I've been on a cookie kick lately. Since quitting my paralegal job to write full-time, I've found myself with more free time than I've had in years. I'm starting to reacquaint myself with leisure activities: knitting, watching television (I've fallen in love with Grace and Frankie and I'm finally watching the second season of Stranger Things), and actually baking for fun instead of solely as blogging material. I started with a batch of chocolate toffee cookies from last year's Star Tribune holiday cookie contest; the trick is that I had to do a fair amount of math to use metric-sized Aldi chocolate bars (the chocolate at Aldi, by the way, is so much better than U.S. brands for a fraction of the price). They are a seriously rich cookie, as you would expect from a recipe that includes over a pound of chocolate and a mere half cup of flour.
In search of something a bit more understated, my next project was gingery maple thins from an America's Test Kitchen holiday baking magazine. They have a really lovely and and nuanced flavor: you use both ground and crystallized ginger, and maple syrup and extract. The only downside is that the dough is a bit tricky to work with--it's very sticky, and making the cookies is a hands-on process of rolling the dough into balls and then coating them in sugar.
So when Mike informed me that his office cookie supply was running low, I was in the mood to make something easy to prepare and not ridiculously decadent, but at the same time with a bit more pizazz than your standard chocolate chip. I had a vague memory of something my mom occasionally made called a ranger cookie. At the time, I thought this was either a reference to my grandma's friend Joyce Ranger or a nod to the inhabitants of Minnesota's Iron Range, where my dad grew up. I remembered ranger cookies including oatmeal and being pretty tasty, and that was about it.
Satisfying the urge to recreate the food memories of my youth are one of the reasons I always keep a church cookbook on hand (the other is so that Mike has a recipe for tater tot hotdish). I found what I was looking for right away: Granger Cookies, courtesy of Doris C. Glonek (a prolific recipe contributor who is also the inspiration for my basic blondies). Doris' granger cookie recipe includes oatmeal, cornflakes, and coconut; the oatmeal and coconut seemed familiar, but I really didn't recall my mom's recipe including cornflakes. Wikipedia confirmed that most ranger cookies include rolled oats and coconut, with the addition of pecans and cornflakes as common variation. Sadly, Wikipedia couldn't explain the name, other than to refute a connection to the Texas Rangers.
But regardless of the namesake, I was in business. Since Mike doesn't like coconut, I nixed it and added more cornflakes, creating something that nods to a ranger cookie (or a granger cookie) although it doesn't technically meet the criteria. The results of my experimentation still resemble the sort of recipe you would expect to find in a church cookbook: honest, straightforward cookies that won't win any beauty contests but are perfect for filling up the cookie jar. The ratio of cornflakes and oats to flour does give them a unique texture. They're quite crisp around the edges and very chewy in the middle, with plenty of crunch from the cornflakes and a satisfying heft from the oatmeal. Thanks to the brown sugar (and maybe the cornflakes too) they also have a subtle caramelized flavor.
This makes a large batch of cookies, but the recipe could easily be halved.
Adapted from "Granger Cookies" by Doris C. Glonek in The Fruit of the Spirit Bethel Lutheran Church Cookbook
Yield: about 4 1/2 dozen cookies
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups cornflakes
- 2 cups rolled oats
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, beat the sugars, butter, and shortening until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix just until all the flour is incorporated. Add the cornflakes and oats and mix until cornflakes and oats are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto ungreased nonstick baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a fork.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 3 minutes and then remove cookies from baking sheets and place on wire racks to cool completely.
Store cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.
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