Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

A classic from Joy of Cooking, this oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe makes the best chewy cookies around.

We arrived in the sweltering heat and were met at the rustic terminal building by a man named Pup Joint. Back then, we meant me, my husband and one large Boxer dog.

So young! What the heck happened?
The seaside oilfield town of Balikpapan, carved out of the jungle on the southeast corner of Borneo, was as about as far as you could get, in distance and modernity to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, where we had met six years before, in the northwest corner of the same enormous island. Of course, compared to Balikpapan, most cities were developed.

We didn’t really have a grocery store to speak of. And, back then, there was only one decent hotel in town. Other options to eat out included the local warung – small holes in the wall serving Indonesian fare – or Chinese food. So we made our own fun. We hosted game nights and potlucks and barbecues around the pool. We played card games and did needlework. There might have even been some drinking games, possibly Quarters.

I took Indonesian lessons and traveled around the region, practicing my language skills. We went SCUBA diving and I enjoyed baking and cooking, despite the limited supplies. And then the dog got a baby sister, which suddenly gave me all kinds of necessary jobs!

So young! Still just as cute now
Telephone lines were poor and satellite television was our only real link to the outside world. The complex we lived in had one immense satellite dish with one receiver so everyone watched whatever it was tuned to and the guardhouse controlled it. We received the live feed so there were no commercials but we got to see the news anchors sipping their coffee or combing their hair or checking their teeth for lipstick between segments. It was all rather amusing. Until the time when we had a houseful of guests watching a rugby game and the guards decided to change the channel. A persuasive emissary was sent to convince them to change it back immediately.

But the single most important thing that made that little town one of our favorite places to live were the friends we made. All we had were each other. We became family. And without an English bookstore or internet, we depended on each other to share books and recipes and magazines. If you’d read something, you passed it on. And there were no secret recipes. If you made something delicious, you shared.

And that is the very long story of how I came by this recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. My friend, Valorie, made these for us one day back in 1990 and I have been making them ever since. Her original recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking, and you can see from my well-worn hand-copied version that it is used often.

I am sharing it with you today, because it became a favorite with my daughters as well and was probably the one cookie I made most often for after school snacks when they lived at home. I would make a double batch of dough and bake a few that first day, then freeze the rest of the dough and they would get freshly baked cookies with minimal time and effort on many other days as well.

Today I am joining a group of avid cookie bakers called Creative Cookie Exchange started by Laura of The Spiced Life and Rebecka of At Home with Rebecka. Our theme this month is Back to School – cookies that would be great packed in lunch boxes or for an after school snack. Make sure to scroll down to see the other delicious cookies my fellow bloggers have made!

1/2 cup (firmly packed) or 100g brown sugar
1/2 cup or 115g granulated sugar
1/2 cup or 115g butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup or 125g all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 95g uncooked quick rolled oats
3/4 cup or 125g semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: 1/2 cup or 50g chopped pecans (I leave them out most of the time.)

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease a cookie sheet.

Cream your butter with the two sugars.

Add in the egg, vanilla and milk. As you can see, I've doubled the recipe.

Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and beat until smooth.

Add in the oats and chocolate chips and beat until well mixed.

Drop 2 inches apart on well-greased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light brown. For chewy cookies, do not over bake!

Yeah, I put them too close. Doesn't affect the taste though.

A single batch will make about three dozen two-inch cookies per the ingredients list at the top. I highly recommend making a double batch of dough and freezing the balance as outlined below.

Freezing and baking instructions
On a big sheet of cling film, spoon out your leftover cookie dough along the width of the film.

Fold it over and press the dough into a sausage shape.

Fold in the sides of the cling film and roll the sausage up to completely cover the dough.

Place on cutting board or baking pan and put into the freezer until firm. This keeps for a couple of months.

When you are ready to bake again, preheat the oven and cut off as many slices of dough as you want to bake.

