Salty Oat Cookies
Teaism is a wonderful chain of cafes in DC.Their salmon ochazuke is delicious, and I am utterly addicted to their cinnamon apricot tisane. A year or two ago, I finally discovered their brilliant Salty Oat Cookies.
According to Teaism’s package, the fellow who originally came up with the Salty Oat Cookies wanted to recreate the experience of eating homemade cookies while out on the water on a boat, the salt spray hitting his lips and flavoring everything he ate. They do that perfectly, and bring back my memories of a childhood spent sailing as well.
After a few failed attempts at recreating those cookies, my friend Reene sent me the link to DCist‘s version. I mostly followed the recipe, just tweaking it a bit and adding extra raisins, and was blown away. This was it. Thick and chewy and salt-kissed, these were the cookies I’d dreamed of.
I made them for the kind construction workers who gave us this granite countertop.
When I was a kid, my father would take me sailing to get me out of my mother’s way. Once we were out on the boat, I would beg him to tell me stories, and the only one I can still remember is the story of the salt machine. I can’t tell it the way he did, but I remember the basic idea, and it went something like this:
Once upon a time, salt was very expensive and hard to come by. Food was bland and dull. Even the ocean was made of fresh water at that time, and no salt could be harvested at the shores. But there came a man, a brilliant inventor, who created a machine that turned water into salt. This was a device that could improve the quality of life of everyone in the world!
He sent message to the far off king across the sea, offering to sell him this device. The king agreed, and sent a ship to bring the man and his machine to the palace.
The man eagerly boarded the ship and set out to sail to the king.
During the voyage, though, he and the crew came to fighting. The crew were skeptical of his invention, and wanted him to prove that it worked. He didn’t want to take it out until he was in the presence of the king, because he knew his machine was very valuable, and if people believed in it, they would want to steal it, and he would be in great danger.
But the crew mocked him, and taunted him, and eventually it was too hard for him to bear. He took the machine out of its careful packaging and brought it above deck. The crew gave him a bucket tied to a line, and he lowered it carefully into the sweet, fresh sea, and brought it up full of water.
He cupped his hands and lifted a bit of water from the bucket, and poured it into the machine.
Out flowed a trickle of salt.
The sailors began to fight over the machine, each wanting to test it out himself, wanting to pour more and more water into it, watching the mound of salt grow at their feet.
The inventor began to struggle with them, demanding that they leave the salt machine alone so he could hide it away again in his cabin and keep it safe for the king.
As they fought over the salt machine, everyone trying to grab it, it slipped out of their grasp, and fell into the sea.
And that is why the sea we know is made of salt water, and not fresh. The salt machine still rests there today, at the bottom of the sea, turning water into salt forevermore.
I do not know what happened to its inventor.
Salty Oat Cookies
3/4 C unsalted butter
1 C packed dark brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
2 C rolled organic oats
1/2 C raisins(or dried cranberries)
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Set the raisins in a bowl with just enough boiling water (or hot port, even) to cover and leave them to plump up while you put together the dough.
In a stand mixer, whip the butter out of shape. Add the sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and beat together until the mixture is fairly homogenous. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour with the mixer at low speed and, scraping down the sides as necessary, mix just until it is fully incorporated.
Drain the raisins, then add them to the dough along with the oats and mix until combined.
Chill the dough for at least an hour before baking. The longer you chill the dough, the thicker and chewier these cookies end up, so if you have the patience to wait a few hours before baking, do.
Set up a few baking sheets and line them with parchment paper. Place heaping tablespoons of dough on the sheets, about 2″ apart.
Sprinkle kosher salt on top of the cookies. Don’t be stingy – you want them to actually taste of salt, as an active presence rather than just a flavor enhancer. Sprinkle the salt on as you would sugar.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and done. Carefully transfer the still-soft cookies with a spatula onto racks to cool.