Despite writing a whole book about sweets, I'm more of a savory girl than anything else. It's not that I never eat dessert, but I like a sprinkle of sea salt on my chocolate and herbs stewed into my ice cream.
So after a kick of eating savory oatmeal for breakfast — olive oil, parmesan, cracked pepper — I said to myself what would happen if I tried making an oatmeal cookie that was more savory than sweet? Not as a dessert, but as a snack, or something to serve before a meal?
In the test kitchen, I toyed with olive oil as my fat (no butter), plus Parmesan cheese. It works well. I added rosemary and cracked pepper for some more forward savory notes, and a flick of sea salt on top before baking to seal the deal.
You can increase the brown sugar a little if you want (I tested it with 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup and a 1/2 cup and chemistry-wise they all worked, though I preferred the least sweet) and you can also make them more peppery by amping up the cracked black pepper.
The result turned out to be the perfect first course party cookie. It works with wine, and a schmear of soft cheese like something veiny and blue or a triple cream like Saint Andre which most good markets carry these days.
The fun part is saying you started dinner with cookies. After all, life is short. Go for it.
Savory Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
flakey sea salt such as Maldon or fleur de sel
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Place the oats in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the water over them.
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, brown sugar and egg. Pour this mixture over the oats, stir to combine, and set aside.
In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, fine sea salt, baking soda, rosemary, and black pepper. Whisk to combine well. Stir in the Parmesan.
Gradually sprinkle the flour mixture over the oat mixture, stirring until combined.
Form 1 tablespoon size scoops of batter and place, evenly spaced on a parchment paper or baking mat-lined cookie sheet. Flatten each piece of dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Use your hands to form an even disk. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top of each.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the edges are slightly darkened.
Remove to a cooling rack. Serve with soft cheese, or alone, stuffed into coat pockets, as a mid-day snack.
(images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)