In many cultures, it is traditional to leave a small plate of cookies for Santa Claus and, in our house, we always took this very seriously. What better way to teach children about being hospitable and welcoming to visitors to their home? What better way to teach children about giving as well as receiving?
But, sorry, Oreos don’t cut it. If I were Santa and someone left me a plate of Oreos, I’d be leaving coal in that guy’s stocking. In the true spirit of Christmas, bake Santa some real homemade cookies. It’s not hard. What better way to teach children about some basics of food preparation? What better way to impart the importance of being able to read and do fractions? What better way to spend part of a weekend afternoon together than in the kitchen?
There is no better way, that’s what.
This year, we made Oatmeal Spice Cookies, which are pretty simple but absolutely delicious. The key is to underbake them just a bit, so they are chewy. This is the recipe I used, which makes approximately 2 dozen cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Adjust the oven racks to the lower and middle position so you can do two trays of cookies at a time. Grease two large cookie sheets and then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit and smooth onto the greased cookie sheet. This saves work on the clean up and makes it easier to do multiple batches.
In a large bowl, whisk together the following:
3 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
2 teaspoons ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together until fluffy (3-5 minutes, medium speed):
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for a few hours
2 cups of packed brown sugar
2 cups of granulated sugar
One at a time, beat in:
4 large eggs
Your standing mixer bowl is not going to be big enough so transfer its contents into a BIG mixing bowl. Then stir in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Add:
6 cups rolled oats
Mix together. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop some dough, roll it into a ball about 2” in diameter and place it on the baking sheet. Leave at least 2” between each, ideally baking 6 cookies on each sheet.
Put the cookies in the oven and bake 11 minutes. Then turn the cookie sheets, reversing them, so the cookies that started on the bottom rack finish on the top, and so that the cookies that started at the front of the oven finish at the back. This helps even out any hot spots in the oven and ensure the cookies bake evenly. Bake for another 11 minutes or about 22 minutes in total.
Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to let them cool.
For variation, try the following:
- leave out the spices, and add 3 Tablespoons grated orange zest and/or 2 cups of dates or nuts
- leave out the spices and add 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 cut of white chocolate chips
- add 2 cups of raisins, dates, walnuts or pecans or a mix of them
If you want to know why Santa has a bit of a paunch, it’s thanks for all the delicious cookies good little boys and girls bake for him. Be sure to serve the cookies with a nice cold glass of milk.