Just for the Yum of It : Oatmeal Cookie Recipe History

Just For the Yum of It

The Irresistible Charm of Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies have been a beloved treat for generations, it's only natural. With their wholesome mom-like goodness, comforting aromas and moist chewy texture it's little wonder they have become the soft, warm, sugar bear-hug of Cookiedom.
Now,  lets take the Adventure Road on a curious culinary excursion into cookie recipe past.
Just for the yum of it.

The Origins of Oatmeal Cookies:

It's believed that oatmeal cookies have their roots in Scotland, where oats were a staple crop and commonly used in various recipes. They were thought of as a health food - even then.
The first written instance of oatmeal being used as a main ingredient in a cookie recipe can be traced back to 1852, in Eliza Leslie's cookbook "The Complete Economical Cook." This recipe called for mixing oats with butter, sugar, and eggs, and then baking them until golden brown. Although not specifically called an "oatmeal cookie" it did lay the foundation for future recipes.

Eliza Leslie's 1852 Cookie Recipe
 1/2 pound of butter
 1/2 pound of sugar
 1/2 pound of oatmeal
2 eggs
To make the cookies, the butter and sugar were creamed together until light and fluffy. Then, the eggs were beaten in one at a time. The oatmeal was gradually added to the mixture, creating a thick dough. The dough was dropped onto greased baking sheets by spoonfuls and baked in a moderate oven until golden brown. While simple, this recipe marked the beginning of oatmeal's inclusion in cookie recipes.

A more recognizable recipe was published in the 1896 edition of Fannie Merritt Farmer's "Boston Cooking School Cook Book." This recipe is a little fancier and was actually titled as Oatmeal Cookies.

Fannie Farmer's 1896 Recipe
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup thin cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup fine oatmeal
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Beat egg until light, add sugar, cream and milk then:
add oatmeal, flour, baking powder and salt, mixed and sifted.
Toss on a floured board, roll, cut in shape and bake in moderate oven.
(note- there is no butter in this recipe).

In 1891, Quaker became the first brand to put a recipe on it's box .... it was not the cookie but close, it was for Oatmeal Bread but in 1908 the recipe for Oat Cakes became the first ever cookie recipe to make an appearance on the famous Quaker Oats package.

Fast forward a few years to 1910.....

Mary Wilkinson, in her cookbook shared some thoughts about the Scottish people and the benefits of eating oatmeal, as well as another early rendition of the Oatmeal Cookie recipe.

"The Scottish people are fond of their oatmeal, and in many families it is used three times a day; they are among the strongest people of the world, both intellectually and physically".

Oatmeal Cookies

3 cups oatmeal

1 egg

2 tsp baking  powder

1/2 tsp salt


1 cup honey

1/3 to 1/2 cup fat

raisins or dates


In 1918 from the "Win the War" cookbook we find this recipe, simply titled "Oatmeal Rocks"

Oatmeal cookie goes from rocks to Rocky...

Sylvester Stallone, during the filming Rocky III,  wanted to keep his body fat down to 2.8%,  says his diet  consisted of only tuna, oatmeal cookies and coffee. (I'll bet those cookies were the highlight of his day).

Sylvester's Rocky Cookies
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/8 cup brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Quaker old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon molasses
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-size bowl, combine wheat and rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, and oats. Make in indentation in the center and add egg, olive oil, water, and molasses. Mix vigorously until the dough is moistened. Roll into tablespoon-size balls and place two inches apart on un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until done. Remove cookies from oven and cool on wire rack. They should be soft and slightly chewy.

And that about brings us to now and my own favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. Just for the Yum of it.

Oatmeal Bar Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

 Oatmeal Bar Cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces, 1 cup) unsalted butter, melted 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries

 I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips- they are simply, absolutely delish! (this is not a paid promotion it's just my opinion)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

 Lightly butter a non-stick 13x9 baking pan.

 In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then continue to cook it, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. be watchful, it's easy to burn butter.

Remove from heat and scrape the butter into a large heat proof mixing bowl. Whisk in both sugars and mix until well combined. Stir in the vanilla. Then add in the eggs and egg yolk, beating until combined. Stir in the milk.
Then, using a rubber spatula, add in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and rolled oats, mixing until just combined. Finally, fold in the chocolate chunks. Pour (dump) batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 24 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are firm and golden.  In the last minutes of baking, prepare the frosting - it needs to be spread while the cookies are fresh out of the oven and still very warm and uncut.
Warning - this is very unforgiving icing, it hardens quickly, work fast when the cookies come out of the oven.

(If you are not  planning on icing the cookies- let cool in pan for at least 1 hour before cutting. )

Browned Butter Icing

5 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ - 1 tablespoon milk
Place the butter in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until it turns light brown.
Remove from the heat immediately and stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla.
Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you have a nice spreading consistency. Pour the icing over the warm uncut bar and spread. Let it cool in the pan then cut into cookies and enjoy.

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