Saturday, September 29, 2012

Imperfect Fall Cookies

I know this isn’t a cooking blog or a mommy blog - or heck, even much of a blog at all since I haven’t posted in almost a year - but it’s still my corner of the internet, and today I have something to share.
Yesterday my son (H, age 2) and I made Owl Cookies, the same recipe I made with my mom every fall growing up. They represent Fall for me in a way I can’t describe, and I have made them many times since I’ve had my own kitchen. Yesterday was the first time, though, that I've gotten to “be the mom” and have little hands help me. It was wonderful, a perfect “stay at home mom” moment, the continuing of a tradition that was so special to me as a child and is even more special to me as a Mom. And since all the owl cookies I see on Pinterest look like they were made by professional bakers and not moms with kids, I think it’s time to share this with the world! As my mom said, “Everyone should experience the joy of owl cookies!”

Here’s the recipe as my mom has passed it on. I’ve indicated my alterations in italics. The recipe first appeared in the military Officers' Wives Holiday Cookbook, sometime in the early 70s.


2/3 C. shortening (I used butter)
1 cup brown sugar (packed) (next time I’ll try less)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
a 1/3 cup all - purpose flour (could easily use GF flour blend)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
 1 cup oatmeal
 1 oz. melted chocolate
Semisweet chocolate chips
Whole cashews

Combine sugar and shortening;  beat until creamy.  Add egg, vanilla and peanut butter;  blend thoroughly.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir in oatmeal.  Add to creamed mixture; blend well. (I never do it like this; it just dirties another bowl. I just dump it all in and mix. I’m pretty sure my mom did, too!)

Divide dough in half.  Shape one half to form roll 8 inches long.  Add chocolate to remaining dough.  Roll out chocolate dough on waxed paper to for an 8-inch square(ish).  Place plain roll on chocolate dough and wrap chocolate dough around it.  Pinch seam together.  Wrap in waxed paper; chill for at least 1 hour.  Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into 1/4-inch slices.  Pinch chocolate dough to form 2 ears for each owl face.  Use 2 chocolate chips for eyes and 1 cashew for beak.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  Yield: about 30 cookies


* Double the recipe simultaneously in two different bowls, then double the chocolate and add it to one bowl. (Trust me, you’ll want this many cookies!)

* Chill the dough for about ten minutes before you form the log. It is very sticky otherwise.

* Ignore the “8-inch log” and go for a log that is no higher or wider than an inch, making two logs if you need. If the log is too thick, the cookies get huge and they are much cuter when they are little. Plus then you get more and, well, see above. Roll out the chocolate dough wide enough to cover.

* Be careful not to press the chocolate chips and cashews too deeply into the dough. Too deep and it will cause the cookie to break after it’s cooked.

* Take the cookies out of the oven after they have just lost the glisten of wet dough. This will keep them chewy and not too crispy (and crumbly).

HAVE FUN!! One of our favorite parts growing up was picking out just the right nose for each owl; they each have their own personalities! This year I pinched the ears and placed the eyes, and I loved watching H place the noses; most ending up looking like Picaso made them. The end result was adorable, real homemade cookies that look homemade.
I can’t wait to do it again next year.
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