When people die, I bake. It helps, sort of. In our tradition, you are supposed to bring food to people who are mourning. I think that’s part of almost everyone’s tradition, come to think of it. I’m not feeling a casserole so I think I will bake lace cookies, since I found a bunch of bags of oatmeal in a drawer.
I mentioned our family Valentine’s recipe (oops too late!) lace cookies in an earlier post (Who’s Afraid of Vegan Cookies?) but never gave the recipe. This is my favorite kind of recipe — jotted down on an index card in one of my mother’s binders of recipes that she saves (this volume: Candy – Pancakes). The slips of paper have been collected from publications and friends over the years. Many of them have become family classics. Some of them, no one has ever tried. I like the randomness of the binders and the chocolate smudges on the plastic sleeves the recipes are crammed in.
Lace cookies are a bit tricky because they walk that fine line between candy and a cookie. Just a few ingredients, including loads of brown sugar, means that you must pull the cookie out of the oven as the caramel you have created is hardening. One minute too late and they will burn. I burned a batch. A few other batches were undercooked because I made them too big and I did something I’ve never done before — I made smaller cookies out of the failures and re-baked them! It actually worked so I guess they aren’t so challenging.
The brown sugar and oats make lace cookies taste almost virtuous — like a healthy breakfast! — but the crunchy texture, buttery mouthfeel, and hit of brown sugar calls you a liar as you are assuring yourself the cookie is good for you.
2 1/4 cups quick oats (do NOT use steel cut — used some by accident — remember the random bags of oatmeal? — and they are too rough for this recipe)
2 1/4 cups of light brown sugar
1 cup melted Earth Balance
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Here’s the easy part: melt the Earth Balance (or butter, if you must) and stir everything together. Do the egg last so you don’t cook it by accident. Baking these cookies is the hard part. I did a test of Silpat vs. parchment and parchment won every time, so I’m recommending parchment.
Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until they are melted and spread out and starting to turn golden brown. Immediately remove the cookies on parchment to a drying rack but don’t attempt to move the cookies from the parchment until they have cooled and set. It’s up to you how dark to let them get, but it’s just seconds from perfect caramel-color to burnt.
They are a pain in the ass until you get the hang of it, but soooo delicious. To me, they taste like Valentine’s Day when I was a kid. Remember those days? When it was all about gluing a paper doily to a red construction paper heart and writing “I love you Daddy” on it? Before relationships and the arguments about whether or not Hallmark had invented the holiday specifically to break you up?
The index card my Mom wrote this recipe on says it makes 90 cookies which is true if you make them all super small and don’t eat a bunch as they come out of the oven. Not possible.