Well, I guess you could call this the "optional audience participation" part of "A View From The Piano Bench". From time to time, I thought it would be nice to share a favorite recipe. So, without further adieu…

But first…

I came across this recipe a couple of years ago while watching Sara Moulton’s show on the Food Network, "Cooking Live" (which is no longer in production). Wayne Harley Brachman was the guest that day, and this is his recipe. I was intrigued by it since it only called for one stick of butter, and one egg. Most cookie recipes I had come across up until that time usually called for at least two sticks of butter and two eggs. One stick of butter and two cups of oats: Healthy! Well, the finished product looked good on TV, so I decided to give it a try. It immediately became one of my favorites, and a favorite of many a cast and crew at Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, the Kennedy Center… ("Oh! He bakes too!")

The ingredient list is composed of pantry staples – although, there have been a few times when I’ve found myself running to the store after setting up my mise en place to fetch some maple syrup. It’s also a pretty flexible recipe. Well, I make it flexible. Sometimes I will vary the type of chocolate chips – milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark (or a combination of milk and dark!). Other times I will swap out almonds for the pecans. I’m also fond of gilding the lily by adding a healthy scoop of toffee chips to the original recipe. And to totally switch it up, white chocolate chips, dried cranberries and pecans work well together too.

I have found that regular rolled oats work best in the finished product, but if you happen to have a canister of quick-cooking oats you want to use up, no harm, no foul. Although, the recipe calls for a mixer, it can easily be put together by hand – the creaming of the butter and sugars is the part of the recipe requiring the most elbow grease. Parchment paper comes in handy for "staging" the next batch while one bakes in the oven, and it makes clean-up a breeze too. The 9 minute cooking time has never really worked for me – and, trust me, I check my oven temps – but it may work for you. Otherwise, 11 minutes seems to be the optimal time, switching and turning the pans after the first five or six minutes to promote even cooking and browning.

The recipe doubles beautifully too – which is what the accompanying pictures reflect.

Don’t forget the milk!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Recipe courtesy Wayne Harley Brachman

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Set 2 racks in the middle and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350F degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats, and pecans together with a whisk or fork. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together for 30 seconds until blended. Beat in the egg until smooth and barely fluffy. With mixer running on medium high, drizzle in the maple syrup and vanilla until incorporated.

Turn the mixer down to its lowest setting and gradually add the flour-oatmeal mixture. Blend just to combine, then mix in the chocolate chips.

Drop walnut-sized balls of dough onto a nonstick or parchment-lined cookie sheet at 3-inch intervals. With moistened fingers, flatten and round out the cookies a little.

Bake for 9 minutes, turning the pan once for even baking. The cookies are done when they are lightly browned on top. Set the cookie sheets on a rack to cool.
Yield: about 36 cookies

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