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Several months ago, I attended a media preview for a new bakery. The pastry case was filled with over-the-top, whimsical creations: towering layer cakes, center-only sticky buns, macarons covered with sprinkles. Someone asked the pastry chef about his favorite item, and I think we were all expecting him to highlight one of the more unique treats.
"Actually, it's the blueberry oatmeal cookie," he said, gesturing towards a modest pile of cookies I had completely overlooked.
I think most of his answer was because when your job is to dream up things that are wild and novel, you crave the simple and familiar in your downtime. That's something I've noticed with many chefs I've interviewed. But the other part of it is that he made really, really good blueberry oatmeal cookies. They were delicately crisp on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside, blueberry-forward and with a hint of salt that made them into something magical. I don't even like oatmeal cookies, but they were the best thing I sampled that night.
I always meant to go back and get another blueberry oatmeal cookie, but inevitably I would be tempted by one of the zanier sweets. Then the bakery closed abruptly after only eight months in business. I had been toying with the idea of developing a homemade version, and now that seemed more urgent.
I started with an oatmeal cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour, since their recipes tend to be straightforward and reliable. I significantly cut down on the spices to let the blueberries to take center stage. While the original recipe indicates that you can use rolled or quick oats, I got a much better texture when I used quick oats—the rolled oats were too chewy. I got the best results with dried wild blueberries. They are a bit expensive, but you really need them for the concentrated flavor they add to the cookies (for the best price, purchase them at Trader Joe's or online). Finally, I used a tablespoon-sized cookie dough scoop to get perfectly round, consistently-sized cookies.
Don't forget to add the finishing sprinkle of salt to the just-baked cookies—that's what transforms them into the amazing blueberry oatmeal cookies from my memory.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for sprinkling
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups quick oats
- 1 cup dried wild blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease baking sheets.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, shortening, sugars, vanilla, vinegar, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Beat until the ingredients are evenly combined and mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the egg and mix until smooth. Add the flour and baking soda and mix until smooth. Add the oats and blueberries and mix until evenly incorporated.
Using a tablespoon-sized scoop or two spoons, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in tablespoon-sized balls.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies are golden-brown.
After removing from the oven, lightly sprinkle the cookies with salt. Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 10 minutes, and then remove from baking sheets and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Store cookies tightly covered at room temperature.
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