Now, let’s break this down.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened Butter should always be softened to ensure even distribution and keep cooking times consistent. Melted butter will alter the cooking time, generally lowering it, as well as making the cookie spread (read, thinner cookie). Keep in mind that with large batches of cookies if you use melted butter, it will have started to re-solidify again by the time you get to the last dozen and you will need to alter the cooking time. You can substitute margarine with essentially the same result. You can substitute liquid oil and have a crumblier cookie. I don’t recommend substituting with yogurt or applesauce since it will cause a different texture and rise, and affect the flavor.
1/2 cup sugar White sugar is lighter tasting than brown sugar and keeps the cookie from being too densely flavored, allowing the chocolate to ‘speak.’
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar Brown sugar gives the cookie depth and additional richness of flavor. I find that it helps with the ‘melt in your mouth’ factor.
1 large egg The egg acts as the binding agent. You need some sort of binding agent or the cookie will crumble apart. You can substitute egg whites only (2 whites for every 1 egg called for) for reduced calories or if for some reason you don’t want yolks. I have not tried other binding agents, though I have heard of people using flax seed or vegan egg replacers.
1/2 tsp almond extract Almond extract enhances the flavor of any chocolate baked good. I use it instead of vanilla flavor whenever I use chocolate. Trust me.
1 cup flour I use white, all-purpose. You could substitute wheat, but it will not bind as well. When subbing wheat for white in baked goods it’s best to work your way down in a ratio to make sure that it will still work. For example: use ¾ cup white, ¼ cup wheat, and if that works then try ½ cup white, ½ cup wheat, etc. You may need to increase the amount of butter or add a tiny bit of milk as wheat flour results in drier dough.
1/2 tsp salt I guess this could be optional, but the salt offsets the makes-your-teeth-hurt sweetness to make the cookie more palatable.
1/2 tsp baking powder This is the leavening agent in this recipe. If you want a puffier cookie, increase the amount by ¼ tsp increments until you get the desired rise.
1/2 tsp baking soda In cookies, baking soda is generally used more for tenderness than for leavening, as baking soda needs to react with an acid to create bubbles and act as a leavening agent, and there is very little to no acid in a cookie recipe.
1/2 cup quick oats This gives the cookie more bite and substance, aka chewiness, as well as increasing the tenderness. The quick part is important, quick oats cook faster and incorporate into the cookie rather than maintaining their form like you would want for an oatmeal cookie.
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips I actually use 1 heaped cup, so not quite 1 ¼ cups, just because I want to pack in as much chocolate chips as I can without the dough falling apart. 1 ¼ cup was just a little bit too much, the dough couldn’t handle it.
Heat oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Parchment paper is a cookie maker’s best friend. It keeps the cookies from sticking, and the paper provides a bit of insulation from the pan, keeping the bottoms from browning as much. You can find it in the store next to the plastic wrap and foil.
Combine butter and sugars, beat until creamy. Beat in egg and almond extract. Yes, beating the sugar and butter first makes a difference. It results in more consistent dough, and the butter protects the sugar a little bit from the moisture of the egg and extract, keeping the sugar from ‘melting.’ In a separate bowl, whisk or sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and oatmeal. If your baking soda or baking powder has any lumps whatsoever, sift. You do not want to bite into a piece of that stuff in the middle of your delicious cookie. Blech. Sifting or whisking the dry ingredients together makes sure that the dough is uniform. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips. Try not to over-stir at this point. You want the chips combined and fairly evenly distributed, but if you over-stir then you’ll get a tougher cookie.
Drop by Tbsp full’s onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Sometimes I’ll roll the tablespoon full’s between my palms to make a ball first to make a really consistently round cookie. Or you could use an ice cream scoop. Or you could just not care if they’re perfectly round, that’s what I usually do. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. Every oven is different. Mine bakes a perfect cookie in 11 minutes. You want the cookies to rise ¼ - ½ of an inch and be set around the outer edge when you pull them out of the oven. Let cookies cool on sheet for 1 minute before transferring to wire cooling racks. This allows the cookie to gently cook for an additional minute, firming up the bottom and letting the cookie flatten out (they do not stay puffed). Also, a hot cookie does not transfer well, they fall apart and make a mess on your spatula. Makes 2-3 dozen. Depending on how much dough you eat… though I don’t recommend eating raw egg, blah blah blah.
I hope that you enjoy the recipe, and that the explanation helps with your baking adventures!
Note: I edited this at 9:30am on 2/16/11 to change the oatmeal type to quick oats rather than rolled. If you had already printed out the recipe, please note the change.