Valentine Oatmeal Cutout Cookies
These cookies—one of those passed-along recipes of undetermined and possibly indeterminable origin, are nubby, bumpy, and not the least bit delicate or dainty. They are not buttery and crisp in that melt-in-your-mouth sort of way, but are a wee bit hard at first bite—and then you get a pronounced oatmealy chew.
But I find these hearts’ lack of refinement rather refreshing. You don’t break out this recipe with any expectation (usually unrealized, anyway) that the end result will resemble something from the cover of Martha Stewart Living, or look at home in your favorite bakery’s display case. These cookies shout “homemade!” (And there’s nothing wrong with that.)
The recipe—which was given to my mom years ago by a colleague—is oddly illogical in its sequence of steps, directing you to blend the softened butter, sugar, milk, egg, and vanilla into the dry ingredients, rather than creaming the butter and sugar first. But hey, it works, so why not? And, though it’s a little silly and completely irrational, I will never use this dough for, say, oatmeal cutout Christmas trees or oatmeal cutout Easter bunnies or oatmeal cutout Scottie dogs. The hearts just feel right. And I'm sticking with 'em.
I could try to turn these imperfect cookies into a metaphor for our own fallible human hearts, but I’m not even going to go there. They are what they are. Crunchy, chewy, and sweet. Which is a good thing. Happy Valentine’s Day.
VALENTINE OATMEAL CUTOUT COOKIES
1 teaspoon baking powder
2½ cups flour
¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cups softened butter*
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup instant oats
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add butter, sugar, milk, egg, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well-blended. Stir in oats and beat another minute. Roll dough to 1/4” thickness and cut into heart shapes. Place on greased (or parchment-covered) cookie sheets and bake about 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Decorate with your favorite frosting.
*I confess: the original recipe called for margarine, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.