I was about ten, home sick at Granma’s house, when I realize I was one of those people. Those oatmeal people. Those people who love oatmeal, flaws and all. My older cousin, who was about 18 at the time, had come over. We were in Granma’s kitchen, a nice sized country eat-in, when he caught me face shoveling my bowl of oatmeal.
“What ‘chu eating Kiki,” he asked.
Before I could dip my buttered toast into my bowl and answer him, he leaned over, looked in my bowl, and then immediately scrunched his face up into the ugly, funky food face. That look people make when they catch someone eating pickled pigs feet, liver, chitlins, or apparently, oatmeal.
“Ugh,” he laughed and gagged. “Aunt Georgia got ‘chu eating oatmeal. I bet if I took a spoonful and threw it up, it’d stick to the ceiling.”
As Granma would say, I wasn’t stuttin’ him. I kept right on dipping my buttered toast into the thick, warm bowl of gelatinous grains. I think I savored it more, knowing there wasn’t a chance he was going to ask me for some. He didn’t get it. He wasn’t ready. Not for oatmeal.
There wasn’t one solitary thing I didn’t like about oatmeal. Texture, taste, smell, you name it—I was satisfied. Not the quick cooking, flavored with peaches ‘n cream oatmeal you make in the microwave. Um-un, I loved old fashioned, thick oatmeal that could rival chili with its stiffness. The stuff that makes your spoon stand up at attention.
Me and oatmeal go back. But our relationship has evolved. You see, a few years ago, I birthed a great big boy with big feet that pushed, separated, and bruised my ribs and every other vital organ in my abdominal cavity. His life inside my belly was nurturing to him, yet stressful for my viscera. So much so that after his ten-month stay, my body changed. I couldn’t eat the same things or the same way anymore. In fact, I had to learn a new way of eating because somehow, the birth of him left my stomach ‘sensitive’.
There are so many things I flat out cannot eat now. Ever. Oatmeal is kinda, sort of, one of them. It is a borderline food for me, one that I know I can’t over indulge in, but I don’t have to completely avoid.
For a few months now, E has been asking me to make him oatmeal raisin cookies. There are not many foods that I will not cook for him, in fact only a few. I don’t cook pork, and red meat. But oatmeal? I’m a healthatarian, right? Of course I could bake him oatmeal cookies, right?
Unless I was being a bit sensitive and selfish. I didn’t tell him, but I didn’t want to make something I wanted to eat, but couldn’t. So I put it off. And off. Until finally, he bought a Costco five pound box of old fashioned oats, and told me over the basket, right there in Costco, “I’m going to make me some oatmeal raisin cookies when I get home.”
There was no way around it. I was going to have to find some room in my kitchen, and life for oatmeal. The stuff that I love that doesn’t always unconditionally love me back. It’s funny; I thought that buying him some Uncle Eddie’s Oatmeal Raisin cookies the last time we went to Whole Foods would satisfy him. But no, it backfired because I found myself hoarding the bag, eating them for breakfast, one small broken off piece after another, until I was clutching my abdomen.
If you’ve tasted them, then you know why I would eat them despite the subtle ways my body tells me no, not today, tomorrow, or next week.
So there I was, in line at Costco thinking about oatmeal raisin cookies. How would I make them? What could I do to make them fit me, the way I eat, and how can I make them taste as good as Uncle Eddie’s.
Of course I had to go home and eat a piece of Uncle Eddie’s, for recipe development and all.
There were two things that I noticed right away: they were chewy and the oat grains were not overly big or dry.
Hmm. Okay, chewy doesn’t make them more digestible, but it sure makes them more irresistible and worth the gut pain. But, the smaller grains got me to thinking. What if I made oat flour and took some of the gut work away? Surely the oat flavor would still be there, but maybe they would be smoother. Less dry and scratchy in the back of your throat.
So I started looking at recipes. And of course, I read and re-read (a million times) the ingredient list on the back of Uncle Eddie’s. I also started to reconsider raisins. I don’t hate them, but they surely aren’t my favorite dried fruit. I prefer craisins. And then I thought about coconut and how much I’ve grown to love its flavor, especially in baked goods. It also happens to be that a few of my favorite commercial cookies have coconut in the batter, though you can’t taste it.
Oatmeal, coconut, and craisins. Sounds like a winner.
After studying a few different chewy cookie recipes, a little baking cookbook research (that taught me chewy cookies need more fat to stay chewy and keep well), I began to realize that coconut oil could add flavor and (good) fat to keep the cookies chewy and moist.
And from there I was off. Looking at every ingredient and thinking, how can I make this work for the cookie and for me.
I figured it out.
According to E these cookies are the best he’s ever had. Better than chocolate chip. Better than raspberry thumbprints. Better than molasses sugar. Just plain better. And they are.
I hope you have come here for oatmeal cookies. I hope you will make these and they will knock your hat off, along with your socks. But even more, I hope they will turn you into one of those people. Those oatmeal people. And if you have not already done so at some point in your life, you will face shovel oatmeal. Whether it is these cookies or a warm, thick bowl of oatmeal spooned up with buttered toast. Go face shovel some oatmeal.
Let me know if you do.
Vegan Chewy Coconut Craisin Oatmeal Cookies
24-36 servings (depending on cookie size)
1 ½ sticks of Vegan Margarine
¼ C. coconut oil (measured solid)
1 ¼ C. packed light brown sugar
½ C. white sugar
2 C. old fashioned, rolled oats
¾ C. sweetened coconut
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. coconut extract
2 Tbl. non-dairy milk (I used Blue diamond’s Almond Coconut Blend, but any will do.)
2 Ener-g ‘eggs’
2 C. flour (all purpose, unbleached)
1 C. old fashioned, rolled oats
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 C. craisins
½ C. young coconut, chopped roughly
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Melt the vegan margarine and coconut oil; stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix the 2 eggs using very warm water, set aside to thicken while you mix the other ingredients.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugars, than add the melted margarine and coconut. Beat until smooth and all ingredients are blended well. Once blended, add the ‘eggs’, extracts, and milk. Beat until well combined.
