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“Before” Cookies

These are my go-to cookies when I am not baking because I am obsessed with making a recipe I have just come across in a book or magazine. They are reasonably attractive, very yummy, pretty portable, and decidedly un-fussy to make. They also have the advantage of helping to clean out the dribs and drabs of things, like the half a bag of white chocolate chips left over from another recipe, or the handful of nuts left in a jar in the pantry.


The ironic thing is that I originally found the recipe for these cookies, well, the recipe that grew into these cookies, in a “before and after” magazine where classic recipes were de-fatted, un-cholesteroled, and generally made more healthy. There, on page 79, was the evil “before” recipe with its 3/4 cups of shortening and 2 eggs, and next to it was the virtuous “after” made with less butter, sugar, and only egg whites. I made the “after” version once, feeling my arteries becoming more patent as I nibbled, and found the result to be perfectly fine.


The next time I came across the recipe, I was baking for a house full of 20-something college men, most of whom were athletes and could consume thousands of calories without gaining an ounce. I made the “before” cookies, and they were wonderful. The next time I baked for them, I made the same cookies, but as an experiment (since the cookies already contained peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate chips) I threw in all of the odds and ends of nuts, chips, and other baking additions that I had in the house. The cookies were elevated from wonderful to something approaching celestial. The college guys loved them, my husband loved them, my son and his friends loved them, and I loved them so much that I had to put them in a plastic bag in my husband’s car so that I wasn’t home alone with them all day. There is a reason that I originally purchased the collection of “lightened” recipes.

Here is my version of the cookies, adapted from Taste of Home’s “Recipe Makeovers & Other Light Favorites:”

“Before” Cookies

  1. 3/4 cup butter (I have used shortening, but vastly prefer the taste with butter)
  2. 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 cup peanut butter (Crunchy or creamy)
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  9. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1 cup chips of your choice – I’ve used chocolate, butterscotch, milk chocolate, peanut butter, white chocolate, and various combinations of the above but I think the mint chocolate chips would be yucky with the peanut butter.
  12. 1/2 – 1 cup any kind of nuts – today I used the end of a bag of macadamias and a hand full of cashews (optional)
  13. 1/2 cup coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in peanut butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to moist ingredients, then add chips (and nuts and coconut, if desired). Drop by the generous tablespoon-ful onto greased baking sheets (I use a silicone baking sheet) and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Notes: I pretty much always double this recipe, and give some away; it doubles beautifully. I’m also sure that there is an upper limit to how many chips, nuts, etc. can be added before the cookies become too dry and/or chunky, but I haven’t found it yet.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

3 responses »

  1. My stomach is grumbling just from reading about those cookies.

    But, I’ve been putting all of the fresh fruit that is available into desserts and my husband and I have both gained 5 lbs. Ick! So I am trying to cut back.

    I had to laugh when I read about you having your husband put the cookies in the car. I ask my husband to cookies them from me.

  2. You have been making a lot of good-looking desserts lately; you can file this recipe away for after you work off the 5 pounds around the farm. Chasing cats and beetles?

  3. Pingback: Anyone Can Bake, Too « Forest Street Kitchen

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