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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
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
2 C rolled organic oats
1/2 C raisins(or dried cranberries)
Kosher salt

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.

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21 Responses to “Salty Oat Cookies”

  1. Cenk says:

    This is great! I had tons of rolled oats and didn’t know what to do. Now I do! BTW, the counter top looks great…

  2. china says:

    this is gonna be great! i know just what to give my dad for christmas.
    I’ve read almost every post in your blog in the last few days. it’s been a rush of inspiration. i just made your carrot cake today and there’s nothing like the sweet smell of sucess.


  3. Jessica says:

    Your countertop story was really cute. I like the story/writing element to your recipes, it makes it much more familiar and enjoyable to read.

  4. Gretchen says:

    These cookies are so fantastic. One of my favourite comfort foods. I’ve been substituting dates for the raisins, and they work nicely.

    Love the story about the salt machine. Some of my favourite folktales are the variants on the daughter who was disowned because she said she loved her father as much as she loved salt. Then all the salt vanished from his kingdom and he realised how important it was in day to day life.

  5. Mochene says:

    What beautiful granite! I enjoyed reading about how you acquired your new counter tops. Isn’t it funny how things come into our lives? I’m sure you’ll have a great time making wonderful doughs on your granite.

  6. Rosa says:

    Your cookies look beautiful and very delicious! Thanks for the great recipe…

  7. Sarah says:

    Yum–always love the sweet-salty thing. These look fantastic!

  8. Brilynn says:

    Wonderful story!

  9. Yvo says:

    Mmmmmm…. those look so good. I prefer my cookies a bit salty. My chocolate chip cookies are pretty salty… people are always commenting =X

  10. krista says:

    You have a very nice site and your granite counter looks beautiful.

  11. Danielle says:

    Cenk – Have fun! And thank you.

    china – I am absolutely thrilled that you made and enjoyed the carrot cake, and utterly flattered that you’re going through my archives. Thank you!

    Jessica – I feel the same about your blog, actually. I don’t have it categorized in my mind as a food blog, but I find it really interesting to read the stories of your life.

    Gretchen – I’ve read a bunch of variants of that story, and always loved it.

    Mochene – It is! It sometimes feels like everything we own has a story behind it like this one, and I love that.

    Rosa, Sarah, Brilynn, krista – Thank you!

    Yvo – Salty chocolate chip cookies sound fabulous. I like to made fudgy chocolate drop cookies and sprinkle salt on them, too.

  12. Love Like Salt…

    Tags: Salt, Salty Oatmeal Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies, Use What You Have
    I have to admit, as a child, I didn’t not have the proper Filipino appreciation for salt. Patis–blah! Salted fish–please, are you kidding me?
    As an adult, I&#8217…

  13. [...] Truffles Maple Crema Marxipan Muffins Nutmeg Chipotle Tuiles Paprika Ice Cream Paprika Sticky Rolls Salty Oat Cookies Thai Iced Tea Ice [...]

  14. Harvey Hyman says:

    I tried the recipe with and without the salt. Both batches came out great. Sweet for the kids. Sweet and salty for me.
    These were the best oatmeal cookies I ever had.

  15. Lana Smith says:

    I made these cookies and thought they were too salty. Passed them around church and they had the same response – too salty. I threw the recipe away.

  16. Danielle says:

    Harvey – Glad you enjoyed!

    Lana – I’m sorry to hear that. You might enjoy them more if you made them again and simply sprinkled less salt on top. But to each her own.

  17. Mia Tyler says:

    Hey!…Man i love reading your blog, interesting posts ! it was a great Wednesday .

  18. Della Elton says:

    I have had the cookies from Teasism they are great. Cant wait to try this recipe.

  19. Dorine says:

    A belated comment because I just tried this recipe — we love these. I made them with chopped figs instead of raisins, just for personal preference, but otherwise I love this recipe. Easy to put together and delicious; a great combination of sweet and salty. (Recipe also stands up well to adjustment of fat — I replaced half of the butter with applesauce with no detrimental effect other than slightly longer baking time.)

  20. Shelley says:

    Thanks for posting this. We visited DC this summer for a conference, and today I had such a craving for these cookies. Nothing like it here in West Texas. I’m baking these tomorrow.

  21. Robyn says:

    I got here while looking for a salty oat cookie recipe…and this was awesome! WOOOO! Thanks! I’ve eaten 8 or so of these in the last 24 hours. Will probably eat some more. :)

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