These delicious old-fashioned oatmeal, raisin and almond cookies are from one of my all-time favourite baking books: ‘The Complete Magnolia Cookbook’ which I bought at the original Magnolia Bakery in NYC last year. I have baked my way through their second book: ‘More from Magnolia‘, but this edition combines their first and second books, and are essential reference books for me. In all English-speaking countries outside the USA the cookie would be called a biscuit and be somewhat crisper, so I think the Americans can claim to have invented, or at the very least perfected the ‘cookie’ as we have come to know it everywhere. In most cases a cookie will be slightly chewy, but you can of course bake them longer for more crunch. I personally like a happy compromise. A crispy outer layer with a soft inner part, and I agree, they are the very best eaten fairly soon after they come out the oven.
I used to work for an American Baking company called General Mills that owns the Pillsbury brand, and we had a range of the most delicious frozen cookies that we supplied to the food service trade. One of my favourites was the oatmeal and raisin cookie, so this reminds me of those, but only better. They have enough oatmeal to give it flavour and healthy texture without feeling like you are eating a muesli cookie, and enough almonds to give it a nutty edge and crunch. Any recipe that calls for a tablespoon of vanilla extract gets my vote, and got me wondering why we don’t add much more of this magical elixir to our baked confections?
I replaced 3/4 of a cup of the all-purpose flour in the recipe for almond flour because I love baking with it. These are also almond buscuits after all. I opted to use the wonderful Light Muscovado sugar from Mauritius – by Natura, because its hands down the best sugar I have tasted and the very best you can buy in South Africa. You could use any other firmly packed light brown sugar or treacle sugar to give it that extra molasses / caramel taste, but once you head down the road of discovering these delectable natural brown sugars, it’s a slippery slope I warn you. Mass produced brown sugars will lose their appeal. And by the way this post is NOT being sponsored by Natura, I just love their products so damn much and never want to ever see them disappear.
To toast almonds, roast them in the oven. Preheat to 180C / 350F and toast on a baking tray until golden brown. I normally put them in while the oven is preheating to get them going and to save time. Just keep a close eye as they can go from brown to over-roasted very quickly. I think around 8 – 10 minutes is perfect. Toss the pan about a few times to evenly roast. I also store any excess in a sealed container or ziploc packet in the freezer. This way they never go rancid.
Recipe – Adapted from Then Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook by Allysa Torey & Jennifer Appel ~ makes about 3 dozen cookies.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda (bicarb)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 225g butter (1 cup) or (2 sticks), room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups light muscovado sugar (or firmly packed light brown)
- 2 large free-range eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tblsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted almonds
- Toast the almonds as per instructions above
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add each egg one at a time, ensuring that each well mixed before adding the next one. Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix well, scraping down the bowl if necessary.
- Sift the all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt and add this to the mix along with the almond flour, raisins and nuts and mix until well combined.
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350 F
- While the oven is heating up, set aside the cookie dough in the fridge for around 15 - 30 minutes.
- Scoop out around 1 tablespoon of cookie dough per cookie onto lined baking sheet leaving space in between each to allow for expansion
- Bake for 15 - 18 minutes until golden brown
- The longer you leave the dough in the fridge the less it will spread when baking and you will land up with a softer and thicker cookie.
- Use a tablespoon size spring-release ice cream scoop to make evenly sized and consistently formed cookies (also a whole lot easier)
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