Pantry Cookies

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The women in my family have a hobby of making special cookies reserved for the men in our lives. All the men have different traditions when it comes to enjoying them. Papa keeps the chocolate chip walnut cookies in a jar in the pantry, and you MUST ask permission before sneaking one. So, technically speaking, you are not sneaking but prepare to be scolded if he sees un-authorized cookie crumbs in the corner of your mouth. His secondary spot is hidden in the freezer, so that “he doesn’t enjoy all of them all at once, of course!”

Mom has a rather extensive collection of cookie tins and jars so when she bakes for dad you never really know where they’re hidden without going on a full-scale cookie hunt. During the holidays he has his own private stash of Rugelach, and during the off-season mom makes what I like to call “Pantry Cookies”. They started out as oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and over the years have morphed into including dried fruit and nuts or whatever happens to be in the pantry. Hence the name. Sometimes I make sense, you guys.

My version of Pantry Cookies include but are not limited to honey, oats, nuts, dried fruit, and whatever sugary morsels have been sitting around in the cupboard. I have a sneaky sweet tooth and I squirrel away all kinds of candy pieces and chocolate chips and sweet baking ingredients and these cookies are an excellent place to dump them all. I almost always hide a dozen cookies in the freezer from Rob because usually he eats all the cookies before I get more than one.

The base of this cookie is an oatmeal cookie recipe, but I’ve made a few changes over the years to make it just the way Rob likes it.

Ingredients:

14 TBS butter (1 stick plus 6 TBS), room temp
¾ Cup brown sugar, packed
¼ Cup white sugar
¼ Cup honey (I like unfiltered wildflower honey)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Cup all purpose flour
¾ Cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups of oats, quick oats are fine, old fashioned are too.
*1 Cup dried fruit (I prefer currants, dried cranberries and/or golden raisins)
*½ Cup chopped nuts (usually walnuts but this time I had sliced almonds)
*1 Cup assorted candy pieces (today I used chocolate chips, toffee bits, and butterscotch chips).

*when I make Pantry Cookies these last three components are loosely measured. I usually just dump them into the bowl until it looks like the right distribution. Sometimes I want more fruit, sometimes I want more nuts, sometimes I skip the candy bits, it all depends on what we have in the pantry. If you skip one add-in, add more of another or that amount in oats. This is a pretty forgiving cookie dough.

Ingredients & Grandma's Mixer
Ingredients & Grandma’s Mixer

-In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined and creamy. Add the honey and continue to beat on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated.

-Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla and continue to beat until well combined.

-In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients in with the butter and sugar mixture while mixing on low speed to avoid a flour facial. Once the dry ingredients are mostly combined go ahead and kick the mixer up a few notches to mix thoroughly.

-Add the oats and other add-ins and mix to combine. You may actually have to turn off the electric mixer and find a very, very sturdy spoon to finish the job. Once everything is evenly distributed cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a couple of hours so the butter can re-set and you can control the size and width of your cookies when they bake.

-Preheat the oven to 350.

-Use a tablespoon or a cookie scoop to make cookie dough balls of your desired size and place them on a cookie sheet. Press down on the dough balls so they don’t roll around and until they’re about the size you want. The butter is cold and won’t spread like crazy in the oven, so make them pretty close to what you want their final size to be on the baking sheet.

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-Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are light brown and the bottoms are golden, rotating baking sheet halfway through for even baking.

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-Remove from the oven, let cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet then remove them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

The total number of cookies made depends on the size you make. I like a variety of Alexa-sized cookies (little) and Rob-sized cookies (palm-sized) so we each can have what we want.

Enjoy, and get creative with it!

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