enough to prepare for them is a wonderful thing. To experience this requires some sort of mastery and confidence in some recipe - and practicing a recipe always does that.
This cookie recipe is a relatively new one - and I'm still practicing it. I made it once for daughter's birthday, and for friend's son's birthday was my second round. I think the recipe is very good, pretty versatile and a crowd pleaser. I do find that women still prefer the Cranberry Toffee Oatmeal Cookies over this one, but the men seem to find this one pretty darn delicious. The original recipe is Giada De Laurentiss'. I went and made some modifications. (one was an accidental one where I didn't read the recipe properly and forgot to grind the oatmeal.) I changed some proportions but found the results really great. Try mastering one recipe, and soon people will be asking YOU to prepare something for their special gathering. (and it feels great!)
Oatmeal Toffee Pecan Cookies (adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiss)
(approximately 4 dozen)
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces English toffee candy (recommended: Heath or Skor bar), finely chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped (or your choice of nut)
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the oatmeal, toffee, pecans (or your choice of nuts), and chocolate chips.
For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. (The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)