If you’ve ever been to a Potbelly Sandwich shop, then I would sincerely hope you have tried one of their (enormous, delightful) oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. For starters, they are the size of my head. Second, the people at Potbelly work some kind of voodoo magic whereby these cookies are always fresh-from-the-oven warm, so the chocolate chips are juuuuust a little melty and gooey. Third, they are soft and chewy on the inside, but the outside crust has just a touch of browned crispiness that makes for the perfect textural contrast – kind of like a creme brulee, where that ultra-thin sugar crust just perfectly offsets the creamy custard interior. Basically, they’re the perfect cookie.
(Next time I’m complaining that my pants are too tight? Please remind me of this moment, where I spent several hundred words waxing poetic about the virtues of a 500-calorie cookie that is likely hefty enough to be used for some bicep curls.)
ANYWAYS. I like to challenge myself to recreate dishes I’ve eaten at restaurants, or baked goods/desserts that I’ve had, and these cookies seemed like a perfect project (on yet another Saturday where copious amounts of snow were deterring me from leaving the house). I sort of expected that it would take me a couple tries to get them exactly right – the texture of the oatmeal, the amount of oatmeal, the amount of chocolate chips, the crispy exterior combined with the gooey interior. But, the baking gods smiled down upon me, and I nailed it on the first try. I celebrated my success by eating my body weight in cookies for dinner.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 2 dozen
2 sticks salted butter, slightly softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking oats*
6 oz large milk chocolate chips**
*This step is crucial to achieving the proper texture for these cookies: measure out your two cups of oats, and then briefly grind them up in a food processor (or a blender, if necessary). I did about ten, one-second pulses – which broke the oats up enough to give them a finer texture, but kept them chunky enough to remain identifiable.
**Again, if you truly want to replicate the Potbelly cookies, you’re going to need to be specific about the chocolate chips you use. They should be milk chocolate, and they should be BIG chips (not chunks). I found that the Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips were perfect – great size, taste, and texture. If you could care less about these being like the Potbelly ones? Go nuts and use dark chocolate, mini chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, whatever!
1.) Start by creaming together the butter and sugars until well-combined, about 90 seconds. Add in the vanilla and eggs, and beat until fully incorporated.
2.) Combine your baking soda, kosher salt, and flour, then add it to the dough in two additions, beating until just incorporated each time. Add the lightly ground oats and chocolate chips, and again, mix until those ingredients are just evenly distributed and incorporated.
3.) Line a baking sheet or platter with parchment paper or foil. Roll the dough into large balls (larger than a golf ball, about 2″ in diameter); then, gently flatten the ball between your palms (it should still be slightly more than an inch thick). Arrange the dough rounds on the baking sheet, adding another sheet of parchment/foil to create a second layer if necessary.
4.) When all the dough is ready, tightly wrap the baking sheet or platter with plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer for an hour. (If you wanted to make the dough a little farther ahead, I’d place the tray in the fridge first, and then just put it into the freezer for the last 30 minutes.)
5.) When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375°. Once the oven has come to temp, remove the dough from the freezer, and place it directly on to a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet, and then put the sheet straight into the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are just golden brown, the center no longer looks wet (the center of the cookies should still look very moist and even a little raw, but not wet).
6.) Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then move them to cooling racks for another 5 minutes or so.
I think it goes without saying that you’re going to want to plan on eating one of these cookies immediately, right? There is little in life better than a warm, fresh-from-the-oven cookie, and these cookies are pretty much as good as it gets. Even better? Once they’ve fully cooled, 8-10 seconds in the microwave takes them right back to that freshly-baked warmth and texture. Store them in an airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days – not that they’ll last that long.
I can’t wait for this arctic winter to end so I can sandwich some vanilla ice cream between two of these bad boys, and call it dinner,