Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cowboy Cookies

In October, one of my best friends throws an annual Halloween party. It's a grown-ups only party, and we always play a form of The Newlywed Game. Even though none of us are actually newlyweds (far from it actually) the game is still surprising, and hilarious. This last Halloween my adoring husband and I only got one or two questions wrong, one of which had to do with cookies. The question was something like: What's your wife's favorite comfort food? I said chocolate (duh) and he said cookies. Well, needless to say, both answers are correct but they didn't match so we got that one wrong. I have been thinking about that ever since; and while chocolate is my all-time favorite comfort food/treat, I usually do enjoy it in the form of chocolate chip cookies. It's rare that we have chocolates, or chocolate bars in the house, but I always keep a stash of cookies at the ready in the freezer.
   So, today I'm sharing with you yet another take on the chocolate chip cookie. (Because really, there can't bee too many ways to enjoy this yummy treat!) I call these Cowboy Cookies, but the official recipe calls them Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies - that's a mouthful!! The recipe makes a ton of cookies, so if you're not baking for a crowd, or filling up your freezer stash (like me) then I would recommend cutting the recipe in half.

Like most cookies, it has two parts: the wet and the dry. The dry consists of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. I just put them in a large bowl and whisk them together.

In my stand mixer, I start the "wet" ingredients. Butter, brown sugar and white sugar. After they are sufficiently creamed together, then I start adding the other ingredients.

1 Tbsp of pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs

This is when I stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is getting combined evenly. I'll do this again later as well.

While the mixer in on "stir" (the lowest setting) I slowly spoon in the dry ingredients a little at a time.

When the flour mixture is all incorporated, I scrape down the bowl again.

Then, the mixer gets turned on low again and the other "mix-ins" go in. Coconut (shredded or flaked is fine)

Rolled oats (I prefer the old fashioned)

and toasted pecans. You can toast them in the oven, but I usually do it in a dry pan on the stove. Just heat the nuts, stirring often, until they are slightly browned and fragrant. Then cool and chop.

I just dump the toasted nuts onto a cutting board and roughly chop them with a knife. But a food processor makes quick work of it too.

2 cups of chopped pecans go in.

At this point, my mixer was protesting under the sheer mass of the cookie dough I was mixing. The dough kept trying to climb out of the mixer and escape. Thank goodness I only had one more mix-in (the most important one!) CHOCOLATE! You can't have a chocolate chip cookie without it. :)

I mixed everything together as thoroughly as possible and then started scooping.

I turned on the oven to get hot (350F) and then I started on my first order of business: filling my freezer stash. It has been embarrassingly low lately. To freeze the cookie dough, I pre-portion out the size cookie balls I want and put them onto a plate or cookie sheet in a single layer. It's o.k. if they are touching, but you want to give each one enough space to freeze into it's own dough ball. Once they are rock solid, I place the frozen cookie dough balls into a labeled zip-top freezer bag and then I can have freshly baked cookies whenever I get the whim. I can then bake as many or as few as I would like - I can even bake them from frozen (they usually take 1-2 minutes longer from frozen depending on the size). Talk about convenience!

Once I got a couple cookie sheets filled for the freezer, then I lined my biggest baking sheet with parchment paper and scooped out some cookie dough for baking. They spread, so they need a couple inches of space between them. I like to use my smallest scoop (about 1 1/4 inch across), but you can make yours as big as you would like. The larger the cookie, the longer the cooking time, so keep an eye on them.

After 8 minutes @ 350F this is what they look like. Slightly puffy and golden brown all over. They will flatten a little while cooling.

This batch is going to my hubby and the guys at the fire station. I know, the patterned paper plate does nothing to highlight the full glory of these cookies, but I wanted to show you how it is (not some professionally plated centerpiece that looks like it belongs on the pages of a magazine, instead of on your kitchen table, in your kids lunch box, or - in this case - on it's way to work.)

These cookies really are fantastic. And while I can't take credit for having this be my invention, they will definitely be kept in my cookie rotation. The texture and flavor are a cross between my Coconut Oatmeal Chewies, my Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and my Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies. They almost taste like they have some fruit in them (like raisins or cherries) but they don't. Just melt-y, chocolatey goodness. Mmm.
Here's the recipe:
from Lemons and Lima Beans

Cowboy Cookies (This recipe makes a ton of cookies, so you might want to half it.)
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature (I like salted but any will do)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted (8 oz) 
Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, until it's thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again. Mix in the coconut, oats, toasted pecans and chocolate chips. Scoop out the dough into 1 1/4 inch scoops and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake @ 350F for 8-10 minutes, until golden. (Mine were done after 8)

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