We didn’t have a lot of cookies growing up. This whole love affair with cookies is more of an American phenomenon. What we did have was more like crackers — dry and crunchy things of various shapes, flavors and colors, which my grandpa in the very old-fashioned way called biscuits. We loved them. When I was going to a pre-school, our afternoon snack invariably consisted of a glass of warm scalded milk and 2-3 crackers (or biscuits), which we loved to dunk into milk and consume when they were completely soaked and saggy.
There was, however, one variety of true cookies that we enjoyed very much — the oatmeal cookies. They were also somewhat dry and crunchy, but I assure you they were no crackers by any stretch. They had chopped raisins inside, and their intoxicating aroma divided the whole country into two camps — oatmeal cookie lovers and oatmeal cookie haters. I must admit that I switched the said camps a couple of times, and I grew up I learned to appreciate these lovelies more and more, and finally moved into the “lovers” camp permanently. These cookies were awesome by themselves, or dunked into milk. We smeared them with butter and ate as a quick snack, sometimes even topped with cheese. In other words, it was the best thing since [insert your favorite cultural reference here]…
Now that all the USSR government best kept secret recipes are available freely in forms of books and internet posts, I have dug up the oatmeal cookie recipe (in Russian) and attempted to reproduce it. I did like the results; my daughter was especially excited because she got to help me.
Two additional potential points of attraction: no eggs, no animal fat, so for all of you vegan cookie lovers out there, you can enjoy a great treat without it tasting like sawdust and sandpaper. The original recipe calls for margarine, but I am a big margarine opponent, so I substituted it with much healthier option — coconut oil.
Russian Oatmeal Cookies (Government Standard Recipe)
Yields 2 dozen 3″ cookies, or 4 dozen 1.5″ ones.
All volume measures given in parenthesis. I used an online weight to volume converter here: http://www.onlineconversion.com/weight_volume_cooking.htm
- 20 g (2-1/2 Tbsp) dark seedless raisins (currants), roughly chopped
- 198 g (scant 1 cup) coconut oil (margarine in the original version)
- 295 g (1-1/2 cup) sugar
- 8.5 (1-1/2 Tbsp) g ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 34 g (3-1/2 Tbsp) molasses or dark corn syrup
- 170 g (1 cup + 1 Tbsp) oatmeal flour
- 75-118 ml hot water
- 5 g (1 tsp) salt
- 4 g (1 tsp) baking soda
- 397 g (3 cups + 1 Tbsp) all-purpose flour
- Chop raisins with a knife or in a processor.
- In a bowl, mix chopped raisins, coconut oil, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and molasses.
- Dissolve soda and salt in hot water (it should be quite hot and barely touchable by hand), and add to the bowl.
- Add oatmeal flour immediately and mix everything very well for at least 3-4 minutes, allowing oats to absorb as much liquid as possible.
- Add the all-purpose flour and make the dough. Dough should be kneaded well to create soft, rich, slightly tacky mass, but not longer than 6 minutes.
- Roll the dough out into a 3/8″ thickness.
- Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut out the cookies of the desired diameter.
- Re-roll scraps and cut again, until all the dough is used up.
- Transfer cookies onto parchment lined baking sheet, leaving a bit of space in between. They will not expand too much, but 1/2″ distance is desirable.
- Bake in the oven preheated to 400°F for 12-15 minutes. Exact timing greatly depends on the cookie sheet quality and your individual oven properties. Cookies should be lightly browned and fully set.