Place them on a greased cookie sheet. By the time the oven is up to temperature, the dough slices will be thawed.

Once they soften, you can pat them round again, if you want. The shape does not affect the taste though. :)
Bake as per initial instructions. Now you can have fresh baked cookies anytime! And the best part is that you know exactly what has gone into these, unlike the store-bought dough.


 Also, if you are looking for inspiration for this month’s theme, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made so far:



  1. What a beautiful story to go with those delicious cookies! These look like the perfect make ahead cookie. I look forward to seeing what other cookies you have for us!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your story! Your recipe looks delicious and super easy to follow, with your step by step instructions. Can't wait to see what you're making for next month's theme! Thanks for hosting with us for the Creative Cookie Exchange

  3. I love the story that goes along with your recipe! Somehow, stories connected to food makes the food better, and these beauties look positively addictive. Thank you!

  4. I love the walk down memory lane, and HOW YUMMY these cookies look. Loooove cookies

  5. Wonderful story to go along with these cookies. Sounds like this recipe and these cookies are always shared with kindness and love-- what better reason to make a cookie!

  6. Chocolate Chip Icebox Cookies - I love it! And what a fantastic story!

  7. Your story melted y heart, Stacy, and I can't even express what a HUGE chewy oatmeal cookie lover that I am. YUM!
    I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to create cookies together this month!

  8. I can totally relate to your post as we have moved around too, although not to as quite a remote area as that. Your friends definitely become family, and one of the first things that was given to me was the American word equivalents to what we called certain things in Australia - so much for us both speaking English! Your cookies look so good, just the sort of cookie you want to enjoy with your afternoon coffee. I'll definitely make a double batch because I love to share.

  9. I live a worldly life vicariously through you. What great stories you have to share of the places you lived and traveled. Can you believe we both shared a recipe today that dates back to 1990? How cool! And I could eat a whole bunch of your cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip is one of my all-time favorites.

  10. Such a beautiful story and those cookies look wonderful. I have a first or second edition of Joy of Cooking so you brought back memories =) Your step-by-step photos are so great!

  11. You inspired me to post outside of my regular schedule just so I could join the Cookie Exchange. Thanks! I, too, love browsing cookbooks.

  12. Thank you, Miranda. They are really great after being frozen. Possibly chewier than when baked immediately.

  13. Thanks, Rebecka. I am really enjoying being part of the Creative Cookie Exchange.

  14. You are so right, Kim! When I use a recipe I got from a friend, the finished product tastes even better because I had a chance to reminisce while I baked or cooked.

  15. I should try them sometime with browned butter, Kayle. Bet they would be even more fabulous.

  16. Exactly, Holly! For this post, I baked twice, a few days apart so I could show the frozen to baked steps as well. And both times I shared the cookies. Such a good feeling!

  17. Thank you, Katie! I hadn't thought about it, but I guess they are, if you go the frozen dough route.

  18. Me too, Becca! It's a great group of bakers and I've had a lot of fun getting to know everyone.

  19. So true, Felice! I started school on the British system so readers here have heard me say before that I was bilingual before I learned my second language. Soooo many words are completely different but, after so many years of living a mixed life, I use them all interchangeably. :) That's also why I put both metric and imperial measures on my ingredients list. Gotta speak both of those languages too.

  20. I know, right?! Those are the best recipes because they have truly stood the test of time if we are still making them 23 years later!

  21. When I finally did get my own copy of Joy of Cooking, I realized that the cookie there differs slightly in that it is meant to be just an oatmeal cookie. The addition of chocolate chips were a suggested possible variation. But that was years and years later! Thank you for your kind words, Karen.

  22. I am so glad you did, Karen! I am never happier than when I have a new cookbook. :)

  23. OMG, I love the photos! And you've had such a fun adventurous life. :)

  24. They are so good, Liz! This is a recipe that has truly stood the test of time. :)

  25. It was my pleasure, Laura! And thank you for your kind words!


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