How are you doing, sweety? I’ve missed you so much since you left. I hope the farming life is everything you hoped for.
P.S. I sent your favorite cookies.Letter from Mom
After a long hiatus, I’m back! And I bring offerings of cookies.
Oatmeal raisin cookies, to be specific.
Hear me out before you click away!
I too was not a fan of oatmeal cookies—I like raisins, but as a child I did not like fruit in my desserts. I asked my partner what kind of cookie he thought was the most homey and comforting.
He looked up for a moment to think of his answer.
“Oatmeal raisin cookies.” As soon as he said this, I realized he wasn’t wrong. There’s something so satisfying about the warmth of cinnamon and the chewiness of the oats and raisins in an oatmeal raisin cookie. What better way for your mother in Stardew Valley to remind you of home?
I expanded upon it to include fragrant orange zest and juice in the recipe, as well as increase certain ingredient ratios to give greater chew and a little history to the recipe.
Speaking of history, what is the origin of the oatmeal raisin cookie?
A History of the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
There’s a pretty long history of people using oats to make patty-shaped flatbreads and cakes; oats as a cereal were better suited for colder, hardier climates like in what is now Scotland. One source I found mentioned raisins being added to some of these Scottish oatcakes in the Middle Ages but I had a hard time corroborating that statement.
European colonists later brought oats to the United States, but the first modern oatmeal cookie recipe didn’t appear until 1896 in the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer.
It didn’t have any raisins.
Why Orange in an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie?
A good question! Part of it is I wanted an oatmeal raisin cookie with a little more oomf. In fact the main reason I increased the brown sugar ratio and added some whole wheat flour is also for a little pizazz.
I wanted the recipe to reflect the fact that historically, coarser or less refined forms of flour and sugar were cheaper and more readily available. Brown sugar and whole wheat flour also increase the chew and caramel flavors in the cookies. I’m making a lot of assumptions about the player character’s family history, but I wanted this recipe to reflect a long line of farmers who passed down recipes over generations.
This oatmeal raisin cookie recipe hasn’t just been passed down, it’s also been improved! Since it’s pretty easy to infer that the player character’s mother moved away from Stardew Valley some time before Grandpa died, I like to imagine that she added her own touch to oatmeal raisin cookies with oranges. Maybe she moved to Zuzu City or Grampleton, where she found oranges available year-round. Maybe she grew up sampling oranges on Grandpa’s farm and included them in her cookies to remind her of home.
Or maybe the author just really likes adding oranges to desserts.
Tips for Making Orange Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Okay, so we talked about my reasoning behind this recipe and a little history of oatmeal cookies.
But what about baking this recipe?
The part that will probably make most people pause is the aging, where you mix the dough together and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
I do it because I’m a cookie snob.
That’s right! The dough aging is optional. If you’re in a rush just portion out your cookie dough and bake until you’ve reached that perfect combination of soft and crisp.
I like to age cookie dough, even if only a little bit, because it lets dry ingredients absorb moisture. This helps cookies retain their shape and spread a bit less. Rumor has it aging cookie dough also deepens the flavor of the cookie itself, but I can’t guarantee how much extra flavor punch you get out of 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Whether you age your cookie dough or not, there’s still two steps you follow to help your cookies.
One, use a cookie scoop. Using a pre-measured scoop to portion out your cookie dough keeps cookies all around the same size, which helps them bake more evenly.
Two, don’t overbake the cookies! This sounds obvious, but for certain cookie types it’s actually better to slightly underbake them to maintain that soft, chewy center. If you bake cookies for too long they crisp up and become hard all the way through.
No one wants a tough cookie.
What about you, dear readers? What kind of cookies do you associate with home and family? Share in a comment below.
If you’d like to support mothers, especially marginalized mothers, please consider donating to SisterSong, National Bail Out, or the Sister Outsider Relief Grant. I encourage you to do research on relief and mutual aid organizations in your hometown as well!
Makes about 22 cookies.
Zest and juice of 1 navel orange
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
⅔ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 ½ cups rolled oats
⅔ cup raisins
- Add your orange zest to a large mixing bowl, then combine the raisins and orange juice in a small container and let them soak. Set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together your all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, kosher salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- Return to the large mixing bowl and cream the orange zest with the unsalted butter, brown sugar, and white brown sugar. When the butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy, add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Fold the flour mixture into your wet ingredients until just combined—there should be a few patches of flour left. Drain the raisins, then fold in the raisins and oats.
- Cover the large mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let the cookies chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. While the dough ages, preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- With a cookie scooper or tablespoon measurer, scoop the cookie dough onto the lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes or until slightly risen and golden brown. Do not overbake the cookies, or they won’t be chewy!
- Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.