- In a blender or food processor, grind the oatmeal and sweetened coconut until you get a medium, coarse flour. The goal is not to make fine flour, but to break up the grains and coconut to more closely resemble whole grain flour. I have a Blendtec, high-powered blender and it takes me about four-five one-second pulses to get the texture I like. Pour the oat/coconut flour into another large bowl.
- Next you are going to mix the dry ingredients. First, take the cup of oats and pulse them once or twice in the blender/food processor. The goal is to get a very rough chop to the oats, as if each grain was chopped in half or maybe thirds. Add this to the oat/coconut flour mixture. Add the two cups of flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg.
- Chop the young coconut into bite-sized pieces with a knife or in a blender/food processor. The goal here is to have fairly small pieces that will incorporate nicely into the dough like rough chopped nuts would. Add these to the oat/coconut flour mixture. Stir to evenly combine the ingredients.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and beat till the dough comes together. Fold the cranberries in, making sure that the cranberries are evenly incorporated into the dough.
- Scoop out 1-2 inch balls of dough, roll into a ball, and place on the cookie sheet spaced 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the bottom of the dough, but keep them mostly ball shaped, rounded, and tall.
- Bake for 13 minutes, or just before they start to turn deep, golden brown on the edges. Cool on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!
- The key to chewy cookies is melting your fat/oil; do not be tempted to substitute softened margarine for the melted margarine. The margarine must be melted to get the chewy consistency. Also, the coconut oil adds fat that would normally be supplied from egg yolks. If you do not have it, I’m sure you could substitute with more margarine, but you would be loosing a bit of flavor and some good-for-you fat.
- I grind the oat and coconut to produce a coarse flour for two reasons: to make the fiber easier on the tummy, but also to produce a moister cookie. Personally, I don’t like raw, whole rolled oats unless its granola, it tends to irritate my throat. But, that could be me. You could surely skip this step, but I’ve not tested it this way. With that said, I do save a cup of the oats for a more coarse chop to have the visible and textural treat of oats. After all, it is an oatmeal cookie.
- Young coconut (dried) is not like the flaked kind we all are use to. The pieces are larger, they are chewy yet hard, and there is a natural sweetness. We find ours at Costco and have taken to adding it to trailmix, snacking, you name it. But, we also have found that they are easier to eat broken up into pieces (they come as large shards). This is especially true for these cookies. They soften into the dough while baking, so it is nice to get the coconut surprises in each bite. If you do not have, or cannot find the young coconut, feel free to use flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened.
- To get a chewy cookie, I find that it is best to leave the cookie plump on the cookie sheet. They melt down and spread in the oven, but not overly so. This way the cookies are still ‘thick’ and you get a more thick, chewy cookie, instead of a thin crisp cookie. I use an ice cream scoop to get uniform balls of dough, and trust me, they are worth every penny if you make a lot of drop cookies. Note: If you are baking right away, the cookies will spread and flatten more; however, if you bake them from the fridge they flatten and spread less.
- Finally, the other key to a chewy cookie is to not over bake them. If you let them overly brown in the oven they will come out crisp instead of chewy. Don’t get me wrong, they are still every bit full of coconut, oatmeal goodness, just not chewy goodness. My oven clocks them at 13 minutes, but yours may be closer to 12 or 14. My suggestions is to keep an eye on them once 10-11 minutes rolls around, and the minute you see brown cookie shoulders—pull them. The next batch you’ll know when to pull them. Remember, they continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet as they cool.
These cookies need little to make them sing as a dessert star. We eat them with almond coconut milk, and I’m sure in the summer we’ll eat them with vanilla ice cream. I think I may even try to make them into ice cream sandwiches. Any way you eat them, they’re good. E has taken to eating them for a breakfast snack. Sugar aside, they’re healthy enough for breakfast.
These also keep well, both in the fridge/freezer (uncooked) and on the counter (cooked). In our experience, they hold their chewiness and don’t get stale as long as they are stored in an airtight container. I can’t tell you how long they would last, because they didn’t make it past two days here.
The second batch I made I couldn’t cook right away. I kept them in the fridge and scooped and cooked the next day. I added an extra minute and they came out perfect. I also took a frozen batch to my mother. To make frozen balls for later baking: line a cookie sheet with parchment, scoop out balls and place on the sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Quick-freeze for about 30 minutes (depending on your freezer). When they are firm to the touch and easily release from the parchment, transfer them to an airtight container, stacking in single layers, and separating the layers with more parchment paper. Cook straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes, or let unthaw in the refrigerator or on the counter than cook as instructed.
These cookies are full of oat and coconut flavor. They are not overly sweet, but easily satisfy a sweet tooth with the addition of the cranberries and coconut. I find that the cranberries provide a good, tangy counterpoint to the oat flavor. The coconut rounds the flavor out, providing a natural buttery undertone that doesn’t taste artificial or overly sweet. This is not a cookie that screams healthy, vegan, or crunchy granola—not that there is anything wrong with any of those labels. With such a balanced flavor, I think these would be great to take any place cookie lovers gather, vegan, healthy, crunchy or not.
Please enjoy, and by all means, I hope these make you one of those oatmeal people!
Peace and love.